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79th birth anniv of Bir Shrestha Matiur Rahman today

Feature Desk || shiningbd

Published: 11:20, 29 October 2020  
79th birth anniv of Bir Shrestha Matiur Rahman today

Bir Shrestha Matiur Rahman

Today is 29th October, the 79th birth anniversary of Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, one of the seven heroes who were awarded the highest honor 'Bir Shrestha' in recognition of their extreme bravery and heroism in the great liberation war of Bangladesh.

Matiur Rahman was born on 29 October 1941 at Mubarak Lodge, 109 Aga Sadeq Road, and Old Dhaka. His ancestral home is in Ramnagar village of Raipu in Narsingdi, now known as Matinagar. His father was Maulvi Abdus Samad and his mother was Syeda Mubarakunnesa Khatun. He was the sixth of 9 brothers and 2 sisters.

After passing the sixth class from Dhaka Collegiate School, he was admitted to Pakistan Air Force Public School in Sargodha. He successfully matriculated and joined the Pakistan Air Force in 1961. At various stages of his career he worked as a General Duty Pilot, Flying Officer, Flight Lieutenant, Flying Instructor and Jet Flying Instructor.

In 1963, he got a commission from Risalpur PAF College as a pilot officer. After being commissioned, he was posted as General Duty Pilot in Squadron No. 2, Mauripur (now Masroor) Air Base, Karachi. In 1986, he was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. In the last week of January 1971, Matiur came to Dhaka with his family on a two-month leave.

While in the country, he was in the village of Ramnagar in Raipur on the night of March 25. When the war broke out, he became a flight lieutenant in the Pakistan Air Force but opened a training camp in Bhairab with boundless risk and courage. He continued to train the Bengali youths who came to fight. The freedom fighters formed the resistance force with the weapons collected from different places.

When the Pak army attacked Bhairab, the Bengal Regiment formed a resistance front with the EPR. On 14 April 1971, the Pakistan Air Force bombed their base from an F-8 Saber jet. Matiur Rahman had feared this earlier. So he changed bases and was spared casualties.

He came to Dhaka on 23 April 1971 and returned to Karachi with his family on 9th May. Returning to his workplace, he decided to seize the fighter jet and join the war of liberation. He targeted the flight day (August 20, 1971) of a 21-year-old trainee pilot named Rashed Minhaj to capture the aircraft.

As per the plan, after the control tower clearance, Minhaj was preparing to take the plane on the runway and Matiur Rahman asked the safety officer to stop the plane. Minhaj stops the plane and opens the canopy (the transparent cover above the seat of the fighter pilot) to find out the reason for stopping the plane. At this time Matiur Rahman boarded the cockpit of the plane and knocked Rashed Minhaj unconscious with chloroform. Before losing consciousness, Rashed Minhaj was able to inform the control room that the plane with him had been hijacked.

The control tower heard Minhaj's message and, realizing the plane's position on the radar, four other fighter jets chased Matiur's plane. Knowing that death was imminent, Matiur Rahman tried to reach Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, by evading the radar by flying the plane below the prescribed limits.

As he was about to reach the Indian border, Rashed Minhaj regained consciousness and tried to take control of the plane. At this time Matiur's quarrel with Rashed continued and at one stage Rashed pressed the eject switch and Matiur fell from the plane. At one point, the plane, including Rashed, crashed in the Thatta area, just 35 miles from the Indian border, as it flew at low altitudes. He was killed as he did not have a parachute.

On 20 August 1971, Matiur Rahman and Rashed Minhaj died for their respective countries. The government of Pakistan buried Matiur Rahman's body in the fourth-grade cemetery at Masroor Base in Karachi. After the independence of Bangladesh, the body of Matiur Rahman was brought to Bangladesh from Pakistan on 24 June 2006. He was re-buried in full dignity on 25th June at the Martyred Intellectual Cemetery. The government of Bangladesh awarded Matiur Rahman the title of Bir Shrestha for his courageous role.

Shiningbd/Rz