15th February, a tragic day on which Sergeant Zahurul Haque was killed by a Pakistani guard at the then Dhaka cantonment. The day is one of the milestones in our history of struggle and movement for autonomy against the Pakistani colonial force. The death of Sergeant Zahurul Haque gave a momentum to our mass movement of 1969 (Unasattarer Gana Andalon). Let us very solemnly remember this courageous and brave son of Bangladesh and pay tribute to him for his contribution that ultimately led us to our emancipation. Haque taught us how to face enemy without fear and how to make supreme sacrifice for one's motherland.
During trial of the case, which was started on 18th January 1968, he was kept confined in a room with another of his co-accused, Sergeant Fazlul Haque inside barrack 4 of 3rd Punjab Regiment at Dhaka Cantonment. They, with 28 others, then were facing trial of being charged of overthrowing the then legal government of East Pakistan through armed revolution.
What happened on 15th February? More than thirty four years back very early in the morning of 15th February, 1969, Sgt Haque requested the prison guard to let them visit the toilet. But the guard refused. A message was then sent to guard commander Habilder Manjur Hussain Shah. But they were informed that nothing could be done till the morning siren was blown inside the barrack. When the Havilder was reminded that their army custodian Major Naser's standing order that whenever needed they could use toilet. This made the guard commander furious and started abusing Zahurul Haque in filthy language. Sergeant Haque said that being a Muslim he should not use such language to another believer of Islam. The habilder became more furious telling him you are not a Muslim, you are a beast- you ought to be beaten; you are a traitor- now I shall show you the circus !
After the morning siren was blown, one Nayek opened the door. As the sergeants started moving towards the toilet they were fired at from the back. Both of them fell down on the floor- as many saw guard commander Manjur Husain Shah firing continuously to the sergeants. The entire floor became red with bloods oozing out profusely. Crying with pain Zahurul Haque asked for water, but the Habilder gave a brutal kick to his face saying, Now, you see son of a pig, how interesting the fun (tamasha) is ! He was then brutally bayonet-charged. Sergeant Haque succumbed to his injury immediately afterwards. Sergeant Fazlul Haque was taken to combined military hospital (CMH) where he recovered later.
According to another version of the event, Sgnt Fazlul Haque went first to the toilet, but as he saw, on his way, that the guards' commander loading his rifle magazine with bullets. He immediately returned and informed the matter to Sergeant Zahurul Haque. As both of them together were heading towards the toilet the guards' commander opened fire from behind. The rest of the event is same as told above. Sergeant Fazlul Haque, as I know became an active member of Materialization of Lahore Resolution movement launched by Commander Muazzam Hosain, another prominent member of the Agartala Conspiracy case. Subsequently he joined war of liberation as a committed freedom fighter.
In the afternoon in presence of thousands of students, political activists and leaders of various students organizations Sgt Zahirul Haque's gayebi zanaza was held at the Iqbal Hall ground followed by a militant procession demanding release of Sheikh Mujib, the chief conspirator and leader of the Agartala conspiracy case and other detainees of the case. Sergeant Haque hailed from Noakhali district. Iqbal Hall Renamed 'Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall' In the same meeting. In the same meeting, in the spirit of liberation war, and avowed state policy of secularism, the word Muslim was dropped from Salimullah Muslim Hall and Fazlul Haque Muslim Hall and Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hall was renamed as Master da Surya Sen Hall.
It may be recalled that Iqbal Hall was made in 1959 as a hall of residence for male students open to all after the name of Poet Iqbal of the subcontinent, claimed by Pakistan as dreamer of Muslim State of Pakistan. On the other hand Jinnah Hall was built in 1966. On this day let us once again remember this gallant son of our beloved Bangladesh who gave his life for our hard earned independence and the motherland. Long live Sergeant Zahurul Haque. Martyrs do not die. Shahider Mrityu Nai
A Tribute to Sergeant Zahurul Haque
- Ajoy Roy
“ The number of political prisoners were 35 whom the Paki army locked up in two different areas of the cantonment. The officers along with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were kept locked up in the rooms of the Officers Mess, while the others were kept in the office and residential spaces of 3 Punjab regiment. The 3 Punjab regiment was surrounded by slums full of starving people. In the morning of 14 February 1969, a bunch of starving kids, naked and shabby looking, hung around the mess of the regiment to grab left over morsels. Some of them tried to pick some pieces of mouldy breads from around the bin. As soon as they laid their little hands on the morsels, a few big Paki troops rushed out of the door, harshly grabbed the bread crumbles from the little hands of the starving kids and beat them up mercilessly. All this happened in front of the Bangalee prisoners locked up with Sgt Zahirul Huq. The Bangalee prisoners were hurt at the sight of cruel Punjabi troops harshly beating of the poor Bangalee kids. They strongly protested against the cruelty of the Pakistani soldiers against the starving kids. Sgt Zahirul Huq, Steward Mujibur Rajhman and Sultan Uddin led the protest. The Paki authority decided to kill all of them that night. The following morning, the Paki guards tried to take Steward Mujibur Rahman and Sultan Uddin away from the other prisoners. But the prisoners stuck together and their scheme failed. While the guards were trying to take them away to kill, Sgt Zahirul Huq and Flt Sgt Fazlul Huq were heading towards the bathroom. All on a sudden a few of the Paki troops led by corporal Manju Shah opened fire at them from behind. Sgt Zahirul Huq died on the spot, Flt Sgt Fazlul Huq later survived in the CMH. Bastar Pakis killed Sgt Zahirul Huq, the invincible Bangalee rebel, from behind like cowards..."
Flt Sgt Abdul Zalil.
Sgt Zahirul Huq was the weapon instructor of the Bengal Liberation Army. Sgt Huq used to train the new recruits of this secret force at the residence of Mrs Zalil at 14/4 Clayton Quarters in Karachi. The police arrested him from that location. They also recovered a hand grenade which Sgt Huq used to train the would be Bangalee freedom fighters. Due to the shortage of resources he taught them theories of handling light weapons. The Paki authority produced the grenade in the court as evidence of Sgt Huq’s subversive activities. The said grenade is still preserved in the Bijoy Keton of the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka Cantonment. Sgt Huq was a qualified weapon instructor of Pakistan Air Force. He made sure that Bangalee troops get tough training in the Pakistani academies. On weekends Sgt Huq trained the Bangalee soldiers and new recruits of Bengal Liberation Army. The government quarter of Mrs Jalil had a large walled backward, suitable for arms training. Mujib knew about the secret training centre and often visited them whenever he managed to sneak out of his official visits to Karachi. In the ‘Agartala Conspiracy Case’ the Pakis accused Mujib of treason and secession. It was stated in the case that “ In the course of his visit to Karachi (15-21 September), Mujib accepted the invitation to attend a meeting organized by Lieutenant Moazzem of Pakistan Navy. In the meeting Lt Moazzem told Mujib and other leaders that the Bangalee trrops in the navy have formed a secret armed force to liberate Bangladesh from the Paki colonialists. The Bangalee officers and soldiers of Pakistan Army and Air Force should also join this force”. Sheikh Mujib said ‘ It was exactly what I have in my mind. But political strategy is a little more different. Hundreds and thousands of Bangalees will go out on the street carrying stick in support of you. Go ahead. Tell me what you need right now. Moazzem said ‘ Leader! we need some funds and some light weapons. Sheikh Mujjib said for funds contact Ruhul Kuddus. F Rahman will also look into the matter. But in regards to weapons, you have to proceed cautiously”. It was further added in the charge sheet that: “ Following his appointment as the president Shaikh Mujib again visited Karachi and he stayed there for 15-21 January, 1965. During his stay in Karachi Mujib said, in a meeting at the same residence of Lt Moazzem, that ‘the only way the Bangalees of East Pakistan can retain their self respect is by means of independence from West Pakistan. He unconditionally supported the plan for the independence of East Pakistan by means of armed rebellion and gave his words to financially support this move. Sheikh Mujib also directed Moazzem to move the head quarter of this secret force to East Pakistan and enhance the liberating activities of the rebel groups.