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The Bangladeshi Freedom Fighter: Habibul Alam, Bir Pratik

"... The white Chevrolet rolled into the porch and two people were trying to get out. I threw the second grenade, which landed near the revolting door... It was for the first time that the people who were hanging around Hotel Intercontinental saw with their own eyes that an attack on the government was being made by the freedom fighters ..." 

For those of you who have not met a real "Guerrilla rebel", a real "Freedom Fighter", a real "Hero", a real "Scouter" and a real "Gentleman", all "in one", here is the man you should read about.

Habibul Alam, only a student at Dhaka University, joined the liberation war in Bangladesh early 1971. He fought for a free independent Bangladesh under the command of Sector-2 and K-forces. He made his stand strong and made history witness, his courage and bravery by leading the first group of 17 boys that came into the heart of Dhaka City to fight the enemy. His role in the liberation war till its very end was not just important but necessary. 

For his active participation and bravery in the war of Liberation in 1971 the Government of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh awarded him the gallantry award "Bir Pratik". 

Mr. Habibul Alam, today is a successful businessman, an active scouter having served as the Vice Chair of the World Scout Committee. Recipient of several international awards and highest recognition from a number of countries for his dedicated contribution to the Scout Movement. He continues his service to scouting as a Sub-committee member of APR and as the Vice President of the Bangladesh Scouts. He also Chair's of the planing committee of the 24th APR Scout Conference which is to be held in Bangladesh next year. 

My very first encounter with Mr. Habibul was during the 23rd Asia Pacific Regional Scout Conference in Malaysia October 2009. He made his presence noticeable as his strong advocation in the conference played a major role for the Bangladesh Scouts to win the bid to host the 24th APR Scout Conference in Bangladesh. 

I 'knew' him but I didn't get to 'know' him then.

Last week I was in Bangladesh formally to attend a Planing committee meeting of the APR Youth Forum and Conference that is to be held in Bangladesh next year. Now here presented me the opportunity.

As friendly as he is, it was not too hard to get to know him a bit. After the scheduled meetings and during the very limited breaks we got, I use to bump into him, either having a coffee or a cigarette. (On one occasion I pointed out to him that smoking is not very good for health. With a grim on his face he agreed "of course its very bad for you!".) 

During one conversation, I asked him about the Freedom Struggle, he told me that he will give me a copy of his book where he writes his story. So I waited.

Just on my last day in Dhaka, I was called up by one of the Assistant executives from the Bangladesh Scouts to inform me that I and Syd (who was also there as part of the APR regional office staff) are to be taken to meet Mr. Habibul at his office. I am not very sure about all the businesses Mr. Habibul was involved with in Bangladesh, but the Scout executive took me to the office of Bangla Net (First ISP of the country), only to find that the CEO was Mr. Habibul. We had a very casual coffee conversation at his office, where he gave me a signed copy of his book "Brave of Heart". 

I found myself deeply admired by the character of this once great freedom fighter who has become so inspirational both as a hero and legend to his people and a admirable Scouter for scouts around the world. I observed him to be a humorous, but at the same time down to earth serious (when necessary) personality who has a straight forward attitude and makes proper tough decisions and action quickly and appropriately. I found him to be among the very few visionaries I have come across, indeed born leader and 'master' mastermind. 

In his book Brave of Heart he puts his readers into the real life situation he had to experience at war. Into the heart of Mukti Bahini (Liberation Army) and Sector-2 and K-forces. He shares his journey as a Freedom fighter and  stories of the guerrilla warfare that he had to take up in order to win Independence to the people of Bangladesh. Bangladesh owes a lot to him and so does the scout movement.