Volume 2 Issue 46 | December 6, 2008 |


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Behind the Scene

From Sylhet

Rais Ali: Freedom Fighter

Iqbal Siddiquee

Muktijoddha Rais Ali hails from village of Noagaon Kalaruka of Sylhet. When asked about the war of independence, he says, “I used to work as a messenger for the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) in 1971. With the crackdown of 25 March, the West Pakistan members of the EPR ousted the Bangalee members from the Bholaganj EPR camp at Sylhet's Companiganj border. We, along with some locals took shelter at the nearby post office on that fateful day.”

“Next day, two soldiers with firearms from Sylhet town's Akhalia camp of EPR reached our location and on discussion, I was sent back to the Bholaganj camp, where the West Pakistan soldiers were staying. In line with our plan, I lured them over for some hard drinks. After much drinking, they got pretty tipsy and then fell asleep for hours. That was when I pocketed their keys. At one stage, I opened the arms stock and called our people there. We had to kill a Subedar and a Habildar for taking control of the camp that night. We also had to dump some of the firearms on a nearby canal. After 3 days, we crossed the border and started training with some other freedom fighters there”, Rais Ali continued.

Memories of that day are bright and clear to him. After the training was over, Rais Ali accompanied a group of freedom fighters to Banshtala camp in Doarabazar thana of Sunamganj. They joined the Tengratila attack, in which three freedom fighters embraced martyrdom. Rais Ali's group caught three Rajakars in the fight at Bilajur. Upon victory at Bilajur, they attacked Badaghat, where they won a big victory after the 2-day encounter. The Pak Army men then retreated towards Sunamganj.

“Upon crossing the river, we heard that the Pak army had surrendered. With joyous processions we entered Sylhet town along with many other fellow freedom fighters on the morning of 16 December. Later, they deposited firearms and left for the village house.

“Now, I am somehow running my family of five sons and a daughter”, Rais says. “The long desired dream of the freedom fighters and of the people is yet to be materialised. Some people are benefitting no doubt, but not the freedom fighters.”

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