Name:  Md. Yunus Ali Inu

Father’s Name:  Mohammad Yakub Ali

Villag: Pabla,  P.O. Daulatpur, P.S. Daulatpur

Dt. Khulna

Education: B.A.

Age in 1971: 29yrs

Occupation  in 1971: Politics

Present Occupation:  Politics

 

 

Q.  What do you know about 1970 General Elections and the subsequent events?

 

A.  I have to go back some years before if I have to talk about the 1970 elections. I passed the B.A examinations in 1967. After I joined student’s politics in 1960 I gradually got involved deeply in active students’ politics and in 1966-67 I became the General Secretary of the District Students’ League of Khulna district. I became directly involved in the Six Point movement of Awami League in Khulna under the leadership of Bangabandhu. The elections of 1970 didn’t happen so suddenly. In order to achieve this many of us had to sacrifice their lives. We had to pay for it with a lot of blood.

 

In the 24 yrs of Pakistan’s existence as an independent nation, most the time the country was ruled by its army. The ruling clique of Pakistan not only showed a step-motherly attitude towards East Pakistan but also carried out repression and gross injustice throughout out the entire period. There was partiality and discrimination in all matters.

 

Awami League’s 6 point movement was mainly to establish Bangali Nationalism and a separate State for Bangalis ensuring full independence. In any country a movement for separate nationality eventually turns into an independence movement. Bangladesh was not an exception. In 1966 the 6 point movement led by Bangabandhu Sh. Mujibur Rahman was for a separate nationality of the Bangalis. It ended with the independence of Bangladesh.

 

In the year 1966 here in Khulna in a rally held on April 17 Bangabandhu first started his campaign for realization of his 6 point demand. I was then the General Secretary of the Khulna District Students’ League. On his arrival at Khulna in the morning we gave him a reception at the Dak Bungalow of Khulna. After this reception about 50 or 60 of us took him in a procession to the residence of the late Imadullah. It is in this house arrangements were made for Bangabandhu’s stay in Khulna. After lunch while he was resting we stayed with him till he left for the public meeting. At that time I told him that when he would raise the demand for 6 points there would be a big commotion throughout the country and the Pakistani rulers would react against this demand. They would try to find elements of sedition in this demand and Awami Leaguers may face government repression and they may be arrested, and if this should happen how we would make our movement successful. He said, he had also thought of this possibility and had taken into account all the pros and cons before arriving at the decision to present this option in front of the nation. He said all the Awami League leaders and workers might face imprisonment, many of them might be killed. “If all of us were taken to jail, this movement for 6 points will still continue”, he said, “ I have taken everything into consideration before launching this movement.” We couldn’t fully appreciate then the inner meaning of his

statement and never could think then that in course of time the 6 point demand would be so vigorous.

 

Soon after this declaration a warrant of arrest was issued against Bangabandhu and some of us. We managed to send him to Jessore with great difficulty including changing cars on the way to avoid arrest.

 

But he was arrested when he reached Jessore. Somehow he got released next day and held a meeting in Jessore and then on the way to Dhaka he was arrested again in Kushtia. In this way in the next 17 days he was arrested 13 times, the last one was in Naryanganj. Since then he was not released before Feb 22, 1969. On June 7, 1966  a countrywide hartal was observed for his release. On that day 6 or 7 people were shot and killed in police firing including Manu Mia (Awami activist). Soon after a fake charge of sedition was brought by the Pakistan Government against Bangabandhu which came to be known as the Agartala Conspiracy case.

 

Let me describe the incidents that happened in Khulna on that day. We had planned to bring out a procession in protest but didn’t get a single Awami League leader to take part in the procession. Only 10/11 persons including Ali Taher, Kamruzzaman, Mohd.Yunus Ali, Monwar Hossain, Monranjan, Feroz Noon and I, and few others took out a small procession from Hadis Park of Khulna. As soon as the procession reached the crossing near the park, police forces surrounded us from all sides and arrested almost all of us. We were taken to the Thana (police station) and interrogated throughout the night. However, next day we were granted bail by the court and were released. This is the reason why people were scared to participate in processions in those days.

 

When the whole country was agitating against the Agartala Conspiracy case against Bangabandhu the people of Khulna were not far behind. In those days almost every day there were processions and meetings. In this situation on Feb 21, 1969 the students gheraoed(laid a siege) around the residence of the sub-divisional officer (SDO) to hand over to him a memorandum. The police opened fire on them killing three students, Hadis, Pradeep and Altaf. As a consequence two other activists were killed by police firing in Daulatpur of Khulna District. The Khulna shootings triggered a country-wide unrest and the situation went out of control of the then rulers. We are proud that the events of Khulna and the sacrifice we made here forced the government to release Bangabandhu, the accused in the Agartala Conspiracy

case, from Dhaka Jail the very next day.

 

Freed from Dhaka jail on Feb 22, 1969, Bangabandhu participated in the round-table conference. Bangabandhu was adamant about his 6 point demand and the conference failed and in the face of a mass uprising throughout the country President Field Marshall Ayub Khan resigned and handed over power to the Army Chief of Staff Gen.Yahya Khan. In order to bring back normalcy in the country Yahya Khan announced that general elections would be held. In Dec 1970 the general elections were held in Pakistan.

 

Bangabandhu conducted a very intense election campaign throughout the country and he also visited Khulna. Personally I accompanied Bangabandhu during his election tour of Satkhira, Bagerhat, and some parts of Jessore. During the campaign, lasting about 3 days, I noticed that when the rest of us were exhausted of the pressure of work, Bangabandhu was not tired at all. We have seen that our present leaders lack the farsightedness that a politician should possess. Bangabandhu had that farsightedness of a political leader that is rarely seen. He had an election program in Khulna. According to the program he was to hold a meeting in Khulna and

the following day he would proceed to Mongla via Baithaghata and hold a meeting there at 3 p.m.  After this meeting he would proceed to Paikgacha via Khulna and address another public meeting at Paikgacha in Satkhira in the evening.

 

On that day as usual at around 8 am Bangabandhu left Khulna rest house by a launch(small steamer). We accompanied him. But we were late in reaching  Mongla; at around 5 in the afternoon we reached the venue of the meeting because on the way Bangabandhu had to address several unscheduled public meetings. On the way we noticed that every half a mile or so there were thousands of people who gathered on both sides of the river to have a glimpse of Bangabandhu and greet him. In those days people were crazy to see him or listen to him. Even old people gathered on the banks of the river. Seeing this sight Bangabandhu stopped many a times to get down from the launch and met the people and talked to them. At several places he held unscheduled meetings. This is the reason why we were late in reaching Mongla. After the Mongla meeting we sailed for Paikgacha and reached our destination at around 11 pm. Here the candidate for National Assembly was the late Abdul Gafoor Sahib and the candidate for the Provincial Assembly was another politician of Khulna Advocate Mominuddin Ahmed. When we reached our destination we saw both of them and a few others waiting for us beside the dais with a lit petromax. When Bangabandhu waded through mud and water of the

river bank to get to the dais it would be around 11 or 11:15 pm. People who had gathered to hear Bangabandhu had left, only about 20 men including the two candidates were still waiting. When we reached the spot everyone started crying loudly. They said about one lakh people had gathered and they waited till about 10 pm but they couldn’t be kept waiting any longer and they left disappointed. Many had come from distant places, 8/9 miles away. “They thought we are liars”, they said. They even said that it would be wrong to think that Awami League would do well in the elections here. Bangabandhu coolly replied that he had full confidence in the people of the country, “You will win” .He explained why he was delayed on the way and he said, “If I hold any public meeting ever the first one would be here in Paikgacha”. Bangabandhu kept his words. He held the next meeting in Paikgacha.

 

Finally the elections were held and Awami League won in167 out 169 seats of the National Assembly. They lost in two seats, one in Chittagong Hill Tracts taken by Tridiv Roy and in the other constituency of Mymensingh, Nurul Amin won. As majority party in the National Assembly, Awami League requested President Yahya Khan to convene the opening session. Yahya Khan was vacillating but then he finally agreed and called the session and fixed the date on Mar 3, 1971 and then on March1, he cancelled the session. And then the whole country was ablaze creating a serious situation and it became quite clear that Yahya Khan and the West

Pakistani rulers and politicians didn’t want power to be transferred to the East Pakistan politicians. The ruling clique of Pakistan didn’t think that Awami League would get so many seats in the National Assembly. It was an unbelievable reality to them. So they started a conspiracy which led again to a movement in the country (the then East Pakistan) against these actions.

 

We then realized that without mass movement or struggle, the Pakistanis under no circumstances  will allow the Awami League to assume power. We would have to assume power through movement and struggle. We didn’t think of a war then.  Some of us had thought about it but the idea didn’t surface so openly. In fact we never could believe that we would have to fight a war. I recall one of our student leaders Abdur Razzak once called a few of us in Shahinoor Hotel and while discussing the overall situation warned us that we might have to fight a war for power and in that case we would have to be prepared to make sacrifice. He said we should be

mentally prepared for such an eventuality. But he never said that a war was inevitable. We hoped ultimately the power would be transferred to us. Although some of our political leaders had secret desire in their minds to become independent, they never talked about it openly. Besides we did not have enough experience in politics to understand what was really going to happen. I have already said that when a nationalist movement starts, it ends in independence. I am saying this to-day from my political maturity that I have achieved now. Immediately after Yahya Khan cancelled the National Assembly session, meetings, rallies and

processions became all too frequent.

 

From the beginning of Mar 1971, there were many meetings, processions and demonstrations in and around Khulna, Daulatpur and Khalishpur. I had the opportunity of attending many of them. People in thousands attended these meetings without much publicity. In many places police, EPR and army opened fire but the people’s movement continued unabated. They thought the only way to force the Pakistan Govt to transfer power to the people’s representatives was to carry on movement. In a situation like this Bangabandhu delivered his historic speech on Mar 7 in the Dhaka Race Course Maidan(ground) in the presence of almost a million people which

inspired the Banagalis to face the grave situation that was fast developing.

 

Q.  Did you hear the Mar 7, 1971 speech of Bangabandhu? What did he say in his speech.?

 

A.  I was in Dhaka on that day. I had gone to Dhaka only to hear his speech. Late Zahidul Islam, a student leader of Khulna was also with me. We stayed at the Hasina hotel of Bakshibazar. We had early lunch as the hotel workers, some of them not older than 12 yrs, had planned to attend the Race Course rally of Bangabandhu. The crowd was so large that we couldn’t go beyond Roquyea Hall, the girl students’ hostel of the Dhaka University.

 

Bangabandhu’s speech of Mar 7 was incomparable, it will remain as a rare historic document in the annals of history of this land. “This struggle is the struggle for independence, this struggle is the struggle for freedom”, he declared in such clear language.

 

Two days later we returned to Khulna. There were hardly any means of transportation. With great difficulty we returned to Khulna by launch (steamer). Returning to Khulna we devoted ourselves wholeheartedly to organize public support in favor of our movement with the help of such local leaders as Sh. Abdul Aziz, Salahuddin Yusuf, Mominuddin, Enayet Ali and some others. We organized “War Council” in every locality and on 23 rd Mar we for the first time hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh. The same flag was hoisted everywhere in the country as it was done  in the entire Khulna  region. In front of a huge gathering on the Daulatpur

B.L. College ground I hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh. In some houses and office buildings also the same flag was hoisted. A large number of people of adjacent areas came to the rally armed with sticks and batons. We noticed there was a great enthusiasm among the people to see the new Bangladesh flag for the first time.

 

In every area a “Sangram Parishad” (War Council) was formed to maintain liaison with the central leadership of Awami League and to receive instructions from them and act accordingly. In several places of Khulna volunteer corps were raised who were armed with sticks and simple weapons. The responsibility of raising these volunteers was given to a student of B.L College named Badsha who later became a police officer. Similarly in other areas also such corps were raised. The factory workers of this area  also raised similar volunteer corps. In thosedays this area was inhabited by a large number of Biharis and also quite a few West Pakistanis,

mostly Punjabis. These people were against us. We had to maintain a close watch on them.

 

Q.  Did you hear anything about the attack by the Pakistan Army on Mar 25, 1971, or had any knowledge about it?

 

A.  In the night of Mar 25, at around 11 pm a political leader received a telephone call from a man telling him that the army had come out on the streets of Dhaka in tanks and armored vehicles. We received this news that very night. It created a kind of panic amongst us. In the morning we got more news from overseas radio stations. We heard that the Pakistan army had attacked student residences of Dhaka University, Rajarbagh Police Lines and the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) headquarters at Peelkhana(Dhaka) and many other places. We also got the news that they had indiscriminately slaughtered hundreds of Bangalis. We immediately realized that the Pakistan Army may also attack Khulna. We then tried hard to organize ourselves to meet the threat.

 

Q.  When did the Pakistan Army attack Khulna?

 

A.  Most probably on Mar 28 some army units from Jessore Cantonment drove to Khulna. Even before that some army units were guarding the State Bank of Pakistan and the Khulna Radio Station  studios. Getting the news of the movement of the army towards Khulna the members of the volunteer corps organized earlier tried to stop the army. Ashikur Rahman, a resident of Khulna, was a retired captain of the Pakistan Army. I knew him. After the army assault on Dhaka I contacted him. There were some other retired army personnel in Khulna town. We organized them with the help of Mr. Rahman. Then the police personnel also joined us and so also the Ansars(A Paramilitary Force). I was in Khulna town when the Pak Army attacked Khulna. I went to Daulatpur after sundown. I had no way of moving around during the day time hours. When I was in Khulna I got the news that the army was advancing towards Khulna. They had not reached Daulatpur then. Daulatpur was on the way to Khulna. They received resistance for the first time at Fultala on the way to Khulna. Next day they again met resistance at Daulatpur. Four or five convoys reached Daulatpur. As soon as they reached Daulatpur they entered several areas of the town. We then tried to resist them at several points. We had collected all the firearms which the local people of the area in and around Daulatpur had possessed. We had distributed these arms to those members of the Ansar command who knew how to use firearms. A man named Hadi was the first person to open fire on the Pak Army when they entered Daulatpur town. Hadi was a student of the B.L. College. Hadi took position in a lane and opened fire when the Pak Army convoy was moving on the main road. A Pakistani soldier was hit by the bullet and fell down. We thought he died but later on we came to know that he was wounded. As soon as Hadi fired his first shot, the army jwans jumped down from the vehicles and started firing in all directions. At one stage they picked up their wounded comrade and started to flee when we chased them. Suddenly one of our comrades whose name was Shyamapada received a bullet wound and died. His death unnerved the others and they started to flee in all directions when the Pak soldiers opened indiscriminate fire in all directions and entered Khulna town. Once they occupied Khulna town they set up camps in different areas and launched attacks on other areas from these camps. They attacked one Siddiq Munshi’s house and killed 16-17 people.

 

When Pakistan Army’s activities increased in Khulna we crossed the river and camped in a school building. Once we reached there we planned to attack the Khulna Radio Station. We had the chief of  Khulna voluntary corps Kamruzzaman Tuku with us. On the instructions of the then M.P.A(Member Parliamentary Assembly) Sheikh Abdur Rahman another local resistance group joined us. This group was mainly composed of former members of the EPR, ex-soldiers and Ansars. Major Jalil took the responsibility of invading the Radio Station. He was then camped at Fakirhat. When we came to know that a Bangali army major had arrived there, we as leaders of the students and youth fronts contacted him. Thousands of students and young men had already arrived and joined hands with us to fight against the Pakistanis. But there were few amongst them with training of some kind. Major Jalil’s contingent had some men with previous experience. Some of them were from the army and others from police corps and Ansars  We had also collected some trained men. For the invasion of the Radio Station we managed to gather about 2-3 hundred trained men  I was also with them as a volunteer.

 

According to the battle plans those of us without training would be responsible for supplying food, equipment etc and those with training would do the fighting. In the first week of April we attacked the Khulna Radio Station but we lost the battle. In this operation several soldiers including subedar Zainal Abedin died and quite a few were wounded. We realized that with our limited strength and training it was not possible to fight with the Pakistan army and we wouldn’t survive too long. We therefore decided to go to India, our only neighbor for help. With this possibility in mind we crossed over to India on April 9 through the Hakimpur border. Late Gafur

bhai, MNA from Paikgachaha had already gone to India and with the help of his friend Nanda Babu and some others had opened a camp near the Bhomra border. He had with him some student leaders of Satkhira, 13 EPR jawans and several ex-Pakistan navy men. When I came to know about it, I went to Ghafur bhai’s camp. One Ayub of Patjohra was the commander of the EPR force. He was with the Signal Corps of the EPR.

 

At the time there were several like me in this camp without training. It was Ayub who gave us some rudimentary training. During the training period we carried out some minor military operations on the enemy. We used to come from our training camp and carry out those operations.

 

Till then Satkhira was free and the SDO (Sub-divisional Officer) of Satkhira was a non-Bengali officer. If I remember correctly, we went to Satkhira via Mahmoodpur on April 13, arrested the SDO and brought him to India. Later on we handed him over to BSF and the BSF kept him in Bashirhat jail. Next day April 14 we looted the Satkhira treasury and took away 76 rifles and the very next day looted the National Bank and took away 17.2 million taka and quite a bit of gold and then returned to India. All the 13 EPR men were with us. I only remember the name of Ayub. I do remember some of the names of others who were with us on this expedition. S.M.Babar Ali, Abduls Salam Mondol, and Moyna took part in this action. Moyna is currently the organizing secretary of Satkhira Awami Leaue. One Kamrul was also there; I think he is now with BNP. There was also one Mustafiz who is now with JSD(Jatiya Samajtrantik Dal). I think there was another fellow named Kamrul who is working in Janakantha (a National Daily News Paper of Bangladesh). On April 15 we made six trips on a Jeep to transfer the money. We didn’t take any

bank notes less than Tk10/ denomination and the total amount was Tk.17.2 million. The left amount comprising  of 5 Tk notes and coins were looted by some unknown people. In a situation like this the Pak bahini entered Satkhira. As soon as they arrived they opened fire on the looters. A large number of people died on the spot. On reaching Satkhira the Pakistan army set up their camp near the Mahmoodpur bridge four miles away from Bhomra. We were at Bhomra when the Pak bahini set up their camp at Mahmoodpur.

 

We stayed in the EPR camp and the EPR skillfully used to send us on various types of night duty across the border inside Bangladesh and they themselves used to stay in full security within the Indian border. There was a road near the camp which was very important for various reasons.  The Pak army hadn’t yet set up their camp near this road. They used to come on routine patrol duty once or twice a day and then go back. The EPR men used to send us on duty around this road at night We were told that the Pak army usually didn’t come out at night on this road. If they came they would come during the day, not at night. And even if they came, the BSF and the EPR were behind us. We had nothing to fear. We took their words in good faith and did our assigned duty. One day at around 8.00 in the morning ASM Babar Ali, I and some others were taking a dip into a pond by the side this road close to the border when suddenly some Pak soldiers attacked us from all three sides. I just cannot describe how we managed to save our lives. When this happened thousands of people ran for life in any direction they could. They were rushing across a small canal the other side of which was Indian territory. In this terribly frightening  moment babies fell down from their mothers’ hold, no one looked at any one, they

were just running for their own lives. After running for 3 or 4 miles non-stop Babar Ali and I reached the Indian border and saved our lives. Then we went to Bhomra and found 2 EPR men dead. Those of us with rifles, left their weapons behind. A lot of people were killed in that action. Next day we were told that our camp had to be wound up. Then Mr. Gafur rented a house in Bashirhat (India) on his own. Some of us and the EPR members took shelter in that house. We also found shelter in the same area not far from one another. We maintained our contact with Mr.Gafur. A few days later all of a sudden Maj. Abu Osman Chowdhury came with Capt. Salahuddin and Capt Mahbub and took away the EPR men with them. A little later they also took us to a camp at Taki. After staying there for a couple of days we took shelter in the residence of Moulana Akram Khan at Hakimpur. The day after we went to the residence of the station master and later the two of us went to Calcutta. On reaching Calcutta we tried to locate our leaders and find out what they were doing and what was going on about our mission. One day suddenly we came across Shahjahan Siraj who was the general secretary of the Central Students’ League. Although he was older than me he treated me with respect and gave me an address and asked me to go there . If I remember correctly, I went to this place the very next day along with Babar Ali. We found quite a few known face. Before this happened I had been to the MP’s hostel and the Bangladesh Embassy but didn’t find anyone I knew. From some inmates of this house we came to know that Sh. Moni, Abdur Razzak, Sirajul Alam Khan, Tofael Ahmed and some senior student and youth leaders were residing in that house. They had also set up a centre for temporary shelter in that house. It was a five storied building which, we later on came to know, belonged to Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (a former chief minister of West Bengal and a very eminent physician). In the beginning of the month of May both of us shifted ourselves to this camp. Later on a few others

from Khulna joined us.

 

A few days later something happened. One day Razzakbhai took all of us from Khulna to a place about which he didn’t tell us anything before we left the house. We  started moving towards north and reached the railway station. We still did not know where we were heading for. When we reached the station a few unknown persons accompanied us a to a train boggy and made seating arrangements for us. A little later the train steamed off and we got down at a station named “Bishra”. All the passengers left the train and so also the train. Even then Razzakbhai didn’t tell us where we were going. He simply said that he would show us something(interesting). We were sipping tea when two unknown persons approached us and said,” let’s go” We had no clew how these contacts were made. It was a bit of a mystery to us. Then they took all of us across the rail track to an “Asram” (hermitage), named “Bishra Shivasram” , built over a few acres of land. A few

people had gathered there to welcome us. They extended a very cordial welcome to us and guided us inside and then we were entertained with a very delicious lunch. A few minutes of rest and then in the after noon a man came to accompany us to meet one of their leaders and have tea with him. He did not disclose the name of the leader. Then we saw an old lady about 85 or 86 years old helped by a few nurses came to greet us. She raised her hands and greeted us and said, “My name

is Ananta Sen, I was an associate of Masterda Shurja Sen in the Chittagong Armory raid case (during the British period). Later on I was caught and sentenced to imprisonment  for life on an island (and sent to Andaman)”.When we heard her name we were extremely excited and thrilled. “ I heard your name, to-day I am lucky to see you”, I spoke to myself.

 

She spoke to us. She said that they had failed in the battle against the British. “We couldn’t win because of the agents of the British in this country. We had also made mistakes. Many of us had little experience but you do not have that problem. But you have to be careful about the agents of the enemy and traitors. If some of us can see an independent Bangladesh before we die, it will be a great consolation to us. I wish you all success.” She gave us encouragement. With great pains at heart I am talking about this incident. India did not earn independence through armed struggle. Even then an armed revolutionary group was formed who were active to expel the British  Raj from the soil of India. They were only a few in number. Even then they were called “Suryasantan”, (Children of Sun) or the revolutionaries. After India became independent they were taken care of in Asrams where nurses looked after them. And yet in Bangladesh those who fought and laid down

their lives didn’t even get recognition for their sacrifice. This is what pains me and that is why I recall this incident.

 

Returning from Bishra we spent a few days in Dr.Bidhanchandra Roy’s house in Calcutta. The Head Office of the BSF was in Bhawanipore of Calcutta. It was a seven storied building .In this office building Tofael Ahmed, Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni, Shirajul Alam Khan, Abdur Razzak and such others had a meeting place. We used to be in touch with them at this address. One day our respective duties were distributed from this office. Myself and Kamruzzaman Tutu were given the duty to recruit boys from Khulna and send them for training. Those who were recruited into the BLF (Bengal Liberation Front) or Mujib Bahini were sent to some place in Jalpaiguri for training. I had to take the recruits from Khulna to that place. From this place later on they were sent to two different places. Those who were comparatively senior were sent to Dehradun in the Andhra province for leadership and  military training. The others were sent to Chakulia in Bihar province

for training. This decision to separate the trainees was taken in the Jalpaiguri transit camp. After we sent all the recruits from Khulna district for training, Kamruzzaman and I also left for training. Ali Hossain, Moni from Jessore, Amir from Kushtia and few recruits from 2/3 other districts were with us. We went to Dehradun under the leadership of Razzakbhai. We received training at Dehradun.

 

Q.  In which month did you go to Dehradun?

 

A.  In the middle of June. We had a 45 days training there. My training and so also of Kamruzzaman’s       was shorter by ten days. We were delayed because we had to select Khulna boys for BSF training and it took us some time. Some others also had a 10 days shorter training. They were from other districts. Our training was on guerilla warfare. In the beginning the name of this force was “BLF”. But later on it was changed to “Mujibbahini..

 

Q.  When did you return from training?

 

A.  We finished our training by the end of July. In the first week of August we were shifted to Barakpur  Cantonment and then onto a camp close to the border. On August 11, Kamruzzaman Tuku and I entered inside Bangladesh territory leading 22 freedom fighters. We had with us a couple of freedom fighters from Barisal. We entered Bangladesh territory through Hakimpur border. I was given the responsibility of Tala thana (police station) of Satkhira and Kamruzzaman Tuku got the charge of Paikgacha thana. We entered Bangladesh territory together. We had to cover 21 miles from the border to reach our respective duty area in one night. It was rainy season. The road was terrible, damaged all over and full of mud. We had to carry our rifles, ammunition and all our staff by ourselves. I was told to report to the residence of B.A. Karim of village Srimantakati under Tala police station. B.A. Karim was a candidate for the post of V.P of the Chhatra League of the B.L. College in 1962 but he lost the election. He was a man supported by Awami Leagus. So we were told to make our centre in his house. Kamruzzaman Tuka trekked with me up to Baliadaha of Tala P.S. and then turned towards Morokgacha on his way to Paikgacha.

 

   We left for Srimantakati from Baliadaha. On reaching the house of B.A.Karim we found no trace of his house. It was totally burnt down. There was no one in the area. Most of the houses around were burnt down. I had never been to this village before and I didn’t know any one. Finding no one I along with my associates entered a big sugarcane field. We spent the whole day in that field drinking cane juice. At night we headed for a village 2/3 miles away named Chamakati near Magura market and took shelter in an abandoned house of a Hindu family. We were given two guides with us from India. Their names were Makbul and Shamsu master. The two of them collected some rice and dal from a neighboring house and cooked for us on day one. We then set up our camp in that abandoned house. Those who received training later on, some of them came and joined us. Kamruzzaman Tuku had the responsibility of placing Mujibbahini members to different camps. Most of the responsibility of military operations had to be handled by me and ASM Babar Ali while the naval actions were organized by Rahmatullah Daru Shahib. Afer we settled there we carried out some small operations. Later on in December we attacked Kapilmuni. In greater Khulna, Kapilmuni had the biggest concentration of Razakars. Before launching this attack I reconnoitered the whole area around  along with 4/5 others. Some how or the other the Pak troops came to know about the rekki and they attacked  Magura village. Failing to capture me the Pak soldiers killed 35 villagers of Magura. When we received this news we attacked Kapilmuni village. The battle plan was drawn up jointly by S.M. Babar Ali, Rahmatullah Daru, Lt. Arefin and myself. According to this plan it was my responsibility to attack the area starting from Madra village to the northern and eastern parts of Kapilmuni, the southern and western parts was the responsibility of S.M.Babar Ali, Rahmatullah Daru and Lt. Arefin. Acordingly they attacked the area through Baruli, Kathpara and Khesra villages. I launched the attack through the northern part of Madra. After a long battle lasting over 62 hours, the Kapilmuni Razakar centre finally fell. We arrested 177 Razakars alive. Of these 3 of them were less than 11/12 years of age and were released. Tried by a peoples people’s court the rest 174 of them were executed by a firing squad at the spot.

 

Q.  What was the loss on your side in this battle?

 

A.  Two of our fighters became Shaheed (Martyr). One of them was a student of B.Com class of the Khulna College. His name was Anwar and his home was on the other side of the river near Khulna Jail ferry. The other comrade was also from this area, from the village Khesra. His name was Shahbuddin. The Razakars surrendered after 72 hours of fighting. 3or 4 of them were killed. We had also captured several Moulanas. We couldn’t arrest two of them. One of them, named Motiur Rahman. was the  president of the Khulna Islamic Chhatra Shangha. Probably he is now a teacher in some university of Saudi Arabia. The other fellow’s name is Sh. Ansar Ali. Later on he became a Parliament Member on Jamat ticket. Of the 177 we captured 13 were Qari Mowlanas(those who are good at reciting from the holy Quran Sahreef). Most likely they belonged to the Al-Badr Bahini. Beside the Kapilmuni operation there were other memorable battles at Paikgacha,  Khardah

Yargoti, Bardah, Baliadah and Magura. Members of our group carried out quite a few operations at Dakop of Satkhira, Paikgacha, Ashashuni, Tala and Dumuria thanas of Khulna.

 

Q.  Do you know anything about the activities of Commander Nannu of Daulatpur?

 

A.  We had no direct contact with him. I have to explain something in this regard. Maniruzzaman Nannu, Bachhu, Khalid, Rashid claim themselves  to be freedom fighters. Khalid died later on. We have never met them. They did not take the same training as we had taken. They did not take any training arranged by the Bangladesh Government. The organization with which they were linked was based in West Bengal. They might have taken training separately in West Bengal under the

umbrella of that organization. They had fought in different areas of Bangladesh as individuals like those belonging to the China faction consisting of Huq-Toaha, Alauddin, Motin, Deven Sikdar, Purnendu Dastidar and others belonging to the East Pakistan ML (Marxist and Leninist faction of the Communist Party, also known as Maoist). These people were also active in our operation areas. They also claim that they are freedom fighters. But their outlook, ideas and concepts were different

from ours. They were known as ‘Nakshals’. They used to think that we were their enemies. Once I was also attacked by them during an armed engagement (with the enemy). Once one of them Didar Buksh caught and took me away(to their camp). Later on Didar Buksh became a minister. His brother was Kamel Buksh. He was a very influential leader of the Nakshals in Satkhira. Later on however they  released me. Their concept and thinking process was completely different from ours. They  were more interested in eliminating “class’”enemies like us than fighting with Pakistan army. They did not owe their allegiance to the Bangladesh Government; they fought on their own. Even after independence, for a long time, they did not recognize the independence of Bangladesh.

 

Q.  Were you attacked during those days by Pakistan army?

 

A.  After the incident at Bhomra I was not attacked directly.

 

Q.  Did any one of your family become Shaheed?

 

A.  I was then out of the country. I am the only child of my family. I had no one except my old parents. My relatives went into hiding. So no one of my family became Shaheed.

 

Q.  When did Muktibahini activities start in your area?

 

A.  Our area is an urban  area. Till December no one could enter the town for operation. After the fall of  Kapilamoni on Dec 7, we started moving towards the town. We first set up camp at Barwari. At Barwari we joined the forces of Maj. Zainal Abedin. Then we jointly marched towards Khulna town. The Indian army had not yet reached the area around Khulna. After midnight of Dec 16, a big group of Maj. Zainal Abedin and S.M. Babar Ali took position at Tutpara. We took position around Lion’s School and Khulna Radio Station and areas close to the river bank. Next day we ceremonially raised the Bangladesh Flag on the Khulna Circuit House building. Around noon time the joint forces under the leadership of Maj. Jalil arrived at the Circuit House.

 

Q.  Who were the Razakars in your area?

 

A.  There were many Razakars then. Many of them are still alive, many are dead. Many of them are now well placed in the society. Habibul Huq of Fultala was a prominent Razakar leader in greater Khulna. Even Ayub Khan (former President of Pakistan) and  Musa Khan(former Chief of Staff of Pak Army) visited him at his residence. This happened long before the liberation war. He was chairman of Fultala (Union Council). Manu Sheikh was the Razakar chief of Khulna town and

Rajab Ali was his counterpart at Bagerhat. Every village in Khulna (District) had 4/5 Razakars, without any exception. In our area most Razakars were concentrated in Raimahal and the  residence of the then chairman Wahab was the mini-Razakar camp. Wahab’s brother Ashraf was a Razakar so also Shujat, another brother of Wahab. Several others Ghafur, Aftab Dhali, Yunus and  Rasul were also Razakars.

 

Q.  Who were the members of the Peace Committee?

 

A.  Those who did Muslim League politics were the members of the Peace Committee. I heard Bhuya, Montu Molla, Wahab chairman were members of the Peace Committee. Ashraf and Nisar were also in the Peace Committee. They brought Sabur Sahib ( a former Minister in F.M. Ayub Khan’s government) and organized several meetings in Khulna.

 

Q.  Were those connected with Razakar Bahini or Peace Committee arrested?

 

A.  We had identified the members of these committees. Most of them were caught. Biharis were the largest single group in the Razakar and Al-Badr bahini. Personally I held a meeting at Khalishpur on Dec 23, and called the Biharis and asked them to hand over all those of them who were criminals and those who were connected with crime missions to the authorities. I assured them that if they would respond no harm would be done to them. They had handed over to us some Biharis. Several others came to me and apologized and I had forgiven them. I told them to leave the area if they wanted to survive. If they remained in the area they would be killed. If we didn’t kill them, some others will.

 

Feroze Noon, presently a BNP’s central committee leader was a friend of mine. Once we were members of the Students’ League. He cooperated with the Pakistanis during the Liberation War. He read news from the Khulna Radio Station. He was arrested by the freedom fighters in Kushtia. I had also released him (on my own responsibility). Then they went on hiding. Later on many of them returned to normal life.

 

Q.  What did you do after Khulna came under your control?

 

A.  After entering Khulna  we distributed ourselves all over the town. We had 21 camps all together. Our headquarter was set up on the campus of the Commerce College. Maj. Dutta and Maj. Jalil of the combined forces had set up their residences in the circuit house and the Khulna port. Lt. M. R. Chowdhury of my area stayed on the campus of Dyan School and Lt. Khurshid on the poultry farm. We tried to run an efficient administration.

 

Q.  What did you do with your weapons at the end of the war?

 

A.  Bangabandhu returned on Jan 10 (1972) after the country was liberated. And then he sent out a call to return our weapons. We ceremoniously deposited our weapons at the Dhaka Paltan Maidan. We had traveled to Dhaka with our weapons loaded on a ship.

 

Q.  What was the condition of your area at the end of the war, schools, colleges, roads, mosques, temples, markets etc?

 

A.  Khulna was very badly affected. The town suffered extensive damage. Towards the end of the war the Pakistan army had destroyed the State Bank and burnt down currency notes worth Tk. 21 crore. They had destroyed almost everything; schools, colleges, roads, culverts and everything else. Pakistani soldiers burnt down our own family home twice.

 

 

       Interviewer: Mahbubur Rahman Mohon

       Date of Interview: June 03, 1997

       Translation: Faruq Aziz Khan