Ansar Ahmed Ullah
As part of Tower Hamlets Women’s History Month, the Swadhinata Trust in association with the Idea Store organised an event titled ‘Inspired by Jahanara Iman’ to celebrate the life of writer and political activist Jahanara Imam on Saturday 19 March at the Idea Store, Whitechapel.
Julie Begum of the Swadhinata Trust invited women to come and be inspired by Jahanara Imam, a Bengali writer and political activist that inspired a generation of Bengalis for justice, and to share and discuss other inspirational stories by women.
Julie Begum said Jahanara Imam is widely remembered for seeking justice for crimes committed during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation. Because of her role during the war, her support for freedom fighters and her campaign in support of martyred families she became known as “Shaheed Janani” (Mother of Martyrs).
In 1971, following the Pakistan military crackdown on 25 March, the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out. Many joined the liberation struggle, including Jahanara Imam’s oldest son Shafi Imam Rumi, who joined the freedom struggle to become a Mukti Joddha (Freedom Fighter). Unfortunately, he was to be picked up by the Pakistani army, never to be seen again. Jahanara Imam’s husband and her younger son Jami along with other male members of the family were also picked up for interrogation and were tortured. Her husband Sharif Imam returned home a broken man only to die three days before Bangladesh became free on 16 December 1971.