Grandchildren remember the valiant patriot
The rueful month of August is remembered for one of the darkest days in history with the brutal assassination of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15, 1975.
On that day, the then Director-General of DGFI (Directorate General of Forces Intelligence), Shaheed Brigadier General Jamil Uddin Ahmad, “Bir Uttam”, was the only one to sacrifice his life to try and save Bangabandhu.
Marking the 46th death anniversary of the assassinated martyrs and National Mourning Day 2021, UNB recently organized a video interview featuring seven grandchildren of the brave-heart remembered as “Colonel Jamil”: Masud Jamil Khan, Rumessa Mailloux, Jamil Khan, Nahar Khan, Armaan Jamil Hossain, Shaan Jamil Hossain and Zahra Jamil Rahman, together for the first time from home and abroad.
The special interview, hosted by noted visual artist Sourav Chowdhury, commemorated the valiant patriot who his grandchildren never met in person due to his heroic sacrifice and untimely departure. The grandchildren do fondly remember their late grandmother Anjuman Ara Jamil, former Member of Parliament and an iconic entrepreneur in the country.
When Sourav Chowdhury asked for Masud Jamil Khan’s view on his grandfather and how he feels about honouring his legacy as the eldest grandchild, he said: “Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet my grandfather in person - however, I always receive mass admiration from everywhere as the grandson of Colonel Jamil and my grandmother Anjuman Ara Jamil, a former Member of Parliament representing Kushtia, Meherpur and Chuadanga. She established the Jamil Foundation, empowering local women - which we are proudly continuing as their legacy. As the Deputy Managing Director of the Cosmos Group and also a father of three beautiful daughters, I always feel that the patriotism, sacrifice and dedication of our grandparents have always inspired us to gloriously move with confidence, pride and dignity.”
Answering a follow-up question regarding Cosmos Foundation’s focus on preserving Bangladesh’s history and culture, as well as the works and legacy of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he said: “Through our Cosmos Foundation and its artistic wing Gallery Cosmos, we have been organizing several cultural activities to fulfil our commitment to the society - including special exhibitions, art camps, workshops and more, at home and abroad. We have published special books on the Father of the Nation, namely "Bangabandhu: Epitome of a Nation" and "Brave Heart". Written by Enayetullah Khan, these books are incomparable as these have featured exclusive memoirs of Bangabandhu and also our patriotic grandfather, and I hope we will see further publications in the future."
Jamil Khan joined the session from San Diego, California in the US, and when he was asked his feeling on being named after his heroic grandfather and the similarities between the two, he said: “We grew up hearing the stories about our brave-heart Nana (grandfather) from my mom, my Nanu (grandmother) and my aunts. Recently, I learned that my Nana Bhai liked photography, and I like photography too - my photography exhibition was held in Dhaka back in December 2004. Nana bhai liked to travel, I like to travel as well. To preserve his legacy, I have plans to feature his heroism through writing and archiving publications, photographs and more.”
Shaheed Brigadier General Jamil Uddin Ahmad’s eldest granddaughter Rumessa Mailloux joined the conversation from Toronto, Canada, and sharing her thoughts and feelings about her grandfather, she said: “I was born nine years after my Nana’s passing, so we couldn’t meet in person. However, I was blessed to hear the stories regarding how charming, handsome, sincere, charismatic and humble a person he was. He is the pride of our family and our nation, as he was the only one who sacrificed his life for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman - the greatest leader and founding father of Bangladesh.”
“His legacy is being continued through his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Three years ago, my son did a project on Nana Bhai and I am so proud he shared his story with his Canadian mates, who were amazed to know about our family history. A true hero lives forever and remains immortal because of the heroic acts, and I hope my Nana and Nanu have reunited peacefully in heaven,” she added.
Nahar Khan, the youngest daughter of Tehmina Enayet (Shaheed Brigadier General Jamil Uddin Ahmad’s eldest daughter) joined from Vancouver, Canada. Speaking on the impacts of her grandfather’s legacy, she said: “I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, but I have felt the impact of his loss through those he left behind. After my Nana’s passing, it was a time of great difficulty, but what that went on to do was create a force of nature, which was my Nanu – Anjuman Ara Jamil. She singlehandedly raised a generation of strong women, who I’m privileged to call my mother and aunts. So, I have been raised by extremely strong, compassionate and brave women. I believe all seven of us here (the grandchildren), are a product of that strength.”
“After the assassination in 1975, my Nanu was offered a new life overseas, but she declined and remained in Bangladesh where she became one of the top women entrepreneurs of the country and worked tirelessly for her people in Kushtia, as a Member of Parliament. So, we’ve grown up with the example of service to others and to the country,” she added.
Further speaking on his grandfather, she said: “My Nana underwent rigorous training throughout his career which made him one of the most highly skilled in the history of Bangladesh and Pakistan Army. When my Nana and his family were repatriated, he was offered a high ranking position at Inter-service Intelligence in the Pakistan Army; however, he declined and returned to serve his country. After returning to Bangladesh, he was personally sought and selected by Bangabandhu himself, to serve as the Military Secretary to the President. So, the values of patriotism and love for one’s country is embedded in all of us, I believe.”
“My grandfather was the only person who responded unflinchingly to Bangabandhu’s call that fateful morning, and I am an extremely proud granddaughter knowing that he sacrificed his life for our Father of the Nation, a leader who brought Bangladesh its victory and sovereignty,” she added.
When Sourav Chowdhury asked about “The Black Story”, an exclusive and interactive exhibition organized and curated by Nahar Khan which tackled very sensitive issues, and if she thinks her grandfather’s bravery and courage influenced her for such an undertaking and other projects under the Cosmos Foundation, she said: “As part of the Cosmos Foundation under the leadership of my father Enayetullah Khan, I facilitate activities of our media and philanthropic arms. We established the Cosmos Foundation with the objective to create a platform for substantive discussions and research on Bangladesh's bilateral relations with other players around the world. We also have a keen focus on social and humanitarian issues, namely the Rohingya crisis, and on a personal level - I work with autistic children.”
“Last year, with the onset of Covid-19 the Foundation and Gallery jointly hosted Bangladesh’s first-ever virtual exhibition in honour of Bangabandhu, my grandfather and other assassinated martyrs of August 15, 1975. Enthusiasts around the world experienced the exhibition virtually and were able to learn about Bangladesh’s history. We are also humbled to have collaborated with the Bangladesh Liberation War Museum to produce the first-ever virtual edition of the Liberation DocFest, which drew a large viewership from around the world,” she added.
“Going back to your question about curating ‘The Black Story’ interactive exhibition, I felt a sense of restlessness and responsibility to speak up against racism, colourism and discrimination. Inspired by my grandfather's morality and fortitude, I found the much-needed courage from him. I want to be able to instil the same set of values in my d8aughter, and I believe, we should raise our future generations with such teachings.”
Thanking the prime minister, Nahar Khan said: “We are immensely grateful to our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for honouring our grandfather as ‘Bir Uttam,' one of the highest state honours for individual gallantry, and for formalizing his promotion as the Director-General of DGFI (Directorate General of Forces Intelligence), a position he obtained right before his death on August 15, 1975. I hope that many others can be as inspired as I am by my Nana’s patriotism and dedication to duty, so we can continue to build our nation. Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.”
Shaan and Armaan Jamil Hossain, Shaheed Brigadier General Jamil Uddin Ahmad’s second daughter Afrozaa Jamil’s two sons, joined the session from Los Angeles, California in the US. Sharing thoughts and feelings on their grandfather, Shaan Jamil Hossain said: “Although we were born and raised in the United States and never got to interact with our Nana bhai, his inspiring life lessons have always made us feel his presence. We learned about him from our mother, our aunts and all of our cousins, and I feel extremely proud to be his grandson whenever I think about the gallantry he showcased on the day of August 15th, 1975. It was only him, who had the courage to leave his loving family behind and sacrifice his life to save the Father of the Nation and his family. He is always going to be remembered as a legend, and I feel lucky to inherit the name of this wonderful man.”
Armaan Jamil Hossain added: “We are a very closely-knit family - all of us cousins grew up together and are very close to each other. The sense of harmony is channeled in the family through the teachings of our grandparents and their legacy. Every time August 15th comes around, I see the deep sadness in the eyes of my mom, my aunts, my cousins and every member of our family and it’s a very difficult time for all of us. But at the same time, though I never met my Nana Bhai, I’m extremely proud to be his grandson.”
Zahra Jamil Rahman, the only daughter of Karishma Jamil, Colonel Jamil’s youngest daughter, also joined the session. Sharing her thoughts and feelings, she said: “My mother has never seen her father in her entire life, as she was yet to be born. When there was no one to save Bangabandhu and his family, my grandfather was the only one who immediately responded to the call of duty with bravery and courage. I wish no one goes through the unimaginable amount of pain my mother and all of our family members had to embrace, but at the same time, I feel immensely proud to be the granddaughter of my grandparents.”
Echoing the harmony, bonding and togetherness in the family, the grandchildren of Shaheed Brigadier General Jamil Uddin Ahmad believe that the legacy of the brave-heart martyr will always be respectfully remembered in history.