Name: Mosabber Hossain
Father’s Name: Shaheed Moazzem Hossain (Killed by Pakistan Army in 1971)
Vill: Nijpara, P.O. Kaunia, P.S. Kaunia
Educational Qualification: B.A. (Hons) in History.
Age in 1971: 13 yrs
Occupation in 1971: Student. Present Occupation: Business
Q. Do your remember anything about 1971?
Yes, at the time we used to live in Lalmonirhat.
Our home is in Nijpara
of the Deputy Mechanical Engineer (DME). He was posted in Lalmonirhat.
We had our residential quarter in the Shahebpara
area. I was then a student of class VIII of the
Q. How was the situation in Lalmonirhat during the non-coperation movement of 1971?
A. We heard the Mar 7 speech of Bangabandhu on the radio the following day. As a follow up
were continuous meetings, processions, demonstrations etc in Lalmonirhat. I do not remember exactly the date; I think it
had happened around the middle of March. Three Pakistani soldiers belonging to
the Militia or some such outfit came to Lalmonirhat.
Seeing them around the Bangalis became very angry
followed by a fierce altercation between the two sides. At one stage the Bangalis became furious and they killed the three
Pakistanis. As a consequence of this incident the already existing bad
relations between the Bihari community of Lalmonirhat and the Bangalis
further aggravated to the extreme stage. In those days the Biharis
used to dominate Lalmonirhat in all matters. At that
time there were 60 % Biharis against 40 % Bangalis in Lalmonirhat area. So
the killing of the three Pakistanis by Bangalis
raised the tension between the two communities to breaking point. And then the
Pak army cracked down in
Q. Do you know whose house it was?
A. It was the residence of a Railway Guard (like the captain of a ship). He was a Hindu gentleman.
We spent April 5 in that house. The 25 or 30 others, all Bangalis all my father’s colleagues and their children and us stayed together thinking that we would thus be safe. I still remember about April 5. It would be about 4 or 4.30 pm. Suddenly a few young men entered into our house and then they said, ‘There are Bangalis in this house, catch them. They are wanted by the army’. Those who came were all non-Bengalis. They were repeatedly saying that the army wanted us. Soon a large number of Biharis came in groups. They caught us by any manner they could. Since then I have never seen my father. They captured my father from that house and took him away. At this time I tried to escape along with an uncle of mine who was hiding in the adjacent room which looked like a kitchen. My uncle said,’ Son you come and stay with me. Let us lock the room from outside so that when someone comes he would think that there were no inside.’ I think I performed this task but I don’t remember how I did it. My uncle’s name is Mansur. He was not my father’s own brother, but a colleague. We lived in adjacent residential quarters. I used to call him ‘Mansur chacha (uncle)’. Then I stayed in that room with Mansur uncle. I saw my father hiding in the toilet bolted from outside to escape capture by the Biharis. But the Biharis caught him while he was hiding in the toilet. They also caught others. We two were hiding in the kitchen. A little later two Bihari fellows, aged about 20-22 yrs came and said, ’Let us see if there is anyone in the kitchen’, and they opened the door and saw us hiding there. One of them caught hold of my collar and the other fellow caught hold of my uncle and took us to a spot from where we could see the ‘killing (slaughter) ground ‘. It was the rickshaw stand of Lalmonirhat. It is still a rickshaw stand At one time it was the bus stand of Lalmonrhat. We were taken to this slaughter ground. There were many others brought from different places.
It happened on April 5. at about When I was taken away the Biharis I saw my mother sitting on the road. I asked her why she was sitting there but my mother didn’t answer. I then screamed to tell her that the Biharis were taking me away and begged of her to save me from their hands. There was no body else to save us. My mother said,’ I am waiting here for your father .They have taken your father to the army. The Biharis said that if I give them all the money and gold we have, they will secure the release of your father.’ I think my mother had about 8/10 ounces of gold and some money. She said that she had already given the gold and money to the Biharis. The Bihari boys were dragging me to the bus stand in front of my mother and ‘my mother was waiting for her husband on the road’(he said in English). She was waiting for my father. My mother was so worried about her husband that it seems she had forgotten her son. After I had screamed and begged a couple of times she came to her senses. Then my mother appealed to them a couple of times and suddenly I heard rifle shots. Hearing the shots I was terrible frightened and then I saw all those people the Biharis had caught and filed them in a row just collapsed on the ground. I could see the whole proceedings from where I was standing on the road. The Pakistani soldiers did the shooting. A cruel act of cold blooded massacre took place right in front of my own eyes. I was only thirteen years old then. I still vividly remember the scene of that day. As soon as I heard the shots with a jolt I freed myself and I ran fast before the two Bihari boys could sense what was happening. I went straight where the women and children were hiding near where I had taken shelter with my uncle Mansur before I was captured by the two Bihari boys from the toilet. There were shooting around by Pak army and Mansur chacha’s son was killed in the shooting. There were several others who were shot including a couple of fiends of mine. One of the victims, a friend of mine who was a good football player named Tota, was killed along with his father by the Pak army.
Q. On that day April 5, according to your own estimate roughly how many people were captured by the Pak army and the Biharis in Lalmonirhat?
A. I think on Apr 5, about 250 to 300 people were arrested by Pak troops and Biharis. Most of them were railway employees and their grown up children. Very few were from outside.
Q. How many did you see being shot?
A. Those who were killed in the afternoon, I guess would be around 40 to 50 in total. They were
continuously bringing the victims in groups and shooting them.
Q. It seems they were killing them in batches.
A. Yes. After killing them the dead bodies were loaded in vans or on rickshaws and taken to
Lalmonirhat and dumped in an open space. A Memorial was later built at the spot. That
place is also owned by the Railways. The place is like a slaughter ground or mass grave. Almost
all the shaheeds (Martyrs) of 1971 were buried there or just their bodies were dumped unceremoniously.
Q. What did you do after Apr 5?
A. I stayed in the same house where I had taken shelter. My mother was waiting till 9 or
hoping that my father would return. Then she returned broken hearted. She said to me,’ Son
your father will never return’. Just then a friend of mine came to our house at around . He
had a bullet wound on his chest. His name is Bidyut. He is still alive. These days he lives in
which pierced his chest through on the right hand side with profuse bleeding, Bidyut was caught
by the Biharis and taken to the Pak army. He said he saw my father and Mansur uncle who were
both standing in the same file with him. Then the Pak army opened fire on them and then he
didn’t remember anything more. As he described his painful experience this far, he fainted.
Helpless as we were, we poured water on his head and some one cleaned his wounds and put a
bandage with a piece of cloth to cover it. He was senior to me in the school by one year and
taller than me and physically strong and looked like a grown up man. That could have been the
reason why the Biharis caught him, and because of his strong physical condition he could recover
from this very grave injury. After he regained consciousness he described his experience to us.
We spent the night in that room and throughout the night we heard people screaming all around,
’save us save us…’.. Most of them were women. The main road passed beside our room. Thr-
oughout the whole night the screaming we could the women scream. In the morning April 6, we
all returned to our own railway quarters. The others went to their own residences.
Q. What do you mean by ‘we all’?
A. We had another family with us, the family of Sharif Sahib.
Q. At this time how many were there in your family?
A. The army had shot my father. This we heard from Bidyut, the boy who was also in the firing line
with my father and about whom I have spoken before. We were ‘confirmed’ that my father was
dead. We never got back my father’s dead body. They (Pak army) were killing any one or every
one who was within their range(shooting). Any one who was a Bangali was their target This is
the reason why we did not try to find my father’s dead body. My elder brother was a college
know this sad truth that our father was dead till the country became independent. Through the
entire period of
liberation war he stayed with my uncle Idris in
He was an artiste in the
Small and Cottage Industries Corporation. My elder brother could not come home. So we were
four in the family. My eldest sister who lived in Rajshahi telephoned my father about two weeks
before the tragedy that she had dreamt that the Biharis were beating my father. My father said
that since he did not do anything wrong or bore enmity against anyone why should the Biharis
beat him and thus didn’t take warning seriously. Even after my sister cautioned my father he gave
shelter to the Biharis in our house. And then the same Biharis killed my father. There was another
reason why my father did not leave Lalmonirhat when most Bangalis had left the town. He could
do so because he had an uncle who lived not far from Lalmonirhat. We could easily go and stay
there but there were many Bangali families who had no place to go. They requested my father not
to leave them. ‘With you around we find some strength in our mind’, they said. These people
were from other districts. Then my father did not think of leaving Lalmonirhat. So leaving my
eldest brother, we four brothers and sisters stayed with our parents. My mother’s name is
Azizunnessa Khatun. She died this year at the age of 78. There was another family with us about
whom I have already mentioned earlier.
Q. What do you mean by we four?
A. Me, a younger brother and two sisters. We two brothers and two sisters stayed in Lalmonirhat,
also my mother.
One brother was in
before there was another family with us, Mr. Sharif’s family. The Pakistanis killed Mr. Sharif
and his son named Tota. He was a very well-known football player. He used to play in tourna-
ments. Tota was killed along with his father Mr. Sharif. After the father and the son were killed
the rest of the Sharif family and we stayed together.
Q. Who were the surviving members of the Sharif family?
A. His wife, and I think five daughters and two sons were in the family. One son of her who
was a friend of mine some how escaped from Lalmonirhat and saved his life. The other son was
killed by the Pak army. Our two families stayed together in our railway quarter. When we returned to our house there was absolutely nothing left. Everything was looted by the Biharis. That night we starved. Next day some of our neighbors gave us rice, some brought dal (lentil) and we somehow managed to survive for four or five days.
Q. What did you do then?
A. We stayed together. If we had a meal during the day we had nothing to eat at night. We carried
this. We had no way of contacting anyone. My eldest sister was then a student
Then a week passed. We finally decided to go to the village Chatogol where my father’s
maternal uncle lived. It was abut 4 km from Lalmonirhat. One day very early in the morning
before the sun rose we left for Chotogol. We were like a batch of weary destitute, eleven of us
altogether heading for Chotogol, our only hope. We found shelter there. When we passed by
Lalmonirhat on our way we didn’t find a single home unhurt. Almost all the houses were burnt
down. Some were burnt to the last piece of bamboo pole. Within a radius of a couple km
around Lalmonirhat this was the picture in general. Such was the efficiency with which the act
of destruction was carried out by our enemies. We had walked all the way down to the village
which seemed to be somewhat safer for us at that time. Nevertheless, we were all the time
worrying about our two elder sisters. We stayed there for 15 days.
Q. Did any other family besides yours take shelter in this house?
A, No. No other family other than us. My father’s uncle was not a wealthy man as such but even
then they did so much for us. On the other hand he felt sorry why didn’t we go there before all
this could happen. My nana’s (grandpa) name was Ramzan Ali. He had a grown up son, But at
that terrible time there was no ‘scope’ for any one to come and take us out of Lalmonirhat. The
roads and streets were full of Pak Army and armed Biharis. No Banagali could escape death once
he came within their eyeshot. This is the reason why no one from our village, which is not very
far, came to rescue us from the railway quarters. One of my uncles lived in his native village
Kaunia which is also our village home. He had already received the news that my father was
Killed by the Pak army. He sent some people to take us to his home. But how could we go? Our
village home is beside the Teesta bridge. This was an area dominated by the Pak army and the
Biharis. The bridge was burnt down. It took 15 /20 days to communicate with my uncle.
I have mentioned about Mansur uncle before. He was hit by 5 rifle bullets but he survived. He
died in 1982 but that is a different story altogether.
Q. Will you please narrate the incident leading to his death?
A. Mansur chacha was a colleague of my father. I have mentioned earlier he and I were hiding
together in a toilet on April 5. Biharis had captured him and taken to the shooting ground. Most
my father and he were in the same file when they were shot by the Pak army. He
was hit by bullets but he didn’t die. The Pakistanis thought he was dead and so
they his body in the slaughter ground. I heard this from Mansur
uncle later on.
A sweeper came and was dragging away the dead bodies for disposal when my uncle
begged of him, “You are my God- father, please save me. The sweeper was
surprised to see one of the dead men was alive.” Suddenly I heard some one say,
‘Baba (Oh father), please give some water’. I looked at him,
he was my own son Nuru. Like the sweeper I was also
stunned. He was then a student of B.A. class. How could I give him water, from
where and how? Mansur uncle said, “my
son wanted a drink of water from me and I was not able to give him some. Both
of us were bullet hit and seriously wounded. Earlier it had rained, and it was
still raining, and there was water all around mixed with human blood. I crawled
with great difficulty and collected some water into my palm and just manage to
pour a few drops over my son’s lips. A little later my son breathed his last in
front me, his father.” Mansur uncle continued to
narrate his story. He said after this happened he begged of the sweeper to save
his life no matter how much money he would ask for, just to take him to the
other side of the rail lines about half a kilometer away. The sweeper was weeping, he never saw so many deaths before. With great difficulty
he helped me reach the other side of the railway track to Coochbihar
Any how, one day very early in the morning, we left our nana’s house in the Chargram villagae
in a bullock cart for our (father’s)village. We had with us our nana’s son(maternal uncle). At the
time the Pak army and the Biharis used to guard the Teesta bridge round the clock. We went
far south to avoid the bridge and reached a village named Nazimkhan in Kurigram district. It is a
sort a village within the Rajarhat police station. Somewhere around here we had crossed the
Teesta river on the way to our destination. We were all the time worried about being captured
and killed by the Pak army or the Biharis. Finally we managed to reach our village home. But
we could not stay there too long. My father’s blood brother Fazlur Rahman’s father- in-law’s
village Modhupur was a two day journey by bullock cart. Both our families took shelter there. It
was the month of May. We stayed there for some months.
We stayed in our uncle’s father-in-law’s home till August. My eldest maternal uncle Mr. Yasin
was a contractor in Rangpur, the district headquarters. He was my mother’s own blood brother.
One day, towards the end of August, he returned to Modhupur. Although it was very difficult to
drive Jeeps, he came in one of those and took us to Rangpur. We stayed in Rangpur with our
uncle till the liberation of the country although for a few days we had to take refuge in the
village. Munshipara, an area in the Rangpur town close to the main road, our uncle’s
Q. Did both of your families stay there?
A. No. After about two months they left Rangpur for Natore, their ancestral home. It took them a
whole week to cover the distance on foot. Their home was in one of the villages of Natore. One
of sister Marium’s cousin accompanied them to Natore. He thought it would be unsafe for
them to stay in Munshipara. Later on we somehow got the news of their safe journey to
Q. You said you went to Rangpur towards the end of August, what did you see there?
A. The situation in Rangpur was absolutely frightful. My maternal uncle’s home was in Munshi-
para near the main road. During our stay in Munshipara we heard screaming of women every night. Peeping through the window of our family room which was close to the main road every night we saw the Pak army moving with machine guns and aiming at targets with their firearms. Close to our uncle’s home there was a street junction and here the Pak army had set up an observation point where a military jeep was parked for 24 hrs of the day. As the night wore on screaming of women all around, ”save us, save us” became louder and louder throwing a spell of terror throughout the night. The city’s town hall, which was once a cinema house, became the centre of torture and rape by the Pak army. I was young, even then, I understood such acts of terror. The area was close to our uncle’s residence. Almost everyday I saw the army’s misdeeds.
I saw with my own eyes the army
fellows dragging away
screaming women from the jeep to the rooms of the huge city hall
for torture and rape. This area of Rangpur was a centre of terror acts. We saw
such acts through September, October, and November and then came December and
we won our freedom on Dec 16 but we had to flee Rangpur on Dec 1, because it
was not safe to stay there any longer. The Pak army, sensing their defeat, had
already started indiscriminately torturing and mass killing of Bangalis as their last act of terror and
repression on the soil of
Q. Pakistan Army (was doing this)?
We had a distant relative in Khatkhatia whose name was Moja
(bhai). My mama (uncle) Yasin Ali had also gone there with his family.
He had a shop by the name ‘Daulatkhan’ at Rangpur town
on the station road. At that time we were getting letters that it wouldn’t be
too long before we would be independent. Some Muktibahini
boys, hardly 20-21 yrs old carrying arms, also started coming to our area once
in a while as the war was progressing. This is the first time I saw some
freedom fighters. It made me very happy to see them; I thought if I could also
be like them, freedom fighters. They said, don’t worry
Inshallah within this month we would be independent. And soon we were
getting news from the Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendra
about the progress of the war. The Pakistani ‘Hanadar
were surrendering in many areas around the country. And then finally on Dec 14
there was the big killing in
(This was the killing of the intellectuals).
Q. Did anything like this happen in Rangpur area?
A. Later on when we returned to Rangpur from Khatkhatia we came to know that most of the Hindu elite families of Rangpur were killed by the Pakistanis. One of them was Babu Lal, and many of the well known Hindu business men were killed. Later on I came to know that they were taken to a place called Damdam outside Rangpur town and there they were executed just hours before the country became independent. This happened around 12-13 Dec. These killings were done by the Albadrbahini. Albadr, Alshams were the ones who were involved in these killings. Some intellectuals of Rangpur, mostly belonging to the Hindu community were killed by these gangs.
Q. Were there any Hindu families still living in Rangpur?
Yes there were quite a few; those who had no place to
go and those who thought they could some how manage to survive. And then there
were some who did not want to leave their homes and abandon their business
interests. There were not many in the last category. Even then they were
killed. I remember Mr. Babu Lal
and Mr. Supati Babu,
both of them were killed. From Khatkhatia we returned
to Rangpur town on Dec 15. Rangpur was free then but the whole country was not
free yet. Next day Dec 16 when
Q. What did you see?
A. Rajakars, Al-Badrs, Al-Shams, these Bahinis(killer gangs) were raised to kill innocent Bangalis.
They couldn’t think of any thing else. The Army(Pak) did not know everyone .The majors an
captains or the colonels did not know any one. They used to employ the Rajakars and the other
bahinis raised by them to catch the leaders and bring them before firing squads but these
fellows would often go after those who were reputed to be well to do to extort money from them
in exchange of their lives. That is how they tortured people. We had seen these happening. If the
victim couldn’t give them money, they demanded gold ornaments and if there was nothing to be
extorted the victims were rounded up to face the death squads. Not all these Biharis were from
Rangpur. Most of them came from Lalmonirhat, some came from Ishwardi and Shantahar
Wherever there were Bihari concentration, they committed these crimes. There were hardly any
West Pakistanis (other than the army fellows) committing these high crimes.
Q. During those days many women were repressed, do you know of any such incident?
A. I have heard about repression of women but I have not seen any with my own eyes.
Such incidents happened in Munshipara, Dhap, Keranipara and some other areas of Rangpur town. When the criminals used raid homes at night and forcibly take away the women we could hear them desperately screaming for help but to no avail. Between September and December these horrible crimes were committed every night. Those were the days of ‘Might is Right’, thousands of innocents men were rounded up and mass killing and repression were committed.
Q. Do you know which are the areas around Lalmonirhat where such crimes were widely committed?
A. I heard such crimes were extensively carried out in Bhotmari area by the Khan Senas(soldiers).
Some people of Bhotmari (KaliganjThana) joined the Muktibahini. When the Pak army came to
know about it, they attacked Bhotmari and indiscriminately killed the family members of
freedom fighters and dumped the dead bodies in ponds. The Pak army also killed many people of
adjacent villages and dumped their bodies in ponds. Several times the Pak army attacked the
Sector 6 Headquarters of the Muktibahini at Burimari, but facing stiff resistance put by the
freedom fighters the Pakistanis withdrew and moved towards the Bhakari railway bridge near
Bhotmari railway station. From this camp the Pak army killed an unknown number of men.
women and children of surrounding villages and as usual threw their bodies in ponds. I heard
that a local .Razakar Osman Moulvi helped the Pak army in committing these crimes. Some
freedom fighters were caught by the Pak army; they were killed. The Khan senas and their
henchmen, the Razakars, killed a large number of Hindus and Muslims of the surrounding areas
and threw their bodies into an adjacent pond. Most of them were slaughtered like animals
(by cutting their throats open with knives).
Lalmonirhat became free on Dec 6. A large quantity bones and skulls of the victims were
lifted from the pond and temporarily buried on the bank of the pond. After the country became
independent the pond was named as ‘Slaughter Pond of Bhotmari’ (Bhotmarir Baddhya Pukur).
Q. Do you remember any incidents of those days that you cannot forget?
A. Many incidents often crowd my mind and I cannot forget them no matter how hard I try. My
mother was so hopeful that my father would be freed. She gave every bit of money she had, and
all her golden ornaments to the Biharis who came to arrest him. They said my father would be
freed but he was killed. I still remember my mother waiting with hope against hope that her
husband would be released because he had never done any wrong to any one. But my mother’s
hope never came true. The killers did not spare our father.
When they took him away they said “We will release him, you wait (on the street)” My mother
waited and waited near the slaughter ground in the faint hope that her husband would be set free.
Her husband never came back to her. I can never forget my mother, waiting near the slaughter
ground, hoping against hope, that her husband would be free. But her husband never came back to
her. We lost our father. This is the most painful, most distressing, and unforgettable memory of
. Interviewer: Dr. Sukumar Biswas
Date of Interview:
English Translation: Faruq Aziz Khan: