17-year-old Mesbah Uddin Nowfel embraced martyrdom in the Karimpur battle on December 9, 1971
Mesbah Uddin Nowfel was one of many Bengali youths who joined the Liberation War with a dream to make Bangladesh an independent nation.
17-year-old Nowfel from Faridpur was at a time a trainer of aspiring fighters, himself a Mukti Bahini member and finally second in command of a group of college students who embraced martyrdom in the Karimpur battle, the largest battle in Faridpur in December of that year.
Sadly, his martyrdom remains unrecognized by the nation as Bangladesh is yet to have a comprehensive list of Freedom Fighters.
He was neither declared as a gazetted martyred freedom fighter, nor was any monument or establishment built in Faridpur in memory of his sacrifice.
For the last two years, his family members are going door to door for official recognition for him as a martyred freedom fighter, but the delay in enlistment keeps frustrating the family.
Contributions in Liberation War
While studying at Government Rajendra College in Faridpur, Nowfel joined University Officers Training Corps (UOTC) and ranked as cadet lance corporal because of his extraordinary results.
Following Bangabandhu’s historic March 7 speech, Nowfel and some other UOTC students started training aspiring freedom fighters at the Faridpur stadium field and at Rajendra College playground.
Upon the arrival of Pakistani forces at Goalanda Ghat area in April 1971, Nowfel and his fellow members started preparing themselves for the War of Liberation.
His first direct participation in the war began with the bombing at the base of Pakistani forces at Faridpur Police Line.
On December 9, 1971, a group of freedom fighters led by valiant commander Kazi Salauddin Nasim along with Nowfel as second in command attacked a retreating Pakistani army van near Karimpur Bridge causing heavy losses to the enemies.
However, the group of freedom fighters had to retreat for strategic reasons as a column of Pakinstani convoy rushed to the spot.
When the group took shelter in the nearby Dhopadanga Chandpur village, the occupation force followed them there. The small group of Mukti Bahini fighters fought bravely against an opposition with superior arms and ammunition.
When Salauddin got injured, second in command Nowfel asked all freedom fighters to flee from the spot and he took shelter with Salauddin in a house that the Pakistani army set ablaze, killing both.
A total of seven fighters including five others - Abdul Wahab, Shamsuddin Molla, Mainuddin, Abdul Hamid, and Mujibur Rahman - all college students had to embrace martyrdom in the Karimpur battle.
Their burnt remains were later recovered and buried in Alipur graveyard of the town on December 17, 1971.
No recognition frustrates family
Nowfel was listed as a gazette freedom fighter by the government, but his martyrdom has yet not been recognized.
In 1973, his mother, Begum Fatema Bari published a book “Shaheed Mesbah Uddin Nowfel” which is considered as the first book by a mother of a freedom fighter.
“Few years ago, we decided to reprint the book on Nowfel. When we planned to include his official certificate in the book, we visited the Liberation War Affairs Ministry in 2018 and found Nowfel was included in the gazette only as a freedom fighter, not as a martyred freedom fighter,” Nazmun Nahar, sister of Nowfel told Dhaka Tribune.
On the other hand, no monument or structure was constructed in memory of Nowfel or his fellow fighters, said Nahar.
Nowfel is the only martyred freedom fighter from Faridpur Zilla School and Government Rajendra College, but the educational institutions did nothing to commemorate his sacrifices, she alleged.
The Faridpur District Administration recognized December 9 as Karimpur Battle Day.
Every year different organizations including the district's Muktijoddha Command Council commemorates martyrdom of the seven freedom fighters, however the contribution of Nowfel as a martyred freedom fighter is yet to be officially recognized.
Nahar requested the Rajendra college administration to name a building after her brother and the district administration was urged to take necessary initiative to mark and protect the graveyard of the seven freedom fighters of the Karimpur Battle.
The family called upon the government to enlist Nowfel’s name as a martyred freedom fighter to recognize his sacrifice for the motherland.
Mentioning that there is already a school named Shaheed Mesbah Uddin Primary School established by the family of Nowfel, she also requested the authorities to develop the school and turn it into a college if possible.