Vill: Gopinathpur, P.O.: Gopinathpur
Age in 1971: 35 yrs
in 1971: Service (
Present Occupation: Retired
Q. How did you
get involved with the liberation war after the attack of the
I was posted in Sylhet. In those days the
Punjab Regiment of Pakistan army was stationed there. I was attached with one
of their units. I was taken in by their unit commander as a basket ball coach
to teach the game to their men. I used to board with them and had food with
them. When the Pak army attacked
Quite often when I used to be in my bed at night the Pak soldiers would go out of the camp to destinations for long hours about which I had no clue. They would return around 2/2.30 am and I would peep through the mosquito net and had noticed bloodstains on their uniforms. They would wash them with water and soap to clean it up. Their commanders would order the guards to burn the clothes up. Like this when three days 26,27,28 March passed I became scared. I wondered what were they doing night after night. There was an EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) unit near our camp and there was a Subedar Major in this unit who was a Bihari by the name Kabir. He had posted me in my the then duty. I went to his camp and met him. I told him what I had seen and that I was afraid to continue to stay there.
Although he was a Bihari I had confidence in him. After listening to me he said, “Karim, don’t think about it, you just do your duty”. What could I do? I went back to my unit. One night around 2 am I heard gunshots coming from the direction of Sylhet town, thousands of them as if the town had become a battle-field. I was terribly scared. I went to my “unit father”, but he couldn’t tell me anything either. I was terribly afraid and worried, what if they killed me? Then I went out to see if there were any other Bengalis around the place. But I didn’t find any. Then one day at dead of night I dressed lightly and taking a water pot in my hand (as if I was going to toilet) quietly moved out of the camp. This area was known as Khademnagar. I headed for Sylhet town about 6/7 kilometers away. I was walking through villages. I could hear gunshots in thousands and yet I was heading in that direction and reached Sylhet town. There was a Punjabi Subedar-Major by the name Nawab Khan. He was one of those who recruited me and he was very kind to me. I went straight to his residence. He was offering Tahajjut namaz (special late night prayer). I could see light in his room from outside through the windows. It would be around 2:30 in the morning. When I reached his residence, I thought first I should meet his batman, a fellow named Taher from my own village and a neighbor. I called out Taher. Taher came out and said, “What is the matter, who are you?” I answered, ‘I am Karim.’ He then called me in his room. Intense firing was still going on in Sylhet town. I went in and after a couple of minutes the Subedar-Major finished his prayer. He saw me and immediately he put his arms around my neck, and Subedar-Major M.C. Nawab Khan started crying. I then spoke. I said, “Sir, you are like my father, you have taught me how to be a trainer, you were the C.O. of the unit, you took me in and reared me and then you sent me to the Punjab Regiment and now please tell me what should I to do?” He was crying and then said, “Karim, there is nothing I can tell you. You can go anywhere you want, wherever your eyes take you, you can go.” He also told his batman Taher to go with me but Taher did not agree as he had some problem in leaving the unit right at that moment. Then I left the place alone. It was 3.30 in the morning.
Q. In this situation what did you do?
A. We were seven Bengalis in Kalighat camp. We discussed amongst ourselves and decided to kill all the Punjabis in the night. Taher agreed with me. We kept one of us to guard the camp and six of us left to do our job of killing the Punjabis. When we reached the road one of the Sepoys of Barisal named Motlub came running and said,” I can’t do it, I am afraid, my heart is breaking down”. We left him and five of us reached the camp. It was 11 or 11.30 around mid mid-night. We had also one havildar (sergeant) with us named Fazar Ali who was from Chandpur. We decided to kill the four Punjabis who were in the camp. Fazar said that if we attempted to kill the Punjabis, Platoon Commander Farid Sahib would resist us. He was in his room. It was then 1.00 a.m. I said, “We would take care of him. Don’t get panicky. You will do what we will do”. We entered the camp and found a Punjabi sentry. I told them that we had come from BOP. He then shook hands with us and made some tea for us. The Platoon Commander was still lying on his cot. He was awake but he did not get out of his room. He asked who had come. The sentry told him Naik Taher and Lance Naik Karim had come. He said, it’s ok. We had tea and then we attacked the sentry and three others who were sleeping on their bed.
Outside it was raining heavily. We started beating them hard and took
them to the river bank and dug a whole and buried them and then returned.
Before we returned we snapped the telephone line between the camp and the
Company Headquarters, threw the line into the river
and went to Kanglighat. I wrote a letter to the subedar who was
responsible for the killing of the four Punjabi soldiers if he would be able to
kill the rest thirteen Pathans and Puanjabis. I also informed him that we lost all links with Sylhet. He replied saying that they were only five Bengalis
and there was no way they could finish the Pathans
and Punjabis. If they made any move they may themselves get killed. There was
no way we could cross over to
Then one day around mid-day Major C.R. Dutta arrived by car at the Kanglighat bazaar and asked us if there were any EPR camps around. He was informed by the local people that there was a camp with seven people all together. He sent one of the fellows for me. When I reached the spot and introduced myself he introduced himself to me and asked me how we were managing there all by ourselves. I told him, “Sir, everybody ran away, only five of us Bengalis are around against 13/14 Punjabis and Pathans in the area and if we tried to kill them we would be killed.” He said, “Mia, if you behave so cowardly you cannot free the country. I want you to finish them.” I asked him, “Sir, what will we do then?” He said, “All right, I shall send you a transport around 5 p.m. and all of you will come to my centre with everyone of your company.” After he left I returned to my company and told the other six about the orders I had just received from Major sahib. After some discussion we decided, come what may, we would attack the Pathans and Punjabis even if it would cost our lives. Accordingly taking some local people with us we surrounded their camp and they fired heavy shells at us. Somehow or the other with the blessing of Allah we had managed to kill all of them. We dug graves and buried the dead bodies.
Luckily we were unhurt. We contacted other camps nearby and all the Pathans and Punjabis were killed in ones and twos. The
truck arrived around 5 p.m. and packing whatever little belongings we had and
taking our arms and ammunition we drove to Juree
camp. We spent one night in this camp and next day Maj. Chitta
Dutta split us and sent us to different camps. Our
company was sent to Teliapara and then to
Here we met some officers
including Maj. Khaled Mosharraf,
Maj. Shafaet Jamil and
Capt. Gaffar. Two days later Col. Osmani
visited us. He consoled us and briefed us about the war. We spent three more
days there and took weapons training. Maj. Khaled Mosharraf organized us in several groups and sent these
groups to several locations such as Agartala, Konabanand and Devipur. I was
attached along with other members of my company to the
Q. Which are the areas where you fought and how?
In the beginning when we went to Kasba via Teliapara we spent 2/3 days in Agartala.
We spent quite a few days in Kasba. In the beginning
we were in bad shape. First, we had left our stations about a month and a half
ago and we had no money when we left. We had just a shirt and a pair of
trousers and that’s all. We carried only ammunition and arms with us. We were
defending ourselves from the enemy attack with those whenever it was necessary.
When we reached Kasba which was close to the Indian
border near Devipore in the east we got some help
from the Indians. They gave us a little shelter on a hillock. We made bunkers
there and along with some officers who were with us got ourselves somewhat
organized like army men do. We had hardly any meals to take. Quite often we ate
jackfruit as substitute for meals. Seldom we had rice
and dal (lentils) to eat. We spent quite some
time there. When we had been through an extended period of hunger and
malnutrition we carried out a couple of heavy operations. We were desperate for
food. How could we fight if we had no food? At that time some people of the area
gave us hint that in a nearby go-down on the Salda river there was a big stock of food. If we could bring these
stocks not only us but also other freedom fighters like us would be benefitted, they told us. Then our officers and us became interested about this proposal. One day our CO
information came to know through public source that a platoon of Pak army was coming from Kasba to Salda to inspect this
go-down. The inspection team was to return to Kasba.
We were then stationed inside
Q. Tell me something about the battles of Mandabhag and Saldanadi.
A. During the full nine months of our war the most memorable one was
fought by our 4 East
Then we got orders from capt. Gaffar to set up our camp at Mandabhag Bazaar. He gave us additional force equipped with machine guns. Our plan was to confront the Pakistani units returning from the Chalna port by that route. The Pakistanis came to know that we had taken position there and they fired shells on us from Chalna port area. And then we came to know from the public that the Pakistanis had finally withdrawn from Chalna area. We informed our C.O. Capt. Gaffar about it. A straight and broken road ran all the way to Chalna. The Pakistanis had taken this route for withdrawal from this area to Chalna. Then Capt. Gaffar gave us orders to set up our camp in the Mandabhag Bazaar area. Capt. Gaffar had his headquarters at Konaban. We apprised him of that we had inadequate weapons and it would be too risky for us to set up our camp at the Mandabhag Bazaar. Then he sent us some of his men with machine-guns to strengthen our fire power. It was then rainy season but we somehow managed to stay on. Our purpose was to prevent any Pakistani unit to come that way from Chalna, and if we could find some opportunities we would attack them. The Pakistanis came to know that we had taken position at the Mandabhag Bazaar. So they refrained from coming that way but they did bombing on our camp. Fortunately it didn’t do any damage to us.
One day Capt. Gaffar called us and told us that there was no point for us to stay there any longer and asked us to move to Mandabhag Railway Station. It happened just about a month before the war ended. The day we were to leave this camp some of us were on a boat ride right in front of our bunker in a stagnant puddle of water collected during the recent rains. In the mean time two Razakars came to collect information on us. We saw them and shouted ‘hands up’. The two men, although armed with rifles, raised their rifles above their heads and in fear stood still. We sent two men who swam across the pool and just before they reached the other side of the pool the two men threw off their rifles and ran away for fear of their lives. It was about 2.00 pm then. We picked up the rifles. These two men reported to their Chalna headquarters abut our presence in the area. We were to leave the camp the same evening. We informed our commander about the incident. In the evening we had our supper and listened to radio news. Mr. Wahab asked us to wait a while so that he could listen to the BBC news broadcast at 10 pm. It was too late to move out then. Some of our boys were already asleep. So Wahab Sahib told us to stay there for the night. At night one of my comrades Hedayetullah Patwari and I, while we were smoking cigarette sitting in the dark, saw the shadow of about 400/500 men coming toward us, and then they opened machine-gun fire on us. Hedayet received bullet wound on his arm. On seeing the men we shouted ‘Punjabis are here’ and our machine-gun men, Sarwar and Latif, pulled their triggers and within two seconds 5 hundred bullets left the barrels of the machine-guns and we covered the road.
The hail of bullets fired from our weapons, machine-guns and rifles, caused a massacre on the enemy and there were dead bodies all around. Those, who could, ran away. There were too many dead bodies in the puddle. It was early morning and the sky was becoming clear.
We informed our C.O. about this very unexpected battle. Frightened by the firing all around many people of the area ran away to look for safety. We had to engage some men of the locality to remove the dead bodies.
Q. Had you ever been attacked by the Pak bahini?
A. Yes. We were attacked from air one day at around noontime. We had never apprehended such an attack. The freedom fighters that were attached with us had never seen a fighter plane before. We shouted at them to stay still wherever they were because any moving object becomes the target of the pilots. Even if some one lies down, he must not make any movement. For 40/45 minutes they kept on pounding but through the grace of God none was hurt. We became worried. Should we continue to stay in the camp or leave the place? Then Capt. Gaffar said that we should wait for some time because the local public were bringing some dead bodies and we should wait and see. Again at around 3 pm one full squadron of Pakistani fighters consisting of 6 aircraft returned and continued to bomb us for around 40/45 minutes. Again through the mercy of God we got away unhurt. We stayed there for the night and next day early in the morning we left the camp with lock, stock and barrel and camped near Naittar Bazar. Two or three days later emergency was declared. We were about 8/9 men in our group with some very experienced havildars. These men had carried out some sort of operation and were halting in a house at Mayeenpur village. While they were sleeping the news was passed on to the nearby Pakistani camp and some commandos came and attacked the house killing all the men who were resting in the house. We thought it was the act of some Razakars.
Q. Could you give some names of the Razakars who were attached with the Punjabis?
A. Between Salda Nadi and upto Gangasagar three Razakars gave us a lot of trouble. There was some one named Shaheed from Taltala and another fellow also named Shaheed was from Araibari. I forgot the name of the other fellow. But I know it was the work of Razakars. We tried very hard to catch them.
Q. After the country was liberated could you catch any of them?
A. Let me explain to you something.
We were members of the regular armed force. Although we were part of the Muktibahini we
had no freedom to act according to our desire. When
Q. O.K. Can you tell me something about the boy who used to maintain a diary?
A. Before I can say something about him I have to tell you that our
full unit stayed in
Now, let me give you some information about that boy. He
belonged to the 4 East
Interviewer: Jahirul Islam Swapan
Date of Interview: November 26, 1996
Translator: Dr. Faruq Aziz Khan.