Just A Thought
Respect, is it Buried?
Yamin Tauseef Jahangir
Photos: Anisur Rahman
Land Filling of Haikkar Khal just behind the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial located at Rayerbazar
Our nation has come a long way since its independence. Stepping towards the 40th year the country looks back at what has been achieved and also what has been lost, and finds plenty of differences between the two. The post-independent generation can never fathom the horrendous moments of war and distress amongst the countrymen. Notwithstanding, millions of martyrs, with their heads held high, fought the blazing machine guns, bullets went home shattering the dreams of a freedom fighter who wanted to see the first dawn of independence. Stories have been told and read over and over again, photographs have been archived, and documentaries made and watched; we learnt, understood and bowed our heads in respect. However, to the question of achieving justice for the general people in the country and also for the martyrs who fought for independence, there is still no answer.
Monuments, sculptures and memorials have been built in Bangladesh, just like in other countries that have lost soldiers. It is true that our martyrs are living on, but in dates and in months. They are remembered on occasions where we are touched and even talk about them in talk shows and show file footage in the news hours, and it ends there. We say we need to be like them, patriotic and confident enough to make a change, and it too, ends there. Even after so many years of independence we are still being under the scrutiny of being a corrupt nation and when all of that is being said we become very egocentric and do not want to talk about it. We are always being busy criticising and playing blame games while we are also busy in taking sides and filling our pockets out of greed. Respect for the martyrs, as you call it, does not have any significance as our conscience has been numbed for good.
Land grabbers claiming wnership of land
by putting up signboards
In recent times people have put up numerous signboards claiming ownership of land on a filled-up stretch of Haikkar Khal, just behind the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial located at Rayerbazar. This famous Haikkar Khal, which links the Turag River with the Buriganga is mainly being used by the local traders for transporting goods (source: Canal for grabbers by Morshed Ali Khan, The Daily Star, dated December 6, 2010). The increased demand for lands has not even spared the premises of the memorial that was being built in remembrance of the intellectuals who were brutally killed on December 14, 1971. Interestingly enough, the law enforcers have conveniently overlooked the complaints that were being given against such activities long ago and no responsibility was taken to look after this matter. Dhaka City Corporation has planned for a graveyard in that place for a while now and the plan has been forwarded to the Planning Commission. But sadly enough, prompt actions are still a pledge while we watch our martyrs treated in such manner.
If you talk about other countries they do restrict the area where they have such symbol of sacrifice to mark it sacred and it is their way of showing that they care for the ones who have lost their lives. We, on the other hand have failed to be vocal about such issues and in most cases turn a deaf ear to such stories as well.
We took stands in the past. We protested and even fought to get back what we thought was our right. That is what is needed now. The youth needs to raise their voice. Let us stand together and form human chains and take the streets to save the ones who saved us and built this nation. We still have time to put our foot down and rekindle the spirit of unity; the last bit of respect that we have for our martyrs should not get buried in our minds.