A tribute to Col Shawkat Ali

Published : 15 Nov 2021 10:15 PM

Today is the 1st death anniversary of Col (retd) Shawakat Ali,  one of the accused of  Historical Agartala Conspiracy Case and  former Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh National Parliament. On  this day in 2020 he died of old age complicacy. He was born on 17 January in 1937 at Lunseng Baher Dighirpar village  upazila of  Naria district in Shariyatpur. His father was  a businessman. He started his education in 1942 at Babu Rammohan Basu’s educational institution. Afterwards he got admitted to Khepu Para High School in Patuakhali  and he passed  Matriculation  with letter marks in mathematics  in 1953.  After that he  got admitted to Jagannath College in 1953. While studying at Jagannath College, he worked as an office assistant due to economic crisis of his family and also to manage all kinds of his educational expenses.  Because of being engaged in service he could not attend class regularly. Therefore, he left Jagannath College and admitted in night college  ``Kayede Azam College’’. In the meantime, he joined as an office assistant in agriculture department for better salary.  Afterwards he attended in B.COM final examination in 1959. At the same time he submitted application for the post of Commission of  Army and he selected finally for the post of Second-Lieutanat. After completing his B.Com exam he joined in short course training  for 36 weeks  in Kohat in north west  province. After completing his short course training successfully on 24 January in 1959  he went  Kuyeta Ordnance Dipu capital city of Beluchisthan and he joined  the post of Second-Lieutenat in Pakistan Army Ordnance Core.    

Col Shawkat Ali got interested in politics when he was studying in class ten. Especially on 21st February in 1952 when a number of student was killed in police firing in Dhaka for demanding Bangla as state language. He used to come at Paltan Moydan for listening the speeches of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and  Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani during 1953. The two leaders  were his political icon. He was the Convenor of Kayede Azam College‘s Chatra League . 

When he was working in Kuyeta he observed that West Pakistan’s development was running rapidly and budget allocation for  East Pakistan  was way less compared with the  West Pakistan. Besides, they used to treat the east Bengal people like descendent. For these reasons the concept of independent Bangladesh came and it spread rapidly among the East Bengale people. There was discussion on independent  of Bangladesh  among the Bengali army but it was not organized.  Most probably a number of people directly and indirectly  involved  with the plan of independent of Bangladesh. He was one of them. It was not possible to take any legal step  against hundreds of agitators. In the meantime  a few numbers of  (Steward Mujibur Rahman accused no.3 and Md. Ali Reza accused no.33) revolution group of independent went to Agartala capital city of Tripura in India province. The Pakistan government blamed them, they went to Agortala to discuss  arms as well as economic  support from India government.  Indeed, the Pakistan government was loud about. This case is popularly known as Agortala Conspiracy Case (Agartala Shorojontra Mamla)  but the   case title  was `` state vs. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other’’.  

Pakistan government chalked out a list of 35 most important  political persons and filed case against them on charge of  Agartala Conspiracy Case.  Among of 35 accused Bangabandhu was the 1.no  accused  and Col. Shawkat Ali was the 26. no accused person.  After filing the case the Pakistan government arrested him on 10 January in 1968 form his work place Mali Cantonment  in west Pakistan when he was serving as a Captain of Army and then they sent him to Rawal Pindi. During interrogation he  did not told the name of the other leaders who were involved with the revolution of independent of Bangladesh. His main goal was to bring independence of Bangladesh.  He   was one of the devoted soldier of independence of Bangladesh.  He was confirm about his arrest but he did not try to hide anywhere. After six months of his arrest Pakistan government brought him in Dhaka Cantonment in the first week of February in 1968. Then he met with his wife and his two son in Dhaka Cantonment.  It’s mentionable a number of 13  accused person including no. 1 accused Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman was in third Panjab Officers Mess (prison cell). Col. Shawkat Ali was also in third Panjab Officers Mess. He met with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman  on 19 June in 1968. On that day 13 prisoners along with Bangabandhu got together in the campus area of Officers Mess. He too overwhelmed when he met with him.          

In 1969, the mass movement took place. Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani President of National Awami Party played an important and strong role in historical  mass movement. Mass people’s main demand was the withdrawal of Agartala Sharojontra Mamla along with other demands.        

The strong movement by the East Bengal People compelled the Pakistan Government to release all accused  political persons of Agartala Sharojontra Mamla on  22 February in 1969. Thus the  people of  East Bengal snatched of their all dearest patriot soldier  from  Pakistan prison without tribunal through mass movement. 

Col. Shawkat Ali was a one of the freedom fighters who participated directly in liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. After independent of Bangladesh he joined again in Army. Later he joined Bangladesh Awami League. He won in  National Parliament Election in 1979. Afterwards he also won in National Parliament Election in 2008 and he was the Deputy Speaker of National Parliament.  Particulaly he won  six times election of National Parliament. He delivered  his service for the people of Bangladesh and country  as an elected member of  National Parliament. Col. Shawkat Ali  was a progressive and secular  person. He wrote the book Satta Mamla Agortala to deliver real message about political value of Agartala Shorojontra Mamla for the next generation. No doubt he spent most time of his life  to build a secular  Bangladesh.  His name  will be unfaded among the people of Bangladesh for his great sacrifice for the independent freedom people of Bangladesh.       

Rakhi Mrong is a writer  and researcher