Das, Rakhal Chandra

Rakhal Chandra Das

Das, Rakhal Chandra (1932-1971) physician, martyr intellectual. He was born on 1 August 1932 at village Dhanikhola in Trishal thana of Mymemsingh district. His father was Gurudayal Das and mother Anantamayee Das. Rakhal Chandra had his early education at his village primary school. He passed matriculation examination in 1949 from Darirampur H.E School in Trishal, I.Sc in 1952 from Ananda Mohan College, and obtained LMF degree in 1955 from Lyton Medical School in Mymensingh. Rakhal Chandra got his MBBS degree in 1968 from Sir Salimullah Medical College, Dhaka.

Having obtained his LMF degree Rakhal Chandra Das began his career in 1955 as Assistant Surgeon in Maharaja Suryakanta Hospital in Mymensingh, and served there till 1956. Later he served as Medical Officer in Dilderpur Tea Garden Hospital in Kulaura thana of Sylhet district (1957-1959) and as Medical Officer in Dhanikhola Chairtable Hospital in Trishal (1959-1966).

On having MBBS degree in 1968 he established a pharmacy named Gurudayal Pharmacy at Dhanikhola bazar and began independent practice at his chamber attached to the pharmacy. But due to his non-commercial attitude he could not make his pharmacy business financially viable. His free medical service to the poor patients of the locality in addition to his lavish offer of medicine free of cost soon invited an acute financial strain in his business. He was then compelled to wind up his pharmacy and take up a job in June 1969 as Medical Officer in Mirzapur Ispahani Tea Garden Hospital at Sreemangal in Sylhet.

With the army crack down on 25 March 1971, the Pakistan occupation army took position at diferent strategic points in Sylhet area. They established a camp at Sreemangal in April and launched atrocities on the local people. The tea garden workers aided by the people of adjacent villages took possible defence measure to resist the entry of the Pak army. They blockaded the roads by putting big stones and by destroying the connecting bridges and culverts. The arrow-shots by the workers from behind the trees and hedges obstructed the attempt of the army advance towards the tea garden area. There were casualties almost every day, and to face the influx of wounded patients in the hospital Rakhal Chandra Das had to form a special medical team for their treatment.

At the dawn of 12 May 1971, the Pakistan army surprised the tea garden area and cordoned the hospital. A group of soldiers under one Captain Tareq entered the hospital, ransacked the doctors'; cabin, and abducted Rakhal Chandra Das while attending patients in a ward. It is reported that a list of targeted victims submitted to the army by the local union council chairman included the name of Rakhal Chandra Das. Thereafter he could not be traced.

Rakhal Chandra Das was a cultural activist, a renowned sportsman, drama actor and a writer. A good number of his articles were published in different medical journals. He was a member of the Red Cross Society, Scouts Association and of the Lions Club. He wrote his autobiography still left unpublished. Rakhal Chandra Das floated two socio-cultural organisations in his own locality namely Dhanikhola Mukul Samity and Dhanikhola Milan Samaj with himself as general secretary of the latter. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]