Vol. 5 Num 450 Wed. August 31, 2005  

Horror still haunts villagers
Pakistan occupation army massacred 126 at a village on this day in Sunamganj

August 31 is back with a horrific memory of massacre of 126 innocent villagers in Sunamganj district by the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971.

People of remote Srairamshi village in Jagannathpur thana as well as of greater Sylhet still remember the day with heavy heart.

On this day 34 years ago, the Pakistani troops gunned down the villagers and burnt a market nearby without any provocation.

It was Tuesday. About 30 Pakistani troops on 8 to 9 boats came to Srairamshi Bazar at about 10 am. They ordered villagers to gather at Sriramshi High School for a discussion to form a peace committee.

Accordingly, about 200 villagers gathered there. Ahmed Ali Khan, a Razaer from Hobibpur village who accompanied the troops, whispered something to an army man.

As the villagers were waiting for the meeting, soldiers confined some youths at a separate room in the school. Then they took the people in groups to the bank of a nearby canal and tied their hands from behind.

The killers asked them to recite Kalima (last prayer).

The army then opened brush fire on them. As many as 126 innocent villagers fell down in a hail of bullets.. Only a few managed to jump into the canal.

The dead included school teachers, students, youths, traders, Union Parishad members and local elite.

Then the army men poured kerosine on shops in the nearby market and set those on fire. Then they rampaged dwellings and torched them..

As the dreadful news spread, people in villages ran for life.

After 4- 5 days, some people from nearby villages went to Srairamshi and found some of the decomposed bodies. They dug ditches to bury those somehow.

Amzad Ali, who was shot on that day here on that day is still alive with a splinter of a bullet in the body.

The incident got a wide coverage in the world media including the BBC at that time.

In another incident at Raniganj bazar in Jagannathpur upazila on September 8, thirty people were shot dead in a brush fire.

After the country was liberated, Commander-in-Chief of Bangladesh troops Gen. MAG Osmani visited Sriramshi village.

Commitments were made on several occasions to rename the village as Shahid Nagar, but it has not yet been materialised.

In 1980, the villagers with assistance from Sunamganj district Muktijoddha Sangsad built a small memorial with names of martyrs inscribed on it on the premises of Sriramshi High school.

Sriramshi Shahid Smriti Sangsad, formed in 1987 in the village will organise programmes today to honour the martyrs.

A memorial built at Srairamshi village in Sunamganj with names of martyrs inscribed on it reminds the horror of 1971. PHOTO: STAR