The name of Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu got widespread with his long term contribution to society and politics. People know about his activities and philanthropy that was featured in a precise biography. But how much we know about him exactly? What were the activities done by him that yet peep in from hidden layers? What was the instantaneous intent of the short-lived legend that ushered without any greed, envy, and worldly expectations?
A name goes with its fame; people mostly talk about the highlights, the conspicuous deeds. And the bright achievements can overshadow the background story, as well as keep the story lid shut until discovered. Akhtaruzzaman had a chromatic life filled with accomplishments. His activities in politics were vowed for the massive betterment. Respect and love that he earned from the common people is the best achievement one can ask for. He took threats against his life and risked everything to do what was right at the critical moments. But beyond the field of critics and controversies, some of the deeds go unnoticed… Those short and momentary actions may not get a floor under the spotlight but carry enormous significance. Because every journey starts with a footstep, and every footstep, no matter how little, creates a ripple in the river of life. Enough ripples can bring change to the tide.
The article is a magnified quest to the not-really-featured activities and life-events of Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu that passed by uncomprehended.
Fact 1: In charge of Broadcasting the first Liberation Decree:
During the Liberation war of Bangladesh, Akhtaruzzaman Babu was in the team of organizers of the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in Chittagong. The reports of the South District Awami League shed a light on the time of the non-cooperation movement on the eve of the liberation war. It is said that the struggle committee conducted its tasks from its Jupiter House in Patharghata. The committee was assigned to disperse the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu when it first arrived in Chittagong. The message was sent from Akhtaruzzaman’s residence to Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra and from the radio station to all the receivers of the country. Thus Akhtaruzzaman Babu carried out the vital task on behalf of the Struggle Committee. It let people know that the war was imminent and it was time to fight back.
Fact 2: Advocacy in building Global Support & Endorsement:
Akhtaruzzaman Babu visited different parts of Europe and the US while the liberation war was ongoing. He was determined to build a worldwide opinion so that the sacrifice done by the Liberation War soldiers wouldn’t go in vain. His travel started from UK and led him to the US as a delegate. The team of delegates was led by Justice Abu Saeed Chowdhury. He contributed to the war of independence as a freedom fighter and one of the facilitators.
Fact 3: A part of the Mujibnagar government:
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu went to India when the liberation war started and Bangladeshis started to fight back. He carried out significant roles as a placeholder of the newly formed government of Bangladesh. The relief and rehabilitation committee of the Mujibnagar government was his accountable sector.
Fact 4: Ally against the Bloodbath:
Bangladesh went through several critical political climaxes right on the first decade of independence. The then political leaders were divided among themselves in opinions and gave in to the controversies. Their conspiracy resulted in an unworthy brutal massacre of the Bangabandhu family. Because of this incident, a majority of the party felt threatened and restrained themselves from actively participating. It was a critical time when no one was courageous enough to help. However, Mr. Chowdhury kept his cool and took the actions. Although they meant risking life and awaited inevitable imprisonment, Akhtaruzzaman never restrained himself from getting things done at the right time.
The assassination of Bangabandhu and his family in 1975 was an uncompensable loss for our country. For this brutal incident, the foundation of the Awami League was heavily shaken. In these critical times, Akhtaruzzaman risked his life to keep contact with the leaders and workers of the League. His actions turned the table and reorganized the party. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu also played an important role in the anti-authoritarian movement. The torture and jail confinement threats inflicted upon him couldn’t gain on him; neither could they derail him from his strong will to protest.
Fact 5: Legislation of the newly Independent Country:
The laws and policies of the then newly formed country – Bangladesh needed to be built from scratch. Everything tended to go into conflict given the vulnerability of the time. Each of the perspectives of the Lawmakers seemed contradictory. This is why reaching a unanimous decision became harder with time. Akhtaruzzaman was one of the contributors to lawmaking. In 1972 he used his experiences and exploited ideas in reforming the constitution of Bangladesh. Apart from being a part of the legislation, he protested and raised his voice when a statement went against human rights. His involvement and leading the Chittagong movement is a piece of evidence to it.
Fact 6: Invested from his own Pocket in Politics:
The trek taken by Akhtaruzzaman to social development and politics started before the Liberation war period. The practices increased after the independence of our country. His distinguished concept of politics and industrial business was not focused on gain & profitability. Rather he pursued the progress and common development of the then newly born country.
Akhtaruzzaman Babu is regarded as an ideal politician. His innate ability to get along with people made an impact not only in Chittagong but also throughout Bangladesh. He considered utmost devotion to the people of Anowara Karnaphuli as a moral responsibility. When the party needed any monetary assistance, Akhtaruzzaman Babu never hesitated to take over the financial responsibility on his own accord. He was reliable to the members of the party and a confident team-player who turned the odds in favor.
Fact 7: Started Business as a Youth:
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu paved the way to uphold the country’s economy. His pursuit of industrial progress started before the liberation war. He left for us examples that are yet to be followed for decades. His business practices started in 1965. Before Bangladesh fought for freedom, he confronted the apparent boundaries, beat the odds, and established Boyle Industry, a factory on Batali Road. He knew that there can be no development without painstaking struggle and investment. He involved himself not only in politics but also in businesses of various sectors. His business practices got wide-spread and created employment opportunities in the country.
Fact 8: Established the 2nd Private Banking sector:
In parallel with business, Akhtaruzzaman Babu used his keen insight into finance. The built-in objective for upholding the economy is proved evident in his establishing a private bank. He founded UCBL, the second earliest private bank in Bangladesh. He was the founding chairman of the bank and was re-elected chairman of the bank in 2011.
Fact 9: The big-hearted benevolence:
Akhtaruzzaman Babu established a number of mosques, madrasas, schools, and colleges. Today they stand as charitable instances at Anwara and West Patiya in Chittagong. The establishments include Anwara Degree College, Haildhar Basharuzzaman Memorial Education Center, Barumchhara Shaheed Basharuzzaman High School, Anwara Jugesh Chandra Memorial Trust & JHB High School, Chandnaish Burma College, Enayet Bazar Women’s College, AJ Chowdhury Degree College, Raipur Coastal High School, Anwara Paschim Patiar, and many school colleges in Chittagong. These charitable activities by him since the early ‘60s turned him into a guardian figure to the people of the greater Chittagong.
Fact 10: Would never Settle Abroad:
In 1958 Akhtaruzzaman Babu completed his secondary school certificate from Patiya High School. He got admitted to Notre Dame College in Dhaka right after the completion of his secondary school education. He achieved a scholarship to get admitted to Illinois University of Science and Technology, US since he was considered eligible for earlier achievements and qualities. Later he studied business administration at the New York University. He swore to serve his motherland – an oath against which the luxurious life abroad couldn’t derail him. After completing an associate degree, he returned to Bangladesh in December 1968.
Fact 11: With Fellow People in the same row:
Even after becoming one of the affluent industrialists in Bangladesh, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury never took pride in himself. On the opposite, people were amazed at his natural humbleness. He preferred being noted as the people’s leader at all times. The cordial appreciation of mass people is the best achievement that he always dreamt of.