Bir Uttam Aminul Haque bids us adieu

Maswood Alam Khan from Maryland, USA
IT was 1987. I was Manager, Agrani Bank, Banani Branch in Dhaka. The armed guard of the Branch was one Mr. Baten, a young man from Munshiganj, who was quite a shrewd judge of character. I categorically instructed Baten to salute anybody who would enter the Branch, no matter s/he was our client or not, no matter s/he was a VIP client or just a normal client. But Baten was the least amenable to be trained; he would verily discriminate his salutations, always in favour of those who were either dressed in complete suits with a necktie or those clients who were pathologically ill-tempered who he always feared. Baten however did never forget to salute in his weird military style whenever one Mr. Qamruzzaman, the police officer-in-charge of the Gulshan Police Station, would come to our branch in his sloppy civilian dress.

Brigadier General (Retired) A J M Aminul Haque, BU, was also a client of our Branch. At the entrance of the Branch Brigadier Amin would always offer his ‘salam’ to the armed guard first and then shake hands with him. Baten didn’t know that the client was a retired Brigadier. One day sitting in my office while I was working I had noticed out of the corner of my eye that Baten lackadaisically greeted Brigadier Amin saying “Bhai, Kemon Asen?” (How are you, buddy?), toned in a fashion as if he met his schoolmate from his village home. Baten was perhaps waiting to be offered ‘salam’ by Brig Amin first, let alone his saluting a normal client spontaneously as I instructed him so earnestly. My blood was literally boiling.

After Brigadier Amin had left our Branch office I summoned Baten and asked him, my eyes already red from anger: “Why didn’t you salute the client?” As Baten was scratching the back of his head apologetically I told him “Do you know that the man was a Brigadier General?” Baten, in sheer shock, surprise and abasement, pressed tightly his tongue between his teeth and stammered nervously: “Kon Ki Sir. Uni Brigadier?” (What are you saying? He was Brigadier!)

Yes, such was the man Brigadier Amin, a rare character of integrity one ever came across in the history of Bangladesh Army, a rare gentleman who knew the gold value of humility, a valiant freedom fighter who risked his life to save our country, a brilliant Brigadier who was entrusted with many military and nonmilitary assignments, an Amin — among many Amins in the armed forces — who was popularly known by a unique nickname “Sufi Amin” and most importantly a devoted Muslim in the truest sense of the term who never ever did anything that could be a deviation from the path our last prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) showed for his followers.

As I came to know from one of his close relations, whenever and wherever our national anthem was played, even when the anthem was played at the end of the late night television transmission of the BTV programmes when inside the living room of his home there was nobody around to watch him, he would reflexively stand up in his calm and resolute posture and at times would salute the flying flag in his fervent sense of patriotism, in fond recollection of the war of independence he fought in, in love of a flag he could first hoist so proudly about 40 years back.

Bir Uttam A J M Aminul Haque, Brigadier General (Retired), was Major A J M Aminul Haque during the war of our liberation when as leader of the 8th East Bengal Regiment he took part in various operations in Kamakpur, Nakshi, Sagarnal, Sreemangal and Maulavi Bazar against the beleaguering forces of the Pakistan occupation army. At one stage he took the command of Z force when he fought valiantly and had undertaken many operations in and around Sylhet until the end of the liberation war. During his captaincy Bir Uttam Amin was supported by Brigadier Khalequzzaman (then a Captain) as his second in command and a number of courageous officers including Lt Col Mudassir (then a Lieutenant), Colonel Mahbub (then a Captain) and many freedom fighters including one Imdad who was martyred during the liberation war.

One colossal operation during the war of liberation was “Nakshi Operation” that was headed by Bir Uttam Amin as a valiant freedom fighter. Still today the new cadets in Bangladesh Military Academy (BMA) are taught the war plans and strategies that were adopted in the famous “Nakshi Operation” as a very important lesson on War Tactics.

Bir Uttam Aminul Haque has passed away on Sunday (January 16, 2011) after remaining in coma for about three days at the Combined Military Hospital from a massive heart attack. He was 70. He has left behind his wife, one son and one daughter and thousands of his fellow freedom fighters, colleagues, relations, friends and well-wishers to mourn his death. People of his village home will find themselves utterly helpless in the absence of Bir Uttam Amin who tried his level best to do a lot of welfare services in his paternal abode at Bashbaria in Gopalganj. His absence would be felt deeply by many people who did come across with him even on a single occasion.

The Road Number 17 near the Banani Mosque was named after Bir Uttam Aminul Haque during his lifetime. He was enamored by seeing a road named after him. He was so excited that he lovingly posed with his wife and daughter beside the plaque where on a stone are etched “Bir Uttam Aminul Haque Sharak” and a brief description of his contribution to the war of liberation. We must felicitate Dhaka Municipal Corporation (DCC) for such a laudable job done in honor of Bir Uttam A J M Aminul Haque, Brigadier General (Retired).

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E-mail : maswood@hotmail.com

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