International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1) Judgment The Case Of R P Shaha, Bhabani Prasad (ROBI) and Others

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International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1) Judgment
1st Published, 2024
Number of Pages

RP Shaha

– Biography

Born in a lower middle-class family, Ranada Prasad Shaha popularly known as R P Shaha rose to great heights, creating a huge business empire only to give away all his worldly possessions for the welfare of the poor and needy. He was born at his maternal uncle’s village home at Savar on 15 Nov 1896 to Debendra Podder and Kumudini Devi.

The young Ranada was extremely attached to his mother. His mother’s sudden death from post-natal tetanus when he was 7, turned his whole world upside down. This brought home to him 2 irrevocable facts: The poor quality and non-availability of medical services and the sorry plight of women in the then social hierarchy. Yearning motherly love and affection he ran away from home and finally ended up in Calcutta (Kalkata). He survived by doing any honest work he could find. Many a day he went to sleep hungry. One day, while he was selling newspapers in a rail station, a child fell onto the railway tracks. A crowd gathered, but no one did anything. Ranada immediately jumped onto the railway track, saving the child just before the train approached.

Later, he became involved with the Swadeshi Movement and got into trouble with the law enforcement agencies. He even spent a short time in jail. In the meantime, WW1 started and young Ranada enlisted in the British Army as a medic. His unit, the Ambulance Corps maintained a hospital in Baghdad to treat the wounded soldiers. This hospital caught fire when a nearby magazine exploded. Risking his life Ranada saved around 20 wounded soldiers from the blazing inferno. This act of bravery resulted in his commanding

officer Captain Cook’s entry in his service book, “. ….On the occasion of the magazine explosion near the hospital, he remained cool and worked hard being one of the last to leave the hospital.” On 26 Sep 1916 Ranada returned to a hero’s welcome in Calcutta. He then decided to join the Bengali Double Company which later became the 49th Bengal Regiment. There R P Shaha received his commission as a Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer. On 30 Aug 1920 his regiment was decommissioned. After a few years in the Railways, he decided to strike out on his own. Thus, began another chapter in his life. He started a small coal shop in Calcutta, supplying coal to both households and businesses. Through hard work, diligence and good management Ranada soon became one of the leading coal merchants in Calcutta. He also diversified into other businesses, including a river transport company (later to be named Bengal River Service).

Ranada now had the resources to pursue his dream. He started a sm dispensary in his ancestral village of Mirzapur which grew into a hosp (named after his mother Kumudini). He also set up the residential girls’ sc named Bharateswari Homes. Lord R G Casey, the then Governor of Bengal came all the way from Calcutta to inaugurate Kumudini Hospital on 27 July 1944. In his inaugural speech Lord Casey stated, “Some of you may wonder why I should take such close personal interest in a hospital which happens to be situated in a part of Bengal never before visited by a Governor of the Province. My answer is simple: I feel this hospital affords a high example of what can be done when the initiative, enterprise and public spirit of one man is directed towards the welfare and wellbeing of the community.” After the ceremony, R P Shaha handed him a cheque amounting to Rs 2,50,000/- as his contribution to Red Cross Appeal Fund created to look after the wounded soldiers of WW2.

Today, 85 years after its creation, Kumudini Hospital has evolved into a 1050 bed general hospital providing high quality and almost free medical care. Mr Shaha also established Kumudini Women’s College in Tangail and Devendra College in Manikganj.

Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan on a visit to Kumudini Complex at Mirzapur in the mid-1950s wrote in the visitor’s book:

“A poor man became a millionaire, and the millionaire voluntarily became a poor man, spending his all in the service of humanity, for the suffering and the distressed, for the furtherance of education, for rendering a service to the state, which the state itself has not undertaken. But is the Rai Bahadur poor; he is rich in the esteem, in the affection, in the love of a grateful people; having given all his worldly possessions, he has obtained more than those who were his compeers. May that state and the people he has served so well give him that recognition which is his due, and not destroy the great institution he has built with such love and devotion.”

In a cruel twist of fate, this great man along with his son and successor Bhabani Prasad Shaha were abducted by the Pakistan Army and the Razakars on 7 May 1971. They never returned.

Mr Shaha did not believe that he was doing charity to anyone. To him Kumudini was no ordinary institution. It was an embodiment of his mother, of the shelter and care that he was deprived of. Hence its motto: “Kumudini Cares”.

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