Leading musician Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, who was also a freedom fighter, has died at the age of 63. Bulbul suffered a heart attack at his residence at Aftabnagar in the capital on Tuesday and was taken to Aysha Memorial Hospital where doctors declared him dead, said lyricist Kabir Bakul.
The musician was honoured with the prestigious Ekushey Padak in 2010. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid have mourned his death.
He suffered from heart diseases for long and went through a surgery at the National Heart Institute for artery blockage last year.
Bulbul will be fondly remembered for the timeless tunes he gave to songs like ’Shob Kota Janala Khule Dao Na’, ’O Majhi Nao Chaira De’ and “Sundor Suborno Tarunno Labonyo’. He also created background scores for hundreds of movies.
Bulbul’s body will be kept at a hospital morgue on Tuesday night. The remains will be taken to the Central Shaheed Minar at 11:00 am on Wednesday so admirers can pay tribute to the legend, said Sammilito Sanskritik Jote President Golam Quddus.
His Namaz-e-Janaza will be held after midday prayers at Dhaka University Central Mosque on Wednesday. After Asr prayers, Bulbul will be laid to rest at the Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard in Mirpur, said his son Samir Ahmed.
Bulbul had testified as a witness for the prosecution at the International Crimes Tribunal against former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam in October 2012.
Following his testimony against the Jamaat kingpin, Bulbul’s younger brother Miraz Ahmed was found dead near Khilkhet-Kuril Flyover in March of 2013. Police later said he was gagged to death.
In an interview, bdnews24.com reported, Bulbul had said he never believed he would have to lose his brother “as a result of his testimony”.
“That is where I’m hurt. I’m hurt that I never got justice for my brother’s death. I testified for the tribunal because the government asked me to. This is where I’m hurting … this I have to say.”
In a status posted on Facebook in May last year, the freedom fighter said he was among the five who had survived mass killings in a Brahmanbaria jail that was being used as torture cell by invading Pakistan forces and their local collaborators.
“I had to bravely testify on the complete history of the genocide at Branhmabaria Jail in 1971. And, I am among the five who survived that massacre. 49 freedom fighters were murdered there.”
“But I never imagined my innocent younger brother Miraz would be killed over my testimony. I demanded justice from the government, but did not get it.”
“Now, my only child and I spend 24 hours of every day in police security. This is an unprecedented and tragic chapter. After being cloistered in a house for six years, I am now significantly ill. There are eight blocks in my arteries and there is no other way than having a bypass surgery.”
THE TEEN FIGHTER
Born in Dhaka on January 1 of 1956, Bulbul joined Bangladesh’s War of Independence at the age of 15. He was then a student of West End High School in Dhaka’s Azimpur.
Bulbul and several of his friends decided to join the war to secede from Pakistan after witnessing genocide of unarmed Bengalee people at the hands of the Pakistan military on March 25, 1971.
They formed a small group of fighters after snatching weapons away from Bihari households. He then built a camp for fighters at Zinzira.
After struggling to resist military attacks on the camp, Bulbul returned to Dhaka. He came to learn that his elder brother Iftekhar Uddin Ahmed Tutul joined the crack platoon formed by guerrilla freedom fighters.
He got hold of grenades through his brother. He and his friend used those to launch an attack on a Pakistan military lorry in Dhaka’s New Market area.
He took part in training in India and returned to his war-torn country to begin activities at Dhaka’s Lalbagh with his friend Sajib. Their platoon was called Y-platoon -- the ’Y’ standing for ’young’.
But in October, while heading to India for a second round of training, Bulbul and three of his friends were captured by Pakistani soldiers and Razakar collaborators at Tontor Check Post, located between Cumilla and Brahmambaria.
The young fighter was then tortured, stripped of his clothes and transported on a bus to a jail in Brahmanbaria, where at least 55 freedom fighters were being held.
On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, 39 fighters, including policeman Siru and his son, were taken out of the jail and shot by soldiers. But one of those detainees managed to survive.
Two days after the killings, Bulbul and his three friends were taken to the house of one Dana Miah, a local collaborator. The four young fighters, after suffering more torture, managed to escape the house that was being used as the Peace Committee’s office in Brahmanbaria.
FOUR DECADES OF MUSIC
Bulbul began creating music for cinema by working as a music director for 1978 film Megh Bizli Badal. He dedicated his lifetime to practising music.
A hugely-popular lyricist, Bulbul’s creations for 1984 Noyoner Alo – ’Amar Saradeho Kheyogo Mati’, ’Amar Babar Mukh’, ’Amar Buker Moddhekhane’, ’Ami Tomar Duti Chokher Duti Tara Hoye’ – became timeless hits.
He was twice awarded the National Award for Best Music Director, first in 2001 for his work in Premer Tajmohol, and second in 2005 for ’Hazar Bochor Dhore’.
In 2010, he was awarded the prestigious Ekushey Padak by the Bangladesh government for his outstanding contribution to the country’s music culture.
Besides his work for cinema, Bulbul composed lyrics and music for albums released by contemporary stars like Sabina Yasmin, Runa Laila, Syed Abdul Hadi, Andrew Kishore, Samina Chowdhury, Khalid Hassan Milu, Agun, Kanak Chapa and many more.