Sometime in January 1971, a very poor lanky young Bengali man of Hindu community wearing an old full-pant with no other clothes on his body, but half-folding of his left leg pant and marking a white sandal-paste on his forehead, suddenly arrived at the compound of Kishoreganj Railway Station which is only 5 minutes' walking distance from our house. He was always holding a small metallic pot standing on it a small holy-basil tree. He was a stranger only to us at this town, but he did no harm to anybody so long he was alive. There was no electricity at our town then.
Every late afternoon from January to the middle of April, 1971, he started an assembly (mojlish) on the cemented floor of the Railway Station where more than 100 hundred people including me gathered. In that meeting, he sang a song using his bamboo-made music instrument, "Allah-arrastaichol, soja-potheychol, noileygondogolshamney…" (Follow the path of Allah; walk through the straight path. Otherwise, a dangerous disturbance is awaiting ahead for you…). His assembly continued up to 8.00 - 8.30 pm. With deep attention, we used to listen to his music. He did never ask anything from anybody. Everybody loved him so dearly.
The whole town turned into a deserted place before 20th April, 1971, the day the brutish Pakistani army in thousands entered the Kishoreganj Town, alighting the houses on innumerable number of houses belonged to both Hindus and Muslims, brutally killing countless people, raping of our honourable mothers and sisters, plundering valuable belongings of our people…Only that very poor lanky Bengali Hindu young man stayed at the Railway Station compound till he was brutally murdered.
When the Pakistani armies reached very near to the Railway Station compound on 20th April, 1971, he came out and faced them pronouncing 'Joy Maakali' (Joy Kali deity) and the Pakistani armies then and then brush-fired on him with their automatic guns. Momentarily, his body was pierced into very small pieces and thrown and fell-down scattered here and there. Thus he was the first martyred person at Kishoreganj Town in 1971.
It was sometime in May, 1971 - I shall now narrate a miraculous incident: 'Kusum Sadhu' as he was named, was more than 90 years old a Hindu man, who practiced ascetic austerities for so many years and then accomplished something supernatural in his soul and became a Hindu virtuous man as it was strongly believed not only in the-then East Pakistan, but also in many parts of the-then West Pakistan.
Before the notorious Partition of 1947, 'Kusum Sadhu' came alone to the land of Bangladesh from Udisha State, India as the Railway Coolie Sardar (an unskilled head of Railwaylabourers). His mother-tongue was Udishan, but living here for more than three decades, he could speak of something like mixed language of Urdu-Bangla-Hindi-Udishan. First, he was the Railway Coolie Sardar at Nilganj Railway Station which is two kilometer distance towards north of Kishoreganj Town.
Second, after his retirement from Railway service, he permanently settled-down at Kishoreganj during my childhood days. He lived nearby our house and had close relatives who worked with Kishoreganj Railway Station. He had also a makeshift hermitage ('Asrom') where stayed the whole day-time serving the people who came to him for various problems against a certain fee, say for, Tk.1.25, Tk.2.50 and Tk.5.00 according to the magnitude of problem. Every day, many people sought his help and I found all people were satisfied by his services.
In 1971, the Pakistani armies and their local mango-twigs as I have stated above were extremely venomous against the Hindu people and if anyone came across their notice, they just barbarically murdered him or them momentarily. There was no question of cremation of their dead bodies. The dogs, jackals, vultures and other human flesh-eaters ate those dead bodies. What an audacity by those so-called Muslims - the number one liars and bestial animals!
Now come to the point: The entire Kishoreganj Town was empty except the Pakistani militaries and their local cronies. 'Kusum Sadhu' always wore a white dhuti (Hindu dress) with a long 'Paita' on his neck, but with no other robes on his body.
In May, 1971, on my freedom fighter commander's instruction, I made a walking tour throughout our town like a most ordinary beggar and finally reached close to our house. I found 'Kusum Sadhu' with the same Hindu dress and was lying on a wooden bedstead. To my utter surprise, I found some Pakistani soldiers were very busy to take care of him - some were chatting with him; some were serving food for him; and some were busy to take tea for him from their camp. Seeing is believing. But when I recall the incident, I still can't understand about 'Kusum Sadhu' baba's uncommon power. And he was the solitary Hindu person at Kishoreganj who remained un-touched by the Pakistani soldiers and their local buddies.
Bangladesh came into being on 16th December, 1971. 'Kusum Sadhu' remained alive. In 1973, his eldest son named 'Domodar' came to his place from Udisha State, India to take him back to his birth-place, but he refused to go. In 1974, when I was a student of 2nd year B.A. Honours class in History at Dhaka University, suddenly, I heard a news from one of my friends of Kishoreganj that 'Domodar' finally could convince his father to go back to Udisha. Towards the end of 1974, 'Kusum Sadhu' left Kishoreganj for his original home in India along with his son 'Domodar' leaving so many people at Kishoreganj for shedding tears for him.
Qamrul Islam, one year senior to me in our college times, was a very brilliant student and a strong activist of Chhatra Union (Menon Group). In early April, 1971, he became a guerrilla freedom fighter and was involved in several hit-run operations against the Pakistani militaries and other anti-Bangladesh liberation forces. He lived with his parents in a house nearby Nezam-e-Islam Chief MaulanaAtahar Ali, the number one Satan. To catch him alive, the forces of Jamaat-e-Islami Al-Badr, MujaheedBahini of MaulanaAtahar Ali et al suddenly surrounded their house and picked-up his parents and siblings to their camp, inflicted inhuman tortures on them and they were combat-ready to kill all of them, but to hand-over his sisters to the Pakistani soldiers to dishonor their chastity.
One of our sources reported this news to Quamrulbhai at the war field. He was then very worried and distressed to save his family members. He left his group of freedom fighters, came to Kishoreganj, visited the Al-Badr camp. He begged of Al-Badr commanders to let them free in lieu of him. Finally, they agreed and freed them all except Quamrulbhai, but they then inflicted unspeakable cruel tortures on him and Quamrulbhai was viciously lynched in a public execution place by those malefactors. His dead body was never allowed for burial.
Hannan Mollahbhai, a very handsome and brilliant student, also senior to me by one year in our school and college life, a fiery orator against the Pakistani colonial rule on us, belonged to Chhatra Union (Menon Group), a very well-known and popular face at Kishoreganj Town, was a veteran freedom fighter in 1971. He fought valiantly in the war field to attain Bangladesh in 1971. He was born and brought-up at his paternal uncle's house and his uncle was a businessman at Kishoreganj Town.
To catch him, all anti-Bangladesh liberation evil forces, particularly Jamaat-e-Islami Al-Badr force and the Pakistani military soldiers became daredevil. Having failed to arrest him, they picked-up his uncle to their concentration camp, unleashed inhuman tortures on him, after making him almost dead, they took him to the Manipur Bridge which is standing on the bank of the Narasunda river inside a small village towards the South-West, about 20 minutes walking distance from our house, shot him with their automatic SLRs (Self-Loading Rifles) to death and then kicked his dead body down to the river - no burial was allowed for the dead body by those griffins. Their audaciousness was or is unpardonable under any setting.
(To be continued…)
Anwar A Khan is an independent political analyst who writes on
politics, political and
human-centred figures, current and international affairs