Martyred Intellectual Day, Bangladesh: Our Deepest Tribute to The Brightest Minds of Our Soil

14 December, the Martyred Intellectuals’ day. The day we lost the best children of the soil. The most grieved day of the Bangali nation. On this day on 1971, when the final victory of the War of Liberation was sure to happen, at that very moment the attacking Pakistani forces and their collaborators – the Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams forces abducted the best and most talented intellectuals of the nation – all the academics, researchers, physicians, engineers, journalists, poets and writers were kidnapped, blind folded in the dark of night and then were killed brutally.

The anti-liberation forces realized that, their defeat is inescapable. If these best intelligentsias of the soil are left alive, they won’t be able to survive in this country. The country will turn into prosperity and glory from the ruins of the war. So, they master planned this conspiracy to make the nation talentless and crippled, by killing the most intelligent personals of in most heinous way possible.

This massacre of 14th December 1971 was the heinous most barbaric one, which had stunned the peace loving people all around the world. The Pakistani forces and their local collaborators left the dead bodies of those intellectuals at many places of Dhaka including Mirpur, Rayer Bazar etc after killing them brutally.

Right after achieving the victory on 16th December 1971, the close relatives of the martyred intellectuals discovered the melted and mishandled bodies at the Mirpur and Rayer bazar graveyard. The dead bodies carried signs of tortures. They were blind-folded and their hands were tied at the back. Some of them had more than one bullet shots. Some were killed with sharp weapons. Most of the bodies were too much distorted that the relatives failed to recognize their beloved ones.

From the nationally published Martyred Intellectuals Day collection on 1972, news published on various publications and from the write up of international journalist Nicholas Tomalin at the international news magazine “News Week”, the number of martyred intellectuals totaled at 1070.

During post liberation war, in the report of the Investigation Committee for the intellectuals formed on 29th December of 1971 said, Rao Forman Ali had planned to kill 20,000 intellectuals of the country. But the massacre was not possible to be carried out according to that master plan. Because the plan of Rao Forman Ali was to kill the intellectuals by inviting them all to the government house.

Chief of that Intellectual Investigation Committee Johir Rayhan said they have sorted out all the democratic minded intellectuals and attacked them flawlessly.

Convener to that commission was the film maker Johir Rayhan, who himself had been missing since 30th January 1972.

The first Prime Minister to the temporary government to Bangladesh Tazuddin Ahmed decided to create an investigation commission on 31st December, 1971. But his decision was not carried out later.

According to a document published by the Intellectuals’ Massacre Investigation Commission, the culprits who were active in this heinous act were Brigadier Raza, Brigadier Aslam, Captain Tareq, Colonel Taz, Colonel Taher of Pakistan Army and VC Professor Syed Sajjad Hossain, Dr. Mohor Ali, ABM Khalek Mojumder, Ashrafuzzaman Chowdhury and Moinuddin of Al Badr. All of them were led by Major General Rao Forman Ali.

A description of the list of killed by the local collaborators to the attacking forces, the Al Badr, from among the best intellectuals of this land was found from the case filed at Ramna Police Station from the statement of Farida Banu. She mentioned in the statement of the case that, his brother Giasuddin Ahmed was the senior lecturer of the department of history at Dhaka University and was the house tutor to Mosin Hall. On 14th December the killers searched for him at his residence adjacent to the hall and then to the hall. They found him in front of the hall. They folded his eyes with the hand wiper of the guard of the hall, Abdur Rahman. Afterwards they took him by a microbus of EPRTC. He never came back.

Killers has gone to the other house tutors too. At that period the ex Director General of Bangla Academy was the student of that hall. He witnessed the whole incident. Later they came to know, other than Giasuddin Ahmed from among the teachers of Dhaka University, the Al Badr took Dr. Mohammad Murtoza, Dr. Abul Khayer, Professor Rashidul Hasan, Proessor Anwar Pasha, Professor Sirajul Haque and Dr. Santosh Bhattacharya and many others.

Son of the martyred intellectual Professor Sirajul Haque, Enamul Haque identified two of the abductors. They were Chowdhury Moinuddin and Ashrafuzzaman. Both of them were then students of university. Among them Ashrafuzzaman were working as journalist at the Observer. After the country is liberated, Farida Banu left the residence at the university and took a rented apartment at Azimpur.

On 4th January 1972 she with her relatives found melted corpse of many intellectuals including Dr. Murtoza, Dr. Abul Khayer and Dr. Santosh Bhattyacharya.

On 5th January, she found her brother, Giasuddin Ahmed’s melted dead body near the current Martyred Intellectuals’ Monument. She recognized him by the lungi and the clothing he was wearing. The alleged criminals under the intellectuals massacre case, Chowdhury Moinuddin is living in London and Ashrafuzzaman in New York.

Every year the nation observes this day with congruous honor and respect comemorating the intellectuals. This year too, govt has taken many programs in schedule to observe this day. And various political, social and cultural organizations also have taken different programs.

Plan of Massacre

Major General Rao Forman Ali, was the mastermind behind the plan for cleansing the intellectuals on behalf of Pakistan forces. Initially they wanted to kill all the intellectuals on the single operation of ‘Operation Searchlight’, on the dark killing night of 25th March. The Pakistan armies were looking for the intellectuals and were killing them during the operation. Many of the teachers of Dhaka University were killed on the night of 25th March. But, the greater part of the planned killing took place just a few days before the war ended. During the war, the Pakistan army and their trained semi militant force the Al Badr and Al Shams had created a list, where they included all the freedom loving intellectuals. Its assumed that Major General Rao Forman Ali was the mastermind behind this cleansing. Because after the independence, his own handwritten diary was discovered from the ruins of Bangabhaban, where list of many killed and living intellectuals were found. Besides, the information secretary during Ayub’s regime, Altaf Gowhor told in an interview that, in the list of intellectuals the name of his own friend poet Sanaul Haque was present too. By the request of Altaf Gowhor, Rao Forman Ali deleted the name of Sanaul Haque from amongst the list in the diary. Also a note on his diary tells he managed the vehicles for he Al Badr forces. Also, two American citizen’s named Height and Dospeak were found in his diary as well. Besides their names CIA and DGIS was written. Height was in the army’s detective force since 1953 and Dospeak was an agent of CIA. For this reason, it is suspected that CIA was behind the whole plan.

The Killing

From December 8, curfew was ruled again in the Dhaka city. Preparation to cleanse the intellectuals was started from December 10. Evidently the vital part of the plan took place on 14th of December. Pakistan army and their collaborators captured and abducted the professors, journalists, artists, engineers, writers and other marked intellectuals from their residences. About 200 of the intellectuals were abducted from their home on that day. Blind-folded, they were taken to torture homes at Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Razarbag and many other places. And tortures put on them were nightmarish. Later they were brutally killed and left out at the mass graveyards at Rayerbag and Mirpur.

People involved

Major General Rao Forman Ali was the mastermind behind the mass cleansing operation on behalf of Pakistan’s army junta. And in making the list and killing according to the plan, assisted the notorious Al Badr militia force a sub-group created by the Jamaat-e-Islami. In this killing of the intellectuals, the main killers were the Chowdhury Moinuddin (operation-in-charge) and Ashrafuzzaman (main butcher) of Al Badr force. After 16th December the personal diary of Ashrafuzzaman Khan was discovered from his Nakhalpara residence, in which 20 of the intellectuals were listed in two pages along with their quarter numbers in the university. According to the given testimony by his driver Mofizuddin, a number of dead bodies of intellectuals’ were found melted, whom he witnessed to be shot by his own hand. And Chowdhury Moinuddin was a central committee member of Jamaat-e-Islami during 1971. He used to send the names of intellectuals to Rao Forman Ali and Brigadier Bashir Ahmed from the Observer Building. Also there were ABM Khalek Mojumder (killer of Shahidullah Kaiser), Maulana Abdul Mannan (killer of Doctor Alim Chowdhury), Abdul Quader Mullah (killer of poet Meherunnessa) et al.

The verdict on the Killing

On Nov 3, 2013, a Special Court in Dhaka has sentenced two former leaders of the al-Badr killing squad to death for war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971. Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a Muslim leader based in London, and Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, based in the US, were sentenced in absentia after the court found that they were involved in the abduction and murders of 18 intellectuals – nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three physicians – in December 1971. Prosecutors said the killings were carried out between 10 and 15 December, when Pakistan was losing the war in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), and were part of a campaign intended to strip the newborn nation of its intellectuals.


The number of intellectuals killed is estimated in Banglapedia as follows –

Academics – 991
Journalist – 13
Physician – 49
Lawyer – 42
Others (litterateur, artist and engineer) – 16

The district wise break-up of the number of martyred academicians and lawyers published in 1972 was as follows –

District and Division





Higher Secondary

Dhaka 37 8 10 6
Faridpur 27 12 4 3
Tangail 20 7 2
Mymensingh 46 28 1 2

Dhaka Division





Chittagong 39 16 7 1
Chittagong Hill Tracts 9 4 1 1
Sylhet 19 7 2
Comilla 45 33 1 4
Noakhali 26 13 4 2

Chittagong Division





Khulna 48 15 2 2
Jessore 55 31 5 4
Barisal 50 21 4
Patuakhali 3 1
Kushtia 28 13 4

Khulna Division





Rajshahi 39 8 3 5
Rangpur 41 22 9 4
Dinajpur 50 10 1 2
Bogra 14 12 2
Pabna 43 9 1 2

Rajshahi Division










Martyred academicians (not affiliated to universities) = 968

Martyred university teachers = 21

Total martyred academicians = 989

***Administrative districts and divisions mentioned here are as they were in 1972.

Information source: bdnews24, Bangla Pedia

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