Published:  12:20 AM, 21 May 2020

Rediscovering a less-known chapter of 1971 Liberation War

Rediscovering a less-known chapter of 1971 Liberation War

While talking to the correspondent of the report Sundari said the local administration handed over 11 decimals of land to her, recently. Sundari said that she was passing days in great hardship but the present government, specially Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, gave them a piece of land and looks after her family and so she thanked and expressed her gratitude to the Prime Minister for giving her the land, 43 years after Liberation.

It may be remembered that after assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, anti - democratic and anti - liberation forces captured power and started to establish Pakistani idea. Ziaur Rahman government released about 11 thousand Rajaker, Al-badr and Al-shams who were in jail for trial for killing, arson and rape.

That's why those governments worked against the spirit of Liberation and destroyed the memories of war. It may be mentioned that Ziaur Rahman established a children Park at the place where Pakistani army surrendered to joint command of Mukti Bahini and Mitra Bahini. Even Khaleda Zia formed BNP - Jamaat government including identified persons who did genocide and crime against humanity. 

There is no official statistics about how many people were killed in Chuknagar but most witnesses of the report said the figure would be over 10,000 as 1971 veteran local commander and BLF leader of Liberation war, SM Babar Ali says in his account of the incident in his book, "Swadhinatar Durjoy Abhijan".

"Yet the massacre has not been recorded in history. It has not been referred anywhere in the state--published 15-volume Documents of the Liberation War"

Gopal Krisna Sarker, general secretary of "Chuknagar Ganohattya Smrity Rakkha Parisad" told the Daily Observer, previous government could not fulfill their demand but the present government met some of their demands. While talking to Khulna Zila Parishad Chairman Sheikh Harun-ur-Rashid said that government will build a complex, a museum and a library at Chuknagar martyrdom area.

"Project and necessary documents have already been sent to the Liberation War Affairs Ministry to build a full-fledged Complex at Chuknagar martyrdom," Harun-ur-Rashid added.

The Chuknagar Genocide Day is now observed at Chuknagar under Dumuria upazila of Khulna district in a befitting manner. To mark the day, 'Chuknagar Smrity Rakkha Parishad' arranges different programmes.  

A memorial was built to pay homage to the people who died in the massacre. The memorial is called Chuknagar Shohid Smritishoudho or Chuknagar martyred memorial.

I talked to greater Khulna BLF commander also known as leader, now Bagerhat Zilla Parisod Chairman, Mr. Kamruzzaman Tuku. He told me that large scale killing was occurred at Chuknagor on 20th May by Pakistani Army in collaboration with rajakars. The same thing was happened at Dakra in Rampal and other places. It may be mentionable that Rajakar Bahini and Peace Committee had been formed by Pakistani Army on April - May across the county. Besides, Sathkira is also known for large scale killing in the same way in greater khulna.

Being a bordering district headquarter and a safer place, thousands of people fleeing from different areas of the country came to Satkhira town for shelter and gathered at Town High School premises and other areas to go to India.
On April 20 Pakistan Army attacked and killed about 1500 people who took shelter there. Again over 2000 people who were fleeing to India met the tragic end of their lives on April 26, 1971 as the Pakistan army opened fire indiscriminately on them near Jhhaudanga Bazaar.

The main organizers of Rajaker and Santhi Committee are district Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Abdul Khaleq Mandol,M Abdullah Al Baki alias Abdullahel Baki, Khan Rokonuzzaman, and Jahirul Islam alias Jahirul Haque alias Tikka Khan. All of them were involved with local razakar forces, the collaborator of Pakistani army during the war.

It may be mentionable that nearly 8000(eight thousands) people who were passing through Jhawdanga Bazaar to take shelter in India had been killed in few months. About 3000 (three thousands) people had been killed in Abadar Hat. Former District Krishok League President Bishwajit Shadu informed me the above genocide. He also informed me about 25000 (twenty five thousands) people had been killed in Sathkira District. Former commander of Mukti Joddha Sansad Rishikesh Das informed me large scale killing in nine places had been occurred in Bagerhat and including other killings nearly 15,000(fifteen thousands) people had lost their lives by Pakistani Army and their collaborators.

Joypurhat is also a bordering district with India. We know that Abbas Ali Khan and Abdul Alim are the main organizers of Rajaker and Peace comiitte in that area. Pakistani Army in collaboration with Rajaker had killed the people in large scale, who were crossing through Charbarkat Union. Press Club President of Joypurhat and former District Bar Association president Nripen Mondol informed me that nearly 14000(fourteen thousands) people had been killed in that area from March to September. In the whole district, nearly 25000 (twenty five thousands) people had been killed.

In Pabna District, the home of Motiur Rahman Nijami, there are two places of large scale killing as one is Demra another one is Sathbaria, Sujanagor. 2000(two thousands ) and 2500(two thousands and five hundred ) people had been killed there respectively. Freedom fighter  and Vice President of District AL Chandan Chakrabarty of Pabna told me that in 9 months during liberation war nearly 30000(thirty thousands) people had been killed. Sub-sector commander Colonnel (Rtd) Zafar Imam told that more than 10,000(ten thousands) people had been killed in Feni during Liberation War. 

This is the picture of the several districts at that time of the subdivisions of Bangladesh. It may be mentioned that Pakistani Army entered in Dhaka City from 25th March, 1971 and within one week, they had killed around 60,000(sixty thousands) in Dhaka and its surrounding area. Abdul Jobbar and Babul Das at that time were the volunteers of Awami Secchasebok told me nearly 10, 000(ten thousands) people had been killed in kotowali thana. There were seven thanas at that time. Panna Lal Dom and also others told me regarding the genocide.

It may mentionable that there were large floating population and slum areas in Dhaka  city. It may be remembered that historic Ramna Kali Mandir had been demolished on 27th March and Priest Premananda Giri had been killed along with 250 persons in the massacre by Pak Army.In Faridpur 21st April at Sree Angan, 8 devotees had been killed during  kirton(chanting). Father William P Evans had been killed by Pakistani Army in November at Dhaka. Bodipal Mohathero had been beaten mercilessly upto senseless condition and Muslim religious leaders had also been persecuted at different places. 

This is reflected by the speeches of Indian leaders, world leaders and media. World important media also covered regarding the genocide. In every district (at that time subdivision) there were army camps as well as Rajakerbahini and Santhi Committee. There were killing places and mass killing zones in every subdivision. They killed, Set on fire and raped the women indiscriminately. Mainly, houses of Mukti Bahini, AL, other democratic forces and religious minority in general had been set on fire. That's why, lacs of people had been killed during 9 months liberation war of 1971. 

Under the leadership of Bangabandhu Government had been formed on 10th April and oath was taken at Mujibnagar on 17th April,1971. In the liberation war BLF  and F. F had been recruited and got the training with the assistance of India. At the final stage, all forces including Mitra Bahini fought together for final glow and victory. As mentioned earlier, after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975 in three and half years, the then anti democratic and anti liberation forces who captured power, tried to establish Pakistani idea and turned towards communalism, extremism and terrorism during the last few decades.

A section of the people of the country so much so deviated from the course and lessons of struggle and war of Liberation that they tried to destroy places of fights, the signs of sufferings  and sacrifice and memories of  genocide, crime against humanity  of Pakistani army and collaborators in Liberation war. 

Happily for us, we now find some clear signs of a correct approach to relevant history. The present Government, like the earlier one under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is working hard to restore Bangladesh to the spirit and ideals of our Liberation War. With the help of a verdict of the Supreme Court, the Constitution based on the basic principles following from the War of Liberation is now being brought back. Completion of the trial of the killers of Bangabandhu, the supreme leader of the Liberation War, is another step in restoring that spirit.

The present government is working hard to carry through the trial of the war criminals also. Trial of the killers of four national leaders namely  Syed Nazrul Islam,  Tajuddin Ahmed and  M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamruzzaman has been completed. Trial of other incidents is also going on; steps are being taken to establish the spirit of Liberation war. Work for honoring the foreigners' contribution to the War of 1971 is going on.

All these will enhance the image of Bangladesh as a country which came into existence through a unique War of Liberation in 1971. We can remember that our victory in that War became complete when Bangabandhu came back to Dhaka via Delhi on 10th January, 1972. At the Palam Airport of Delhi, he very significantly explained that the support and assistance that Mrs. Gandhi had arranged for the War was because of their common ideals and principles.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and PM of India Norendra Modi expressed that the relation between the two countries is a role model in the world and passing through a golden era, that is also reflected in the opening ceremony of Mujib Borsha celebration. We hope that Chuknagar and as well as other  places of genocide, places of battles and memories of the liberation war will be protected properly and trials of war criminals will be continued. (Concluded)

The writer is an academic, former ambassador, leader - student action committee, 71, freedom fighter (one of the senior most leaders of BLF), entered in Dhaka along with distinguished leaders like Mr. Abdur Razzak and Mr. Tofael Ahmed on 18th December, 71 and stayed at Bangabandhu's house for 36 hours.

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