Professor Dr. Shamsuzzoha, the first martyred intellectual in the country, laid down his life in a attempt to save his students from the Pakistani military force during the mass upsurge in 1969, which ultimately became the Liberation War of Bangladesh.Dr. Zoha also participated bravely in the Bengali Language Movement during his university life. He achieved BSc (honours) degree in Chemistry in 1953 and MSc in 1954 from Dhaka University.
In 1964, he obtained his PhD degree from Imperial College London. At first, Shamsuzzoha joined Rajshahi University as a Development Officer in 1961 and on that year he also became lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. He was promoted as Reader of the Chemistry Department. On 1 May 1968, Dr. Zoha received the Proctor post of the university.
For the murder of Sergeant Zahurul haq, one of the accused convict of Agartala Conspiracy Case on 15 February, the students of Rajshahi University became furious and started staging demonstration. The students were injured by the then Pakistani police on February 18. On the same day, local administration imposed section 144 on Natore-Rajshahi Highway near to Rajshahi University.
When the enraged students violated the section, the Pakistani army was deployed to shoot the students, but Prof Shamsuzzoha talked with them and urged them not to fire. He said, “Don’t open fire; my students will go back now. Your bullets will pierce my heart first before they hit students.” But, his request did not work. When the tension grew the army fired on Shamsuzzoha. He was taken to the hospital and died there.
Professor Shamsuzzoha was buried on front of the administration building of Rajshahi University. He was the first university teacher who embraced martyrdom from 1947 to 1969.
For his great sacrifice in the way of country’s independence, Dr. Zoha today is not only a name, he is the legend in the history of liberation.
The Rajshshi University authorities already have started constructing ‘Zoha Chattar’ centering the grave of Dr. Shamsuzzoha in front of the university administration building.
Every year since 2008 February 18 is observed as the ‘Zoha Day’ on the university campus Commemorating the Professor.