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 'DU's independence role remains undocumented'...................

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PostSubject: 'DU's independence role remains undocumented'...................   Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:03 pm



Dhaka University, which raised the first ever flag of an independent Bangladesh and spearheaded the major national movements, including the Independence Movement, has yet to fully document the memories and materials of its legacy to liberation, say students and teachers.

There are numerous places on the campus bearing testimony to Bangladesh's history but students say they are deprived of this heritage and their university's contribution to independence.

The Bangladesh flag was hoisted for the first time atop the present arts building on Mar 2, 1971, but many students do not know about it.

Ashfaqul Islam, a student of the history department, which is sited right next to where the flag went up, was surprised to learn that he walked past the spot every day.

"I have read in the books that the first flag was raised on the campus. But I didn't know this was the place," he said when the place was pointed out to him.

The Pakistan occupational army launched their offensive 'Operation Search Light' on Mar. 25, 1971, simultaneously on Dhaka University, the Bangladesh Rifles (the then East Pakistan Rifles) Peelkhana headquarters and Rajarbagh police line among other places in the capital.

Teachers, students and employees were brutally slaughtered on campus, at Jagannath Hall, Fazlul Haq Hall and Zohurul Haq Hall (then Iqbal Hall) and the teachers quarters, targeted by the Pakistan occupational army.

The university authorities have failed to preserve a proper record of the numbers or names of the dead.

At least 20 teachers, 105 students and around 35 employees were killed in the nine month-long liberation war, according to a list of the Dhaka University Central Students Union collection centre, but this is not a complete account.

Bangladesh Chhatra Union president Golam Kibria Shahin says: "We found more names when we organised a photo exhibition in 2005, commemorating those who were killed."

"But the authorities still sit idle about publishing a full list."

Several killing grounds on the campus also remain in a hapless condition. They are difficult to identify.

The Dhaka University Teachers Association in 2007 demanded preservation of the places on campus that bear memories of the Liberation War.

In a sporadic manner, various individuals and groups have tried to depict the significant events.

Ratanlal Chakrabarti wrote a book 'Muktijuddhe Shaheed Jagannath Hall' (Martyrs of Jagannath Hall in the Liberation War) and DUTA have published an account of the teachers who were killed.

The Bangla, English, history and philosophy departments, whose teachers and students were especially targeted by the Pakistan Army, have published different accounts on different occasions though they did not contain complete histories.

Shadinata Juddhe Dhaka Bishwabiddaloy (Dhaka University in the Liberation War) by Rafiqul Islam and History of Dhaka University by A. Rahim and some other publications exist on the history of the university in the war.

There is a Liberation War cell at the central library of the university containing a number of books.

But these intermittent efforts do not cover the whole history and contribution of the university.

"Scattered initiatives will not depict a proper picture; authorities should do something consistent and comprehensive like a series of publications and perhaps a museum," says Prof Belayet Hossain of the marketing department, and former treasurer of the DUCSU collection centre.

"Being the epicentre of all national struggles, the authorities should take up initiatives centrally to collect and preserve the memories, so that the next generation can know," he said.

History department teacher Abu Md Delwar Hossen, who specialises in the Liberation War, said that a project to compile a whole history of Dhaka University and the War was taken up by Prof Ratanlal Chakrarabarti but that came to a halt when he went abroad.

An editing panel led by Prof Ahamad Kabir was formed in 2004 for a similar work. The other members of the panel include Prof Dr Anisuzzaman and Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury. But the project is yet to start.

Prof Kabir, acting director of the university's publication authority, attributed budget crunch for not starting the project.

DU vice chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said the university has plans to set up a museum to preserve memories of its martyrs. However, he said, no final decision has been made so far.
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