The Language Movement initiator Tamaddun Majlish wanted to run a weekly publication "Sainik" immediately after its inception in 1947, but it had a fund crisis. Abul Kalam Azad, then an undergraduate student of Chittagong College, came forward and raised funds with his magic shows on roads.
The young boy also criticised the Pakistan government's unfair decisions in an open letter. Besides, he attended the historic procession of 21 February 1952 in Dhaka and got severely injured.
Despite the great contributions, Abul Kalam Azad is not being pronounced in the history of the Language Movement.
"It is unfortunate but true that Abul Kalam Azad is not mentioned in the history of our Language Movement. No one utters his name. However, he is a memorable figure of the historic movement," Ahmed Momtaz, historian and former assistant director of the Bangla Academy, once said about language hero Azad.
Born in 1925 to a Muslim family in a small village of Chattogram, Abul Kalam fought for Bangla in his student life. He was a fellow fighter with Rafiq, Salam, Barkat, Jabbar and other well-known language heroes.
Azad led the Language Movement in Chittagong College. The young boy wrote an open letter to Pakistan Education and Commerce Minister Fazlur Rahman when he visited the college in late 1949. Two Tamaddun Majlish activists were suspended from the college on charges of distributing the letter, though Azad narrowly escaped in that case.
In 1949-50, Tamaddun Majlish activists under the vibrant leadership of Azad raised public awareness and funds for the Language Movement by staging magic, music, drama, and jatrapala shows.
On 3 February 1952, Khawaja Nazimuddin declared Urdu would be the state language of East Pakistan. Immediately after the declaration, Abul Kalam Azad came to Dhaka on 19 February to attend the national movement for Bangla.
To calm matters down, the Pakistan government imposed section 144 restricting the language fighters in their activities. However, the brave young Bengali student leaders were not cowed down by the oppressor government and broke through the restrictions. After a meeting of the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad at Amtala in Dhaka University, the fighters brought out a procession and Abul Kalam Azad was one of the frontline participants. His younger brother Solaiman, who was then a Dhaka University student leader as well, also took part in the procession.
Pakistan police used lathi-charge and fired on the procession, severely injuring Azad and Solaiman.
Someone informed their family that Azad and Solaiman died in the procession, and the people of Uttar Hashimpur village of Patiya (Chandanaish) fell into mourning but were later greatly relieved when the two brothers returned home on 25 February.
Matriculating from Rangamati Government High School under Calcutta University, he got admitted to Chittagong Medical College but did not continue his studies there. Greatly interested in politics, he transferred to Chittagong College and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, later studying at Dhaka University's Law department.
In his early student life, he showed talent in debating, recitation, and other such extracurricular activities. At Chittagong College, he was the secretary of the Muslim Hostel Magazine and its debate club.
He was an active member of Tamaddun Majlish since its inception in 1947 and was appointed its vice-president in 1948.
The very next year, in 1949, Azad was elected general secretary of the Chittagong College Student Union, which made him more confident in continuing his movement for the emancipation of the Bengali people. He was also secretary of the Banga Muslim Chhatra League and Nikhil Purba Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League.
Graduating from Chittagong College in 1952, Abul Kalam Azad came to Dhaka University and continued his fight for the people under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In his professional career, he served as headmaster in different schools, mostly in Chattogram. The eminent writer, late Ahmed Sofa, and former minister Ali Ahmad Bir Bikram, were among his students.
Azad himself, son of late Abdul Aziz and Rashida Begum, passed away on 11 April 2000.
A TBS-Nagad initiative.