"There is a difference between deciding to join and joining when it's safe. I joined the 1971 cause because I believed in it," Mohiuddin Ahmed said.
We were at a TV show on ETV a few years back when he said the above. The discussion was on the 1971 war and the participation of Mohiuddin Ahmed which produced Bangladesh.
He spoke with candour and yet humbly but the eyes were touched by the fire that lit bright that year in many other eyes. A 27-years-old diplomat posted in London, a prize for anyone, not just one from East Pakistan he had started to make it. But then the country called. And soon he was part of a bigger event than he would ever be. And he was on the winning side.
The news of Mohiddin Ahmed's death is particularly poignant for me because I am finalising our book on the international dimensions of 1971 and his name comes up so many times. He comes alive even more alive because I knew the persons on the pages of history personally.
London became the bastion of resistance at the international level, as the UK, already home to an active anti-Pakistan resistance movement, became the showcase of ordinary Bangladeshis mobilising global public opinion successfully.
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Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, then the VC of Dhaka University was on a visit to London when the army cracked down March 25. It was the very campus that had to make Pakistan become the symbol of national resistance.
Students, staff and teachers were killed and became the great horror story of our time. Justice Chowdhury refused to return home and made London his HQ to fight for Bangladesh. In that fight, Mohiuddin Ahmed played a major role.
I had asked him what made him take the plunge on August 1, 1971 when he expressed his allegiance to the Mujibnagar government. He had wanted to resign on April 10 having met Justice Chowdhury who had asked him to wait for a green signal from the PM.
He was always in touch and served Bangladesh secretly till he formally left Pakistan. In response to my question, he had a simple answer, "The power of history is often greater than the call of self-survival. It had to happen."
The Bangladeshi mission began functioning in London around the end of August and became the hub of all activities in Europe. It was the embassy of a country which existed in occupation but proved strong enough to become a reality on December 16, 1971.
We barely remember these people who gave their all in 1971 because our history is buried under the debris of politics. But facts remain, the past remains and so does the evidence of courage, sacrifice and resolve of persons like Mohiuddin Ahmed.
Once on a telephone chat, he had asked about the 1971 history itself: "Who created it?"
I said: "Everyone." The overarching reality is the birth of Bangladesh and in that it's the faces of people like him who shall decorate the walls of history. Farewell Mohiuddin bhai. Your life was so much worth living for. Adieu.