in 1971: School Teacher,
Present Occupation:† Service†
Q.† What did
you know about the post election events in 1971? What was your feeling about
A.† At the
time I was an active member of Bhasani NAP (National
Awami Party). However at the present time I am not a member of any political
party. In 1970 just before the parliament elections a council meeting of the
party was held and the party was split into two on the issue of national
elections. One section was in favor of the elections and the other was against
it. I was against participating in the elections. In those days the political
situation in Pakistan was such that we did not
think an election could be meaningful. That is why we were against elections
and therefore boycotted it. We apprehended that something was going† to happen which
couldnít be overcome by politics of election. From that time we had been
thinking of an armed revolution but we didnít think it would take a turn
towards full independence of Bangladesh. Awami League won in the
elections as we had expected. But the power was not handed over to our
representatives which created political instability in the country. We then
realized that some thing was going to happen, or a revolution could take place
and we would have to make our contribution to it.
Q.† In the
month of March 1971 what was your impression about the situation and what did
the people in general think about it?
A.† People of
our country were not so educated. Even then those of us who were alert wanted to
fight a liberation war. We tried to convince the general masses in this
direction and organize them for it. It was high time that the repression,
indifference and domination on East Pakistan must come to an end. People
were convinced it was not possible for us to remain with them (west Pakistanis)
any longer. This was the general impression amongst our people. So we tried to
organize them in favor of full independence for East Pakistan and launched an active
movement towards it. This was the reason when the liberation war began, by then
we had already made substantial progress in this direction.
Q.† Did you
hear about Bangabandhuís speech of Mar 7? What did
you think of it?
A.† I heard
the historic speech of BangabandhuSh. Mujibur Rahman of Mar 7,
I wouldnít say that it was a clear declaration of independence, but certainly
it was one which had given us the direction in which we should move. The way he
had spoken about independence, freedom, it all amounted to a declaration of war
of independence. But to fight a war one needs preparation, that preparation we
didnít have till then. Even then we† began to take mental preparation for
such a war. Bangabandhuís Mar 7 speech was certainly
an inspiration and helped us prepare for a war of liberation. On that day I was
in Dhaka. I was one in those lakhs of people who had gathered around him to listen to
his speech. We were involved in active politics, and as politically conscious
individuals, we found in his speech a sense of direction which our leader MoulanaBhasani had expected of
him long before. As an activist belonging to Bhasani
NAP, I responded to Bangabandhuís call for independence.
I thought there was certainly a positive element in his call.
Q.† What was
your reaction to the Pakistan Military Juntaís attack on Mar 25, 1971?
A.† I was then
in my school. On Mar 26, I was in the Headmasterís official residential quarter
of the GabaSchool. I heard about the military
crackdown on Dhaka on my radio from BBC, Voice of America and Indian radio broadcast. It
immediately occurred to me that an aggression of genocide, ruthless repression
and murder must have been going on: we were more or less sure that these events
would turn into a full-scale war.
Q.† What did
you do when the Pak army attacked us in 1971?
A.† After the
fall of Dhaka in 1971, the Pak army attacked several other places,
(our) Barisal was also one of those. As I
have already† mentioned
I was Headmaster of Gaba School when it happened. I
saw hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were streaming into our
area from Dhaka and other areas for safety. Our area, marshy as it was, was thought to
be comparatively safer than many other places. Some places in Atghar and Kuriana Union, Swarupkathi police station and some areas around
constituted this safer zone. One can say, the whole area being marshy was
thought as safer than villages around. It is also comparatively inaccessible.
There are in total 37 villages in this zone. The city dwellers started pouring
into this area. They thought this area was safer because the Pakistanis knew
very little about marshy land. There were fruit gardens and sugar cane fields
around. Normally the flood water inundation reaches about 15/20 ft .in depth.
Perhaps the Pakistan army would not venture to
launch an attack in such an adverse condition. From this impression thousands
of men, women and children were pouring in to the area looking for safety. In
the meantime Barisal fell to the Pak army in the
month of April. After the fall of Barisal the local criminals started
looting, stealing and got involved in all kinds of antisocial activities. They
always wanted the Pak army to come to the area so that they could join hands in
Pak army first came to Banripara;
it was most likely in May, or beginning of April. From Banripara
they moved towards Rayerhat. I was a Headmaster of
one of the schools of this locality. This was a Hindu majority area. The Pak
army rounded up the Hindus and took them to the bank of a canal.These
Hindus were harmless citizens and had no interest in national politics. At this
time a younger brother of mine named Bimal Krishna,
who later became a martyr, and I followed them and watched the scene. We were
hiding in a guava plantation on the other side of a wide canal. We saw 70 or 80
of them were killed in just one brush fire. The victims were all Hindu. At that
time they hadnít killed any woman. They only killed the male members. We saw
this act of mass murder. Some time later ShahidBimal Krishna and I crawled to the area and found that some
of the victims were still alive, half dead. In this group some of them were my
students. With some difficulty we pulled them out of the canal. One of them
finally survived. He was the son of a businessman of Paba, and was a student of mine reading in class IX
The Pakistan army did not attack Kuriani on the same day. They attacked Gaba, Hossainpur Union of Ramchandrapur, Brhamaner Hat from
all four sides. They started killing Hindus of these areas. Simultaneously they
organized some people to collect information about Hindu residences and their
identities. It was noticed that some people with caps on their heads
accompanied the army men identifying Hindu homes of the area. And then they
looted these homes and then burnt them down. At that time ShirajSikdarísSarbaharabahini (trained armed political cadre) were stationed in
this area constituting Atghar- Kuriana).
A freedom fighterís contingent under the command of Capt. Beg was also active in
the same area. The Sarbaharaís were stationed in a
place called Bimruli. I was in Gaba area. We were very weak in strength; we had a
very few people in the beginning. Capt Beg took them across to Bharat(India) for training and planning.
With the departure of Capt.
Beg and his troops to India, ShirajSikdar and his fighters became active against the Pak
army units stationed in the area, and built up resistance against them. The Pak
army units came out of the Police Station, attacked
and looted homes and raped girls. My own home was looted on the same day. They
physically tortured my old father and burnt down his cottage. They looted
everything that my father had possessed.
Siraj† Sikdar in those days was known as Moti in our area. SirajSikdar and SelimShahnewaz are not alive today. They died because of internal
feud amongst themselves after the liberation of the country. We attacked Banriparathana jointly combining our
forces. It was our objective to attack the Banriparathana and simultaneously the
peace committee meeting. The peace committee meeting was taking place in the
house of the Sahas close to the thana. But somehow our plan was
leaked out. We still do not know the secret of it. When we attacked the thana there was a counter attack on
us; shooting from inside the thana aiming at us. Since our
weapons were not as advanced as those of the enemiesí and we had scanty supply
of ammunition, we had to retreat. In this attack two of their police men
That day for the first time they came to know about
our existence.They found out that I was around them
with a big fighting force. The same night we left our camp known as Burirbari camp and taking a speedboat went to SirajSikdar in the safe area of AtgharKuriana. We knew that our
camp would be attacked the very next day. At that time we had an intelligence group
who informed me that the Pak soldiers could launch an attack on us the same
night. I had informed SirajSikdar
about it but he said in that vast area it was not possible to launch an attack
with less than a division strength (well over 10,000
soldiers). But we saw at around 3.00 in the morning that the guava plantation
where we had camped, a large number of people were engaged in cutting down the
trees all around and soon they cleared off the entire plantation. Then they cut
down the sugar cane plantation and the whole area became a vast empty space.
There were some canals around the guava plantation and throughout the year these
were filled with water15/16 ft deep. Thousands of men, women and children desperately
tried to hide themselves in these canals. The Pakistan army surrounded the area
with the help of 3/4 thousand students of PirSharshinaísmadrashas and scores
of men supplied by the chairmen of union councils all around. Pakistan army killed countless men,
women and children. The same day the Pakistan army set up a camp at the KurianaSchool and they took away young
girls and women less than 45yrs of age. They spent a few days there and played hell
with lives of the captured victims. They killed any one they could find.They looted
houses of the entire area around.
They turned it into a completely desolate place. A few days later the Pak army
left the area.
After the Pakistan army left we visited a
house near the Kurianaschool.
We found 35/40 women, all aged between 12 and 45yrs..
They were all raped by the Pak army jawans. Some girls
were taken away by the Pak army. Till now they have not been traced. I would
like to mention here that after this incident SirajSikdar left the area with his men. Only I and some boys
returned to my area, Gaba. Gaba was by then an endless desolate
area. Everywhere the Pak army carried out mass killing and looting. After this
disaster I settled down to recruiting a few boys and giving them necessary
training. Before this I had organized a small group of boys as freedom
fighters. And now we became a very strong group. There were no others in the
area. There was no group under the leadership of †Awami League in this zone. Neither
there were any Sarbaharas (SirajSikdar group) around. So our group appeared as the only
combined all party group in this area.There were elements
from Bhasani NAP, Muzaffar NAP,
Communist Party, Awami League and many others who believed in liberal politics.
I remember Enayetbhai who
belonged to the Communist Party was with me. A couple of days later the Pak
army captured him and till to-day he has remained untraced. This is the way we fought
in those days. Our zone was surrounded by big rivers, streams, canals and
smaller water bodies. Almost everyday the Pakistanis used to patrol our area in
gun boats. We had very frequent clashes with them. We came to lime light in the
locality as a very powerful contingent. At that time the Pakistan army was scared of even
hearing the name of Benuís group or Benubahini. In our armory the
most effective weapon was some powerful bombs which were even more deadly than
heavy guns. Finally we found out that unless the Pak invaders were in a very
big group, they wouldnít dare to come to our area.
Then came the muktibahini troops belonging to the Mujibnagar
Government. In this area the sub-sector commander was Capt. Shahjahan
Omar. He came to Barokota. After his arrival in the
area we were asked to close down our unit. Three or four days later Capt Omar visited
our camp which was then set up in the Zeminder house
of Barokota. After he came to our camp he gave me
some arms and ammunition. Whatever light arms we had, those were not enough to
face the powerful Pakistan army. Even then we had to
fight with the Pakistan army at least† ten times each week in different
fronts and different areas heavily depending
on our conviction and courage.
I had control over †Banripara
area, Atghar, Kuriana
union, Swarupkatithana† and Ghuitta union, Gaba and Ramchandra union of Jhalakatithana. There was another area, a paart of Sarupkatithana. All together the area was vast,
all under my control. We had to face the Pakistan army with a lot of strength
that we had to organize. At the end Capt.Omar
accepted my existence and approved† my activities.
In the meantime many boys left for India. They took regular FF
training. Some of them started coming back home. Some of Capt.Omarís
boys were from our area. I brought them back. This increased our strength. We
had no heavy weapons. I tried to make some bombs locally. We captured Banriparathana with whatever arms we had.
We were getting prepared for a bigger attack by the Pak soldiers because we knew
they would do it. 3 or 4 days later the Pak troops came in a big steel body† launch with two
gun boats, one in front and the other at the rear end of the launch. The
soldiers were packed inside the launch. We dug trenches and bunkers all along
the canals and both sides of the river banks. We are determined to fight or
die. We took a resolve not to allow the Pakistanis to land. To fight with this
strong Pak contingent I requested Capt. Omar to give us a rocket launcher and a
mortar but although he promised we didnít get his support at the end. I was in
a fix. It was a hollow promise, I thought. When the Pak troops launched attack
after they crossed Swaripkathithana, I along with my bahini launched attack on them from the banks of the river.
The Pakis were indiscriminately shelling the area and used heavy machine guns.
Shelling all along and firing machineguns they advanced as far as Chaulkati. All along their route we fought with them. I would
like to mention here that we felt the presence of fighter air planes in the sky
over our head. It seemed the Pak army was given air cover during their ground
action. When they were returning from Cahulkati
towards Banriparathana we also fought them on
their way back. Since we had no heavy weapons they did not worry about us and
ignoring resistance put up by us returned to Banriparathana. Quite some of our fellow
fighters sustained injury,
a couple of them became Shaheed.
On that day one of our comrades named Delwar became Shaheed. Some of
them, not known to us were captured and taken away by the Pak army, a few were shot and killed. It was about .
The army captured the thana which was under our control
till then. After they entered the thana they looted many homes, set
fire to the Banripara port, they also set fire to the
mosq- ue. We came to know
that some local people were with them. These people were associated with the
union council. They put on borkha(veil) to guide the army to our area. There was a bridge on
the eastern side of the thana building and the port was
on the southern side. Beside the port there was a Saha(Hindu business
community) house adjacent to the port. The Pakistan army spent the night in the
launch at this spot. Banripara port is huge. The
Pakis set fire to the port and all around there was only blazing fire.That night a comrade of mine Abdul Quader,
a member of the Bengal Regiment, and I opened fire on the launch with LMGs (light machine gun). It was night time. Some of the
Pak soldiers were busy in merrymaking in the launch. Perhaps† they thought the area was free of
freedom fighters. After we fired there was a big commotion inside the launch.
For almost twenty minutes there was an exchange of fire between us and we fired
several hundred rounds of ammunition on them. They left Banripara
the same night. We got news from Barisal that a large number of them
were admitted to the BarisalHospital. We also received news the
same day that 35/36 of them died of bullets fired by us. Their bodies were
found. After the Pak soldiers left Banripara we
reoccupied the thana. They never returned to Banripara. We set up our permanent camp at Banripara as a liberated area.
After this we fought with them(Pak
army) in many areas. One day they attacked us in front of Jambhuisland from a gun-boat. We were about 12/13 of us and
had very light weapons. We attacked the gun-boat and drove it away. Being
attacked by us the gun-boat speeded towards Shwarupkathi
via Kaukhali. Most likely the name of the gun-boat
was JahanghirBahadur. Attacked† byCpat. Shajahan finally the boat capsized† atShekherhat. As revenge the Pak army carried out a terrible
massacre at Gabkhali. After this the enemy refrained
from coming our way. The war was about to end then.
Let me narrate some past incidents. The Razakars and the police forces harmed us most. They had
with them the local culprits. Once they kidnapped my father to get release of
some Razakars we had captured. An army officer came
to my father from Ferozepur and requested my father
for the release of the Razakars. My father did not
agree (and he was arrested). Finally the then thana administration and the
local dalal (Pak agent) released my father. After
this incident we killed three Razakars who were
linked with very serious crimes. The Razakars told us
and gave us in writing that the local chairman had forced four of them to join
the Razakar squad. I had always led my operations
from my camp. It was rumored that they supplied my hand-drawn picture to
different places. They also declared a prize of Tk
20,000 for information leading to my capture. So there were many attempts to
catch me employing various methods. One day I had dinner at the house of a
friend at Alta village. The very next day the whole village was burnt down by
the army. The army tried its utmost to capture me but they failed. I left the
night before. At that time it was our primary duty to bring back peace and
order. In order to do this we had faced many clashes with the associates of the
Pak army. The Razakars based at the thana had by then disappeared. My
area was then a completely free zone.
After this we moved to Barisal town. My unit joined the
forces fighting for the†
liberation of Barisal town. At the time my camp
was on the Barisal Girlís College hostel which was
once the home of ChandSil.
I hold the Peer of Sarsina fully responsible for the
massacre at Kuriana-Atghar by the attack of the Pak bahini. Under his leadership thousands of Razakars and madrasha students
joined the Pak bahini and fought shoulder to shoulder
with them against the liberation forces. Even to-day we do not know how many
people were massacred at Atghar and in the 37
villages of KurianaBeel(marsh) area by the Pak
army and their associates. I feel very sad that till now, after 25 years, this
area has not received any help or rehabilitation support from any quarter. Even
during the massacre my comrades reached relief materials, like food, clothes,
medicines etc taken out of the looted booties of our enemies and Razakars, for the luckless people of the area. We collected
money, clothes, medicines etc from different hats, bazaars at different times
and distributed these to the affected people. We did not fight the liberation
war only with weapons, we always tried to help the
victims with food and shelter, and tried to rehabilitate them. After Barisal was liberated our work more
or less came to an end.† †
We thought those who joined the liberation war and
fought for our freedom, at least they would be able to live in peace with their
children. They would get two meals a day. But this didnít happen.
I deposited my weapons at Perojpur.
It was then a sub-division. I deposited the largest stock of weapons including
one hundred and fifty two thousand pieces of ammunition. Many boys of my unit
were absorbed into the newly created militia forcs. A
few months later the government disbanded this force. Even to-day, after twenty
five years, many of them have not been able to stand on their own feet. I
sometimes feel guilty for this painful situation. The administration of those
days did not attach importance to this problem. At least now it is time to
Q.† Why did
you join the liberation war?
A.† I was a
citizen of the then East Pakistan and Bangladesh. I thought as a conscious
citizen it was my moral obligation to fight for the liberation of my country.
That is why I fought for the freedom of my country-men.
Q.† When did
the Pak army attack your area? And how did they do it?
A.† The Pak
army first came to my area in May 1971 and assembled in the thana compound. Then they split
themselves up in several groups and spread all around. Four or five of these
groups launched attack on a number of fronts. They killed a very large number
of people. They burnt down scores of homes and hearths. They had many† local
associates. They looted homes and handed over young women and girls to the Pak
army jawans. Specially these
miscreants targeted Hindu families. Very often they lined up men on the banks
of the river and shot them down. The Pak troops used to come out in the morning
and return before sunset. They used to take shelter in the thanabuiding.
From the thana they would spread out in
different directions. They killed, looted and set fire
to the homes of the villagers.
Q.† When did
the actions of the muktibahini begin in your area and
how did the local people take it?
A.† In May my are fell to the Pak bahini.
Then I started organizing my unit. With a handful of boys and very little
weapons we started our activities. In the beginning we stopped looting and then
attacked the homes of the looters. In many instances we set fire to the homes
of the local miscreants. People hated these looters. They were more harmful
than the Pak bahini. We recovered some looted
articles and distributed among the people. The villagers liked the muktibahini boys. They thought, although not very strong,
at least these boys were able to protect them from the local miscreants. As we
were getting strong we felt we would be able to liberate our country.
Q.† Who were
the people of your area who joined the Razakarbahini and the Peace Committee?
A.† In our
area mostly the peasants and minor businessmen who joined these forces.
Unemployed youth and people with very little education constituted† the majority in the Razakarbahini. The fellow who
first became the chairman of the peace committee was from Chakahar.
He was a neighbor of ShereBangla
A.K. FazlulHuq. His name
was Ali Mia. He was the first person to organize Peace Committee in this area.
He was the chairman of the Banripara Peace Commi-ttee. We caught him when we attacked Banriparathana. He was killed by the
freedom fighters. The man who led the Razakars in my
area was named Abdul Aziz. He disappeared from the
area soon after liberation.
Q.† Were the
anti-liberation elements caught? And how did they get away?
A.† We caught
many anti-liberation elements and many of them were thrown into the prison.
Later on many of them were released because of the general amnesty declared by
the government. After they were released they started taking revenge on us.
With the help of the administration they started conspiring against the freedom
fighters and those who were in favor of liberation war. As a result many
freedom fighters were evicted from their homes and became innocent victims of
conspiracy hatched by the anti-liberation elements. If the government hadnít
pardoned them by declaring general amnesty, this painful situation could not
have been created.
Q.† What was
the condition of schools, colleges, mosques, madrashas,
temples, bridges and homesteads of your area after the liberation?
schools were in terrible condition. During the past nine months the students
didnít go to schools for fear of the Pak army coming any time. For fearof the army the kids stayed away from† schools. Many teachers were killed by
the Pak army, so also many students. Many schools were burnt down The Pak army
received help from the administration of the nearby ChakharFazlulHuqCollege. We had complaint against
the teachers of this college. The teachers had very friendly relations with the
Pak army officers. They destroyed the temples and moths(prayer
area of Hindus) of the college, they destroyed our family home and our temple and
moth. Their local associates took advantage of the situation. Most of the
residential houses were burnt down and bridges were destroyed. At that time
there were many bridges in our locality. We also blew up some of them to
prevent the Pak army invading our area. Almost all the Hindu temples were
destroyed and Hindu homes burnt. The Pak army had special grudge on the Hindus.
They destroyed 90 per cent of the Hindu homes in our area.
Q.† Which are
the areas where indiscriminate killing, arson and looting took place? And who
committed these acts?
A.† Gaba, Ramchandrapur
Union, Kuriana, Atghar of Swarupkathithana, Ghuitta
Union of Uzirpurthana and old thana area of Banripara
were very badly destroyed. The local Razakaras helped
the Pak army as also the three thousand students of the madrashah
of the Peer Sahib of Sarsina. They burnt down the
whole area, looted homes, raped women and carried out indiscriminate killing.
Q.† Did any
one become shaheed during fighting?
A.† In my area
Matiur Rahman became shaheed
while fighting in the house of Sarshina Peer and DelwarHossainbeameshaheed while fighting with
the Pak army at Banripara.AbdusSattar
of Rajapur became shaheed
when his unit attacked Banriparathana. Bimal
Krishna Das became shaheed
at Babuganj and Zafar of Razzakpur became shaheed near Barisalltown.
Q.† How many
freedom fighter groups were there and who were they? And who were the leaders
of these groups?
A.† I was the
Base Commander of the BanriparaThana
Base. My group was split into several sections. These sections were †commanded by Abdur Rashid,† KaziMotiur Rahman, KeshabchandraDas, Hasan Ali, Moslem Khan and others.
Q.† During the
war where were the freedom fightersí camps in your Banariparathana area?
A.† My camp
was in Banaripara. The others were in Gaba, Burimari, the headmasterís
residence of GabaSchool, NarerKathi of Swarupkathithana and one at† the house of Barabanik
Q.† Where were
the Rajakar and Shantibahini camps or offices located in Banaripara?
A.† The main
camp of the Razakars was in the thana building and in Sahabari(house) and Banikbari
Q.† What was
the role of the Banariparathana administration during the war?
A.† The Banriparathana administration was totally
opposed to us during the war, specially the police administration. They were
totally opposed to the liberation war. They did a lot of torture and repression
and killed many people. They set fire to my house also. The policemen and the
police officers in the administration committed a lot of raping during those
Q.† How many
women and girls were raped in Banaripara area, do you
have any idea?
to my information at least 6/700 girls were raped in AtgharKuriana. Besides these, about 25 to 50 were raped in Banaripara area.
Q.† In your
area how many homesteads were burnt down, how many homes looted and how many
people were killed?
A.† In the GabaRamchandrapur
union, Ghuitta union and Banariparathana, all together, particularly
the Hindu homes, about 90% were looted and set on fire. In 37 villages in that
area about 50,000 people were slaughtered by the Pakistan army.
Q.† What did
you do when the war ended?
A.† When the
war ended I again joined the school. I served the GabaSchool as Headmaster till 1974.
Then in 1979 I joined the Meghna Petroleum Company †as a Depot
Superintendent. Till to-day I am working in the Meghna
Petroleum Co.. I am now a Senior Sales Officer posted