Imagine an opening batsman, getting out in both of his innings scoring just one run, yet the stadium is roaring and cheering his presence on-field. All that because of the Gunn and Moore bat he was holding that carried the slogan of Bangladesh, ‘Joy Bangla’.
The year was 1971, political turmoil at peak, when an unofficial Test match took place on 26 February in Dhaka where then Pakistan team was pitted against an International XI led by Mickey Stewart at then Dacca Stadium. Out of the 11 players of Pakistan, 10 were from West Pakistan and only one, an 18 year old teen hailed from East Pakistan.
Raqibul Hasan, the ‘Poster-boy’ of Cricket in East Pakistan took the match as an international platform to express solidarity with the freedom-loving, rebellious people of his country. He, despite being the only East Pakistani cricketer in the team, opened the innings with a sticker on his bat stating ‘Joy Bangla’.
“Originally it was my idea, my own way of expressing silent revolt and it was Sheikh Kamal who put that sticker,” Raqibul Hasan told UNB.
Raqibul Hasan mentioned that Pakistan team was given a set of brand new kits that included Grey Nicholson bats bearing swords, the electoral logo of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
“I decided not to carry the marks of the tyrants and wanted to let the world know about the righteous struggle of Bengalis,” said Raqibul Hasan.
The night before the match, on February 25, friends of Raqibul Hasan including the eldest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Sheikh Kamal alongside Dr. Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin visited him to congratulate.
“It was that night when I shared the idea with him (Sheikh Kamal). He was fascinated by it and quickly sent out to find a car sticker, yellow in red and green and 'Joy Bangla' written above. He put that on my Gunn and Moore bat,” Raqibul Hasan told UNB
The next day, February 26, Raqibul walked out to bat with Azmat Rana carrying that bat and the whole stadium went haywire. Bengalis present at the stadium roared and kept shouting ‘Joy Bangla’.
His feat gained the world's attention as a number of international media representatives covered the match.
Raqibul recalled memories about the final day of the match, March 1, the very day Yahya Khan dissolved the parliament denying power to the winning side, Awami League.
“It felt like the whole city exploded and the fire had reached the stadium. The match was abandoned and we were told to stay in the dressing room until Army convoy arrives to take the cricketers to cantonment and later to team hotel,” Raqibul told UNB.
However, Raqibul Hasan and the only other Bengali in the dressing room, the 12th man in squad, Tanvir Mazhar Islam Tanna (who was elected as BCB General Secretary later) decided to leave for the team hotel.
“I and Tanna left the stadium in plain clothes after convincing the team manager...We could not access the hotel (Purbani) because of the crowd and had to use the service entrance in the backside...We had to stay there till March 6,” he said.
However, the International XI including cricketers like Norman Gifford, Neil Hawke, Robin Hobbs, Ron Headley, Bob Cottam, and John Murray took the flight to Lahore on March 1.
Right before the cricketers from West Pakistan left the city amid chaos, Raqibul Hasan had a historic conversation with cricketer Zaheer Abbas.
“The Pakistan team was scheduled to play another series against England in May that year and Zaheer naturally thought that I’d be included in the squad...before leaving he bade farewell and said ‘I’ll see you in Karachi’. I don’t know what took over me and I replied ‘Zaheer, the next time I visit Karachi or Lahore, I’m afraid I might have to come with a new passport’. He was just standing there looking at me hearing this,” said Raqibul Hasan.
However, Raqibul’s valor was treated as treason by the Pakistani Junta.
“Pakistan Army Intelligence noted the incident with the bat and brought charges of treason against me after war erupted late March…They were searching for me and I had to stay underground to evade arrest,” Raqibul told UNB.
He set out for his native home in Hatul village of Kashiani Upazila in Gopalganj on March 28 and days later joined training to take part in the liberation war. But destiny tasked him with something else.
It was Sheikh Shahidul Islam, nephew of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who asked Raqibul Islam to fight the war in a different way by forming a cricket team with Bengalis taking refuge in India and form ‘Shadhin Bangla Cricket Team’.
“It was in the month of June or July…Shadhin Bangla Football team was already playing in different areas of West Bengal and it was decided that a cricket team will be formed to do the same, raise fund for the liberation war and let the outside world know about Bangladesh and its struggle for independence…I started to collect players soon,” Raqibul Islam told UNB.
Raqibul after sometimes reached Kolkata with his team and there they stayed with the Shadhin Bangla football team.
“Our games were expected to start in the winter season, month of December. But before we could play we attained freedom, Bangladesh was born. We didn’t know beforehand how long it might take to gain independence but it was a historic moment for all of us,” Raqibul told UNB.
Raqibul Hasan spoke to UNB about the cricket culture in the oppressed East Pakistan.
“We had many talented players hailing from then East Pakistan. However, they were not given any chance to play for the national side. To put it straight, they were nipped in buds and was always excluded from the national team,” Raqibul told UNB.
Raqibul Hasan himself was picked for a test against New Zealand in 1970 albeit as the 12th man and first Bengali cricketer of Pakistan cricket team.
“It too was an act of discrimination by the Pakistan authority although I performed well in first class matches and there was a crisis of good opening batsmen in Pakistan team…It was the general picture everywhere including Military, government jobs and sports as well,” Raqibul Hasan told UNB.
In the long conversation with UNB correspondent the legendary cricketer recalled the martyred cricketer-freedom fighter Abdul Haleem Chowdhury Jewel.
“Jewel and I were close friends. We were roommates for sometimes and we always opened for the then East Pakistan side in first class cricket,” he told UNB.
The tragic loss of heroes like Jewel and other freedom fighters was all for the liberation of country. On the eve of 48th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence Raqibul Hasan feels that without the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the valiant effort of freedom loving Bengalis, Bangladesh would not have been born.
For his epic entrance and revolt with his bat, Raqibul Hasan remains one of the most phenomenal cricketer despite playing no Test matches for Bangladesh and only two ODIs and he is content with it.
Burglaries at two bank branches as well as an ATM booth in the district in a span of only six months have created panic among clients.
Burglars took away Tk 20.33 lakh from the two bank branches and the ATM booth in the last six months, sources said.
Although cases have been filed over the incidents, law enforcers could neither arrest anyone nor recover the stolen money.
On December 3, robbers stormed the Mia Bazar branch of Krishi Bank Ltd in Chouddagram upazila breaking open window grills undercover of night and looted Tk 11.15 lakh.
Branch manager Sakib Salehin filed a case with Chouddagram Police Station in this regard accusing some unidentified people. But there has been no breakthrough in investigation into the case.
On November 16, an amount of Tk 3.30 lakh was stolen from an ATM booth of Pubali Bank in Kandirpar of the city.
It was seen in the surveillance camera that a man opened the booth machine with the help of a sophisticated device and withdrew the cash.
Four days after the incident, branch manager Mainul Islam filed a case with Kotwali Model Police Station. But police are yet to make any arrest to this end.
In another incident, burglars entered Krishi Bank’s Dhamti union branch in Debidwar upazila cutting its window grills and took away Tk 5.88 lakh on May 29 last.
Sheikh Mahbub Hossain, the branch manager, said he filed a case with Debidwar Police Station. But law enforcers could neither recover the stolen money nor arrest the bandits.
Meanwhile, the three incidents of burglary at banks have worried general clients.
Talking to UNB, they vented anger at the security arrangements at banks, saying their deposits are not safe even in banks.
Abdul Karim, a customer of Krishi Bank’s Dhamti union branch, now fears to deposit money in the bank.
He demanded that security measures be beefed up at the bank branches.
Additional Superintendent of Police of the district Abdullah Al Mamun urged the bank authorities to be more careful to prevent such burglaries in the future.
Mentioning that they were working to crack the burglary incidents, he expressed optimism that they will be successful soon.
Most public universities in the country are planning to stop fresh enrollment in their evening courses in compliance with the directive of the University Grants Commission (UGC) in this regard.
Already, two universities -- Jagannath University (JnU) and Cumilla University (CoU) -- on Thursday announced that they will not enroll any new student in such courses.
The authorities of these two universities said they will not admit any fresher but those who have already enrolled in different courses will be able to complete their courses.
Besides, the authorities of Dhaka university (DU), Jahangirnagar University (JU), Rajshahi University (RU) are also going to take steps to stop running these courses.
The DU first approved evening master's degree courses under its Business Faculty in October 2001 when Prof Dr AK Azad Chowdhury was the Vice Chancellor, and it has witnessed an exponential growth over the past 18 years.
Talking to UNB, former DU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique said the main reason behind introducing such courses was to spread higher education among professionals to enrich their practical knowledge and skills for their workplaces.
“But, now these courses are being used for the personal benefits of a section of teachers. Questionable admission process and inappropriate answer-script evaluation are producing low-quality graduates,” he said.
Even some students were admitted to these courses without any entry test that can never be acceptable, he said adding, “Now, I hope, the university authorities will follow the UGC directive and take necessary steps.”
Currently, the DU has a total of 80 evening courses under 41 departments and institutions. Among them, Institute of Business Administration (IBA) has 18 courses while Faculty of Business Studies (FBS) 16 under nine departments and Social Welfare and Research Institute 6.
DU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman said earlier they formed a five-member committee, led by Dean of the Faculty of Sciences Prof Dr Tofail Ahmed Chowdhury, over running evening courses in May this year.
“They’re still working on it and will submit a report soon. We’ll take steps based on their recommendations,” he said.
The DU VC said, “Prior to the 52nd convocation of Dhaka University, President Abdul Hamid, also the Chancellor of the university, discussed the issue when I met him in 2018. We must follow the UGC directive.”
Following the Dhaka University, the Rajshahi University also introduced the evening programmes in 2003 at its Business Administration Institute. Now, at least 16 departments and four RU institutes are running evening courses.
Evening courses are also there under 17 departments of Jahangirnagar University (JU).
The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Wednesday ordered the closure of such courses at all the public universities citing that running such courses tarnish their image and reputation.
The UGC passed the directive in a letter issued to all the public universities containing a 13-point directive, asking them to properly follow the rules and regulations in the higher educational institutions.
The directives came just two days after President Abdul Hamid had said commercially-run evening courses are turning public universities into business institutions disrupting the campus atmosphere.
While speaking at the 52nd convocation of the Dhaka University on December 9, the President said. “Thousands of graduates are being produced every year with these commercial courses. A particular class of teachers is making profits [from these courses] … and turning the universities into business institutions.”
Farmers in Sadarpur upazila, known as the leading grower of vegetables in the district, are busy harvesting brinjals that are being sent to markets across the country.
The vegetable is fetching good prices and broadening the smiles to farmers’ faces.
Wholesale traders said brinjals from Sadarpur are supplied to Karwan Bazar, Shyambazar, Jatrabari, Dohar in Dhaka, and Narisha, Kartikpur, Sreenagar, Madaripur, Barishal, Khulna, Satkhira and other districts.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), 486 hectares of land have been brought under brinjal cultivation, about 200 hectares more than the previous season. DAE officials say they expect a harvest of 11,178 metric tonnes.
Each maund (roughly 37.32 kg) of brinjal is being sold at Tk 1,200-1,500.
Kartik Chandra Chakraborty, deputy director of Faridpur DAE, said they provide the farmers with advice and suggestions regularly. “We take immediate steps if the farmers face any problem,” he said.
During a recent visit to the upazila, the UNB correspondent found that brinjal farmers of Shouldubi, Math Shouldubi, Abuler intersection, Badhanoghat areas under Krishnapur union of Sadarpur upaizla are passing a busy time in the fields.
From dawn, farmers are engaged in harvesting, cleaning and packaging the brinjals. It is the common sight in the fields from early morning to noon. The quality of the product attracts wholesale vegetable traders from different areas.
Haris Mollah, a brinjal farmer from Shouldubi, said income from eggplant is several times higher than the production cost. “I’ve become solvent thanks to brinjal cultivation,” he said.
Wholesale buyer Habibur Rahman, who came from Dhaka, said the brinjals from the upazila are in high demand because of their quality. “That’s what brings vegetable traders here from far and wide,” he said.
Bangladesh has just got two new tools to ward off malnutrition in the form of biscuit and chanachur (a popular snack) made from fish.
Although the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food, people from disadvantaged communities, particularly women and children, suffer from malnutrition.
Researchers at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) said the biscuit and chanachur contain 40-50 percent protein, 20-30 percent fat, 20-25 percent carbohydrate, 10-15 percent mineral and 10-12 percent fibre.
Ikhtiar Uddin Khandaker, Health Programme Director of CARE Bangladesh emphasised multisectoral approach to develop nutrition-boosting frameworks at local level. He noted that nutrition is a triple burden in Bangladesh that includes malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and obesity.
The researchers said the new items will help meet the demand for nutrition, especially of the children and women.
SAU researchers are using Pangas and Silver Carp fishes for producing the snacks. The two species have fewer bones and are easy to work with. Their proteins are easily digestible compared to other fishes.
“The biscuit and chanachur will be available in the market soon and won’t cost that much,” a member of the team said.
Prof Dr Ahsan Habib, the Dean of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Science Faculty, said they chose the two species of fish as they are cheap and available.
Lecturer Masud Rana of Fishing and Post-Harvest Technology Department said they named the products ‘SAU Fish Biscuit-1’ and ‘SAU Fish Chanacur-1’ while the same product of Silver Carp was named as ‘SAU Fish Biscuit-2’ and ‘SAU Fish Chanacur-2’.
Prof Habib and Rana coordinated the research team.
The SAU researchers said they will continue to work to ensure food safety and nutrition.
“These products will add a new dimension to the food industry of the country,” a member of the team said.