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I do not remember days, I remember moments

সোমবার, ১০ জানুয়ারী, ২০১১

Banga Bir M.A.G. Osmani

Description:
General Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani, popularly referred to as Banga Bir General M.A.G. Osmani (1 September 1918 – 16 February 1984) was the Supreme Commander of Bangladesh Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War. He equally presided over the significant Bangladesh Sector Commanders Conference 1971 during which the entire Bangladesh Forces were authorised and created. An officer with the British Indian Army since 1939, he saw service in Burma as part of the Army Service Corps, rising to the rank of Major by 1942. He joined the Pakistan Army after partition of India in 1947 as a Lt. Colonel. His career was checkered, he clashed with is superiors over issues regarding the recruitment and treatment of Bengali soldiers, earned a reputation as a hard nosed, stubborn officer, and retired as a Colonel in 1967 as the DDMO in GHQ Pakistan. A legend among Bengali servicemen for his willingness to butt heads with the brass, he joined the Awami League and was elected MNA in the 1970 Pakistan general elections. He was elected as CIC of all Bangladesh forces in 1971 by Bengali officers, a choice ratified by Bangladesh Government in exile. In April 1972 he retired as the first full General of Bangladesh Army. After serving in various government posts during 1972 -1975, he was active in politics during 1977 - 1984 as the head of Jataya Janata Party until his death.

Education:
Osmani was born in Sunamganj, Sylhet Division on 1 September 1918. He was a descendant of Shah Nizamuddin Osmany of Dayamir, Sylhet. Their immediate family members live in the village of Dayamir. Osmani passed matriculation from Sylhet Government Pilot School in 1934, securing 1st division marks - which was a rare feat in those times. Like many Muslim Bengali students of the era, He attended Aligarh Muslim University, India and graduated in 1938. Osmani then registered for M.A. in geography at the same institution, also took the Indian Civil Service examination as per his father's wishes and passed. The advent of World War II saw Osmani shelf his civilian career plans for the military. This was probably the only time he went against the wishes of his father.

Military career:
In 1939, Osmani started his military career as a Gentleman Cadet during the British Raj in the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. Upon completion of training at the IMA, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Indian Army as an artillery officer in 1940, during World War II, but soon switched to the ASC (Army Supply Corps), serving in the Burma front. Osmani was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1941 and received a battlefield promotion to the rank of Major in 1942 and at the age of 23, he was briefly the youngest officer to hold that rank in the British Indian Army for some time. As a Major he commanded a Motor Transport battalion and after the war ended, Osmani was selected to attend the Staff College long course, and upon completion of the course in 1947, he was selected for promotion to the rank of Lt. Colonel. Destiny intervened to deny Osmani this promotion because the Partition of India took place in 1947, which also saw the end of the British Indian army as an active organization.

Career in the Pakistani Army:
After the birth of India and Pakistan in 1947 following the departure of the British Rule, Osmani joined the newly formed Pakistan Army on 7 October 1947 as a Major and was soon promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Osmani chose to take a reversion to the rank of Major and attend the staff college at Quetta when he decided to leave the A.S.C and join the Infantry branch of the army. During his stay at the Quetta staff college, he served alongside (then) Major Yahya Khan, Major Tikka Khan, and Major A. A. K. Niazi, all of whom ironically were destined to lead the Pakistan army against the Mukti Bahini commanded by Osmani in 1971. After his reinduction training Major Osmani was posted as 2IC of 5/14 Punjab (5th Punjab Battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment), which was then part of a brigade commanded by Brigadier Ayub Khan, and did a tour of duty in Kashmir and Waziristan. The next assaignment was Osmani serve as an aide to the Chief of General Staff in 1949.

Retirement and continued influence:
Col. Osmani retired from Pakistan Armed Forces on 16 February 1967. Although his efforts had failed to increase the number of Bengal regiments, Pakistani High command, upon the recommendaton of Lt. General Khwaza Wasiuddin, had put the existing regiments through a battery of exercises in West Pakistan to test their adaptability and combat readiness. Maj. Gen. Shaikh, evaluator of the exercises, had commented that the Bengali units had performed superbly and the proud Bengali soldiers took in representing East Pakistan was one key component of their success. He recommended against disbanding the units and raising mixed regiments.
Pakistani high command did not increase the number of Bengali units until after 1968, when following a pledge by General Yahya Khan, the number of Bengal regiments were increased to 10 and all new units were ordered to ensure at least 25% Bengali representation among the annual new recruits of the army. Osmani, known as Papa Tiger continued to enjoy a positive, revered image among the serving Bengali rank and file in the Pakistan armed forces during his retirement, mainly because of his role in standing up for Bengali soldiers. Although he was not the most senior among Bengali officers (Maj. Gen. (ret.) S. Isfaqul Majid -commissioned after passing out of Sandhurst in 1924 holds this honor) nor did he reach the highest rank in the Pakistani army among Bengalis (Lt. General Khawza Wasiuddin holds that distinction), Osmani, along with Lt. General Wasiuddin (Colonel Commandant EBR) and Brig. M.H. Mozumdar (Commandent EBRC) were seen as the patron and guide for Bengali troops.

Entry into politics:
After his retirement, Osmani entered politics of East Pakistan. He joined the Sheikh Mujib-led Awami League in 1970. As a candidate from Awami League, he contested the election from the Balagaung-Fenchugaung area in Sylhet and was elected a member of the Pakistan national assembly. Osmani was not destined to serve as a MNA in the Pakistan assembly because after the commencement of Bangladesh Liberation War, he became a member of the Bangladesh provisional government-in-exile.

Leadership during Bangladesh Liberation War:
Operation Searchlight: Location of Pakistani and Bengali units on 25th March 1971. Some unit locations are not shown.Col. (ret.) Osmani and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Majid formed part of the team that advised the Awami League leadership on military issues during 1971. As the political crisis deepened in March, many serving Bengali officers of the Pakistan Armed Foprces began looking to Bengali politicians for guidance, and Col. Osmani was selected as the coordinator of these clandestine meetings.

Post-independence activities:
General Osmani held the title of Commander-in-Chief until his retirement in April 1972, when the Bangladesh Forces officially dissolved during the final Sector Commanders Conference into three independent regular forces, the Bangladesh Army, the Bangladesh Navy, the Bangladesh Air Force and the creation of Bangladesh Rifles. After the country's independence, Osmani retired from service 7 April 1972. He was then included in the cabinet of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Minister of Shipping, Inland Water Transport and Aviation. Osmani was elected a member of the national parliament in 1973, and was included in the new cabinet with charge of the ministries of Post, Telegraph and Telephone, Communication, Shipping, Inland Water Transport and Aviation.
He resigned from the cabinet in May 1974 after the introduction of a one-party system of government through the Fourth Amendment to the constitution. Along with Barrister Mainul Hosein, both elected MPs resigned from the Awami League, protesting at the abolition of democracy in Bangladesh by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
M.A.G. Osmani was appointed an Adviser to the President in charge of Defence Affairs by Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed (then President and Law Minister currently) on 29 August 1975, but he resigned immediately after the killing of four national leaders inside the Dhaka Central Jail on 3 November.

Family life:
Osmani lived as a bachelor throughout his life and had no offspring who exist today. His family home is 18 km south from Sylhet City in the village of Dyamir. His home in the Nayarpul locality of the north-eastern city of Sylhet, from where he hails, is currently in ruins. The Government has claimed it as its official territory.
Though a bachelor all his life, Osmani was close to his relatives and family throughout his life. Most trips to Sylhet involved making visits to loved ones, and in Dhaka he would regularly welcome nephews and nieces to his residence. Within the wider family, Osmani was known for his love, but also for his temper, his passion, his glaring eyes and his military discipline. Only his Alsatians were generally disliked, and almost universally feared by visiting folk. Famously, one niece was bitten when she tried to run away from one of the Osmani Alsatians.

Death:
In 1983, aged 65, Osmani was diagnosed with cancer at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka. He was immediately flown to London for treatment, at the Government's expense. He was attended to by specialists at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Most of his time in the UK was spent staying at the family home of his nephew and niece, Mashahid Ali and Sabequa Chowdhury. Both were beloved to him - the late Mashahid (Shahee) had helped Osmani in his later years by funding the establishment of his political party, the Jatiya Janata Party, following Osmani's exit from the Mujib government. Sabequa spent formative years of her childhood in Osmani's home in Sylhet, and Osmani gifted his allocated plot in Dhaka to her in the early 1970s. Osmani's days would pass with an almost endless stream of visitors, well wishers and acolytes calling on him to wish him well, to ask his guidance, or just to see him.
Though Osmani was responding favourably to the cancer treatment, in early February he deteriorated unexpectedly. The hospital diagnosed that he had been given the wrong type of blood at the CMH and that this was now infected. His demise followed immediately after, in bed on 16 February 1984 in London, aged 66. Throughout these months of treatment and convalescence, the famous fire in his eyes and the quiver in his bristly moustache stayed with him until the very end.
Following his sudden death, Osmani's body was flown to Bangladesh. The cavalcade of cars to Heathrow was provided with a special police escort which, with full diplomatic protocol, sped the entourage through the streets of London, stopping the traffic along the route. About a week after his death Osmani was buried in Darga, Sylhet with full military honours. His grave lies adjacent to his mother's.

And The Remembrance:
Mohammed Ataul Ghani Osmani is regarded in Bangladesh as one of the greatest leaders and heroes of the nation's freedom fighters, and regarded as a brave man never afraid of laying down his life. Under his command, the organisation and conduct of Bangladesh Armed Forces came into being without whom it would have been very difficult. The international airport in his hometown of Sylhet has been named after him as Osmani Antorjatik Biman Bondor (Osmani International Airport - Sylhet). Even the state-run hospital in Sylhet is named after him, as Osmani Hospital. Also a small flock of tourists and local visitors flock to his dilapitated home in Dayamir, Sylhet to have a picnic on the huge lawn, a swim in the vast pond dug by himself, or just to admire the dilapitated house. Recently the Bangladesh Armed Forces headquarters authorised funds along with the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs for a complete renovation of his home and add more memorabilia. Every year, Osmani associations gather to hold huge ceremonies and functions, including engaging in televised discussion of General Osmani's contributions.
OUR SALUTE TO THIS GREAT HERO.

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