Volume 2 Issue 52 | February 28, 2009 |


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From Bogra

Women in War:
Ferdousi Parveen Dolly

Freedom fighters don't necessarily carry firearms. Anyone involved in and cooperating with the freedom movement is a freedom fighter. This woman, in 1971, went to India to take care of lots of injured soldiers and to distribute food for children under the supervision of Red Cross. She also united lots of women and exhorted them towards the cause of our Liberation Movement. She herself underwent guerrilla training. She knew how to use firearms. She underwent training for a lot of things. She didn't want to live the life of a mouse or a cat. She had lost her younger brother to the war. She wilfully donated her left cornea to a freedom fighter and that generated a lot of talk. At her request, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a lot of freedom fighters to Switzerland for advanced treatment. Poet Mahadeb Saha has written about her. She kept a low profile for the last 37 years. What follows is just the beginning of her story. There will be more to come.

Some of her own words:
I came back to Bogra when the war started. In the first week of April, 1971, my three older brothers went to India for training. My parents were always nervous. They knew that danger could descend upon the family any moment. And it did indeed happen. Punjabis torched our whole area including our house. Our family took refuge in our village home in Shat Shimulia. Even there the Pak Army attacked us. Our parents were really worried. We would often hide under our beds. Life became unbearable this way. My mother was a fearless woman. She would always say that it's better to die fighting than to live cowering. We couldn't stay in our village for long either. The Rajakars wouldn't allow us to stay there. We took refuge in Goal Para where there were three to four thousand freedom fighters.

In the refugee camp there were only a handful of volunteers who really had a lot of work on their hands helping out in the place. I thought instead of just sitting there I could also join in and help them in their work. Because that would also be something meaningful. One day I was at the refugee camp with mother, waiting for food. I saw that a volunteer trying to distribute milk among thousands of children was really having a tough time. Everything was in a state of chaos. I got to work. I started helping the volunteer worker. I found children who didn't have parents. I started caring for them. This is how I was passing those scary wartime days. My two younger brothers Dipu and Tipu were training at Balur Ghat camp. I didn't have any news of them. Didn't even know where my other brother was. One day I was called on for help in the war field. I ran around giving assistance to wounded fighters. Those days I was fuelled by a motivation that completely came from the inside.

In little gaps between my work at the refugee camp, I would rush to the training camp to see if I could help. I learnt to use guns. The brothers at the camp would tell me not to use the weapons. Children and wounded people at the refugee camp would be waiting for me to come back and attend to them. I really didn't know whether to get milk bottles for the children or food or attend to the wounded. I wanted to just go out to the battlefields and fight, but no one would let me. Quite a while before all this, my brother had taught me a thing or two about combat. He knew how to draw quite well. He would actually draw pictures of weapons. He'd tell me how to use this or that machine.

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