Halim Chowdhury was a right-handed opener and made his first class debut for Dacca (present Dhaka) against Public Works Department in 1966. Since then he had played seven first class matches and also fixed his place in then East Pakistan province team. Along with his dashing batsmanship, he was also an orthodox off break bowler and was showing the prospect to be a part of Pakistan national cricket team. He was also called for the first class game against Commonwealth XI in the Pakistan squad but eventually didn’t get the opportunity to play.
Raqibul Hasan, his opening partner of East Pakistan province team, can remember his elegancy with bat and also mentioned his highly qualified skills along with red cherry in hand. He was above all a smart cricketer who was finding his way to be the first person playing test cricket from this region. However, the fate didn’t allow him to do so.
Mushtaq Ahmed was a generous man and dedicated his entire life to Azad Boys Club in which Halim Chowdhury was one of the dazzling stalwarts. He was a devoted organizing member of this club and made the club tent his permanent resident to provide support and encouragement to the players. This humble man was reluctant to leave his beloved club premise even for a bit and ultimately breathed his last gasp in the club tent. But his death was not normal as he was shot down at that horrifying night of 25 March in 1971.
Halim Chowdhury witnessed that incident and fortunately survived that so called ‘Operation Searchlight.’ He could flee to Calcutta and took part to raise international awareness for the independence of Bangladesh by playing Cricket but instead of playing, he had decided to fight back with sten-gun. Halim was one of the best students of Khaled Mosharraf who was the in-charge to train guerillas at Melaghor in India. There he met the other boys of Dacca like Bodi, Azad, and Rumi. After receiving intensive training out there, the young lads came back to Dacca which was then burdened with incessant curfew, fear and death. Pakistani govt. was trying their best to depict the situation ‘normal’ to the international community and forced every dweller here to work, to go to school and to carry on other normal diurnal tasks. The boys, however, thought different and formed the first guerilla platoon called ‘Crack Platoon.’ These fearless and brazen lads led several successful operations in Dacca to become the eyesore of Pakistani Armies.
Eventually their venture was put to an end. They all got caught on a night of Late August and were tortured severely. Army personnel knew Halim as a promising cricketer and offered him to become an approver. In return he would get the pass to Karachi along with the opportunity of playing first class cricket again. His audacious rejection to this proposal incented the torturers and they broke his fingers so that he couldn’t play cricket anymore. Halim was not concerned with his approaching death, rather he was concerned with his fingers as he wouldn’t be able to spin the ball anymore! He wanted to lead independent Bangladesh cricket team as a captain. All he wanted to play international cricket wearing red-green kits, he just wanted to wave Bangladesh flag with enormous joy.
Halim Chowdhury was known as Jewel. Literally he could be the ‘Jewel’ of newly independent Bangladesh Cricket team. Mushtaq Ahmed could become more majestic to hone young talents and bring them under the tent of Azad Boys Club. In the last 45 years, Bangladesh cricket has crawled a long way. Obviously it will go further more in the upcoming days. But, it would be impossible for the tigers to roar in the cricket field all around the world if these two persons didn’t sacrifice their lives. Jewel fought to clinch the right of Bangladesh red-green kit, threw grenades instead of balls to make Bangladesh free.
Shaheed Jewel and Shaheed Mushtaq will always be remembered with every win of Bangladesh Cricket team, with each shout and chorus from the people sitting in the stands named after them. They will also be commemorated in the match of victory day where present and former players will face each other not for winning, rather to remember their sacrifice.