The Bir Sreshtho (The Most Valiant Hero), is the highest military award of Bangladesh. It was awarded to the following seven freedom fighters who showed utmost bravery and died in action for their nation. They are considered martyrs. This award was introduced immediately after the Liberation War in 1971.
1. Sepoy Mustafa Kamal
Mostafa Kamal was a Lance Nayek in Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War, and was posted at village Daruin as a section commander. On 18 April 1971, Mostafa Kamal was killed in a defensive battle against the occupying Pakistani Army.
During a retreat from the battle at Daruin, Mostafa Kamal took the responsibly to cover for his fellow fighters. Most of the fighters retreated to a safer position as Kamal relentlessly kept firing with his Light Machine Gun. He managed to kill 8 Pakistani soldiers, but at one stage, he got shot. He along with 20 to 40 other soldiers died at this battle. He lies buried at village Daruin.
2. Captain Mahiuddin Jahangir
Mahiuddin Jahangir was a commissioned officer in the Pakistan Army during the liberation war. On 3 July, Mahiuddin along with three of his fellow officers was escape from his station, and passing through the inaccessible hilly tracts reached the camp of the freedom fighters at Maldah district of west Bengal. He joined in the Mukt Bahini where he was positioned as a captain at sector 7.
On a battle, he intended to destroy one of the light machine gun bunker of the Pakistan Army and crawled towards it. He managed to get close to the bunker and threw a grenade, but was shot dead from another bunker. He was buried in Choto Shona Mosque premises at Mehdipur where most of his activities had taken place during the war. Later he was announced Bir Shrestho. The main gate of Dhaka Cantonment is named in his name “Shaheed Jahangir Gate”.
3. Hamidur Rahman
Hamidur Rahman joined the Pakistan Army as a sepoy in 1970 at East Bangla Regiment. In 25 March, 1971, Hamidur Rahman left cantonment for his village home, and after meeting his mother he joined the Mukti Bahini in Sylhet district. During the war he made a significant contribution in capturing the Dhalai Border Outpost at Srimangal.
On a battle at 28 October 1971, Hamidur Rahman seceded in the darkness, silently proceeded by crawling towards the LMG post, attacked and killed the two LMG operators, but couldn’t save himself. His dead body was found in the LMG post. He was buried at Tripura in India. On 10 December 2007, the remains of Hamidur Rahman were bought back to Bangladesh and on 11 December 2007, he was buried again at Buddhijibi Koborsthan (Cemetery), Dhaka.
4. Ruhul Amin
Ruhul Amin was a Junior Commissioned officer in Pakistan Navy. When the War of liberation was started in Bangladesh, Amin immediately resigned from Pakistan Navy and came back to his village. He organized local youths for the war.
He was enrolled at “Polash”, a warship of Bangladesh Navy and at the same time worked as the Squadron leader for both “Padma” and “Palash”. On 10 December, his boat was mistakenly came under fire from the Indian Air Force. After the heavy bombing, the engine room got burned and Ruhul Amin was forced to dive into the water. When he reached the river shore, he got caught by the Razakars (Bangladeshi people helping Pakistani army) who killed him using their bayonets. Later he was awarded Bir Shrestho.
5. Bir Srestha Matiur Rahman
Matiur Rahman was a Flight Lieutenant at the Pakistan Air Force. During the liberation war of Bangladesh, he made a secret plan of hijacking a military aircraft. His aim was to join the liberation force with the hijacked plane. Matiur attempted to take control of a training aircraft into his own hands, but failed. He could not take the plane out of Pakistani territory. The plane crashed in Thatta, a place 40 km. near the Indian border. His dead body was found near the crash site. He was buried at the graveyard of fourth class employees at Masrur Airbase in Pakistan.
After over 30 years of negotiations, the remaining of Motiur’s body was finally returned to Bangladesh on June 24, 2006 for a ceremonial and highly symbolic reburial. He was buried at the Martyred Intellectuals Graveyard, in Mirpur, Dhaka, with full military honor.
6. Munshi Abdur Rauf
Munshi Abdur Rouf was a Lance Nayek in East Pakistan Rifles. He joined the liberation force during the Bangladesh Liberation War. On 18 April 1971, Pakistanis attacked at the position of Mukti Bahini with 7 speed boats and 2 launches. Rouf realized the threat to the entire company and he crawled forward to his trench and continuously fired towards the enemies with his automatic machine gun. During this time, a mortar shell directly hit Rouf and he died immediately, but he saved 150 solders that day.
7. Nur Mohammad Sheikh
Nur Mohammad Sheikh was a Lance Nayek in East Pakistan Rifles during the Liberation War. On September 5, Nur Mohammad was patrolling with 4 fellow soldiers. The Pakistan army managed to point out the position of Nur Mohammad’s team and attacked them from three different sides. One of his fellow soldier was shot by the bullet and Nur Mohammad started carrying him towards safety. But Nur Mohammad himself was hit by a mortar.
Even though he was seriously injured, Nur Mohammad decided to continue to provide covering fire for his team. At the time, his fellow Sepoy, Mostafa, urged Nur Mohammad to go with him. Mostafa even forced Nur Mohammad to go with him but Nur Mohammad refused to go but gave his Light Machine Gun to Mostafa so that it would not be captured after his death. He kept a self loaded rifle with him and kept on fighting until he died. He was posthumously awarded the highest gallantry award “Bir Shrestho” for his bravery during the War of Liberation.