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Shaheed Colonel Elahi: A Father’s Heart-bleeding

Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi and his family members. His father standing in front of him Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi and his family members. His father standing in front of him

It’s an utterly haunting recollection of my lost son Shaheed Colonel Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, ndc, psc. From his very childhood he appeared to be extremely sharp and meritorious. As growing older dream for a bright and blissful future flashed in his eyes.

As he was going through his professional career in Bangladesh Army his performances were bringing him laurels of glory adding more and more feathers to his cap. Quadrat Elahi was known as one of the most brilliant officers in the Bangladesh Army. But my wife and I could never imagine that we would stumble on such a bizarre freak of fortune and be thrown  into our  life’s greatest dungeon of despair. All our happiness  faded into the void of time like a house of cards!  Col. Elahi and 56 of his colleagues were so  brutally butchered in the BDR mayhem on February 25, 2009.

Col Elahi in mid-eighties
Col Elahi in mid-eighties

Finishing his studies at Jhenaidah CadetCollege he joined the Bangladesh Military Academy (BMA) and commissioned on 10th June 1983. The MilitaryAcademy gives a short name to all cadets and he was named “ Elahi”. While undergoing his military training in Bhatiary he stood first in B.Sc. from ChittagongUniversity. Then as usual he was going through his career as an officer of 3 East Bengal. As a Captain he was posted to the School of Infantry & Tactics (SI&T) in Sylhet as Instructor, a post given only to the best officer in each course, which he had done earlier with flying colours.

He then went to UN Peace Keeping Mission in Bosnia for one year. Soon after his return he was posted as Brigade Major (BM) in 69 Infantry Brigade in Bandarban just for a few months. Meanwhile, he appeared for the examination for Defense Services Command & Staff College (DSCSC) for psc. For his outstanding result in DSCSC he was sent to Malaysia for doing his second staff course for a year where also he kept the head of Bangladesh high.

He was placed in SI&T for the second time after his return from Malaysia as a Major to train a group of elder officers (some Lt. Colonels and below) whose further promotion was stopped for some reason or other. And from there he was posted as 2nd in Command in 1 East Bengal in Sylhet.

In the history of Pakistan and Bangladesh Army for the first time three officers were sent to the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) under University of Dhaka appearing through its normal intake examination for the same. In the two-year regular course Elahi stood first in MBA (Marketing) bringing glory to Bangladesh Army.

Meanwhile, the government decided to open a Military Institute of Science & Technology (MIST) to impart education to military officers as well as civilians for B.Sc (Engineering), MBA, Computer Engineering etc which previously were being done in BUET and other institutions. Elahi was posted to MIST as an Instructor for the MBA course.

Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi with his family
Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi with his family

Soon he was promoted to Lt. Col. As normal practice of the Army after being promoted to Lt. Col. one is immediately sent to Command a Battalion as first posting. As a special case, in order to set up the MIST Quadrat Elahi’s file was called by the Army Chief and he wrote “Lt. Col Elahi is essentially required to design and commence the first MBA Course in MIST for a year and then he would go for command”.

After that Elahi was posted as Commanding Officer of 18 East Bengal in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Finishing his Command for two years he was brought back to the Staff College (DSCSC) as Directing Staff (DS). After a few months he was promoted to Full Colonel in 2007 and posted as Senior Instructor (SI) in the StaffCollege.

A few months later he was sent to Sudan in the UN Peace Keeping Mission as Sector Commander for one year. While in Sudan the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon came to Sudan and decorated him with the Medal of Gallantry which only a few officers of the UN Peace Mission have received.

A year later he returned from Sudan to the country and was sent to NDC (NationalDefenseCollege) for the one-year course for his extraordinary merit. He successfully completed his NDC in December 2008. While doing his ndc course he completed M.Phil from DhakaUniversity aiming at doing his Ph.D at a suitable time. When he decided to join the Army in his teens, myself and my wife were not at all keen that he joins the Army. In consideration of his merit we wanted him to finish his studies in the country, go abroad, do his Ph.D and become a Professor in a foreign university. To all appearances, he wanted to fulfill our desire and make us happy, showing that he could be a Ph.D even being in the Bangladesh Army. But, Allah’s will was different that he would join the Army and be shot dead in the brutal BDR mutiny in Feb- 2009 in such a diabolical manner. What an appalling butchery in the history of the army veiled in mystery and unthought of in our wildest dream. After all his achievements as a bright young officer, things didn’t get anything better for Elahi! 

Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi with UN Secretary General Mr. Baan Ki Moon and other high officials while serving in SUDAN Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi with his Uncle General Ershad
Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi with UN Secretary General Mr. Baan Ki Moon and other high officials while serving in SUDAN Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi with his Uncle General Ershad

Precisely speaking, on 11th of January 2009 as a full Colonel he joined as Sector Commander of BDR in Dinajpur Sector (being there for only 1 month and 10 days). He came to Dhaka for the BDR Annual Conference on 21st February 2009. As ill-luck would have it, the hellish BDR carnage occurred on February 25 in Pilkhana, Dhaka. Among others he was also a hostage in the Darbar Hall, shot in his head and he left this world forever and a day. It is learnt that while in hostage he sent some messages to the Army Chief, DGFI and some of his colleagues that they were still alive under grave life-risk and asked them to save their lives, which was only a cry in the wilderness. During the entire episode our eyes were glued to the TV watching names of the dead continuously for two days and nights over without food or a wink of sleep hoping that Elahi’s flame of light was still shinning. But then his name appeared on the screen on the 27th afternoon. It was as if the whole world came crushing down. All was over! A terrible chill ran down our spine. We were crest fallen!

Around 9.30 am on the 25th Feb. hearing about some trouble in BDR I was frantically trying to contact him in his mobile but to no avail. He had such unflinching affection to the family that he would always make a telephone call or send messages to us wherever he was. But in this tragic event he did not make a single call or send any message to any one of us realizing that we would unnecessarily worry and run hither and thither to find news about him for nothing. It simply shows how considerate a child, a father and a husband he was!

Col Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, ndc, psc

BA-2409 Shaheed Col Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, ndc, psc, was also brutally murdered on 26-02-2009. According to concerned sources, he was the last officer killed by the mutineers.  He was born on 01-11-62 in Rangpur, and commissioned in the army on 10-06-83 with the 8th BMA Long Course and joined the corps of Inf. His parent unit was 3 EB. He served in different capacities to include: 3 EB, SI&T, 43 EB, 30 EB, BM 69 Inf Bde, 10 EB, 1 EB, MIST, 18 EB, DSCSC and Sec Comd BDR Dinajpur. He is a graduate of DSCSC & NDC, Mirpur, Dhaka. On the fateful day, he was the Dinajpur Sec Comd. He is the son of Mr. Habibur Rahman and Mrs. Rokeya Rahman. He left behind two brothers and one sister along with his wife Mrs. Lobbi Rahman and only one son Saquib Rahman. He worked with the UN twice: with BANSEC HQ-2 and with UNMIS. He visited following countries: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and USA. He was 46 years and 04 months old, when murdered.

Col Quadrat Elahi Rahman Shafique, ndc, psc

As usual, the Promotion Board sat in July- 2009 and Elahi was top in the list to be a Brigadier General – a pity he left this world in the prime of his Career without a Star (Brigadier) although he proved himself a brighter star in the Bangladesh Army. In 2-3 years time five of his course mates have now become Major Generals but not Elahi. He ended up as a colonel, although many of his colleagues believed that Elahi’s shoulders would be crowned with many stars in recognition of his extraordinary calibre. The English poet Longfellow very rightly wrote:

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness in the desert air.”

Quadrat Elahi was throughout his life a sweet and loveable person of impeccable manners to his superiors, colleagues, friends, relations and all those he was rubbing shoulders with. He was even very dear to his drivers & domestic aides. He was soft spoken and would always be helpful whenever somebody was in any distress or problem. I may cite one example of his humane nature. When he was commanding 18 East Bengal in Chittagong Hill Tracts, his 2nd in command, a Major was shot in his belly by the Shanti Bahini from a hill-top while patrolling in a speedboat in KaptaiLake. The officer was quickly flown to Dhaka CMH by helicopter. Perhaps, he was operated upon but within a short time the doctors suggested that he had to be taken abroad to Singapore or better to London in view of the gravity of his injury. Authorities decided to send him to Singapore. Elahi was terribly upset thinking that the officer would certainly get better treatment in London and maybe his life would be saved. Breaking the chain of command he personally met the Army Chief and persuaded him to send the officer to London. In a couple of months the officer returned to Bangladesh fully cured so much so that in a short time he was promoted to Lt. Col. I believe, that officer must have had further promotions by now. He would surely pray for Elahi all his life for his magnanimous feat of gesture beyond the call of duty.

To add salt to the injury, another tragedy befell us when Elahi’s mother passed away in 2012 silently suffering and groaning in pain for the loss of her “golden” son – a grievous   wound she couldn’t bear any longer. In my late 70’s I am counting my days discreetly suppressing my agony from all I come across everyday. Hardly a day passes that I do not weep for Elahi in my daily prayers and when I offer Fateha standing by his grave. But there is no cure or qualms. Each passing day is a drugery of life for me with none to share.

After the BDR bloodbath while his coffin draped in national flag was being lowered to the grave, one officer whom I did not know remarked “Wherever Elahi has served, his juniors or even his seniors there had many things to take lessons from”. At the same place a Brigadier General in uniform said “In the loss of Colonel Elahi the countrymen will never know what the Army has lost”. An officer with tears in his eyes was commenting “In the BDR Mutiny the colossal loss we have suffered, Bangladesh Army cannot recover in 50 years”. Out of thousands of BDR men only a handful of them knew him in 1 month and 10 days in Dinajpur. He had no enemies. Albeit, so many moons and monsoons have passed by, the lurking question remains unanswered, why? What then was the cause that 57 brilliant unarmed officers were so brutally murdered – a conspiracy, national or international to weaken the Bangladesh Army. Will the truth ever come out? Possibly not! It’s a million dollar question and the answer is a far cry. Those of us who have lost our dearest ones are only helplessly biting the dust. To our utter dismay, the victim families have been made to stomach it all and reel from the rudest shock of our life-time. Almighty Allah alone knows how long it will take when in death the blood-oozing from my heart will finally stop and I run out of steam.

The only beacon of hope is that our heart-rending cry and ocean of tears will certainly fall on the conspirators and murderers from the Creator Himself today or tomorrow. If earthly justice is denied, justice from Allah will never spare anyone, sooner or later. This is our firm faith in Him, the omniscient and the greatest judge in heaven and earth.

As I write the above lines in memory of my son, my eyes are getting moist, tears are blurring my vision, my heart is bleeding, I cannot write any more!

May Allah grant Elahi and all his fellow shaheed colleagues Jannatul Ferdous.