Major Taher Ahmed BP (Rtd), of the first Bangladesh War Course (BWC), passed away on July 4, 2020, at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Dhaka around 9 pm from a heart attack. The story of his life and legacy is intimately connected to the Liberation War of Bangladesh and as his daughter, I wanted to chronicle it here.
Born on July 30, 1948, in Chatkhil upazila of Noakhali district, Major Taher was the son of Late (Al-Haj) Saidur Rahman and Late Tahurun Nahar Chowdhurani. His father, who worked in the ceramics industry, was himself arrested, jailed, and tortured by the West Pakistan army in 1971.
Major Taher completed his SSC from Chatkhil High School and HSC from Jagannath College, Dhaka. When the Liberation War broke out, he was a final year student of Dhaka College, studying for a BSc in Physics with all the ambitions and aspirations of perhaps one day becoming a physicist. However, the genocide of his fellow countrymen and the sufferings he observed steered him towards a totally different direction in his life's story.
On the morning of March 26, 1971, Major Taher was walking along the streets of his neighbourhood in Dhaka feeling tormented and confused about the events of the night before—Operation Searchlight. Suddenly, he found himself standing in front of a shop listening to a speech by Tikka Khan blaring from the radio. The Governor of Pakistan declared that he would never accept an independent Bangladesh. This event, along with a series of others, propelled Major Taher to go off to war for the liberation of his homeland. Leaving Dhaka, he took his family to their village home in Chatkhil, Noakhali, where he formed a platoon of 30 men and acted as their commander.
In April 1971, Major Taher and his platoon walked 40 miles across the border into Tripura, India, where he enlisted into Melaghar Camp Sector 2 (near Agartala) and underwent guerrilla training under then Major Khaled Mosharraf in order to fight in the Mukti Bahini. Then, from July to October, Major Taher took part in a rigorous pre-commission training at the makeshift Bangladesh Military Academy at Murti in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. There, he trained under Brigadier RP Singh (then Captain). Finally, on October 9, 61 commissioned officers graduated as the first Bangladesh War Course from Murti. Soon after, the young Second Lieutenant Taher was posted to Sector 11 (under Sector Commander Major Abu Taher), arriving on October 17. The next day, he was driven to Dalu (on the Indian side) where he was appointed as Sub-Sector Commander.
Among his most notable victories during the Liberation War, Major Taher entered Nakla upazila in Sherpur district and with his men, blew up Begunbari Bridge in Mymensingh district in order to keep out the invading West Pakistan army. For this heroic triumph, Major Taher was awarded the Gallantry Award of Bir Protik by the Government of Bangladesh.
Later in his career, Major Taher Ahmed BP joined the Bangladesh Foreign Service and held diplomatic posts as the Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the UK, and First Secretary of Bangladesh in Belgium, Thailand and Singapore. He retired from the Bangladesh Army soon after his return to Bangladesh in December, 1996. Later, he worked in senior level positions in the readymade garments (RMG) sector.
In the last two years of his life, Major Taher Ahmed BP built a small resort, Shopno Ekattur Bagan Bari, in his home town. His dream was to give back to the community by creating a place where he could instill in the youth, the history and ideals of the Liberation War—including freedom of speech, freedom to vote, reducing the divide between rich and poor, equal justice for all, corruption free and drug free society, women's empowerment and secularism—all philosophies that Major Taher felt passionately about and were the reasons behind his participation in the fight for freedom in 1971. Moreover, he wanted it to be a place for people, especially young girls, to have the freedom to roam about without the fear of harassment—which is unfortunately far too common in rural Bangladesh. Bagan Bari has also created equal employment opportunities for both men and women alike, something that Major Taher Ahmed BP always strived for. He and his ideals will live on.
Tahreen Ahmed is the daughter of Major Taher Ahmed BP (Rtd).