The Symphony Of Our Times
A black day in the history of Dhaka University
Friendship and fellowship thrived during my time as teacher of the Dhaka University with old and new friends. The cementing of bonds with senior teachers did not stand on the way of strengthening relationship with class friends from school, college and university days. Some of them, as already mentioned became teachers of the university at around the same time in the sixties. Among them were Mohiuddin Mahmud Hafiz of History, Syed Abdus Samad of Economics, Ahbab Ahmed of Sociology and Shamsul Alam of Bangla and others. We used to meet frequently at the Arts building, Teachers cafeteria and the University Club. The club gatherings were mostly in the evening.
Some friends such as Shahed Kamal, Masum Ahmed Choudhury who were not teachers of the university joined us as our guests. Teaching and interaction with students felt delightful and satisfying. Student's political activity continued with a change of increasing combativeness between the pro and anti government student's organizations. There were occasional incidents of different degrees of violence but it did not usually disturb the generally smooth functioning of the university. Nevertheless, something extremely jarring happened. It was the culmination of increasing polarization between the opposing student's camps.
In the 1965 it was a black day in the history of Dhaka University when noted economist, Chairman of the Department of Economics, Professor ANM Mahmood was beaten up by a few hooligans with connections to the government-backed students' organisation that disliked him because of his leftist views.
Kamal Siddiqui in his book recollects, "Dr Abu Mahmood was the most radical teacher in the University in our time. A PhD in Economics from Harvard, in the classroom he would shred into pieces the principles of neo-classical economics with passion, cold logic and empirical evidence. He was also known to be encouraging radical students. So, he had really become a headache for not only the university but also the political bosses of East Pakistan. Since I was not his student, I never interacted with him while in the university. But we knew much about him through his EPSU students.
The university authorities were after his blood at the behest of higher authorities. They removed him from the position of Head of the Department. Dr Mahmood went to the High Court and challenged the legality of the Order. He won the case..." (Kamal Siddiqui, In One Life, Dhaka, Academic Press and Publishers Library (APPL), 2015, Page: 188). That was the reason why the some hooligans of the pro-government National Students Federation (NSF) probably with the blessings of higher University authorities bet him up severely.
I remember that in the afternoon, I was in my office room examining some tutorial papers. A student came running and told me that Professor Mahmood had been beaten up. Stunned and bewildered I rushed to the room of Professor Nazmul Karim, Head of the department of Sociology to tell him about the terrible incident. Professor Hassan Zaman of Political Science was also there. Both of them looked hurt and sorry.
Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelley, founder Chairman of Centre for Development Research (CDRB), and former technocrat Cabinet Minister of Bangladesh, died on August 12, 2019. He contributed his writeups to the Daily Observer which are being published regularly as "The Symphony of Our Times".