Bir Sreshtho Munshi Abdur Rouf is one of the valiant heroes in Bangladesh’s history. He is generally known as Shaheed (martyr) Lance Nayek (an official position of East Pakistan Rifles [EPR]) Munshi Abdur Rouf. “Bir Sreshtho” is the highest recognition of bravery of Bangladesh. He gave his life for independence during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 due to providing fire with automatic machine gun for Mukti Bahini and tried to restrict the Pakistan Army from using the Rangamati - Mahalchari waterway in Chittagong (near Chittagong
Hill Tracts). He saved nearly 150 soldiers of the Mukti Bahini before his death. He was really a great freedom fighter for Bangladesh.
Munshi Abdur Rouf was born on 1st May in 1943 at Salamatpur village in Faridpur District. His father was Munshi Mehedi Hossain and mother was Mosammat Mukidunnesa. He had two sisters, Zahura and Hazera. His father was an “Imam” at a local mosque. Rouf was quite intelligent but not an attentive student in the school. He was an indomitable and dare devil boy. Rouf was a typical restless Bengali village boy. In 1955, he had to stop his education at his eighth grade due to his father’s death. Rouf’s family faced lots of poverty after his father’s death. As a result his mother started stitching clothes and making some handicrafts to earn some money to bring up her beloved children.
On 8th May 1963, Munshi Abdur Rouf joined the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR). But he had to increase his age three years in order to get the job. Rouf learnt from his comrades that he used to be a disciplined and serious type of soldier, who took responsibilities with utmost sincerity and dedication. After completing the preliminary training at the EPR camp at Chuadanga, he went to West Pakistan (present Pakistan) to receive advanced training. After 6 months when he completed his advanced training, he was appointed to Comilla. On joining the EPR he had been regularly sending major portion of the salary to his mother for maintaining the family.
In 1971, Abdur Rouf joined the EPR sector 8 and on 18 April he died in the battle of Rangamati – Mahalchari waterway in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. He was buried at Naniarchor Upazilla in Rangamati District.
Battle of Rangamati – Mahalchari:
After the night of 25 March in1971, Munshi Abdur Rouf joined the EPR sector 8 with a group of soldiers. He was serving as a soldier in this company. East Bengal Regiment wanted to restrict the Pakistan Army from using the Rangamati-Mahalchari waterway. They camped at both of the Chingri Lakes at Burighat. 8th East Bengal Regiment constructed a camp at both sides on the Rangamati – Mahalchari waterway. These camps were established to monitor the Pakistani squads. EPR wanted to attack Pakistani squads after a few days.
But suddenly on 18 April 1971, Pakistani squads identified the defensive position of Mukti Bahini at Rangamati – Mahalchari waterway. They attacked with 7 speed boats and 2 launches at the defense position of Mukti Bahini. Their mission was to drive the Mukti Bahini away from the waterway of Rangamati and Mahalchari. Munshi Abdur Rouf's company also started returning fire. Pakistani forces managed to disorient Mukti Bahini by coming closer to them and firing heavily. They surrounded the freedom fighters and managed to isolate nearly 100 of them. Munshi Abdur Rouf realized the threat to his company and he crawled forward to his trench and continuously fired towards the enemies with his automatic machine gun.
As a result of Rouf’s fire, Pakistanis dragged their launches back to a safer place and resumed their firing from there. Then Pakistani squad brought massive mortar fire, which created panic and shock among the protective Mukti Bahini squads. Due to shock and fear, most of the team mates of Munshi Abdur Rouf jumped into the water. But only Bir Sreshtho Munshi Abdur Rouf stood audaciously with automatic machine gun to stop the enemy advance. Company Commander Captain Khalequzzaman could foresee that he would suffer heavy casualties if he did not withdraw at this stage. But the brave and courageous soldier Munshi Abdur Rouf told the company commander, “Sir, I will keep the enemy busy with covering fire, you should move behind with the company.”
Then suddenly Bir Sreshtho Rouf's bunker was exposed to the enemy and a mortar directly hit Munshi Abdur Rouf. He breathed his last with holding his automatic machine gun. Munshi Abdur Rouf’s act saved nearly 150 soldiers of the Mukti Bahini.
After the independence of Bangladesh in recognition of his sacrifice in the War of Liberation he was honored with the highest state insignia of “Bir Sreshtho”.