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The passing of Bir Uttam Chitta Ranjan Dutta

Retired major general Bir Uttam Chitta Ranjan Dutta Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

CR Dutta played an important role in the holding of the trials of the war criminals and establishing a secular Bangladesh, prime minister says

Major General (retired) Chitta Ranjan Dutta, Bir Uttam, commander of Sector 4 during the Bangladesh Liberation War, has passed away at a hospital in Florida, USA at the age of 93. 

Dutta, widely known as CR Dutta, breathed his last around 9am on Tuesday (Bangladesh time), according to Advocate Rana Das Gupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council.

A prominent minority rights advocate in Bangladesh, Dutta was the founder president of the council. 

On August 20, Dutta, who had also been suffering from various incurable diseases, slipped in the bathroom and broke his leg. He was then admitted to a hospital in Florida after his condition deteriorated.

He has left behind two daughters, a son and a host of relatives and admirers to mourn his death.

Quoting Dutta’s daughter Kabita Das Gupta, Rana said CR Dutta’s last wish was for his remains to be brought back to Bangladesh after his death, reports UNB. 

“We are trying to bring him back through special arrangements, given that flight operations have been suspended due to the coronavirus situation,” said Kabita.

‘Nation will remember him forever’

Meanwhile, tributes poured in for the freedom fighter, who was honoured with the title of Bir Uttam for his gallantry during the 1971 Liberation War.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed profound shock and sorrow at the death of the war hero. 

In a condolence message, the president recalled with due respect the outstanding contributions of the Liberation War hero and said: “The nation will remember CR Dutta, Bir Uttam, forever.”

In her message of condolence, the prime minister said: “The country as well as the nation will remember his outstanding contributions to the Liberation War with due respect.”

CR Dutta played an important role in the holding of the trials of the war criminals and establishing a secular Bangladesh, she added.

Both the head of state and the premier prayed for the salvation of the departed soul and conveyed their deep sympathies to the bereaved family.

Besides, the parliament speaker, deputy speaker, cabinet members, lawmakers and the two mayors of Dhaka north and south city corporations expressed deep shock at the demise of the freedom fighter.

Additionally, different political parties, and sociocultural organizations issued statements mourning his death.

Historian Prof Syed Anwar Hossain said: “Retired major general Bir Uttam Chitta Ranjan Dutta was very close to me as we attended many events related to the Liberation War. I saw that he was not politically biased as he never made any unfair speech.”

“He had a personality of speaking the truth without any hesitation, which is rare now in society,” he added.  

Life and achievements

CR Dutta was founder director general of the then Bangladesh Rifles (now renamed as Border Guard Bangladesh) and served as chairman of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Welfare Trust and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation.

Dutta was born on January 1, 1927 in Shillong, Assam, in British India. His ancestral home was in erstwhile Sylhet, at present in Chunarughat upazila of Habiganj district.

He started his schooling in Laban Government High School in Shillong, but moved to Habiganj after second grade.

In 1947, Dutta joined the Pakistan Army from the last unified batch of the Indian Military Academy and a few days later he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

The then Pakistan government rewarded him for his courageous contribution to the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the first battle of his military life.

Dutta was on a holiday in Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War. He joined the war after being inspired by Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech.

In 1971, Colonel MAG Osmani, the commander-in-chief of the Liberation War, appointed Dutta as the commander of Sector 4, which covered the whole of the present Sylhet division and some adjoining areas.

After taking charge, he built his first camp in Rashidpur. Dutta later left the area and set up a camp in Moulvibazar. 

Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said: “Retired major general Bir Uttam Chitta Ranjan Dutta was a great soldier who was inspired by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”

“This nation will never forget his contributions in the Liberation War,” he added.

CR Dutta made important contributions after being appointed Brigade Commander in Rangpur in 1972.

In 1973, the government felt the need to form a border guard force for independent Bangladesh and gave the responsibility to him in this regard. He later formed the border guard force, named Bangladesh Rifles.

A road stretching from Kataban to Karwan Bazar intersection in Dhaka was named after Bir Uttam CR Dutta.

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