A requiem for a freedom fighter
Photo of Brigadier General Akbar Yusuf: Courtesy
Photo of Brigadier General Akbar Yusuf: Courtesy
On August 21, 2021, I lost a classmate, another freedom fighter and a very dear friend of mine, Major Muqtadir Ali, which shocked me as he had always maintained a healthy lifestyle . But before I could even come to terms with his passing, I was shocked to learn the news of the death of another of my classmates on September 18, 2021, Brigadier General Akbar Yusuf, who was also another fighter. of freedom and a dear friend.
The monumental tragedy in Akbar Yusuf’s personal life reflects the depth and enormity of the sacrifices this nation has made for its independence. It is also a cruel manifestation of the savagery perpetrated by the Pakistani military in an attempt to bury the aspirations of our people in the grave once and for all.
A brilliant student, Akbar Yusuf, like all young men, expected a better future. After passing his HSC Honors Exam from Chittagong College in 1970, he enrolled in East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology (EPUET), now Buet.
Following the general elections of December 1970, won by an overwhelming majority by the Awami League, the Pakistani military-political clique began to plot plots to deny Bengali political power on the one hand, and to launch genocide against its people. , on the other hand. As the political and security situation began to heat up with sporadic attacks against the Bengalis, Akbar Yusuf left Dhaka for Chattogram to be with his family, following the Pakistani military crackdown in Dhaka on March 25. 1971.
The security situation in Chattogram was no better. Anticipating the gravity of the situation, Akbar Yusuf’s entire family – father, mother, six brothers, a sister and an uncle – decided to leave Chattogram and flee to their village home in Mirsharai. As a result, the family left Chattogram on April 6, crossing an alley through a Bihari settlement. Akbar Yusuf, with his younger brother on his lap, two other younger brothers and his uncle were quite far ahead of the other group. As the group behind them did not catch up with them, Akbar Yusuf stopped to look back and found that they were surrounded by a group of armed Biharis. Sensing imminent danger, Akbar began to return to save them, but his father motioned for him not to return and to continue to their destination. But Akbar didn’t have the heart to leave half of his family behind and persuaded his uncle to move without stopping. He carefully climbed a large tree to observe what was happening with the group captured by the Biharis. To his horror, he saw with his own eyes how his father, mother, two brothers and sister were brutally slaughtered one after another by these human-faced hyenas.
Frantic with the horror of what he saw, Akbar climbed down from the tree and started rushing towards them. But he was prevented from doing so by the villagers who had gathered around him, for they feared he would be their next victim.
Discouraged and struck by the intense mental agony of his loss, Akbar spent the next month not knowing what to do. As he gradually regained his composure, he vowed to take revenge on the enemy and join the fight to liberate the country. He consulted with one of his cousins ââand soon after crossed the border into Sector 1 under the command of Major Rafiq, Bir Uttam. After receiving the necessary training, he joined the guerrilla group that carried out a series of offensive operations against Pakistani troops, some of which were quite impressive and noteworthy. His display of dedication, patriotism and courage impressed his superiors and he was selected, through a process of interviews, to be trained as an officer in the Mukti Bahini.
During the first week of November 1971, Akbar joined a group of 69 other Freedom Fighting Officer Cadets (commonly known as the 2nd Bangladesh War Course, BWC II), for a three-month crash course in a improvised officer training camp in Murti, an Indian mountain valley straddling Sikkim and Bhutan, in Jalpaiguri district.
I was also a member of BWC II and became quite friends with Akbar. Soon the story of the tragedy that befell Akbar became known to the other cadets, arousing their sympathy for him. But each was careful and sensitive not to raise the subject in front of him or show the slightest curiosity, lest it rekindle the grave agony that was subliminally buried in his heart. But what was more dignified, courageous and the manifestation of his subdued mental, emotional and moral strength was that he was neither outwardly consumed with pain nor that he sought sympathy. He kept it completely private and if he cried he did so in solitude and not in public. On the contrary, in our training, which by definition was exhausting, physically hard, overwhelming and a real test of endurance power, Akbar was always the most active and enthusiastic volunteer to take part in all difficult tasks. . By nature, he was kind, always smiling and perhaps sought to console himself by singing songs and playing the flute.
While training was in full swing, the country was liberated on December 16, 1971. However, the training program was not interrupted. The cadets returned to the liberated country in February 1972, and after a three-month process of attachment to various infantry units followed by an additional three months of training at a dedicated training camp in Dhaka cantonment, we were commissioned into the Bangladesh Army as second lieutenants. Second Lieutenant Akbar Yusuf is assigned to the 2nd East Bengal Regiment. During this time, he visited the site where his family was murdered and, with the help of the villagers, found the corpses buried in a single grave. He gave them a formal burial with the necessary religious ritual.
As he put all his heart and mind into building his career in the military, he also focused his attention on the well-being of other members of his family. He regularly sent money for the upkeep of his orphaned siblings from the meager monthly salary of Tk 400 he received as a junior officer. He continued to do this until each of them established themselves properly in society.
Akbar was able to prove his worth in the military through his merit, motivation and hard work. As his career progressed through various ranks and responsibilities, he held several key positions both at home and abroad. He was a founding member of the Army Staff College, commander of the NCO Academy, director of the DGFI, and successfully commanded several infantry units and brigades. He was also a defense advisor in our mission in Ankara, Turkey. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier in 1996. Upon his retirement in 2007, Akbar, who was a deeply religious and pious person, and had performed Hajj twice, devoted his life after his retirement to the betterment of society. through various philanthropic works.
He died on September 18, 2021 from some lingering complications following an attack of the killer coronavirus. Upon his death, he was survived by his wife, son, daughter and a large number of classmates, friends and supporters.
On October 3, friends, classmates and family members of Brigadier General Akbar Yusuf and Major Muqtadir Ali held a commemorative and prayer meeting on Zoom. Several speakers reflected on the life and work of the two officers of the deceased freedom fighters and prayed to the Almighty for His mercy.
Major (Retired) Ashraf ud Doula is a freedom fighter, a retired secretary and has served as Bangladeshi Ambassador to several countries.