Fear cuts deeper than swords. Valour is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. Veteran freedom fighter Syed Hafizul Hoque was a college student during our glorious Liberation War in 1971. He was a BCL activist then. At the clarion call of our founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he went to the battlefield at a teen age to attain Bangladesh. He fought in the frontline with bravery under the command of Maj General Abul Manzoor, one of the Sector Commanders (Sector No. 8) of our Independence War in 1971. Freedom Fighter Hafiz truly embodies the spirit what Aristotle once said: "Those who cannot bravely face danger are the slaves of their attackers." He bravely fought in greater Faridpur and Jessore battlefields. He along with his co-fighters contributed immensely to liberate Jessore on December 6, 1971 and took position at Jessore cantonment in the same evening under the command of Maj Gen Manzoor.
The eagerness to excel can push one beyond his comfort zone. This is the story of a valiant freedom fighter. Though he was content with the fruit of his labour, he has always harboured an undying desire to raise the cause of freedom struggle, its true spirit, and the country-Bangladesh. He was born on 16 March, 1954 in Faridpur Sadar but spent his childhood and boyhood times at Gopalganj as his father was serving at Gopalganj Hospital. From that time on, Hafiz developed emotional ties with Sheikh Mujib's leadership qualities. He is now the Assistant Commander of Muktijoddha Sangsad, Faridpur District unit. He always reminds us of the days of his fighting against the Pakistan military forces to liberate Bangladesh.
Hafiz was an attractive personality to our class-mates and friends and Bangladesh Chattra League political circle during our Dhaka University days because of his great contributions to the cause of independence of our beloved motherland. He was very handsome and pleasing.
He was the President of the Mohsin Hall unit of Bangladesh Chattra League (BCL) and BCL's Central Committee member when Bangabandhu was brutally murdered by some derailed army officers. He brought out midnight processions in almost all halls and Dhaka University areas with sky-scraping slogans against the brutal killing of Bangabandhu and demanded punishment of the killers. Almost every midnight, he arranged processions in different halls of DU to condemn the brutal murder of our founding father. FF Hafiz also made various efforts in re-organising BCL to fortify their movement against this grave misdeed. He did all these because he believed 'a coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave' as expressed by Mahatma Gandhi. People then could see light of the day.
He was very close to Sheikh Kamal and Kamal also liked him. He is known for his exceptional energy, and commitment to our liberation war values like many other war veterans. When we hear about his valour in 1971 to liberate the sacred soil of Bangladesh from the brutal Pakistani army and their local collaborators, it immerses ourselves in some of the best of Bangladesh's patriotism and dives us deep in its culture. We can see our glorious Liberation War through his bright eyes. We love to discuss it with him. We feel great pleasure in remembering those days of yore.
The gruesome spectacle of the Pakistani air and ground invasion of the soil of Bangladesh displays in a visceral way some of the new twists and old features of a very old heritage of Nazi-like assault on our people. In 1971 the spirit of Bangladesh's liberation struggle had ignited the fires of resistance among the massively oppressed population of Bangladesh. Hafiz was also ignited with the same fire to fight back the Pakistani military junta.
In seeking to liberate our people by assisting them to become recognized rights-bearing citizens organized in recognized nations, he took up arms to fight back the act of ruthless ferocity of enemy forces. There has never been a better example of a person guided by great feelings of love than FF Hafiz. Love for his country, love for his community, love for the most oppressed in our society. He was often heard telling people that he had met for the first time who expressed their sympathy for him and his friends that he did not need sympathy-he had an abundance of that-what he needed was hard work and offered to help free his people. He had little patience with those who turned away from the struggle, yet had an abundance of patience for the failings of others and always a warm smile for all of us during hard times. He always says: "We need to be ready for this to happen and we need to be strong in our defence of the leadership who will be targeted first." The fight against the evil forces he fought together created for us a fortress of courage.
He further states: "For us, the 1971 freedom struggle was the psychic threads that bound the struggle into a tapestry of purpose, solidarity, hope, and courage." In fact, the fight spreads our message, its spirits bonded us together, it elevated our courage, it shielded us protection from danger; it forged our discipline; and it was the fight that kept us sane.
Freedom fight suffused each fighter with the summed power of the whole. It wove into a single Freedom Movement. Freedom fight was the vow we took to stand together for justice and freedom, it was the pledges we made, each one to the other, to stand side by side through all that we might have to endure. As the furnace-fire turns iron ore into steel, singing our shared songs forged bonds of loyalty that for many of us have not withered with age after about four and a half decades of our glorious Liberation War.
We are taught to assume that politics are primarily about the intellectual content of ideas, but social and political struggle-particularly popular liberation war like ours of 1971 are as much, or more, about emotion as they are about ideology. While the tactics of direct action attempt to present ideas in dramatic, persuasive, and forceful ways, those tactics rely on, are profoundly influenced by, and are designed to affect, human emotion and psychology-the emotion and psychology of the participants, the targets, the bystanders, the freedom fighters, and those who hear about the demonstration through different forms.
In addition to their power to inspire, encourage, and educate, freedom fighting was used by the direct action campaigns of the 1971 struggle as practical tools for focusing and guiding the psychic contours of an event- be it meeting, protest or jail cell. Fighting in different fields, different verses of the same song, and differences in the tone and style of the singing itself, all evoked a single response. Like an artist using colour to alter the mood of an image, skilled freedom fighting leaders sensitive to the moment used freedom struggle to shape and direct the emotions experienced by ourselves and those within the sound of our voices. Syed Hafizul Hoque is such a valiant freedom fighter.
He is now sexagenarian. He had an accident for which he is physically somewhat disabled, indisposed with some other illnesses and passing very hard financial times. Nobody enquires about his well-being. It is the responsibility of the government to look after his financial aspects and arrange for his medical treatment considering their great contributions towards creating Bangladesh.
Freedom lies in being bold. Better to die fighting for freedom than to be a prisoner all the days of our life. In 1971, humanity won its battle. Liberty now has a country, Bangladesh. Without our veterans like Syed Hafizul Hoque, we wouldn't have one of the greatest gifts in life i.e. the birth of Bangladesh. Thanks for his bravery and sacrifice. We salute this 1971 war veteran.
Anwar A Khan is a political commentator