Bir Sreshtha (Seven great heroes in the history)
The 'Bir Sreshtha' is a military award and it is the highest military award of Bangladesh. It is the highest recognition of bravery. It is similar to 'The American Medal of Honor' or 'The British Victoria Cross' award. It was awarded to seven freedom fighters that showed their utmost bravery in any dangerous situation in the battle and died in action for Independence of Bangladesh. Besides this award, three gallantry awards are also available in Bangladesh. The other three gallantry awards are 'Bir Uttom', 'Bir Bikrom' and 'Bir Protik'. All of these awards were introduced in 1971 after the great Liberation War of Bangladesh.
Bir Sreshtha award was declared by the Bangladesh Gazette on 15th December 1973. All the recipients of this award were killed in action during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. These seven heroes preferred to embrace immortal death for their motherland and for their Independence. They never thought anything for a moment without their Independence and nation. They were unbelievable brave, limitless courageous and highest patriotic.
These seven heroes did not allow any presence of the enemy on land, sea and the air. They tried to save their land, sea and air for their next generation. They made a great contribution in the Liberation War of Bangladesh and created a great footstep in the history. The heroic sacrifice of this seven Bir Sreshtha's inspired the freedom fighters in the battle and helped to create a golden history in the world. In the war, these seven appeared as real heroes and they were not afraid about their death. They dared to accept death as they cared for Independence.
Seven Bir Sreshthas are listed below with their ID number and Rank:
1. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Mohiuddin Jahangir
Rank: Captain ID Number: BSS-10439 Squad: Bangladesh Army.
2. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Hamidur Rahman
Rank: Sepoy ID Number: 3943014 Squad: Bangladesh Army
3. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Mostofa Kamal
Rank: Sepoy ID Number: 3937798 Squad: Bangladesh Army
4. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Matiur Rahman
Rank: Flight Lieutenant ID Number: 4367 (Pakistan)
Squad: Bangladesh Air Force
5. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Mohammad Ruhul Amin
Rank: Engine Room Artificer, Class-1 ID Number: 62066
Squad: Bangladesh Navy
6. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Munshi Abdur Rouf
Rank: Lance Nayek ID Number: Unavailable Squad: Bangladesh Rifles
7. Bir Sreshtha Shaheed Nur Mohammad Sheikh
Rank: Lance Nayek ID Number: 9459 Squad: Bangladesh Rifles
Birsreshtha Mahiuddin Jahangir
Birsrestha Mahiuddin Jahangir (1949-1971) was an officer in the army Engineers Corps and a martyr in the War of Liberation. Mahiuddin Jahangir was born on 7 March 1949 at village Rahimganj in Babuganj upazila of Barisal district. His father Abdul Motaleb Hawlader was indifferent of worldly interest and was devoted to the culture of mystic and spiritual songs. Mahiuddin had his early education at Patarchar Primary School of Muladi. He passed Matriculation examination in 1964 from Muladi Mahmud Jan Pilot High School and H.S.C in Science group in 1966 from Barisal BM College.
He then got himself admitted in B.Sc (Hons) in Statistics in the Dhaka University. While a student in the University, Mahiuddin Jahangir was selected as a trainee officer cadet in the 15th short service course in 1967, and joined Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul as a cadet. He obtained Commissioned rank in the Engineering Corps in 1968, and joined 173 Engineer Battalion. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 3 December 1968. Between 1969 and 1970 he completed the basic course training at Military College of Engineering (Risalpur) and then Officer Weapon (OW) Course-13 from Infantry School of Tactics. He was elevated to the post of Captain on 30 August 1970.
During the War of Liberation, Mahiuddin Jahangir was working in the 173 Engineer Battalion at Saiydur Sharif in Swat. With an avowed object of joining the War, Mahiuddin along with three of his fellow officers, Captain Salauddin, Captain Shahriar and Captain Anam managed to escape from their station on 3 July, and after a perilous journey through the inaccessible hilly tracts and the river Munawar Tayi crossed the border near Sialkot, and joined the Liberation War. Mahiuddin Jahangir was posted as Commander of the Mehdipur (in Maldah district) Sub Sector of Sector 7 of which Lieutenant Colonel Kazi Nuruzzaman was then the Sector Commander.
Mahiuddin Jahangir had displayed extraordinary skill and valour in some of the successful operations against the Pakistan army like Kansat, Argararhat and Shahpur campaigns, and was consequently placed in charge of the contingent of the Freedom Fighters deputed to capture Chapai Nawabganj in Rajshahi (December). The Pakistan army had already constructed bunkers with five-feet-deep communication trenches on the bank of the Mahananda covering an area of three kilometres for the protection of the town of Nawabganj.
Captain Mahiuddin along with Lieutenant Qayyum, Lieutenant Awwal and nearly fifty Freedom Fighters took position (10 December) at Bargharia on the west of Nawabganj town. At the dawn of 13 December, he along with a platoon of Freedom Fighters crossed the Mahananda through Rehaichar on some country boats and surprised most of the trenches of the enemy. The Pakistan army then retreated, took position in the town of Nawabganj and continued machine gun firing from the roof of a building thereby obstructing the advance of the Freedom Fighters towards the town. At this critical juncture, Mohiuddin planned to destruct the machine-gun of the enemy, and with a SMG on his left hand and a grenade on the right he secretly seceded from the camp. He crossed the road by crawling, quickly rushed towards the building and instantly threw the grenade on the machine-gun point. The explosion that followed caused the machine-gun point totally dismantled. But an enemy bullet from a nearby two-storied building struck Mahiuddin on his forehead, and he succumbed to death (14 December).
Undaunted the Freedom Fighters renewed their attacks at nightfall, which continued till dead of night when the Pakistan army was compelled to retreat in darkness from Nawabganj town. The dead body of Mahiuddin was traced at dawn, and he was laid to rest at the premises of the Chhota Sona Masjid.
In recognition of his valour and sacrifice in the War of Liberation, Mahiuddin Jahangir was honoured with the highest state insignia of Birsrestha. Some institutions and relics still recollect the memory of Mahiuddin Jahangir, such as Birsrestha Shaheed Captain Mahiuddin Jahangir College (now at Swarupnagar, Chapai Nawabganj), Birsrestha Jahangir Gate (Dhaka Cantonment), Birsrestha Jahangir High School (at Rahimganj), Birsrestha Jahangir Sarani (a road in Rajshahi), Birsrestha Jahangir Ferry (BIWTC), Birsrestha Jahangir Club (Chapai Nawabganj)
Muazzam Hussain Khan
Birsreshtha Mohammad Hamidur Rahman
Birsrestha Mohammad Hamidur Rahman (1945-1971) was a sipahi of East Bengal Regiment and a martyr in the War of Liberation. Hamidur Rahman was born in 1945 at village Dumuria in Chapra thana of the district of 24 Parganas in West Bengal. After the partition of India in 1947 his family migrated to East Bengal and permanently settled at Gharoda in Khalispur of Khulna district. He had his primary education at Khalispur Primary School and subsequently at a local night school. He joined East Bengal Regiment on 2 February 1971 and was posted at EBR centre in Chittagong Cantonment. On the face of the attack of Pakistan army on 25 March, Hamidur Rahman left the Cantonment for his village home, and then joined the liberation force at Dhalai on the south-western border of Kamalganj thana in Maulvibazar district.
For its strategic importance, the Freedom Fighters took a bid for capturing the Dhalai border outpost of the Pakistan army. The 'C' Company of the First East Bengal Regiment was entrusted with the task, with which Hamidur Rahman was enrolled. There were constant encounters between the Freedom Fighters and the Pakistan army from the night of 24 October till the sunset of 27 October with no tangeable result. On the night proceeding 28 October, three platoons of Freedom Fighters silently advanced towards the outpost. The platoons while approaching near to the enemy post and were on the verge of attempting a surprise, a sudden explosion of a mine alarmed the enemies who started indiscriminate firing. A battle continued for hours; but the advance of the Freedom Fighters was seriously obstructed by enemy firing with LMG from the north-east direction.
At this critical juncture, Hamidur Rahman took a vow for destroying the LMG post of the enemy. He seceded in the darkness with grenades in hand, silently proceeded by crawling towards the LMG post, and at the end of the night killed the two LMG operators by grenade shots, thereby silencing the enemy guns; but he himself succumbed to death by an enemy bullet (28 October 1971). Thus the tide of the battle was turned and the outpost was captured by the Freedom Fighters.
The dead body of Hamidur Rahman was carried by the Freedom Fighters to about 30 km interior and was buried at Aambasa in Tripura Kingdom. A monument was later erected at Dhalai border on the spot of his death.
In recognition of his valour and sacrifice in the War of Liberation, Hamidur Rahman was honoured with the highest state insignia of 'Birsrestha'.
The mortal remains of Hamidur Rahman has recently been carried to Bangladesh, and buried in Dhaka.
Muazzam Hussain Khan
Birsreshtha Mohammad Mostafa Kamal
Birsrestha Mohammad Mostafa Kamal (1947-1971) was a martyr in the War of Liberation. Mustafa Kamal was born in 1947 at village West Hajipara in Daulat Khan upazila of Bhola district. His father Mohammad Hafiz was a havildar in the army. Mostafa Kamal ran away from home on 16 December 1967 and joined the East Bengal Regiment. After completion of his training he was posted to 4 East Bengal Regiment in Comilla. Mostafa Kamal was promoted to the post of honorary Lance Naik sometime before the beginning of the War of Liberation in 1971.
During the political uprising in 1971 the Pakistan army authority with an object of controlling unrest deployed 4 East Bengal Regiment in Sylhet and Brahmanbaria. Having sensed the conspiracy, Major Shafayat Jamil along with a few Bangali soldiers arrested Lieutenant Colonel Khizir Hayat Khan along with other Pakistani officers and soldiers. Later, under the leadership of Major Khaled Mosharraf they set up defence position along Ashuganj, Ujanishwar and the Anderson canal of Brahmanbaria.
On 14 April, the Pakistan army launched triangular attack on the defence post of 4 East Bengal Regiment with helicopter gunship, naval gunboat and F86 fighter planes. Mustafa Kamal was a Section Commander of No. 2 Platoon of Alpha Company stationed at village Daruin of Gangasagar defence post.
The Pakistan army began heavy firing on the platoon position from the early morning of 17 April. Major Shafayat Jamil sent No. 11 Platoon of D Company headed by Havildar Munir to strengthen the defence position. The battle continued throughout the day. On the morning of 18th April the enemy force approached Daruin village. The main attack began on that day at 12 noon from the western part of the defence line. A team of enemy soldiers had encircled the members of the Mukti Bahini from behind the defence line. Members of the Mukti Bahini decided to retreat from Daruin towards the Akhaura railway station. In order to move to safety they needed full covering fire. Mostafa Kamal declared that he would provide the covering fire and he ordered his soldiers to retreat to safety. His fellow soldiers requested him to allow them to follow. But Mustafa was adamant.
Under heavy firing from Mustafa's LMG the Pakistanis suffered 20 to 25 casualties and the advance of the enemy soldiers was cowed down. The desperate Pakistanis began firing on Mustafa's position with machine guns and mortars. At one point bullets of Mustafa's machine gun exhausted and he was mortally wounded. The Pakistani soldiers entered his trench and bayoneted him to death.
The inhabitants of the village of Daruin buried the dead body of Mostafa Kamal near the place of his martyrdom. The Bangladesh Government conferred upon him the highest gallantry award of Birsrestha.
Qazi Sajjad Ali Zahir
Birsreshtha Matiur Rahman
Birsrestha Matiur Rahman (1941-1971) was an Air Force officer, martyr in the War of Liberation. Matiur Rahman was born on 29 November 1941 at his paternal house at Aga Sadeq Road of Dhaka. He received his primary education at Dhaka Collegiate School. Next he got himself admitted into Pakistan Air Force Public School at Sargoda in West Pakistan. After completing his twelfth class course in the Public School he entered Pakistan Air Force Academy. He was commissioned in June 1963 and was posted at Risalpur in West Pakistan. He successfully completed the Jet Conversion Course in Karachi before he was appointed a Jet Pilot in Peshawar.
During the War of Liberation in 1971, while at home on leave Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman organized the local Freedom Fighters and took part in a battle against the Pak army at Bhairab. But under pressure from his family members he returned to his place of posting in Pakistan in the month of May. Rahman made a secret plan of hijacking an aircraft and to join the Liberation forces with the plane. In the morning of 20 August Pilot Officer Minhaz Rashid was scheduled to fly in a T-33 aircraft from Masrur Airbase in Karachi with Matiur Rahman as his trainer. The T-33 aircraft was code-named as Bluebird.
During the training flight Matiur Rahman attempted to take control of the aircraft into his own hands, but failed. The plane crashed in Thatta, a place near the Indian border. Matiur's dead body was found near the crash sight, but Minhaz's dead body could not be traced. Matiur Rahman was buried at the graveyard of fourth class employees at Masrur Airbase.
Matiur Rahman was awarded the highest state honour 'Birsrestha' in recognition of his patriotism and sacrifice for the nation.
The mortal remains of Matiur Rahman had been carried to Dhaka on 24 June 2006 and laid to rest at the Martyred Intellectuals graveyard in Mirpur on the following day.
Birsreshtha Mohammad Ruhul Amin
Birsrestha Mohammad Ruhul Amin (1935-1971) was born in June 1935 at village Baghchapra in Begumganj thana of Feni district. His father was Mohammad Azhar Patwary and mother Zolekha Khatoon. Ruhul Amin began his education in a village maktab and later in Baghchapra Primary School and then studied in Amisha Para High School. In 1953 he joined the Navy as a Junior Mechanical Engineer and was sent for training to Manora Island near Karachi on PNS Karsaaj (a technical school for the Navy). He successfully completed his professional training in 1958, and in 1965 was selected for the mechanical course. On completion of the course, Ruhul Amin was posted as Engine Room Artificer. In 1968 he was transferred to PNS Bakhtiar Naval Base in Chittagong.
With the beginning of the War of Liberation in 1971 Ruhul Amin decided to join the war, crossed over to Tripura in April and joined Sector 2. He fought a number of battles till September.
In September 1971 with the object of setting up the Bangladesh Navy, all members from the Navy were assembled in Agartala and the initial structure of the naval force for Bangladesh was formed. They were then carried to Calcutta along with Ruhul Amin. The Indian government presented two tugboats to Bangladesh Navy. These were transformed into gunboats by attaching buffer gun and mine pod at the Calcutta Gardenreech Naval workshop. The two gunboats were named as 'Padma' and 'Palash'. Ruhul Amin was posted as Engine Room Artificer of Palash.
On 6 December, Padma' Palash and the gunboat Panvel of the allied forces began their journey from Haldia Naval Base, India, with the intention of capturing the Pakistan Naval Base PNS Titumir in Mongla Port. On 8 December they were joined by BSF patrol craft 'Chitrangada' from Arai Banki in the Sundarbans. They entered the Heron Point without any resistance on 9 December. In the morning of 10 December they started for the Mongla Port and reached there at 7:00 am. The patrol craft Chitrangada took position at Mongla, and Panvel, Padma and Palash began to move forward. By 2:00 pm they were close to Khulna Shipyard. At that time three fighter aircrafts were spotted high in the sky. When the soldiers in Padma and Palash sought permission to shoot at the aircrafts, the Commander of the naval crafts informed that these were Indian aircrafts. The three aircrafts unexpectedly began bombing over Padma and Palash. The Commander of the Palash ordered everyone to leave the gunboat. But Ruhul Amin stayed back in Palash and tried his best to keep the gunboat active. Suddenly a bomb fell on the engine room of Palash and it was completely destroyed. Ruhul Amin jumped into the sea and with injury somehow managed to reach the shore. Unfortunately, Pakistani soldiers and some razakars who were waiting there brutally tortured and killed him. His body could not be recovered.
Ruhul Amin was awarded the highest state insignia of Birsrestha by the Bangladesh Government in recognition of his valour and sacrifice in the War of Liberation.
Qazi Sajjad Ali Zahir
Birsreshtha Munshi Abdur Rauf
Birsrestha Munshi Abdur Rauf (1943-1971) Lance Nayek of East Pakistan Rifles, Martyr Freedom Fighter. He was born on 8 May 1943 at village Salamatpur in Boalmari thana of Faridpur district. His father Munshi Mehdi Hasan was the Imam of the local mosque. His mother was Mokidunnesa. Abdur Rauf had his early education at village primary school. He lost his father at his early age. Under pressure of the acute financial crisis Abdur Rauf joined the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) on 8 May 1963. After training he was posted to the border area in East Pakistan.
In March 1971 Abdur Rauf had his posting at 11 Wing of the EPR in Chittagong. On the night of 25 March the Pakistan army had let loose a reign of terror killing thousands all across the country. The Bangali members of the then EPR posted in Chittagong having sensed the prevailing uncertainty in the country had taken a bold step to face the enemy with courage. They revolted on that night against the Pakistan army and joined the 8 East Bengal Regiment. Under the leadership of Captain Khalequzzaman 8 East Bengal Regiment with 150 EPR soldiers were given the responsibility of setting up secured barriers in the sea route between Rangamati and Mahalchhari. Munshi Abdur Rauf, the number one LMG Operator of this team was in a bunker at Bakchhari under Naniarchar Upazila of Chittagong Hill Tracts.
On 8 April, two companies of soldiers of the Pakistan army from the Second Commando Battalion on seven speed boats and two launches launched attack on the Freedom Fighters stationed in the surrounding areas. They started firing on the Freedom Fighters in mortars from the launches. This surprise attack made the Freedom Fighters unfiled and scattered. Taking advantage of the situation a number of Pakistan soldiers landed on the shore and surrounded the position of the Freedom Fighters.
At this critical juncture Captain Khalequzzaman decided to retreat. To move to safer areas required covering fire. With the firing from the lone LMG of Munshi Abdur Rauf, Khaliquzzaman began to retreat with his soldiers. By the firing of Munshi Abdur Rauf the speedboats of the Pakistan army were drowned into the river and a good number of their soldiers were either killed or wounded. The rest of the Pakistani soldiers escaped with the two launches. The Pakistan troops moved away from the LMG range and began shelling with the mortars. The valiant Freedom Fighter Munshi Abdur Rauf continued his onslaught from his LMG. Suddenly an enemy mortar shell fell upon him and caused his body scattered to pieces. His fellow warriors later rescued his dead body and buried him on a hillock near the Naniarchar shrimp canal.
In recognition of his valour and sacrifice in the War of Liberation, the Government of Bangladesh adorned him with the highest gallantry Award 'Birsrestha'. The Bangladesh Rifles promoted him posthumously to the rank of Honorary Lance Nayek in 1973.
Qazi Sajjad Ali Zahir
Birsreshtha Nur Mohammad Sheikh
Birsrestha Nur Mohammad Sheikh (1936-1971) was a Lance Nayek of East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) and a martyr in the War of Liberation. Nur Mohammad Sheikh was born on 26 February 1936 at village Mahiskhali in Narail district. An orphan in childhood he had to sell his paternal landed property for his livelihood. Nur Mohammad then joined the local Ansar Force. He joined the East Pakistan Rifles on 14 March 1959. On completion of training he was posted at Dinajpur Sector. During the Indo-Pak War in 1965 he was wounded in the war in Dinajpur Sector. In recognition of his valour in the war he was awarded the medals 'Tamgha-e-Jang' and 'Sitara-e-Harb' by the Pakistan government. He was transferred to Jessore Sector headquarters in August 1970.
Nur Mohammad joined the War of Liberation in March 1971 while on leave at his village home. During the war he fought in Sector 8 in Jessore. He was then in charge of a regular petrol force. The Pak army having taken position on three sides of the defence post suddenly managed to surround the petrol force on 5 September, and the heroic resistance that followed resulted in the martyrdom of Nur Mohammad. His dead body was recovered by his fellow soldiers and was buried at Kashipur in the border. In recognition of his valour and the highest sacrifice in the War of Liberation, he was honoured with the highest state insignia of 'Birsrestha'.
Md. Siddiqur Rahman