Helemul Alam back from Sirajganj
Sheer luck brought Prodip Kumar Shaha back from death at dawn on May 31 in 1971, when Pakistani occupational forces took him and his brother along with two other locals from their houses to kill.
His brother was killed and another neighbour was caught, but Prodip survived luckily along with the other neighbour as the gun betrayed its owner.
"Closing my eyes, I can still visualise the scene when I was running frantically to save my life," said Prodip, a resident of Horinagopal in Sirajganj district.
"Though I am grateful to be alive I cannot help the anguish I feel because I could not save my brother Ratan Chandra Chakrabarti whose eyes were tied when they shot him," says Prodip.
Like Ratan, around 168 residents in Horinagopal area embraced martyrdom within three hours from 5:00am to 8:00am on May 31 in 1971, when Pakistani forces made a sudden attack on the Hindu-dominated area.
A recent visit to Horinagopal area shows that the wounds of that terrible episode have not yet healed.
According to Prodip, two neighbours Bolram and Harimangal Majhi were also able to escape but Harimangal Majhi could not flee as one of the soldiers killed him while he was running. Many houses were burnt and looted he said, adding that two Muslims Mangal Kha and Hundi Kha were also killed at that time.
The spot of another killing field in Horinagopal.
Horinagopal which consisted of Bagbati, Hat Harina, Alkadia, Dholdobe villages in Sadar Upazila but among these villages, villagers of Bagbati, Hat Harina and Alkadia were mostly killed.
The dead bodies were dumped into three ditches and many were dumped in wells by the sweepers without any funeral rites, says Madhobi Sarkar (60) of Horinagopal area who lost her husband and could not even perform any funeral rites for him.
"We were lucky as the forces could not come to the village at night as the wheel of the truck carrying the Pakistani forces got stuck in the mud at Khokshabari Ferry ghat which forced them to come in early in the morning," says Sonali Deb anther woman of the area.
"If the Pakistani forces had come at midnight at least 2000 to 2500 people would have been killed," she adds.
Harinakunda was one of the bigger killing fields of Sirajganj although there were many more bearing the agonising evidence of torture and burning left by the Pakistani forces.
As the village was in a remote area many people (Hindus) came to take shelter at their relatives' houses from Tangail, Sirajganj, Sherpur and Bogra. Many of them were killed at that time, says Sonali who lost her father-in-law Giyanendranath Dev on that day.
Three outsiders who came to the village were also killed after being tortured mercilessly.
Pakistani forces during their return from the places detained their victims, tied them to the truck and dragged them all the way to Bagbati School from around a mile away. Two of the three died. The forces killed the other one who was still alive by crushing him under their boots, says Provati Rani Kor, whose father Lalu Chandra Raha was also killed.
"I could not give a drop of water to my father who was shot and was scrambling for water. The Pakistani forces fired again when I brought water by soaking a towel," says Tapan Kumar Datta who was only 12 at that time.
With tears Tapan, now a cancer patient, says, " My grandfather Kalipada Datta, uncles Shyamapada Datta and Haripada Datta were also killed at that time." Tomej Uddin of Subarnagati village, who was a retired member of the Pakistani Army and ran a business in the village, brought the Pakistani forces in the area, says Prodip. Tomej Uddin later was killed by freedom fighters during liberation war.
Editor of The daily Juger Kotha, a local news paper in Sirajganj, Helal Uddin who helped to locate the killing fields in 1999 at Bagbati and Harinagopal says he was informed by the local people at that time that Razakars, Tomej Uddin of Subarnagati village, Azam Bihari, Monu Munshi and Tofiz Bhuiyan of Ghorachara village had held a meeting of the Shanti Committee just before the day of the attack at Ghorachara school field.
Chief of Shanti Committee of Sirajganj, Asafuddoula Sirazi presided the meeting and decided in the meeting to attack the villagers, he says. Azam, Monu, Tofiz and Asafuddoula died normally after the liberation war.
Over 100 people were killed at different villages including Chariya Shikar Uttarpara, Golakpur, Chariya Madyapara, Matshyapara, and Patkari in Sholonga. Most of the people of Charia Madyapara and Patkari were died at that time, said Abdus Sattar Sultan, villager of Chariya shikar Uttarpara.
"A total of seven people including my brother Mukul Hossain were killed in my village during the raid by the Pakistani forces on the middle of April and took shelter in a ditch crossing the river Sharoshati, says Sattar who was 22 at that time.
Pakitani forces entered Sirajganj through the highway of Bogra at that time and they burnt ashes 75 houses of the villages, he adds.
Yet another killing field was found in Ambaria in Tarash Upazila in Sirajganj where 13 people were killed during the liberation war when the Pakistani forces attacked on the unarmed people of the area.
Lutfor Rahman, son of Yar Mohammad who survived the slaughter, says his father was the head master of Dabila High School who was killed by the Pakistani forces as he had given his rifle to Abdul Latif Mirza, director of the Polash Danga Juba Shibir, a Mukti Bahini of Sirajganj and helped them in many ways. The other 12 actually had no role in helping the Mukti Bahini but they were still murdered, says Lutfor. The Pakistani army attacked them just after their defeat by the Polash Danga Juba Shibir on November 11, 1971 fight. They burnt all the houses of Ambaria. After they left, the villagers buried the 13 dead bodies in a row at the graveyard of the village.
Villagers point out a killing field in Horinagopal.
The names of other martyrs are Meher Mandol, Sultan Sheikh, Sofiz Sheikh, Deser Pramanik, Foyez Uddin, Mojibor, Osman, Abdur Rahman, Jubbar Fakir, Amin Uddin, Kismat Ali and Muktar Hossain.
A total of seven people were killed at Bhadraghat in Kamarkhanda Upazila just after the fight of Bhadraghat between the Polash Danga Juba Shibir and Pakistani forces where eleven Pakistani forces were killed. Gazi Shahjahan Ali Sardar, a resident of Bhadraghat and also a freedom fighter says his father, uncle Mosir Uddin Sardar and Madar Baks were killed the next day of the fight on June 17, 1971 as they helped freedom fighters. They collected money, rice from the villagers for the freedom fighters and gave it to them for their daily meals, he says.
Mohammad Sultan, another resident of the village says his three grandfathers Asir Uddin Sheikh, Matiar Rahman Molla, Fazlur Rahman were killed by the army, his uncle Shajahan Sheikh (son of Asir Uddin) and Ashaf Uddin of their neighbour also killed by the army during that time.
A total of 12 people were killed at Lahiri Mohanpur killing field in Ullapara on September 3, 1971, says Rafique Sarkar a freedom fighter of Polash Danga Juba Shibir.
The name of the martyrs are Probhath, Mongalshil, Dhirushil, Sachinkunda, Nepal Kunda, Gopalshil, Nitai Saha, Bibhuti Kunda, Bimal thakur, Haran Sarkar, Gonesh Shil and Raz Bihari Kunda.
Apart from these killing fields around 60 people were killed in Boraitala killing field in Kazirpur, around 50 in Ghatina Bridge in Ullapara, around 30 people were killed in Belkuchi in Shomeshpur and 6 people were killed in Bhatpiari killing field in Sadar Upazila in Sirajganj during the war.
Although the survivors of these villages go on with their lives, they are constantly haunted by the memory of the heinous crimes against their loved ones.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009