BIR SRESHTHOS OF LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH
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1. Independence is that touchstone that turns a human race into a nation. It glorifies their identity by uplifting it to a nationality and presents them their own colour flying haughtily inside a sovereign territory. For the want of independence and to have a separate nationality people have made supreme sacrifice since the emergence of human civilization. Innumerable wars and struggles took place in the world between suppressors and the suppressed on the issue of liberation and sovereignty. We, the `Bangladeshis', are also one of those diehard daring nations who had to sacrifice millions of human lives and shed a sea of blood for freeing the motherland from the clutches of evil force.
2. The liberation war of Bangladesh occupies an important place in the world history of independence. The liberation movement of Bangladesh was not only limited to nine months of freedom fight, but it was shaped through a process of long termed evolution. It was a revolution to save culture, it was a struggle to speak in ones own language, it was a protest to have ones own right and finally it was a war to save humanity. In recent time, no people have paid so much in such a short time in terms of life and property. Almost 3 million have lost their lives, 10 million were routed out from their homes and rest 60 millions were subjected to untold miseries. The freedom fighters that were the successors of Dudu Miah and Titumir had to fight an unequal battle against the highly armed and equipped Pakistan army only with their bold courage and never diminishing determination. They dared to accept death as they cared for independence. Among those sons of the soil, a few appeared in their death challenging bouts with unparalleled vigour and valour. Their heroic sacrifice erected an emblem of inspiration and profound determination to uphold the holy sovereignty and to keep the blood bathed sun of independence ever shining.
3. Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir, Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal, Sepoy Mohammad Hamidur Rahman, Engine Room Artificer Ruhul Amin, Flight Lieutenant Motiur Rahman, Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf and Lance Naik Noor Mohammad were those seven valiant fighters who preferred to embrace immortal death in an ever memorable challenging bout for the independence of the nation. The grateful nation has recognized their invaluable contribution by honouring them as "BIR SRESHTHOS", the highest gallantry award of the country.
4. Out of 3 million shaheeds only 7 Heroes have been awarded with the highest gallantry award i.e., BIR SRESHTHO. In our liberation war almost everyone sacrificed in some form or the other. But these heroes had displayed unprecedented dedication, unselfishness and courage, which will remain as sources of inspiration for the future generations to come. Indeed, this is of utmost importance to evaluate the personalities and gallant action of these seven heroes so that we can also follow their footstep and contribute for the independence and well being of our motherland.
5. The aim of this paper is to highlight the gallant acts and exemplary devotion of BIR SRESHTHOS during the war of liberation of 1971 and bring out the lessons that can be of value, particularly for the members of the Armed Forces.
6. The brief biography, joining of liberation war, gallant action, the analysis of the personality and lessons learnt for each individual Bir Sreshtho will be discussed in the following order:
(1) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir
(2) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf
(3) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Sepoy Md Mostafa Kamal
(4) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Sepoy Md Hamidur Rahman
(5) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Engine Room Artificer Ruhul Amin
(6) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman
(7) Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Lance Naik Noor Mohammad Sheikh
BIR SRESHTH0 CAPTAIN MOHIUDDIN JAHANGIR
7. Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir is the only Army Officer who was awarded the highest gallantry award for his courageous and heroic acts in liberating Chapai Nawabganj district, which remained under the Pakistan occupation force throughout the War of Liberation. Jahangir was born on 8th March 1949 in Rahimgong village under Babugonj Thana in the district of Barisal. Jahangir was the eldest son of Abdul Motalib Hawladar who was an influential personality in that area. Jahangir’s grand father Abdul Rahim Howladar was a Jamindar and contributed a lot for the improvement of that area. For this reason people honoured him by keeping the name of the village after his name as Rahimgonj. Unlike other children Jahangir was brought up well under the care of his parents. His father could foresee that Jahangir’s initial build up would be hampered in Rahimgonj, as there was no good educational institution. At the age of 4 years and 6 months, Jahangir was sent to the house of his maternal uncle, Mr. Fazlur Rahman, who was an Engineer working in Mulladi Thana.
8. Under the guidance and care of his maternal uncle Jahangir started his primary education. He successfully passed class V obtaining scholarship in the talentpool from Patarchar Government Primary School in the year of 1959. Then he took admission in Muladi Mahmudjan High School. In 1962, Jahangir passed class VIII obtaining scholarship in the talentopool. He passed SSC in second Division from science group obtaining letter marks in Mathematics from the same school in 1964.
9. After passing SSC he took admission in Barisal B.M College. Soon he became well known in his college as a good sportsman. He was also an ardent reader of the literatures of Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Che Guavera and other revolutionary writers. These helped him to grow a consciousness about the right of suppressed people and the proletariats. In 1966 he passed HSC in 2nd Division from science group obtaining letter marks in Mathematics. Though he had been cherishing a dream to be an engineer from his very childhood but due to financial constraints he could not take admission in engineering. In 1967 he became a student of Dhaka University in statistics under honours course. Within a few months he decided to join the Pakistan Army.
10. Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir joined Pakistan Military Academy with War Course - 15 on 5th October 1967. He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers on 02 Jun 1968 and was posted to 173 Engineer Battalion in Mellshi Cantonment of Multan. He showed excellent performance in basic course-29 in the school of Military Engineering located in Resalpur. After the basic course he also attended bomb disposal course in the same institution.
Joining the Liberation War
11. Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir was not in peace after the outbreak of our liberation war. Being imbued with the highest sense of patriotism he decided to join the war of liberation. He had been planning secretly with some other Bengali young officers to find out the way to escape from Pakistan. On 08 July 1971 Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir and three other Bengali officers, namely Captain Salahuddin, Captain Shahariar, and Captain Anam, could escape from Pakistan through Sialkoat border.
12. After escaping from Pakistan, Captain Jahangir along with the other companions straightway hit the nearest Indian Border Security Force (BSF) camp. From there, they were sent to Delhi and onward to Calcutta. The news of their great escape inspired lakhs of freedom fighters. General M A G Osmani, the great leader of our liberation war, went to Calcutta just to welcome these heroes personally.
13. Captain Jahangir was posted to 7th sector and was made responsible for the Mehedipur sub-sector. On assumption of command the first thing that he did was shifting of his sub-sector Head Quarters from India to the soil of Bangladesh. Jahangir had to work very hard to prepare the people of different age, mentality and background within the framework of military discipline and to train them for small-scale operation against an organised and conventional army.
14. Indeed, Captain Jahangir was a unique character. He used to spend his time by only thinking the task ahead of him. He was even dead against listening to any music in radio set. Once he broke one radio set and said, “ the villages are being burnt, people are being killed, women are being tortured and you lazy shameless fighters are listening to music and getting pleasure." Throughout the liberation war he was seen to wear only a simple lungi and a torn shirt. He, however, used to plan and lead all the operation by himself. Lieutenant Colonel Nuruzzaman, the sector commander of sector 7 and immediate boss of Captain Jahangir, liked him very much. Jahangir was his all time partner whenever he went to any meeting with the Indian Generals. The Indian Generals also had very high impression on Jahangir.
Battle of Chapai Nawabgonj
15. The battle of Chapai Nawababganj was one of the most daring operations undertaken by the freedom fighters a few days prior to the liberation of Bangladesh. In this particular battle both allied forces and Pakistan Army were deployed as follows:
a. Pakistan Force. The 34 Infantry Brigade led by Brigadier M A Naeem had been deployed for the defence of Rajshahi against allied force advance along Naogaon-Rajshahi and Nawabganj-Rajshahi axes and to guard against any allied riverine operation along the river Padma.
b. Allied Force. Indian 165 Brigade, whose primary task was to protect Indian districts of Maldah and Balurghat, was ordered at this stage to advance towards Rajshahi. The Brigade crossed the Mahananda along with the freedom fighters, and captured Nawabgonj in the north west of Rajshahi on December 14. From there, the allied forces continued their advance towards Rajshahi City.
16. Sector Commander of sector 7, Lieutenant Colonel Nuruzzaman depending on the threat assessment and also weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each factor divided his sector into three groups. Major Gias led the first group. He was tasked to give blocking position at Nawabgonj Rajshahi road to cut the communication of Nawabgonj from Rajshahi. Major Rashid, who was tasked to act as cut off party, led the second group. The third group was the most important group and was led by Captain Jahangir. He was tasked to capture Chapai Nawabgonj. Captain Jahangir took his task as a challenge and was determined to accomplish his task at all cost.
Development of the Battle
17. On 10th December 1971 Captain Jahangir with two officers and approximately 50 freedom fighters crossed the international boundary and got inside Bangladesh. The other two officers were Lieutenant Karim and Lieutenant Awoal. After getting inside Bangladesh all took position at Barogoria in the west of Nawabgonj. The prominent river Mohananda is just flowing beside this town. The Pakistanis were deployed on the home bank, which was higher than the surroundings, and they were well prepared in defiladed position.
18. It was planned that the Indian artillery will provide fire support on 11th December to make the enemy weak and disorganized. The battle was designed as such that on the start of artillery fire Captain Jahangir with his group would go for assault. The necessary coordination about the plan was also held with Indian General Prem Sing before hand.
19. Accordingly Captain Jahangir went out from camp before one day after knowing that artillery fire will come on 11th December. But on 11th December 1971 on predetermined time there was no artillery shelling on to the enemy position. Captain Jahangir tried his level best to make communication over wireless set with Indian Force on 12th and 13th December 1971. But he failed to establish any communication or liaison with Indian Force. However, Jahangir was not the man to fall back. He took decision at his own that he would go for attack without Indian artillery fire support. On 14th December 2 days prior to the victory day at 0800 with only 20 freedom fighters, Captain Jahangir went out for Barogoria to cross the river Mohananda. He crossed the river by 3-4 country boats through Rah Char.
20. After crossing the river he made an assault from the north. Taking one by one enemy trench he advanced towards south. The close quarter battle became more dangerous. In this situation a section of ten person of East Pakistan civil Armed forces joined the Pakistani defence. During close quarter battle all on a sudden he received a bullet from enemy fire which hit his forehead and he died on the spot (Innalillah ......Razeun). His dead body fell to the enemies’ trench. The death of Shaheed Captain Jahangir made the freedom fighters more aggressive. Other comrades of Shaheed Captain Jahangir crossed the river by swimming and gave the message of his death. A new attack was launched with more freedom fighters and by last light they could successfully capture Chapai Nawabagonj by destroying enemy. The dead body of Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir was carried by the freedom fighters from the Char Area and was laid to rest at the premises of the famous Sona Masjid. The supreme sacrifice made by this gallant fighter was recognised by the grateful nation and he was awarded the highest gallantry award “Bir Sreshtho”
Character Analysis and Lessons Learnt
21. Dedication to the Cause of the Movement of Independence. Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir was extremely dedicated to the cause of our great movement of independence. He could very well ignore the call for joining the war of liberation and continue to serve the Pakistan Army. But he willingly accepted all the risks and against tremendous odds successfully defected the Pakistan Army to participate in the freedom fight.
22. Courage. His very decision to escape from Pakistan bears testimony of the highest standard of courage. During the war of liberation he also displayed extreme sense of courage on numerous occasions. In the battle of Chapai Nawababganj he decided to assault on Pakistani defence despite the fact the Indian fire support was not forthcoming as it was planned.
23. Leading from the Front. Leadership in combat does not necessarily mean commanding a group of people only, but it is the motivation to undertake the hazards and risks associated with war fighting. Jahangir was a born leader. His philosophy of command was leading from the front. Although he was a sub-sector commander, he never missed any opportunity to plan and conduct the operation himself. Due to his outstanding leadership qualities all the groups of his sub-sector would want him with them in any operation.
24. Organising Capability. Captain Jahangir was a very good organiser. During the war of liberation he had under him people of various background like ex East Pakistan Rifle personnel’s, police, teachers, students, farmers etc. It was indeed a very difficult task to bring all these people in the same footing, keep them happy and at the same time maintain discipline. He was so cool and composed that people used to wonder as to how a boy of 23-24 years of age with such innocent look could act like an iron man.
BIR SRESHTHO LANCE NAIK MUNSHI ABDUR ROUF
25. Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf was born in May 1943 in a village named Salamatpur of Boalkhali Thana in Faridpur District. His father Munshi Mehedhi Hossain was an Imam of the village mosque. Rouf’s father died when he was very young. His mother Mosammat Mukidunnesa was very loving and kind to Rouf. He had two sisters, Zahura and Hazera. Rouf’s family faced severe poverty after the death of his father. His mother started stitching clothes and making other handicrafts to earn some money to bring up her beloved children.
26. Rouf was an indomitable and dare devil boy. He was quite intelligent but not an attentive student. Though at the later stage he became quite attentive to the studies but could not continue because of poverty. The fatherless child had to sacrifice his studies and join the then East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) at a very early age for the sustenance of his family.
27. It was learnt from his comrades that he used to be a disciplined and serious type of soldier, who took responsibilities with utmost sincerity and dedication. At the same time, he had love and affection towards his family. On joining the EPR he had been regularly sending major portion of the salary to his mother for maintaining the family.
The Heroic Incidents of Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf
28. After the barbaric assault of the Pakistan forces on the innocent Bengalis on the fateful night of 25 March of 1971, Munshi Abdur Rouf deserted EPR with a group of soldiers and joined 8 E Bengal, then located at Sholoshahar in the Chittagong City. The battalion was deployed at Kalurghat in order to control the public unrest. 8 E Bengal under the leadership of Major Ziaur Rahman revolted against the Pakistan government and joined the liberation war. Having gained tactical control over Chittagong City the Pakistanis started fanning out towards the countryside and attacked Kalurghat defence of 8 E Bengal. Subsequently as the pressure of Pakistani forces was increasing 8 East Bengal had to fall back. The next deployment were as follows :
a. Defence in area RANGAMATI keeping Battalion Headquarters at MAHALCHARI.
b. One Company at GIHAGAR under Captain Aftab Kadir.
c. One Company at MIRERSHARAI under Captain Oli Ahmed.
d. One Company at BURIGHAT under Captain Kalequzzaman
e. One Company at BARKAL under Lieutenant Mahfuz
f. One Company at KUTUBCHARI under Subeder Motaleb
29. Operation Burighat. Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf was deployed with the company at Bhurighat. On 20 April 71 at 1500 hours two companies from 2nd Commando Battalion of Pakistan force was approaching towards the defensive location with seven speed boats and two motor launches. When enemy identified the Burighat defensive location they resorted to firing with their automatics and mortars. Munshi Abdur Rouf's company also started returning fire. In turn enemy brought massive mortar fire, which created panic and shock among the protective troops. Most of the company mates of Munshi Abdur Rouf jumped into the water out of shock and fear. It was only Bir Sreshtho Rouf who stood audaciously with machine gun to stop the enemy advance. As a result they suffered heavy casualties and moved back for a while. Later the Pakistani forces landed ashore and resumed heavy mortar and Machine gun firing on Munshi Abdur Rouf’s position with a view to clearing the opposition in one go. Company Commander Captain Khalequzzaman could foresee that he would suffer heavy casualties if he did not withdraw at this stage. Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf was a valiant fighter. This brave and courageous soldier told the Company Commander, “Sir, I will keep the enemy busy with covering fire, you should move behind with the company.” Due to the boldness and valor of Munshi Abdur Rouf both the enemy watercrafts had to fall back to a safe distance. Since the location of Bir Sreshtho Rouf's bunker was exposed to the enemy, they correctly shelled on this position and thus a great hero of our liberation took his last breath holding his machine-gun.
Character Analysis and Lessons Learnt
30. Sense of Responsibility. Before the death of his father Rouf was a typical restless Bengali village boy. But soon after the death of his father when responsibilities came on his shoulder the boy became quite serious in studies and ultimately joined the EPR to support the family. His sense of responsibility was further evident in his gallant action in the Battle of Burighat where he alone took the responsibility of covering the withdrawal of his entire company endangering his own life.
31. Sense of Righteousness. With the beginning of Pakistani brutality in Bangladesh, Munshi Abdur Rouf deserted EPR with a group of EPR jawans and joined 8 East Bengal. This very incident expresses that he was quite aware of the then political situation of the country. The moment he realized that Pakistani forces were unjustly torturing his fellow countrymen, he revolted against the authorities and responded to the national call.
32. Courage and Intrepidity. When A company of 8 East Bengal came under heavy fire of 2 Commando Battalion of Pakistani forces, most of the soldiers of the company jumped into the water out of fear and panic. But it was only Rouf who stood undaunted with his machine gun and blocked enemy’s further penetration. During this brief encounter the enemy suffered heavy casualties and was forced to abandon the operation. This was possible because of the valor of Rouf who even did not budge before he was shot to death.
BIR SRESHTHO MD MOSTAFA KAMAL
33. Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Sepoy Md Mostafa Kamal was born in West Hazipur village of Doulat Khan thana in the district of greater Barisal presently in Bhola. His father Havilder Md Habibur Rahman was then serving in the Pakistan Army. The birth of Mostafa Kamal brought happiness to his parents who were determined to bring him up with extra care.
34. Mostafa Kamal passed his childhood with his parents in the cantonment where he had the scope of witnessing the disciplined life of soldiers. As the days passed by he was fascinated by the military profession and started nurturing the dream of becoming a soldier. But his father was reluctant to allow him to join the Army. On 16 December 1967 against the desire of his parents he left his house without informing anyone and joined the army.
35. After initial training Mostafa Kamal was posted to 4 East Bengal which was located at Comilla Cantonment. From the very outset of his career Mostafa Kamal displayed extra ordinary qualities and soon became one of the best soldiers of the unit. He was a good athlete and became the best boxer of his unit. It may be noted that the East Bengal Regimental Centre Boxing Ring was named after this great hero to recognise his excellence in the field of boxing which no doubt inspires today’s young soldiers.
The Battle of Gangasagar.
36. The battle of Gangasagar will be remembered for long time to come mainly because of the supreme sacrifice that was made by Shaheed Sepoy Md Mostafa Kamal. Gangasagar is located at Kasba Thana of Brahmanbaria near Akhaura. In April 1971, 4 East Bengal after fighting a series of smaller engagements took up defensive position at Akhaura along the river Titas. The Pakistanis attacked Akhaura from Brahmanbaria, which was repulsed with heavy casualties to the Pakistani forces. However, Pakistani troops led by 12 Frontier Force (FF), which was advancing from Comilla, succeeded in capturing Saidabad. The enemy then advanced further along the railway line and contacted the defence at Gangasagar.
37. Shaheed Sepoy Md Mostafa Kamal, was a member of the number 2 Platoon of A Company. Their platoon took up defence at village Dorwin facing towards south- west. Beside one platoon of regular troops of 4 East Bengal, this position was further strengthened by one platoon of EPR and local freedom fighters. This position could not be administratively supported but the troops stood firm in their position for performing the assigned tasks. On 13 April 1971, the Pakistani forces reached Gangasagar but their advance was effectively stopped on the southern side of Hawra Nadi by the platoon of Sepoy Md Mostafa Kamal. The Pakistanis immediately launched a quick attack on own defensive position at Dorwin supported by heavy artillery fire, but own troops repulsed their attack firmly causing the death of 3 Pakistani officers and about 70/75 soldiers. Pakistanis after consolidating their position started engaging our troops frontally from Gangasagar Bazar. A fresh battalion was inducted by the Pakistani Brigade Commander and was ordered to clear village Dorwin within next two days.
38. At that time Captain Ainuddin was commanding 4 East Bengal troops at Akhaura. Realizing the impending threat, he went to Dorwin and instructed the troops to inflict maximum casualties on to the enemy and withdraw to Akhaura when they would not be able to hold the enemy further. Shaheed Sepoy Md Mostafa Kamal had been fighting aggressively along with his comrades and succeeded in halting enemy advance towards Akhaura. However heavy enemy artillery shelling and huge exchanges of fire left some 8 soldiers killed. On 17 April 1971, number 11 platoon of D Company under Havilder Munir Ahmed was sent to strengthen the defence at Dorwin. On 18 April 1971, at about 1100 hours, the Pakistanis launched a fresh attack with a battalion strength supported by artillery. The positions were contained from the south and the main effort was directed from the east. All the troops except the great hero Mostafa started withdrawing as instructed earlier. Shaheed Sepoy Mostafa Kamal was operating Light Machine Gun (LMG) which he took over after the death of a soldier. He collected 800 rounds of ammunition and utilized these to the fullest.
39. The Pakistanis progressed slowly due to the continued fire from the LMG of Sepoy Mostafa Kamal. The last two soldiers who had been fighting alongside Sepoy Mostafa started withdrawing and requested Mostafa repeatedly to fall back. But Mostafa refused to leave his trench. He was well aware that the safe extrication of his comrades largely depended on his continued supporting fire. Pakistanis eventually closed within 50 meters of his trench and encircled him. They asked him to surrender. Mostafa, meanwhile, finished all his ammunition. At this critical juncture of his life Mostafa showed exemplary courage and decided not to surrender. He utilized both the grenades as the enemy reached within grenade firing distance. He then jumped out of his trench and charged on the enemy with the empty LMG shouting “JOY BANGLA”. In the process he received heavy volume of fire and embraced shahadat near a palm tree. The grateful nation awarded this great son of the soil with the highest gallantry award BIR SRESHTHO for his outstanding courage, comradeship and dedication to the cause of the motherland. In the citation it was narrated that shaheed Mostafa Kamal fought for two days and caused the lives of at least 150 Pakistani soldiers.
Character Analysis ands Lessons Learnt
40. Courage. Indeed, Sepoy Mostafa displayed exceptional courage and vigor while he was alone covering the withdrawal of his entire company and in the process embraced shahadat. The indomitable courage that he displayed is certainly a matter of great pride for all the soldiers. The bravery and valor that he displayed reflected the morale of our soldiers in the war of liberation. The supreme sacrifice that he made for the motherland will be written in golden letters for ages to come.
41. Patriotism. Mostafa Kamal used to love his motherland like his own mother. He left his house and joined the army ignoring his parents’ will to serve the country. He exhibited supreme sacrifice and dedication to liberate his motherland. He took the vow to evict the Pakistanis from his motherland and for this he sacrificed his life.
42. Soldiering. Mostafa Kamal was a true soldier. When his battalion commander asked them for safe withdrawal and inflict maximum casualties to the enemy he then took it as an order to be obeyed at any cost. Mostafa Kamal could fulfill both the orders of battalion commander by ensuring safe withdrawal of his company and killing 150 Pakistani soldiers.
BIR SHRESTHO SEPOY MD HAMIDUR RAHMAN
43. Bir Sreshtho Sepoy Md Hamidur Rahman was born in 02 February 1953 in Khorda, Khalispur under Jessore district. He was the eldest among three brothers and three sisters. His father Akkas Ali migrated from Chabbis Paragana, India, during the partition of 1947. Akkas Ali started his life afresh after coming to this country. He had no property to support himself or his family. He started working as a day labourer and somehow managed to survive. As Hamid grew up he lent his helping hand to his father. At this juncture the economic plight of the family improved a bit. But poverty still kept lingering, looming over a shadow of despair to this family. From his childhood Hamidur Rahman was very sincere and hardworking. As a soft-spoken boy he was loved and revered by everybody in the neighbourhood. In spite of the economic constraints Hamid had a strong desire to study. Amid his financial shortcomings he got admitted in a local night school. Hamid was basically a very adventurous boy. He wanted to lead a life of adventure and thrill. May be to quench his adventurous quest he joined Ansar Mujahid in 1964 for a brief period. As his family’s economic condition improved further, his father purchased a house in that village. But Hamid could not stay in that house for long as he joined the then Pakistan Army on 02 February of 1971.
44. Sepoy Hamidur Rahman did extremely well as a recruit in the East Bengal Regimental Centre (EBRC). He was physically tough and with his mental uptake he could grasp lessons quickly. He passed out from the EBRC and joined 1st East Bengal Regiment on 02 February 1971. 1st East Bengal was located in Jessore Cantonment during that time. After the crackdown of Pakistan Army in Dhaka on night 25th March 71, 1st East Bengal was ordered to surrender their arms. But the Bengali soldiers readily understood the Pakistani motive. Once the Pakistanis failed to disarm 1st East Bengal, they started shelling the unit location. The officers and soldiers started fleeing from the cantonment in a disorganised fashion. During this turmoil Sepoy Hamidur Rahman was on leave. He came to know the fate of his unit from his village home. Finding his further stay in the village to be unsafe, he left his house on the night of 26th March 1971. Like any other Bengali young man during that time the Pakistani atrocities made his determination much stronger. He wondered around the border areas for a few days and then went to India. 1st East Bengal was placed under the Z force during that time. Bir Sreshtho Sepoy Md Hamidur Rahman joined his unit in India. He was then posted to C Company.
The Gallant Action
45. C Company of 1st East Bengal under the Command of Lieutenant Abdul Quiyum Chowdhury was operating in the Srimangal area under Sylhet district. Srimangal was under number 4 sector. In the later part of October, the sector Headquarters decided to liberate the Dholoi area from the enemy clutches. Pakistani troops were stationed in the Dholoi Border Outpost (BOP) which was located 10 miles southeast of Srimangal town.
46. A battalion strength of Pakistani troops was deployed at Dholoi. Their positions were well dug in with adequate cover and concealment, which denied the freedom fighters the information about the extent of the defence. They also laid an extensive minefield in front of their defence.
47. It was anticipated that Pakistani defensive position was composed of less than a company. Basing on this inadequate information own attack plan was formulated. As per the plan A, B & D companies would initially bypass the enemy position and establish blocking position at the rear of the enemy covering three approaches. C Company under the command of Lieutenant Abdul Quiyum Chowdhury would act as the assault company. A control centre was established in a jack fruit garden to monitor the battle. The attack was planned without pre H hour bombardment but the company was provided with a Forward Observation Officer (FOO) to bring artillery fire, should the need arise.
48. C Company reached the assembly area Ambasa at 0300 hours on 28 October 1971. H hour was earlier selected at 0400 hours on the same day. The assault company formed up in the Forming Up Place (FUP) a few minutes before the H hour. Due to some confusion in the FUP the left forward platoon moved out before H hour and this unfortunate event prematurely gave out the company location. The Pakistanis opened up instantly with tremendous ferocity. The assault was halted. Artillery fire support was brought; as a result a portion of the BOP was under fire. A fresh assault was launched but the Pakistanis opened up again and the assaulting troops encountered the minefield. This further increased the casualty rate. The attack was halted again. From this position the company commander identified one machine gun position from where the Pakistanis were bringing effective fire. The company commander wanted to neutralize this weapon position. Sepoy Hamidur Rahman was his runner and he knew that Hamid was a marksman. The company commander then instructed Hamid to crawl forward stealthily and destroy the machine gun from a distance. Sepoy Hamid changed his rifle with an SMC from a fellow fighter and started crawling forward. He approached dangerously close towards the gun position and went all the way up to the machine gun and fired from point blank range to neutralize the weapon. He was seen jumping inside the weapon pit but was not coming out again. Yet the situation remained grim. At this stage 2nd Jatt Regiment of the Indian Army was brought forward as reinforcement and was launched against Dholoi position. On the dawn of 30 October 1971 the assaulting troops captured the Pakistani position. Sepoy Hamid’s body was retrieved from the machine gun position. His body was carried back to India and was buried in Ambasa. Bangladesh Rifles Headquarters constructed a monument commemorating his contribution at Dholoi in the place where he embraced Shahadat.
Character Analysis and Lessons Learnt
49. Professionalism. Bir Sreshtho shaheed Sepoy Hamidur Rahman did extremely well as a recruit in the East Bengal Regimental Centre. He was physically tough as well as a marksman. Finally due to his skill in weapon handling, he was selected by his company commander to neutralise the enemy machine gun position at Dholoi. His professionalism paid dividend in this action.
50. Loyalty. Hamidur Rahman was loyal to his commander at all stage. Once his company commander ordered him to crawl forward and neutralise the machine gun position, at once he became ready and performed the most risky and dangerous task.
51. Courage. Bir Sreshtho Sepoy Hamidur Rahman had shown extreme courage in the realm of danger during Dholoi operation. Though he was tasked to crawl forward and fire at enemy machine gun position from a distance, the brave soldier went all the way up to the machine gun post and fired from point blank range.
52. A Good Cause. The liberation war was fought and won in the face of numerous difficulties. There was lack of modern arms and ammunition, essential equipment and basic supply. But our strong desire to liberate the motherland and our unconditional love for the country inspired us towards a glorious victory. It was the firm conviction to this cause, which led Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Sepoy Md Hamidur Rahman to sacrifice his life for our motherland.
53. Importance of Gaining Maximum Information. Planning an offensive requires detail information. Dholoi operation was planned basing on inaccurate information. The strength of defence force was underestimated, presence of minefield was not identified and the boggy area short of the objective was also not known. One company was launched against more than a company strength of the enemy. This gap of information costed us gravely at Dholoi. The attacking troops remained between the start line and the objective for about 48 hours and it took away lives of many including that of Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Sepoy Md Hamidur Rahman. However, it is to be mentioned that it will not always be possible to gain complete information about enemy disposition and terrain. Commanders at all level should always be ready to fight such impromptu targets as the attack progresses.
54. Achieving Surprise and Fire Support Plan. Surprise is essentially important for any offensive operation. It can be achieved by attacking from an unexpected direction, at an unexpected time or with a faster speed. Surprise is often achieved by not firing the pre H-hour bombardment. The idea is to conceal the attack until the last moment. This technique was also applied in the Dholoi operation by launching the attack stealthy. But it was launched without even knowing the enemy positions accurately; consequently, the surprise could not be achieved. The enemy brought down heavy defensive fire on the assaulting troops and it was too late to bring in the supporting fire. Therefore, if the possibility of maintaining surprise is doubtful then adequate fire should be effected on the enemy position to soften up his fighting capability.
55. Maintenance of Initiative. In any assault initiative must be maintained from the beginning to the end. Commander at all levels must assess the situation and take appropriate action rather than waiting for orders. This requires a sense of responsibility and a will to win. The Dholoi operation was successful because of the initiative of commanders at all levels. The example of determination and fortitude set by the C company in the face of the stiff resistance of enemy, bears the testimony of the saying; “He who beholds initiative wins the game.”
BIR SHRESTHO MUHAMMAD RUHUL AMIN
56. Shaheed Engine Room Artificier-1 Muhammad Ruhul Amin was born in 01 February 1934 in the village of Bagpachra of Begumgonj thana under Noakhali District. He is the son of Mohammad Azhar Mia. He passed his Matriculation Examination in 1949. From his very boyhood he had great thirst for education and Knowledge. That is why he took up a job in a newspaper, but his inquisitive mind could not stay there for long. From his boyhood he was very courageous, obedient, sincere and dutiful.
57. Shaheed Muhammad Ruhul Amin joined the then Pakistan Navy as a sailor in 1951 and received initial and technical training of the Navy at PNS Karsaz Naval Base in Karachi. Subsequently he served in number of naval ships of Pakistan Navy. In 1965 after completion of necessary training he was promoted to the rank of Artificier-1. He was decorated with 3 medals of the Pakistan Navy due to his extra ordinary achievements. During this time he had the opportunity of making good-will tours in different countries including Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. In 1968 he was posted to PNS Bakhtiar at Chittagong and was serving there till liberation war broke out.
Joining of Liberation War and the Gallant Action
58. During the freedom movement in 1971, he was acting as Engine Room Artificier-1 in the gunboat PNS Comilla under Bakhtiar Naval Base at Chittagong. After the barbarous crack down of the 25th March, he left his place of duty and returned to his village home. Then he organised the students and youths of the village and imparted military training to them. He along with nearly 500 students and youths reached the sector HQ 3 in Agartala in May. During this period he actively participated in the war of liberation under the Ex Chief of Army Staff Major General Shafiullah.
59. Bangladesh Navy was raised on 28 September 1971 with two vessels PADMA and POLASH. Ruhul Amin being a sailor joined in the Navy and was posted to POLASH. At that time no Bengali Officers were available. Two Indian Naval officers were in charge of these two vessels. In the first operation POLASH sailed from Haldia port on 9 November 1971 and mined PASSUR River channel successfully. Success of POLASH and PADMA together with commando operations of the valiant fighters could draw the world media attention at the first instance. All this was possible due to the heroic actions by the Bangalee crews of those two ships. Ruhul Amin was so dedicated and devoted that after the Commissioning of POLASH, it did never face any difficulties from engine side.
60. On 10 Dec 1971 at 0400 hours the convoy of INS PUNUIL, BNS POLASH and PADMA in sequence weighed anchor and sailed for Mongla from Hiron Point and reached Mongla at 0900 hours. This time the mission was to capture PNS Titumir at Mongla port. At 1200 hours, when the convoy reached nearer to Khulna, 4 aircrafts flew over the convoy. POLASH was equipped with anti aircraft guns; hence permission was sought to engage the aircraft’s. But POLASH was told not to open fire as Officer in Tactical Command, Commander Mohendra Nath Shamanta identified those to be Indian aircraft. Surprisingly after a few minutes those aircrafts first bombed PADMA and then on to POLASH. The ships were on fire. The ship magazine of POLASH stared exploding putting the safety of the ship in jeopardy. On such dangerous situation maximum crews of POLASH abandoned the ship, but Ruhul Amin did not. He was trying to extinguish fire on board and keep POLASH floating. He said to other crews “If we can not keep the ship floating Bangladesh Navy will not survive, the infant Navy would die forever.” So he kept on trying to extinguish the fire. The crews requested him to leave the ship but he did not. Even he denied the order of his officer in charge Lieutenant Commander Roy to leave the ship. To him it was more than his life. He could not let his life go like that. In spite of the request of all he kept on doing so. He could probably be successful, if not suddenly a shell of the ship exploded and took away his courageous life.
Character Analysis and Lessons Learnt
61. Morale. Ruhul Amin was a technical man on board POLASH. It was his duty to keep the ship fit at any cost. Extinguishing fire of the ship was his moral duty. Ruhul Amin thought if he left the ship there was none to extinguish the fire of the ship on board. He devoted himself to keep the ship floating and sacrificed his life. He exhibited an unprecedented example of dedication to the profession and duty.
62. Patriotism. Ruhul Amin was very courageous and adventurous from his boyhood and youth. He left the newspaper to avoid clerical job and joined the Navy. When liberation war broke out he immediately joined the war. He carried out many operations under Sector 3 and finally joined BNS POLASH. The Bangladeshi sailors made the PASSUR channel difficult for the Pakistani ships. When POLASH was on fire he did not leave the ship knowing fully well that the magazine of the ship was on fire. He thought that if the ship is destroyed the name of Bangladesh Navy would also be abolished. He could very well jump into the water and save his life. Instead he tried to extinguish the fire of the ship and sacrificed his life.
63. Nationalistic Feelings. Ruhul Amin was a Bengali by heart. Due to absence of any Bengali Naval officer in Bangladesh, Ruhul Amin and the leading seaman Abdul Jalil tried to organise Bangladesh Navy during the Liberation War. They approached former Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed for this purpose. The Prime Minister on principal agreed and sanctioned 80 lakh taka to renovate two Indian Tug ships as battle ship. Those were the first Naval ships PADMA and POLASH. Ruhul Amin felt the importance of saving these ships at any cost for the future naval force of Bangladesh. As a result he sacrificed his life to save the national asset.
64. Coordination between Navy and Air Force. Before launching this operation, the Officer in Tactical Command should have made necessary coordination with the air force. The most important lessons we can draw is that whenever there is a joint operation or two services are operating in the same area, then timely coordination between the services is a must to prevent such incident.
65. Identification – Friend or Foe. Sailors were well acquainted with the Indian Air Force, hence at first instance they identified those to be own aircraft and did not open up. But Indian Air Force was probably lacking the knowledge of identifying own naval vessels. So it is important to learn that services must develop some means, may be visual or electronic, to identify each other’s equipment. In this regard necessary training must be given before launching an operation.
BIR SRESHTHO FLIGHT LIEUTENANT MATIUR RAHMAN
66. Bir sreshtho Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman is one of those legendary heroes who had set the unprecedented example of courage and self sacrifice in the history of our liberation war. He was born on 29 November 1942 in a solvent and middle class educated family of Ramnagar under Roypura thana near Dhaka.
67. After completing his school education from Air Force Public School situated at Sargoda of the erstwhile West Pakistan, he joined the Pakistan Air Force Academy and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in June 1963. He was very good in sport and other co-curricular activities. Matiur Rahman developed a very good team spirit and comradeship from the very school life. We find the reflection of the same during his cadet life in a survival test where he forgot every thing, even his own life, to save the life of his friend Momtaj.
The Heroic Incident
68. In the month of February and March 1971 the erstwhile East Pakistan was swelling up by the wave of the democratic movement of the people. Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman’s awareness was also oscillating by the wave of that movement. Having witnessed the limitless destruction and unbearable torture of West Pakistanis, a patriotic and dedicated soul like Matiur Rahman, could not stand still. Being a pilot, the bombing of Pakistani aircraft on the soil of his motherland had further agitated his mind like a devastating tornado. It was not possible for Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman to join the liberation war at that time due to the obstruction from his family. He went to Karachi on 6 May 1971. Having returned to the West Pakistan he was looking for the opportunity to hijack an aircraft and join the freedom fighters in India.
69. The Hijack. On 20 August 1971 Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman decided to execute his secret mission. At 1100 hours on that day, Pilot Officer Minhaj was about to fly with the T-33 aircraft code-named Blue Bird-166 from Mashroor Air Port of Karachi. Having received the clearance from the control tower, Pilot Officer Minhaj approached to the runway leading to the taxi track No-4 and reached behind a hillock. At this moment Flight Lieutenant Matiur drove his jeep with speed and stopped Blue Bird-166 under the cover of his appointment i.e., flight safety officer. As soon as the Pilot Officer Minhaj opened the canopy, Flight Lieutenant Matiur jumped on the cockpit and before any one could understand anything the Blue Bird went in the sky. The imbalance movement of the aircraft indicated that there was fight between Pilot Officer Minhaj and Flight Lieutenant Matiur for the control of the aircraft. To escape the detection by the radar the Blue Bird-166 flew away in a very low level. Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman planned to take the aircraft to Jamnagor airfield of Gujrat. But unfortunately the Blue Bird-166 could not reach Gujrat as it was destroyed near Thatta. The dead body of this great hero was buried in the graveyard for fourth class employees in Mashroor Air Base of Karachi without any Janaja or any religious formalities.
Character Analysis and Lessons Learnt
70. Courage, Patriotism and Dedication. Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman was so deeply longing for joining the liberation war that he forgot the fate of his wife and children. He Knew fully well that he might die, yet nothing could stop him from hijacking the aircraft Blue Bird-166. This incident indicates about his limitless courage, a deep sense of patriotism and dedication.
71. Physical Fitness. Physical standard of Flight Lieutenant Matiur was excellent. Climbing over the cockpit and the fight for controlling the aircraft speak about his high standard of physical fitness.
72. Professional Skill and self-confidence. Bir Sreshtho Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman has displayed a superb professional skill by flying the aircraft so low that no radar could ever detect him.
BIR SRESHTHO LANCE NAIK NOOR MUHAMMAD SHEIKH
73. Bir Sreshtho Lance Naik (Lnk) Noor Mohammad Sheikh has become a legend because of his unique soldierly qualities and supreme sacrifice in the history of our liberation war. He sacrificed his life while fighting a Pakistani detachment in Goalhati-Atila villages of Jhigargacha thana under Jessore District.
74. Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh was born on 26 Feb 1936 at Moheskhali village of Narail District, the then Narail Sub Division of Jessore District. His father Amanat Sheikh was a farmer and mother Zillatun Khanom was a housewife. He got recruited in EPR on 14 Mar 1959 when he was 23. After recruitment training he had his first posting at the then 4 Wing, EPR. On 01 July 1970 he was posted to the then EPR Sector HQ Jessore. On the outset of the war of liberation, he joined 9 Sector of Muktibahini. During his stay at Gulbakpur Muktibahini Camp under Jhigargacha thana he encountered a Pakistani patrol in Goalhati – Atila villages on 05 Sep 1971 and gave most daring fight till he breathed his last. Prior to his particular operation he also displayed heroic performances in another operation which took place in Borni village, where to his credit he could kill a number of Pakistani soldiers.
75. Approximately a company strength of Pakistani Forces of regular Civil Armed Forces and local Rajakars were deployed in general area Ganganandapur and Dashati under Jhigargacha thana in two groups. Villages Goalhati and Atila are located on the western bank of river Kobadak. These villages are moderately close where field of fire is comparatively restricted. Most of the homesteads were Katcha huts with raised earthen foundation providing cover from fire. The far bank of the river is lower than the home bank with no cover other than some earthen `bunds’.
76. Muktibahini 8 Sector was concentrated in general area Boyra of India opposite to Kanshipur of Bangladesh. About one company of Mukti Bahini from 8 Sector was deployed in area Kanshipur. Only a platoon of this company established a camp at Gulbakpur primary school. In this platoon of Muktibahini, there were also some members of the then EPR namely Naib Subedar Samad, Havildar Arab Ali, Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh (now late and Bir Sreshtho) etc. The Gulbakpur platoon used to send a standing patrol to village Goalhati to keep constant watch on the Pakistanis at Chuttipur. The Gulbakpur camp had only one LMG, few SLRs and 303 rifles with probably one or two walkie-talkie radio sets.
77. The Battle. A group of Pakistani soldiers, approximately a platoon strength had been crossing River Kobadak at about 0900 hours on 05 September 71 by a ferry boat for joining their Chuttipur position. Muktibahini fired upon these Pakistani soldiers. Hearing the sound of firing while at Gulbakpur Camp, Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh who had been suffering from typhoid for previous 7 days became agitated and decided to come forward leaving the camp. Bir Sreshtho Lnk Noor Mohammad took over the LMG from Sepoy Nannu Mia and started giving stiff resistance to the advancing Pakistanis. All on a sudden his right shoulder got severely shuttered by splinters of Pakistani mortar shell. His fellow fighters tried to evacuate him but failed due to intense fire brought on them by the Pakistanis. As the Pakistanis succeeded in surrounding Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh and his patrol from almost three sides and kept on firing, Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh ordered Lnk Mustafa Kamal to take over command of the patrol and withdraw along with the wounded Nannu Mia towards further north. For the safety of the LMG he also handed over that and took a SLR to give covering fire to the withdrawing patrol. Lnk Mustafa Kamal tried repeatedly to evacuate Lnk Noor Mohammad but he refused. When Mustafa Kamal tried to evacuate him forcibly then Shaheed Noor Mohammad grabbed the tree roots and kept saying again and again “Save Nannu Mia and the LMG. Don’t bother about me. Leave the place with Nannu and LMG other wise we all shall be captured”. By giving continuous covering fire, this gallant soldier ensured safe retreat of whole of the patrol except for himself. However, Pakistani soldiers could capture the severely injured and incapacitated hero Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh and dragged him by tying his legs with rope towards the track between villages Goalhati and Atila. They bayoneted this brave soldier mercilessly, deformed his head by using rifle butts and plucked his eyes till he embraced shahadat for independence of our motherland. Later, the locals took the dead body of this great patriot to Kanshipur, where he was laid to eternal rest.
Character Analysis Vis-a-vis Lessons Learnt
78. Courage, Patriotism and Team Spirit. Bir sreshtho Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh displayed exceptional courage and embraced shahadat. On hearing the message of Pakistani attack on his patrol, Noor Mohammad Sheikh just rushed alone to the spot forgetting his physical sickness as well as the risk involved in it, which clearly reflects an optimum degree of both mental and physical courage. The very incident also speaks about his love and care for the motherland and the team spirit. The supreme sacrifice made by him on the face of enemy will remain as a landmark of courage, patriotism and team spirit in our history.
79. Comradeship and professionalism. Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh had to change his position number of times during the fight. Yet, he did not leave behind his wounded comrade Nannu Mia, rather carried him on his shoulder. Finally, he made the supreme sacrifice to allow other members of the patrol to withdraw to a safer place. It is a blazing example of a soldier’s professionalism and legendary love for the comrades.
80. Sense of Duty and Responsibility. Lnk Noor Mohammad Sheikh was well motivated about his duty and responsibility. Being a patrol party commander, in spite of his sickness, he tried up to his last breath to ensure the task given to him. It bears the testimony of his commitment towards his utmost sense of duty and responsibility.
81. Physical Fitness. Good training coupled with physical fitness is a must for a soldier to fight any battle successfully. Since Noor Mohammad was physically very tough he could fight alone even after getting injured and also he could carry his comrade on his shoulder while shifting position. Unless he was tough enough he could not possibly continue so long.
82. Bangladesh War of Liberation was, indeed, is a unique episode of history in mankind. That was the most important event, which led emergence of our beloved country. The supreme sacrifice made by the gallant heroes gave birth to Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state. In one side was the well-trained, well-armed and well-fed Pakistan Army. On the other side were an odd assortment of ill armed soldiers and freedom fighters. For these people there were no alternatives but to win and they were ready to pay any price.
83. Thousands of people have sacrificed their invaluable lives, shaded own blood for the independence of Bangladesh. Those who sacrificed their lives by fighting so gallantly for the cause of the nation could not see the first sun rise in the liberated Bangladesh. Many of the freedom fighters had died being directly involved in the fighting, perhaps, in thousands whose correct statistics have never been made. Fact is that they all sacrificed their present for our better future and for the future of our generations to come. The gallant heroes embraced such heroic death as if they were long prepared for this to lay their lives for our independence. They have drawn with their blood the name and boundaries of Bangladesh in the global map.
84. Let us pay humble tribute to the souls of all valiant heroes of Liberation War. Also to those teeming millions Bangladeshis who directly or indirectly contributed to the Liberation of our motherland and last but not the least to all ranks of Bangladeshi forces during the War of Liberation, who to our estimate, were second to none in their professional achievements.
৪টি মন্তব্য ১টি উত্তর
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জয় তাবিজ বাবার
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