Omar Faruq and the flag of Bangladesh

By Lt. Col. (Retd.) Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir on 8 December 2012

The writer is a Bir Protik, retired military officer, freedom fighter, recipient of Swadhinata Padak and researcher on the Liberation War

Article courtesy: The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

Omar Faruq was born on March 12, 1950, in Pirojpur. He was the son of Sayedur Rahman Sharif and Kulsum Begum.

Omar was attracted to politics from the time he was a school boy. In 1966 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to Pirojpur to address a public meeting in the Pirojpur town hall maidan. The meeting was aimed at rallying public opinion in favour of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's six-point demand. Moved by Bangabandhu's emotionally-charged speech, young Omar Faruq made a decision to participate in the six-point programme and joined the Chattra League. By the end of 1967, Omar Faruq had become the leader of Pirojpur sub-division Chattra League. On March 23, 1971, he hoisted the flag of Bangladesh in the Shaheed Minar, adjacent to the town hall of Pirojpur; attended by a huge crowd who were cheering the rising flag.

In a meeting of the All Party Students Front of Pirojpur on April 24, 1971, Omar suggested a plan to resist the Pakistan army in case they advanced towards Pirojpur. On March 26, 1971, after receiving the news of massacre in Dhaka and other parts of the country, the people of Pirojpur took out four revolvers, one hundred .303 rifles and 8,000 rounds of ammunition from the government armory and began preparing for the defence of Pirojpur. Faruq along with other newly formed group of freedom fighters took up position in and around the Pirojpur area. The Pakistan army attacked Pirojpur on April 30, and was able to take control of the town by May 3. Even though the freedom fighters resisted fiercely, they were outnumbered and out gunned. Freedom fighters started withdrawing from the town area and Faruq was cut off from his group and went into hiding. On May 29, 1971, he decided to move to India for joining the resistance training there. He boarded a launch but a non-Bengalee policeman named Hanif who was working in the Pirojpur police station identified him. Faruq was taken to the army camp in Barisal where he was tortured when the army realised he was the first to raise the flag of Bangladesh in Pirojpur, and was a member of the Pirojpur resistance.

The Pakistan army then decided to make an example of Omar. Weakened and damaged by torture and the beatings, he was dragged in front of the public, where they cut a portion of his skull and inserted the flag of Bangladesh. As he lay dying, the army taunted him by saying: “You may now shout the slogan of Joy Bangla.” When he died, his body was hung on a tree for several days for the people to see.

In January 1973, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to Pirojpur and addressed the people in the same town hall maidan where he had held the public rally in 1966. He spoke at length about the killings of the Bengali population by the Pakistani military, and he made a special mention of Omar Faruq who was killed so brutally for raising the flag of independent Bangladesh.

The brutal killing of Omar Faruq is unfortunately only one example of the thousands of Bangladeshis who were tortured and killed by the Pakistan army. It is a horrific reminder of how the army would go to any inhumane length to intimidate and defeat the spirit of independence of 1971.