Sheikh Kamal : A friend, Mentor and Political Compatriot


Published on August 5, 2020
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Omer Selim Sher:

I was asked almost 2years ago to write about Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is very difficult to write about someone who is three in one to me. I would call him the unsung hero in the history of Bangladesh. He was a very amiable, gentle, brilliantly polite and modest person.

Reflection on memories is very difficult with a person who has always a nice smile on his face. I know him since mid-sixties right after the 1965 India-Pakistan war. He is a one-year senior to me by age but we were very good friend. While he was attending Shaheen School, we were at the same class as I was in the A-level, but due to English medium and Bengali medium during mid-sixties, I lost a couple of years and he became senior to me academically. But we continued to be a good friend. I met him at the Mirpur Road which is road number 8 Dhanmondi Playground where my twin Brother freedom fighter Shamim Sher was splaying cricket with him. I was sitting at the ground. He is a fast bowler in cricket. At that time if I remember some names correctly, among other players Badsaha, Raqibul, Zia and Churchill were also in the field. He used to play cricket in the first division for Azad Boys Club and Basketball in the first division for Spurs Club. He was allrounder sportsman. He was an excellent fast bowler during the Pakistan time but due to his father political connection, he was never recognized properly.

Kamal was from the very tender age was outright a sportsperson. After the army crackdown on 25 March 1971, he joined freedom fighter along with thousands of us. He was trained in Dehradun, India, where also BLF members were trained too, I was one of the BLF (Mujib Bahni member). He took training from India and worked as the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to Commander-in-Chief of Bangladesh Armed Forces, General Ataul Gani Osmani during the War of Liberation.

During the war, he was not oblivious of his passion for sports. He always raised his hope for the independence of Bangladesh and for the improvement of Bangladesh sports. He expressed his desire to the manager of Swadhin Bangla Football Team. He along with Tanvir Mazhar Tanna( who is married to my cousin Tabassum) vowed that they would bring about radical changes in the sports scene newly independent country. In that context after the liberation, he established Abahani Social Welfare Organization and in 1972 purchased Iqbal Sporting Football Team and Ispahani Sporting Cricket and Hockey team under the organization. And finally, in combination with all these, emerged Abahani Krira Chakra. Sheikh Kamal was the founder-president of this leading sporting club in the country. He used to collect promising players from every nook and cranny of the country and also hired coaches like Bill Heart from abroad. One of another friend Kazi Saluddin Turjo- a famous football player also became part of Abhani Team. I would categorically say at this point Kamal was all-rounder sportsman. His keen interest in Cricket and Soccer is today’s outcome in our national teams.

Besides his sports interest and development of sports all around Bangladesh, he was an active participant in the cultural filed. He joined a pop-singer group ‘Spondon’ and made it very successful also he joined hands with another late friend Azam Khan to make all the pop songs very popular. While Tagore songs were banned in mid-sixties he used sing Tagore song in his area and organize all the singers in well-know music school Chayanot where is a famous “Sitar” player. His tune in the sitar was so sweet that those who did not hear it would not believe how good he was a Sitar player, I have on a number of occasions I heard him playing the Sitar so melodiously that we all the audience were spellbound to listen to the sweet tune. He was also a good actor. He participated in a number of Dramas, after liberation he created a ‘Natto Chkro’ group in the Dhaka University.

Political he was my mentor and a political compatriot. He was matured in politics. He followed all the instructions of Banghabondhu to shape and design the Students League into the dreams of Bangabandhu. I remember one incident, we along with Gulzar, Pasha and may be Nurul Islam of Students league went from Dhaka College to settle the score at the Titumir College (The then Jinnah College) in 1973 between two factions of Students League (BCL). Kamal was very cool and talked to both factions and resolved the issues cornering the nomination in the students union election. Later except some opposition from JSD faction of Students our team won the election.

In 1974/75 Student League (BSL) annual conference was held at the Raman garden, I was present there on that day, Kamal came up with the committee for Dhaka Metropolitan Students League Committee. In the presence of the then President of Central Students League Monirul Huq Chowdhury, General Secretary of Central Students League Late Shaiful Alam Prodhan. Also, present our late President Zillur Rahman.

Kamal has shown his maturity and wisdom in nominating the Dhaka City Committee, he introduces some dedicated and hard-working students league members into the committee. In this conference Nurul Islam, Dablu Ezdanikhan A. Rouf, Yunus became the executives f the City Committee. The committee proposed by Kamal was accepted by thousands of student’s league members.

Politics of Kamal was to develop the students’ power and participate later in national politics. Kamal’s political acumen was very strong and full of wit. I was with him in several college and local area student’s league meetings. His unique characterises of innocence, amiability and courage he often fell victim of smear and slanderous attack by the opposition groups particularly at that time JSD and leftist groups. Although we knew all false at that time and later all proved to be false.

Sheikh Kamal is an unsung hero, who excelled in sports, culture and politics. I would call him the real gem, if alive he would have kept all the dreams of his father Bangabandhu. But unfortunately, the killers have killed my friend and a dreamer of areal golden Bangladesh.

Writer: Retired Professor of Economics in Canada, President of Bangladesh-Canada Awami League, Ottawa Branch.