TORMENTING SEVENTY ONE An account of Pakistan army’s atrocities during Bangladesh liberation war of 1971
Interviewed and reported by Ruhul Motin, Dr. Sukumar Biswas Julfikar Ali Manik, Mostafa Hossain Krishna Bhowmik, Gourango Nandi Abdul Kalam Azad, Prithwijeet Sen Rishi
Translated by Zahid Newaz, Ziahul Haq Swapan Nazrul Islam Mithu, Nadeem Qadir
Nirmul Committee (Committee for Resisting Killers & Collaborators of Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971)
Ó Nirmul Committee First Edition Dhaka, November, 1999 Published by Kazi Mukul General Secretary, Nirmul Committee Ga-16, Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh. Phone : 8822985, 8828703 E-mail : [email protected]
Printed by Dana Printers Limited Ga-16 Mohakhali Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh Cover designed by Amal Das, based on noted painter Kamrul Hassan’s oil painting tilled ‘Bangladesh 1971’ Photographs : Courtesy : Muktijuddher Aalokchitro, an albam published by Liberation War History Project of Bangladesh Government, Bangla Name Desh by Ananda Publishers, Calcutta and Album of Kishore Parekh, India Price : Tk. 250 (US $ 20.00 in abroad)
Dedicated to Those who are campaigning for the trial of 1971 war criminals in Bangladesh and those who supporting this cause from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and several other countries across the world
Contents Introduction I was put in a gunny bag and kept in the scorching sun Brigadier (Retd.) M. R. Majumdar One day they forced me to lie on a slab of ice Lt. Col. Masoudul Hossain Khan (Retd.) They pressed burning cigarettes on my throat Masud Sadique Chullu I had seen many deaths, heard about many incidents of women repression, but never thought that I’d also have to become the victim of such cruelty Ferdousi Priyobhashinee A burning cigarette was pushed at his limbs and needles pierced into his finger nails Syed Abul Barq Alvi As we entered the building, we saw many other dead bodies lying on the floor Abul Fazal I saw signs of terror everywhere Protiti Devi They used to uproot the prisoners’ nails by piercing knives to their fingers Singer Linu Billah They broke ribs by beating with iron rods Professor A. M. M. Shahidulla
The Pakistanis used to enjoy everyday after unleashing torture on us Capt. (Retd.) Syed Suzauddin Ahmed My arms, hips and back turned blood-stained as they beat me mercilessly Naser Bukhtear Ahmed
Before hearing the sound of firing we thought that they would burn us to death Durgadas Mukharjee
The Pakistanis used to pierce needles into my nails everyday during interrogation. Mosharraf Hossain I had to run for a mile behind a truck with a rope tied around my neck Mohammad Nazrul Islam I found my father’s body on the pile of dead bodies on the street Gazi Kamaluddin
One Punjabi hound jumped on my body and raped me repeatedly Rabeya Khatun
Mass Grave of 1971 Found Even 28 Years After Liberation War Julfikar Ali Manik
Killing Fields in Rajshahi : Ten thousand skeletons were found in one hundred mass graves Dr. Sukumar Biswas
Killing Fields in Khulna : Bodies of the Bengalees drowned in the river after mass killing Gouranga Nandi
Killing Fields in Chittagong : Skulls of at least 20 thousand Bengalees would be found if the ground of Pahartoli is excavated Dr. Sukumar Biswas
Killing Fields in Laksam : Rape became a regular phenomenon in those days Mustafa Hussain Appendix
Introduction Since independence in 1971, about 1200 books have been published on the liberation war of Bangladesh, of which 300 are historical or memoirs with the focus on the reasons or political analysis as well as documentation of the war itself. One can safely say there are hardly any book focussing on the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani army during the war in Bangladesh. Keeping that in mind, we decided to publish a book, not only to fill that gap, but also to make it credible. “Tormenting Seventy One” is the result of that urge and the need. This book not only contains vivid descriptions of torture, rape and other brutal activities of the Pakistani army, but also statements of victims and experiences of reliable eyewitnesses. One of the significant part of this book is the first-ever publication of the list of military officials, whom the government wanted to put on trial for war crimes in 1972, but failed due to different reasons. In 1972, the Bangla Academy fisrt undertook a project sponsored by the government to gather information on the destruction carried out by the Pakistani occupation forces. Then the ministry of information took up the “Bangladesh Swadhinata Juddho Ittihas prakolpa” (History of Bangladesh Independence War Project) in 1977 under which a volume of 16 books were published entitled “Documents of Bangladesh’s Independence War.” In the 8th volume (total page 731) contains descritption of ‘masskillings, refugee and related incidents.’ The 14th volume contains partial description of world media reports on the genocide. The “Muktijuddho Gobeshana Trust” led by Professor Salahuddin Ahmed interviewed some 300 witnesses at the grassroot level. Recent publication on the 1971 mass killings and repression on women are based on the 8th volume, but they have not been authenticated. Some memoirs or books based on experiences of time, including the one by “Haynar Chokhe Addommo Jibon” by Montu Khan is mentionable among them. The other is the series edited by Rashid Haider entitled “Smriti:1971”. There are about a dozen more books on the Razakars (collaborators known as Razakar) and their atrocities both in Bengali and English. One can safely conclude that there is hardly any book which contains documentary evidence of the destruction and atrocities of the Pakistan army. We took into consideration along with unearthing new, but missing chapter of the Liberation War, the political and social importance of the episode. The demand for trial by the Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, an anti-fundamentalist organisation pushing for war crimes trial initiated by Jahanara Imam, has been incorporated with new insights. The campaign in January 1992 by the Committee sparked reactions in Pakistan after the news was publihsed worldwide. Some Pakistani individually along with human right organisations demanded the trial of those responsible for war crimes in Bangladesh in 1971. They have sought documents and evidences from us as these are essential for holding such a trial. These crimes were committed 28 years ago and many of the witnesses or victims have passed away since then, and we decided to do something quickly before all evidences were lost. In the 8th volume of the government’s publication, interview of 262 people were published, but it was there general description only and 80 percent could not specifically provide any name. The reason being those who were involved in torturing Bengalees did not display their ranks or names. Thus we stressed on finding the name and rank of these Pakistanis during our reasearch to help us eventually put them on the dock. The Committee members worked hard nationwide to get authentic versions of the war from individuals and tried their best to get accurate depositions, some of which have been selected and we have decided to publish those in a book form.This book also contains articles based on depositions of witnesses and survivors of killing fields. The list which is being published for the first time contains some 200 Pakistani army officers who were supposed to be put on trial in 1972 by the government, but could not proceed for different reasons. 1
2 Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators in 1971 killed three million innocent Bengalees. Some 250,000 women fell prey to their barbaric repression. They destroyed thousands of localities in rural and urban areas. It became impossible for people to bear the repression, killings and barbarism unleashed by the Pakistani army which led to the exodus of 10 million people into India for shelter and safety. What was the fault of the Bengalees ? They wanted democracy, a society free from all kinds of
deprivation and repression. They wanted to be a self-reliant country, free from religious conflicts and on the basis of thousand-year-old rich heritage. The expectation of the Bengalees was just a reverse of the state philosophy of Pakistan. Pakistan is such a militarist and fundamentalist country where there is no place for democracy and human rights. Their military junta headed by General Yahya Khan carried out a genocide in the eastern part of Pakistan, now Bangladesh, which has no comparison. Systemtic killings, rapes and other barbaric methods were used on the Benglees in the name of ‘protecting the integrity of Pakistan’ and ‘to protecting Islam’. The killing, repression and atrocities began on March 25, 1971 and it continued until 92,000 Pakistani forces surrendered to Bangladesh- India Joint Command on December 16, 1971. On March 25 midnight, the Pakistani forces suddenly cracked down on the sleeping people of capital Dhaka. Their first target was the residence of teachers, officials and employees and student dormitories of Dhaka University, once known as the Oxford of the East. The police and East Pakistan Rifles (EPR), headquarters followed. Then came the slums, markets and Hindu-populated areas in Dhaka, most of which were torched. They killed university teachers, employees and students either in their rooms or by firing squad in the campus gardens. Some were taken away and remained missing. They sprayed bullets as people fled from burning homes. These people died without knowing their crime. It is estimated that around 60,000 people of the city were killed on that single night. The Pakistani occupation forces followed similar methods across the country and the genocide continued during the next nine months or until the country was freed from their clutches. Apart from mass killings, systemetic killings of identified personalities or professionals was carried out under a blueprint. This process started with the slaying of Dhaka University teachers and reached its peak ahead of the Victory Day on Deecmber 16, 1971, as they realised their defeat was imminent. In conducting the killings, there was a priority list. They had identified five sections of the populace as their main enemies. 1) leaders, activists and supporters of Awami League, 2) communists and socialists, 3) freedom fighters and their associates, 4) the Hindu community irrespective of sex or age and 5) students and intellectuals or professionals. There was no specific type of killings. The Pakistanis at first shelled by tanks and mortars to kill a large number of people of a locality. Then they killed innocent ones lining them up after taking them away from their houses. Some were put to death by bayonets or burnt alive by the barbaric Pakistani army. They also slaughtered people like animals. In some cases people were tortured for months until death saved them. The last method was followed specially for the freedom fighters. There are many people who witnessed that freedom fighters were dragged on the streets pulled by army jeeps, which would only stop to confirm if their prey was dead. Captain (Retd.) Sujauddin Ahmed in his testimony to us said grenades were tied to the back of freedom fighters and told to run after pulling the pin out. Within seconds they were blown up into pieces to the great rejoice of the Pakistanis. The ways the Pakistani forces followed in unleashing torture can’t be expressed in any language. Those who experienced or witnessed the repression said the cruelty of Pakistani forces was more even than that unleashed by the Nazis of Hitler during the Second World War. The major methods used by the Pakistanis to torture the Banglaess were: 1) Verbal abuse coupled with beating until blood oozed out, 2) Poking with bayonet or beating with rifle butts after hanging the victim by the leg from the ceiling, 3) the victim was stripped and kept standing for hours in public 4) Burning the whole body with cigarette, 5) Pushing needles through nails and the head, 6) spraying injuries with salt and chilly, 7) Pushing electric rod through the anus, 8) giving urine for drinking when the victims screamed for water, 9) pushing ice through the anus or injuring the entry point of the anus with cigarette burns, 10) the victim, with his hands and legs tied, was put into a gunny bag and kept under the scorching sun, 11) keeping the injured naked body on ice slab, 12) denying sleep for days, high powered lights focussed on the eye, 13) giving electric shock to the sensitive parts of the body, 14) uprooting nails with the help of tweezers and 15) the head was repeatedly forced into hot water with the body hanging from the ceiling. Besides extremely brutal sexual tortures were also very common whether male or female. Depositions of some witnesses of torture by the Pakistani forces were recorded in the eighth volume of ‘Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddher Dalilpatra’. A brief idea about the brutality of Pakistanis forces could be known from statements of some sweepers of the then Dhaka municipality. They were picked up from their houses to remove the bodies.
Describing the experiences of March 29, 1971, Pardeshi, son of Chhoton, a sweeper of Government Veterinary Hospital said: ‘After I went to office on March 29 morning, I was asked to go to Sakharibazar along with others for lifting bodies by trucks. As there were Pakistani troops patrolling the road and fire was in front of the Judge Court, we couldn’t go to Sakharibazar through that way. We entered Sakharibazar on its west side after crossing the Patuatuli police box. We went to every house of the area and found bodies of female, male, youths, elderly people, boys, girls and children in every room. Most of the buildings were destroyed. Most of the bodies of women were without any clothes. Their breasts were cutoff. We found sticks pushed into their vaginas. Many bodies were burnt. As the Punjabi soldiers sprayed bullets, the Biharis looted their homes. We took bodies on two trucks and left the area shortly. Though there were many bodies, we, being afraid, didn’t go to Sakharibazar on that day again. I was asked to take bodies from Mill-Barrack on March 30 morning. After going to the Mill-Barrack ghat with the truck of municipality, I saw many scattered bodies. Many bodies were tied with rope in a ring. We removed the rope and took the bodies. Most of them were youth. Their hands were tied with rope, blind folded and faces blackened by acid burns to avoid identification. Foul smell filled the air and we found bullet-ridden bodies and those badly mutiliated after bayonet charge. Some skulls were smashed with brain seeping out. I saw bodies of six beautiful women on the bank of the river. They were naked and were shot to death. Their breasts and sexual organs were bloody. I dumped some 70 bodies at Dhalpur garbage after taking those from Mill-Barrack ghat. Later I was asked to carry bodies from Sadarghat, Shyambazar and Badamtali ghat. I took decomposed bodies from the areas to dumped at Dhalpur garbage. The day I took bodies from Kalibari, I had to carry bodies also from a professor’s residence behind the Rokeya Hall of Dhaka University. I carried a total of nine bodies, including of male and children, from the staff quarters behind the Rokeya Hall. And I also took away the body of a professor from the staircase of his residence. The body was wrapped with mattress.’ 2
The Pakistanis in 1971 by killing philosopher professor Govinda Chandra Dev, who was innocent could be compared to a child, showed their brutality had no limits. The newspapers in 1972 carried the news of brutality of Pakistani forces depicting in 1971 killing of Mashihur Rahman, elected to Pakistan National Assembly in 1970 and a popular leader of the Awami League. ‘The Pakistani forces killed him by torturing for days ... They hated people like animals and tortured him so that he gave into their demands. Different parts of his body were burnt. They also chopped him time and again and sprayed salt on the wounded parts. He was also given electric shocks. But he didn’t compromise although he was proceeding towards death everyday. He always said the same: ‘I’ll never say or write anything against my people.’ He stood by his faith until the last day and only trembled when the occupation forces chopped his left hand off and ordered him to write with the remaining one. He didn’t groan. He didn’t say a single word of compromise although all of his hands and limbs were cut off one after another.’ 3
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman burst into tears when he came to know that his comrade died such a cruel death.
3 Repression on women by occupation forces is no exception in world history. There are many books and films on women repression by Nazis of Germany, fascists of Italy and soldiers of Japan during the Second World War. But there is no second example of brutal ways of repressing women by Pakistanis in 1971. More than 250,000 women were raped by them. As the women couldn’t bear the pain of repression many of them committed suicide. The sadist Pakistanis also killed many women meeting their instinct of rape. It is most unfortunate that the incidents of repression on women was not recorded properly although there were many witnesses. A victim of rape in this society doesn’t want to disclose her tragedy due to social taboos and family barriers. The post-liberation Awami League government had taken steps to rehabilitate the women who were repressed during the War of Independence. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was very sympathetic towards them and called them as ‘Beerangana’ (heroic women). A social worker, Maleka Khan, assigned to rehabilitate the repressed women at that time, said that no list of the women was prepared as they didn’t want these women to be identified to ensure their quick to return to normal life. Maleka Khan has herself read the deposition of more than 5,000 war-repressed women. These papers were destroyed after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Maleka Khan said abortion was done on women who were in an early stage of pregnancy. She introduced us to Dr. Geofrey Davis, who came from Australia and travelled across Bangladesh to provide medical help to these women. According to Dr. Davis the number of women raped was more than 400,000. The Banglar Bani newspaper published an article on Dr. Davis in 1972. Excerpts follows: 4
“A large number of women raped by the Pakistanis are suffering from infertility or sexually transmitted disease. Sydney’s Dr. Geoffrey Davis recently said in London that these women were mainly suffering from syphilis or gonorrhea or both and most had abortion which could lead to infertility or can suffer from the diseases for the rest of their life. Dr. Davis, who arrived in Dhaka when the victims were at least 18 weeks pregnant, said 170,000 women took the help of quacks or village doctors with no educational background for abortion before international help arrived either because they were forced to do so or were victims of social conditions. Some girls suffered immensely because they were too young to have sex and even if they could afford to a doctor “it will be difficult to find a man to marry them,” he said. Doctors working at a government clinic to help the tortured women estimated their number at about 200,000. But Dr. Davis rejecting the figure, said it was over 400,000 and of them 170,00 had been abortioned. Many of the 30,000 out of the 200,000 government estimate committed suicide and some kept their babies. Dr. Davies reasoned to clarify his stand on the figure by saying on an average two women were reported missing daily which put the number at 200,000 as the Pakistani troops controlled 480 police stations for 270 days. No count of women raped in villages as the occupation forces moved from one village to another and they kept many of them in their camps to meet their sexual demands. Many of these women were thrown out of the camps or killed when they got pregnant or were infected with disease. In some areas girls as young as 12 or 13 were repeatedly raped and kept naked always so that they did not flee. Some of them hanged themselves when they got the chance to wear a sari, the traditional Bengali dress, while others jumped into rivers tying themselves with heavy stones. Dr. Davis said those who survived were rejected by their families as untouched “unclean” as they were raped and pregnant, which was indeed very sad. 5
Information about the war-babies born in 1972 is also very rare. Most of them were adopted by Europeans or Americans. Renowned academic Professor Neelima Ibrahim was involved with the government rehabilitation programme. Based on experiences of the war-repressed women, she also wrote a book titled ‘Ami Berangana Bolchhi’ (I am the heroic woman speaking). Those who gave statements to her are from middle and highermiddle class families. They were made captives during the nine-month. One of them wrote: ‘We’re not allowed to wear sari or scarf as one woman had committed suicide by hanging herself by her sari. We only wore blouse and petty-coat. Those were dirty and torn. Those were thrown to us after taking from shops. The style was like giving something to a beggar during the Eid. Our eyes would fill into tears. ‘... The next day a girl died. She was pregnant. Bleeding continued since morning. The girls had shouted from the other side of the closed door. But none turned up. Her name was Moyna. She was only 15-year-old. She was first screaming and later became frozen. Her face was looking blue. Elderly Sufia’s mother covered the body by the blanket. There was no bed cover as it was not provided. They took away the body in the evening.’ 6
The book by Neelima Ibrahim has such descriptions. About the list of rape victims, Neelima Ibrahim said Bangabandhu himself had asked to destroy the list, because he had understood that our society would not accept the war-repressed women if their names were disclosed. Bangabandhu from the core of his heart had wanted a normal life for every repressed woman. Neelima Ibrahim said that she heard 30/40 raped women are leaving country along with the war detainees who were going to India in 1972. In cooperation with the Indian and Bangladesh authorities, she instantly met the women and requested them to stay here. But they were determined to leave the country as they were not accepted by their close kins. A 14 or 15 year old girl was among them. Neelima Ibrahim told her ‘You’ll be staying at my home like my daughter.’ But she didn’t agree. She said: ‘What will happen to me when you’ll not be there. Everyone will hate me when people will know I was touched by the Pakistanis.’ Neelima Ibrahim asked if she knew what the Pakistanis will do with her. The girl said: ‘Yes, I know. They will sell me. But none will know me there.’ Three repressed women had come to Dhaka to give witnesses when the public court led by Jahanara Imam tried war criminal Ghulam Azam on March 26, 1992. Newspapers had news items on them. They were boycotted by others when they returned to their village. People started to ridicule them. It was a new pain for them, which made their hearts bleed again. The bleeding will continue until their death. One of them said: ‘We didn’t give a second thought. We rushed to Dhaka for justice. The justice is yet to be ensured, but we’re getting hurt everyday as people started to tease us indicating towards our worst time we experienced in 1971.’ In 1971 we saw cruelty and brutality of Pakistan army. At the same time we also saw the greatness of Indian forces. Freedom fighters, who had escaped from the Pakistani captivity or were injured in war fields were given treatment at the hospitals of Indian army. The injured Bangalees at the refugee camps in India were also provided treatment by the military hospitals. 7
An example of humanity of Indian forces can be given from the book of Neelima Ibrahim. The repressed women who were in the bunkers became overwhelmed when they heard the slogans ‘Joy Bangla’ (victory to Bangla) on December 16. They could understand that the country has been freed from the occupation forces. But they were not able to come out as they were not wearing any clothes. Neelima Ibrahim quoted tortured Shefa as saying: ‘All on a sudden we heard shouts of many people who were coming and going. One gave a look through a small opening of the bunker and said in Urdu `Koi hai? Idhar Aou.’ (Is there any body ? Come here.) We started crying. The language gripped us with fear of new torture. Later we heard several were saying in Bangla `Mothers, come on.’ I was courageous than others. I got up. But again I tried to enter into the bunker as I was totally naked. The man who had the voice `Koi hai’ covered me with his headscarf. I told them there are six more women in the bunker. They collected some shirts and lungis and covered all of us by the clothes. I embraced the Shikh commander and started weeping. The gentleman kept his hands on my head and said `Ro mat mayi’ (Don’t cry mother).
Shefa returned to her normal life. She got married. Her father-in-law gave the name of her eldest son Arman. But Shefa used to call him Yogi. ‘None knows the significance of the name, Yogi. Shefa had met a man like a saint at the end of her worst time in 1971. He was Yogindar Singh who had covered her with his headscarf and called her mother. Shefa thinks Yogindar is her first child. She kisses Arman time and again and prays to Allah so that he could maintain the honour and dignity of his mother as Yoginder did.’ 9
4 Some 92,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to Bangladesh-India Joint Command on December 16, 1971. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from Pakistan jail and returned home on January 10, 1972. He pledged to try the war criminals. There were two categories of war criminals – 1) Members of occupation Pakistani forces and 2) Local collaborators of Pakistani junta, who were mainly involved with Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim League and Nejam-e-Islami and other fundamentalist parties. Bangladesh government prepared a list of the main war criminals with names of 500 Pakistani forces. Later the number was decreased to 200. The tough stand taken by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then president of Pakistan, was the main problem in holding the trial of the Pakistani war criminals. He had said no Bengalee stranded in Pakistan will be freed if a single Pakistani soldier is tried. At that time some 500,000 Bangalees were in Pakistan either as detainees or stranded. The policymakers of India have said that India before signing the Simla agreement wanted that Bangladesh put some Pakistani war criminals on trial. But Bangladesh did not agree. PN Haksar, the advisor of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, said he had two meetings with Bangabandhu before the Simla agreement, but he (Bangabandhu) didn’t agree with the proposal. Bangabandhu’s argument was that complexities will arise over return of Bangalees if the war criminals are tried. It will also create problem over developing relations with Pakistan and Islamic world. According to political observers India alone could have held the trial of Pakistani war criminals as the victorious country. In this regard India’s stand was that the crime was committed in Bangladesh, which was recognised by India as an independent country long before the Simla agreement, it was not possible by New Delhi to put the Pakistanis on trail under international laws. Under the Simla agreement, the Pakistani soldiers were allowed to return home by New Delhi killed both defence and civil Indian personnel too. Indians who were captured by the Pakistanis during the war, were brutally killed. After 1971, India obviously witnessed how brutally Pakistanis killed Indian soldiers after they were arrested during the Kargil war. In January, 1972, Bangabandhu had formulated the Collaborators Act to try the local killers, collaborators and war criminals. This Act covers those individuals or organisations who collaborated the Pakistani army in mass killings, conducted crimes against humanity, unleashed torture on men, women and children, destroyed property, or helped in destructive activities or fought against the People’s Republic of Bangladesh siding with the occupation forces or supported them. The Act also explained in detail how a tribunal to punish them could be set up and the trial process itself. The 1972 Act gave no scope to put the Pakistani criminals on trial. He then enacted the ‘International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973’ in July, 1973, basically to bring them under that process and to expand the scope of their trial. But the laws had some limitations. The officers-in-charge of respective thanas (police stations) were given responsibility to frame charges against the war criminals. Most of the OCs had served the Pakistan government during the 1971 Liberation War. They were not sincere in framing charges against the war 10
criminals. They were also not free from biases towards the war criminals. Considering the problem, Dainik Bangla published a report titled ‘Amendment to Collaborators Act is Needed’. The reports says: ‘Seventy-five percent of those arrested after independence under the charge of collaboration have chance to be freed. The reason is that specific allegations are not filing against them... There is a deficiency of police. OCs of the thanas have been given responsibility to investigate into the allegations under the Collaborators Act. The OC alone is not capable to investigate all the allegations in a thana... Besides, the legal experts have something to say about the Collaborators Act. They said the Act was enacted to hold trial of crimes taken place under a special circumstances. So the trial procedures need a special type to probe an allegation. But the present law follows the century-old Evidence Act. Many complexities are being seen while following the Evidence Act for trial of crimed commited in a special time. It is becoming impossible to probe the crimes of the war criminals.’ 12
Other people say demanding trial of war criminals is irrelevant as Awami League government had a general amnesty to them. This was said time and again that none pardoned Pakistani war criminals. Their main associate Ghulam Azam has also not been forgiven. The section two of the press note issued on November 30, 1973 categorically said ‘those who were punished for or accused of rape, murder, attempt to murder or arson will not come under general amnesty under the section one.’ Some 26,000 people, out of 37,000 sent to jail on charge of collaboration, were freed after announcement of the general amnesty. But 11,000 were still in the prison. The government of Justice Sayem and General Zia scrapped the Collaboration Act on December 31, 1975. As a result, the 11,000 war criminals appealed and were released. Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (The Committee for Resisting Killers and Collaborators of 1971) led by Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam was formed in January, 1992. The next month with the same goal in holding trial of the war criminals, she brought all pro-liberation political, socio-cultural, student and professional organisations under the umbrella of ‘Jatiya Samonnoy Committee’ (National Co-ordination Committee). People from all walks of life raised their voice for the trial of the war criminals. The resentment prevailing among people for not holding the trial of the war criminals in the previous year was reflected through symbolic trial of Ghulam Azam at a public court. The then BNP government had brought treason charges against the initiators of the Peoples’ Court (Gano Adalat). On the Gano Adalat and trial of the war criminals, the then Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina on April 16, 1992 had told the Parliament: ‘... They didn’t take law in their own hands following the verdict of the Gano Adalat, Mr Speaker. Since they didn’t take law in their own hands, so none can call them illegal, there is no scope, too. What did they say? They said Ghulam Azam is a war criminal. The crimes of the war criminal (showing a copy of the verdict of the peoples’ court) are recorded here. And the person who was found guilty with the crimes, deserves capital punishment. We came to this Parliament through mass upsurge, struggle and peoples’ mandate. I think, the verdict they proclaimed in the Gano Adalat, says the crimes deserve death sentence. Many of those who are sitting in this parliament lost their husbands, lost their brothers; mothers and sisters were humiliated during the Liberation War. Those who took part in the war continued armed struggle amid starvation day after day. My appeal to those who liberated the country by fighting for nine months when their lives were always at risk, let’s come together irrespective all opinion and party affiliation to show respect to the verdict of people. The debate here on who did who did not, will bring no good for us. If you think Awami League didn’t do, my question is why didn’t you try? Why did you scrap the law through martial-law proclamation? In this independent and sovereign Bangladesh why are you pushing the nation towards such a debate? So, my appeal, Mr Speaker, still there is a time, come on irrespective all opinions and party affiliation, let’s work together as we did in bringing 11th and 12th amendment to the constitution. Those who lost their kin, those who still feel the pain of loosing relatives, let’s accept the decision. To implement the verdict, Mr Speaker, current laws (International Crime Act, 73) is enough. If you think there is a lack of law, this great Sangsad could fill it up. This great Parliament has that right. The nation gave that right. This Sangsad is sovereign. Through you I’m urging the government to form a special tribunal under International Crime Act (Act of XIX of 1973) to implement the verdict of the peoples’ court against Ghulam Azam accusing him of opposing the Liberation War, taking part in war against the nation, conducting mass killings, commiting crimes against humanity, opposing Bangladesh even after its establishment, conspiring to revive East Pakistan and being a foreign national taking part in illegal political activities to capture power through conspiracy and to take legal action to hold trial of the allegations brought against him. I’m proposing to lodge a case and hold trial immediately. At the same time, I on behalf of the Parliament expressing sorrow for filing the disgraceful case against the organisaers of the Gano Adalat that reflected the opinion of people and through you urging the government to withdraw the case immediately. 13
The government and the opposition on June 29, 1992, signed an agreement after a long debate in the Jatiya Sangsad (National Parliament) and pressure from outside the Parliament. The government in the
agreement agreed to the condition of holding trial of Ghulam Azam and to withdraw the case against the 24 organisers of the Gano Adalat. It is unfortunate that the trial of Ghulam Azam is yet to be held. No step was taken also to hold trial of other war criminals of 1971. London-based ‘Twenty Twenty Television’ has made an hour-long documentary titled ‘War Crimes File’ on three war criminals staying there. It created much sensation in London after it was showed in Channel Four of BBC. Elaborating the target of making the documentary, one of its makers and chief researcher David Bergman said the conscious world, including the European community raised their voice against the mass killings and war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia’s Bosnia. A strong demand was raised that the war criminals have to be punished. At that time he came to know that three war criminals of Bangladesh are residing in London in disguise. They also became leaders of the Bengalee community there. They are involved with various fundamentalist and communal groups. They made the film to unmask the war criminals and bring them to book. The British government took steps for investigation into the three war criminals after the Bangalee community in UK as well as the human rights organisations there raised their voice for punishment of the trio. The British government also sought cooperation from the Bangladesh government. The then BNP government didn’t take any step in this regard. However, the Awami League government assured the UK of cooperating with them. The government on its own also filed an allegation with Ramna police station in Dhaka (case no 115, date 24.9.1997). We came to know it was buried after some interrogation and brief investigation. Fiona Mckay, a lawyer who runs a human rights organisation in London, said she thought though the British government is very enthusiastic, Bangladesh government is not so keen. She informed that senior officials of Scotland Yard Rees, Detective Chief Superintendent and Walton, Detective Inspector were appointed to investigate it. Despite the interest of the British government and its people about the trial of Bangladesh’s war criminal, reluctance of Bangladesh government is a great shame for the nation. 14
5 Pakistan didn’t try the war criminals of 1971 and, also didn’t allow Bangladesh to hold the trial. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after coming to power had formed a Commission of Enquiry to probe the defeat of Pakistan in eastern part in 1971. Justice Hamudur Rahman was chief of the commission. Some Bengalee war-detainees and Pakistanis told the commission about the war crimes commited by the Pakistani soldiers. The report of the commission is yet to be published. Though too late, Pakistani people and organisations, who have respect for democracy and human rights are demanding publishing of the report and trial of war criminals of ’71. Bangladesh could not try the war criminals following pressure by different quarters, including Pakistan. But people of this country always demanded the trial. The first demonstration took place in post-liberation Bangladesh demanding trial of the war criminals when the Awami League government was at the peak of its popularity. Several hundreds members of martyred families gathered at Central Shaheed Minar on March 17, 1972, marched towards Bangabhaban and submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Though the Collaborators Act had some limitations, still then the trial process continued during the Bangabandhu regime. More than 750 war criminals were awarded imprisonment of different period. General Zia not only scrapped the Collaborators Act to stop the trial procedures, he also brought a number of war criminals to his newly formed party. A war criminal had become prime minister during Zia’s tenure, while many others were cabinet members. Their task was collecting documents of their war crimes from different thanas and destroying those. And that is why they could now say that they didn’t do anything in 1971. There are many books on war crimes committed by Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim League and Nezame Islami who were main collaborators of occupation Pakistani forces. Among those, two reports of National Mass Investigation Commission were most investigative ones. The commission with Begum Sufia Kamal as chief and renowned layers, academics, journalists and writers as members published two reports in 1994 and 1995. After intensive investigation, the commission in the reports described the war crimes committed by 16 leading war criminals. The reports are based on depositions of affected people and witnesses of the concerned areas. Besides, Bangla daily Dainik Sangram, the spokesman of Jamaat-e-Islami, itself is a big document of the war criminals on how they cooperated Pakistani military rulers, instigated them to kill and how they 16
voluntarily formed Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams militia forces to conduct mass killings. The copies of Sangram in 1971 prove that they are war criminals. There are enough documents of war crimes committed by the local war criminals. The war crimes committed by the Pakistanis were not recorded properly after the war. But the press reports published in 1972 describing the experiences of people who were detained and witnessed the brutality of the Pakistanis are enough to accuse the Pakistani troops for war crimes. Apart from newspapers, Bangla Academy through its Liberation War Research Centre’ in two phases had recorded statements of several hundreds of affected people. Led by Hasan Hafizur Rahman, the researchers of ‘Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddher Itihash Prokolpo’ also interviewed many affected people and witnesses. The statements were published in eighth part of the 15-part book. Most of the people who made statements or were interviewed generally mentioned Pakistani forces as the war criminals. Names mentioned categorically were very rare. As a result the intensity of atrocities of Pakistan could be known. But it is too tough to categorically identify the responsible army men. A person could be identified only by those who could escape death from the torture camps. The people survived informed in most cases the army officers and personnels didn’t carry the in names and rank badges while they unleashed torture, but the victims knew their names as they remained captive for a long time. Recently a mass-grave of 1971 was found in capital’s outskirts, Mirpur. Human skeletons and remains come out from under the soil while construction work of a mosque was going on at the Muslim Bazar area. The mass-grave attracted peoples’ attention as soon as the news of discovery of a mass-grave was published in newspapers. In the initial stage the Liberation War Museum alone conducted the digging work. Later, they took help from Bangladesh Army. The human remains and other things found after straight 39 days digging proved the sign of the incidents they carried out during 1971 Liberation War. While the digging was going on at Muslim Bazar, the newspapers carried out many news items on a number of mass-graves of 1971, which are yet to be discovered. At that time, newspapers also published news items on how Pakistani forces had taken shelter in Bihari-dominated Mirpur after December 16, 1971 and killed celebrated filmmaker Zahir Raihan as well as more than 100 members of army and police when they went there to free the area from the clutches of occupation forces. The recently discovered Muslim Bazar mass-grave came to people with a new dimension to remind them about brutal atrocities of the Pakistani forces. Thousands of people, from far-flung areas, who lost their close relations during the Liberation War, everyday thronged the mass-grave. Many people whose relatives were killed on January 30, 1972 in the area came to know whether there were bodies of them. The bones found at the mass-grave showed that the killers not only murdered the Bangalees in a brutal ways, they also chopped the bodies to many pieces and threw into the ditch. The news of discovery of Muslim Bazar mass-grave and many others yet undiscovered across the country struck people as those reminded them of the horrid days they passed in 1971. Different quarters also came up with renewed zeal to raise their voice demanding trial of the war criminals. The movement for trial of the war criminals was strengthened following continued terrorist and subversive acts of the fundamentalist and communal forces. The main party of fundamentalists and communals — Jamaat-e-Islami and its allies with the help of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI have continued their attack on progressive political leaders, intellectuals, cultural activists, social workers and religious minority people. The fundamentalists unleashed a series of attacks on development workers in Brahmanbaria in December, 1998 and injured and assaulted at least 200 children and women. They were directed by their main leader whom they called ‘Boro Hujur’. The leader of the fundamentalists earlier had gave a `fatwa’ (religious order) prohibiting participation of women in rallies. The members of Pakistan-based fundamentalist group Harkatul Jehad in January, 1999, stormed into the residence of country’s celebrated poet Shamsur Rahman to assassinate him. The poet could manage to escape unhurt, but his wife was seriously injured. The fundamentalists were very angry about poet Shamsur Rahman as he always wrote against fundamentalism and all kinds of reactionary forces. Besides, Shamsur Rahman is the president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee and was one of the key members of National Enquiry Commission to probe the war crimes of the local war criminals. Kazi Aref Ahmed, one of the main organisers of country’s Liberation struggle, was assassinated in February, 1999, while he was addressing a public meeting in Kushtia. His ‘crime’ was that he was one of the main organisers of the movement led by Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam to try the war criminals and ban fundamentalist politics. In last three years, he time and again had warned the countrymen about conspiracy and subversive activities of Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI. Finally he became a victim.
In March, 1999, the fundamentalist forces exploded remote-control bombs at the conference of Udichi, the country’s leading progressive cultural organisation, in Jessore. Ten people were killed and 200 others were injured in the bomb explosion. Many of the injured people became disable. The ‘crime’ of Udichi is that the cultural organisation has been playing a vital role in anti-communal and anti-fundamental movement since 1960s. Fundamentalist Islami Oikya Jote, an alliance of extremists, in a rally in Dhaka in March, 1999 threatened to kill Prof Kabir Chowdhury, poet Shamsur Raahman, Dr Kazi Faruque Ahmed and other leading intellectuals and NGO leader and throw their bodies into the Bay of Bengal. They also threatened to capture power by the year 2000 through a revolution like Talebans in Afghanistan. This kinds of threat by the fundamentalists are very common in their rallies and meetings. When this introduction was being written in the month of October, 1999, the fundamentalists exploded bombs at a mosque of the minority Islamic sect Ahmadia and killed five people who were praying at that time. Many were also injured in the bomb explosion. Only 12 to 14 days before the bombing, the Pakistan-based fundamentalist organisation Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuyot had threatened to destroy the Ahmadia people. On October 8, the fundamentalists had placed an anti-tank mine at the office of the widely circulated daily Janakantha to blow up the office of the newspaper. However, they couldn’t blast the mine following immediate steps taken by Bangladesh Army. The fundamentalist terrorists also earlier attacked the Janakantha office many times. The newspaper is playing a vital role in unearthing the evil activities of the communal and fundamentalist forces. Three key leaders of Markajul Islam were arrested in connection with the conspiracy to destroy the Janakatha building by mine explosion. Trial of the war criminals and a total ban on fundamentalist and communal politics are a must to foil the conspiracy hatched by the fundamentalists who are financially patronised by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), trained in Pakistan with aim of turning Bangladesh into a fundamentalist state like Pakistan. Recently Pakistani troops intruded into India over Kashmir and were locked in a war that left several thousands people from both sides killed. After 1971 it was the first war between India and Pakistan. When the unexpected Kargil war was going on, intellectuals in Dhaka opined that Pakistan would have given a second thought in involving itself with any war, had the war criminals of 1971 been tried. Prosecutors of the Nuremberg Trial said war criminals should be tried to stop future conflicts. It is a punishable offence, not only in the eyes of law, but also from the political, social and humanitarian point if the war criminals are not brought to justice.
6 ‘Tormenting Seventy One’ is going to be published in the backdrop of the demand for the trial of the war criminals. Earlier, we published a number of books on misdeeds of the killers, collaborators and war criminals of 1971. It is our first documentary book on the war crimes committed by the Pakistani forces. The book has been planned to enable the readers to get a general idea on torture, mass killings, women repression and other atrocities conducted by the Pakistani forces. The brutality shown by the Pakistani forces added new dimensions with the traditional definition of war crimes. The statements of the victims and witnesses indicated how terrible and exceptional the Pakistani forces were in unleashing torture and killing innocent people. The people who were interviewed for the book represent various spheres of society. Many of them didn’t make any statement earlier. All the witnesses said they are ready to make their depositions to the special tribunal if it is formed for trial of the war criminals. Among the interviewees was Ferdousi Priyobhashinee. She was among the 250,000 women who were raped by the barbaric Pakistani forces in 1971. This is for the first time she made her statement in public. She said: ‘I’m telling you about the horrible days and nights of 1971 as the trial of those, who killed three million Bangalees and raped 250,000 women is yet to be held. The new generation is going to forget what frightful time we had in 1971. I want to recall the bad times also for the reason that we know very less about the Pakistani repression on women during our Liberation War. The cause is our conservative society and family. I hope that my statement will encourage other repressed women to raise their voice against the barbarism.’ The book is divided into two parts. The first part is on the depositions of those who were captured and tortured by Pakistani troops as well as witnesses of the mass killings and atrocities. The second part includes description of several mass-graves scattered across Bangladesh.
There is a list of 200 Pakistani war criminals in the appendix of the book. Bangladesh government had prepared the list. It was never published before, although names of many top-ranking Pakistani army are not there. Even then it is important as it was prepared by the government. Besides there are also pictures of mass killings, torture on women and some of the top war criminals. Some of the persons who gave statements for the book expressed their resentment as they didn’t get the recognition as freedom fighters. Members of thousands of martyred families have also been expressing their anger for a long time as the contribution of their Shaheed father-mother, son-daughter or brother-sister were not acknowledged properly. Those who took part in the Liberation War and defeated Pakistani forces by guerilla warfare were lucky in one sense — it could be felt by going through the description of torture unleashed on the people in captivity. Many freedom fighters were also detained by the Pakistani forces. They preferred death rather than being tortured. In fact, the torture and atrocities unleashed by the Pakistani troops during the nine-month war expedited their defeat in the conflict. The mental and physical pains of those who witnessed repression and killings or were tortured by the Pakistani occupation forces turned into hate towards the barbarians. The hate created resentment among them and the resentment turned into strong resistance and finally it became the spirit to avenge the brutalities. Many freedom fighters who were given gallantry awards of Bir Uttam, Bir Bikram but after the war some of them provided political, financial and social supports to the killers, collaborators and the war criminals and cooperated with them. But those who were tortured in captivity, witnessed killings of their close relations; the father the brother who saw his daughter or sister being raped by Pakistani animals will never forget the memories. The memories of 1971 are unbearable for them. During research work for this work, it was found that even many Razakars could not tolerate the repression by occupation Pakistani forces on innocent Bangalees.Durgadas Mukherjee has spoken of compassionate non-Bengalis in this book. Sculptor Ferdousi Proiyabhasheeni in her deposition has mentioned the reaction against Pakistani atrocities by its own troops. Protiti Devi in her deposition has said how their lives were saved because of a Baluchi captain. An example could be given from the Swadhinata Juddher Dalilpatra as to how the Razakars were also tortured by the Pakistanis. Khandaker Nurul Islam of Batiamara of Kumarkhali in his statement said: ‘One day two military personnel were asking a Razakar to manage a girl for them. The Razakar took them to a home. But they got none at the house as all fled before the army men and the Razakar reached there. The military personnel asked the Razakar, ‘friend where is your house?’ The Razakar took them to his house. The military personnel found the Razakar’s mother. One army man pointed his gun at the Razakar’s chest and his colleague raped the mother. Later the second one tortured the mother in the same way, while the first one kept the Razakar under the gun-point. As the news spread, the Razakar didn’t return to the camp. He was not seen any longer. The incident showed that the close relations of associates of the Pakistanis were not spared from cruelty. Even, leaders of Peace Committee, Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim League were not spared. I read in the document of Liberation War that a Pathan soldier was shot dead as he refused to carry out an order of a superior officer. The political leaders showing different excuses may show reluctance over trial of the war criminals. They could try to defer the trial process and some of them even could make alliance with them and build movement. But families of three million martyred and 250,000 war-repressed women and their close relatives will never pardon the war criminals. It is impossible for a civilised man to forget or forgive this most disrespectful act against humanity. Nazi war criminals are still being hunted for crimes committed during the second world war and being put on trial in Europe. The western world is forcefully pushing the issue of war crimes in Bosnia in 1994. The International Criminal Court’s 1998 constitution says that rape, sexual torture and forced labour are all war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the year 2000 a special court in Tokyo will sit for the trial of Japanese soldiers involved in crimes committed during the second world war. Some 200,000 women from China, North Korea, South Africa, Philippines and Indonesia fell victim to rape and torture by the Japanese troops. These women have spoken after 50 to 55 years since being tortured and are now demanding compensation from Japan. Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam had termed her movement demanding trial of the war criminals and ban on communal politics as ‘Second Phase of the Liberation War’. Some young warriors of this phase of movement had important roles in bringing out the book. They did the appreciable job being inspired with their 17
duty and ideology, following their commitment to Shaheed Janani. Special mention in the effort goes to the vice president of Nirmul Committee Professor Muntasir Mamun, its General Secretary and Information and Research Secretary respectively Kazi Mukul and Julfikar Ali Manik. Journalist Ruhul Motin took most of depositions and interviews. Besides Dr. Sukumar Biswas, Shofiul Alam Raja, Krishna Bhoumik, Gouranga Nandi, Mostafa Hosein and Prithijith Sen Rishi also took some interviews or wrote articles. Four young journalists Zahid Newaz, Ziaul Huq Sawpan, Nazrul Islam Mithu and Nadeem Qadir undertook the hectic task of translating the book into English in a very short time. Here I would take the opportunity to congratulate them. Those who gave statement came forward responding to their duty and ideology. The trial of war criminals is not possible without their cooperation. Endless thanks to them. We hope that the government of Sheikh Hasina will fulfill its commitment by taking steps for holding trial of the war criminals. Spirit of democracy and human rights will be meaningless if the war criminals of 1971 are not tried. It will hamper the march towards socio-economic development and cultural freedom. In fact Bangladesh’s existence will be threatened if the war criminals are not tried and punished for their evil activities during our Liberation War in 1971. Shahriar Kabir Dhaka, 31 October 1999
Footnote 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
See Appendix. Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddher Dalilpatra: Eighth volume, Editor: Hasan Hafizur Rahman, Information Ministry of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka June 1984, P. 51-52. Dainik Bangla, February 16, 1972. Interview with the Editor, Dhaka 28 June, 1998 Daily Banglar Bani, Special issue on Genocide, Dhaka, Decmber, 1972 ‘Ami Beerangona Bolchchi’, Neelima Ibrahim, Jagriti Prokashonee, Dhaka, January, 1998, Pag: 15-16 Interview with the Editor, Dhaka, October 9, 1998 Interview with the Editor, Dhaka, February 25, 1997 Ibid. Interview with the Editor, New Delhi, January 20, 1996 Bangladesh Gazette, titled : President Order No. 8 of 1972 : Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order 1972. Dainik Bangla, Dhaka, July 23, 1972 Muktijuddher Brittobondi Itihas, by Shahriar Kabir, Dhaka, February 1999, p. 53-54. Interview with the Editor, London, August 20, 1996 Interview with the Editor, London, September 15, 1999 Name of these 16 accused person are : 1. Abbas Ali Khan, 2. Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, 3. Mohammad Kamruzzaman, 4. Abdul Alim, 5. Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, 6. Maulana Abdul Mannan, 7. Anwar Zahid, 8. Abdul Kader Molla, 9. A S M Solaiman, 10. Salauddin Kader Chowdhury, 11. Maulana Abdus Sobhan, 12. Maulana A K M Yousuf, 13. Mohammad Ayen Uddin, 14. Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid, 15. A B M Khaleque Mojumdar and 16. Dr. Syed Sajjad Hossain. Golam Azam’s name was not included in this probe because his crimes have been recorded earlier. For more information about these people please see ‘Genocide ’71’, edited by Dr. Ahmed Sharif, Professor Serajul Islam Chowdhury, Qazi Nur-uz-Zaman & Shahriar Kabir, Dhaka, December, 1987. Ibid, p. 288 Leaflet : The International Organizing Committee for Women’s Internaitonal War Crimes Tribunal, VAWW-NET Japan
Testimony of witnesses and victim's on atrocities and genocide by Pakistan army
I was put in a gunny bag and kept in the scorching sun Brigadier (Retd.) M. R. Majumdar In 1971, Brigadier Mahmudur Rahman Majumdar was the senior most Bengalee officer in the eastern zone of the Pakistan Army. He had close contact with MAG Osmany and senior Awami League leaders during the noncooperation movement in 1971. He was arrested on March 24, 1971 and was taken to Pakistan on March 31. He was tortured and continously interrogated. His testimony was recorded in four phases from September 12 to October 13, 1999.
I had been the commandant of East Bengal Regimental Centre at Chittagong and also the Station Commendar since year before the 1970 election till 24 March 1971. I was a senior-most Bengali Army officer in East Pakistan at that time. On March 4, 1971 I was appointed Matial Law Administrator of Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts which brought me in contactact with local political leaders in general and Awami League leaders like MR Siddiqi, Zahur Ahmad Chowdhury and MA Hannan in particular. I also had working contact with senior Army officers including the Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Hamid Khan. Col Osmani was well known to me since long. He introduced me to Sheikh Mujib and some other prominent leaders of Awami League. President Yahiya’s sudden postponement in March 1 of the National Assembly Session due to meet at Dhaka on March 3, triggered explosive situation, angry demonstrations and ruthless killing of Bengoli protersters by West Pakistani troops in Dhaka and many other places particularly in Chittagong where hundreds of civilians were killed, wounded and burnt on March 2 and 3 whereupon Sk Mujib opendly demanded immediate withdrawal of troops to barracs and secretly sent Khandker Mustak Ahmed, MR Siddiqi and Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury to meet me at 3am in the night of March 5 or 6. In that meeting I expressed my support for Sk Mujib and conveyed to him regarding out military superiority at that time in East Pakistan. Earlier on March 2, a Pakistani ship named ‘MV SWAT’ anchored at Chittagong Port. I came to know that the ship did not carry any passenger from West Pakistan. Instead, it had brought about 7,000 tons of sophiticated arms and ammunitions to suppress the Bengali by force. I requested M. R. Siddiqui, the Chairman of Chittagong Port workers association, not to permit unloading of the ship. I said, “these arms could be used against us.” I thought, if we capture the entire country, the same would automatically come under our possession. From March 2 to 24, I stopped unloading of the arms from ‘SWAT’ disobeying all orders and pressure of the higher authorities. Army Chief, General Hamid Khan, Tikka Khan, Mitha Khan and other high officials applied pressure on me in this regard. Mitha Khan personally met me and asked, “By hook or crook, the arms will have to be unloaded within one or two days.” I said, “the ship could catch fire if we try to unload the ammunitions without the help of experts.” Mitha said, “If the fire engulfs the entire country and blood fills the
Karnaphuli river, I don’t care. I want my arms unloaded.” As I did not unload the arms, Tikka Khan charged me, “You disobeyed the command of your superior and stopped the unloading of ‘SWAT’ ship to support Awami League’s non-cooperation movement.” Subsequently, Mitha Khan called the Naval Chief, Commodore Momtaj, who also echoed my decision. Commodore Momtaj was, however, apprehending further deterioration of the situation. That is why he did not take any risk. He informed Mitha Khan, “Sir, my force does not know the cargo handling of commercial ships. It will be a disaster if any explosion occurs due to their handling.” Mitha Khan understood this point. He said, “It’s all right. I will call in merchant navy people from Karachi.” He promptly phoned Army Headquarters at Karachi from my office and gave a directive to send the merchant navy people. I stopped the unloading of ‘Swat’ on different excuses. Tikka Khan used to call me twice or thrice a day to ask the same question, “Whats happening about the unloading of the ship?” In the meantime, I removed all the crew from the ship with the help of M.R. Siddiqui. The ship remained at the outer anchorage. The East Bengal Regiment battalion of which Ziaur Rahman was the second in commad was ready to go to the West. There was a rule that when an army contingent is transferred from East to West or from West to East, they have to go unarmed. The battalion of Zia already surrendered their arms under this rule. Later I gave them 300 rifles and 10 light machine guns, which was their main strength during the war. On March 21, Army Chief General Hamid visited Chittagong Port and took me to Colonel Fatemi of Baluch Regiment. He asked me whether ‘SWAT’ was unloaded or not. I replied, “No”. The Adjutant General of Army was also there. When we reached the Baluch Regiment, the Adjutant General to a seperate room saying, “Majumdar, let’s go to another room. I have something to discussion with you.” In my absense, Fatemi and General Hamid talked for about half an hour. From the Baluch Regiment office, we went to Naval Hearquarters where General Hamid also held discussions for about 20-25 minutes, in secret, again keeping me away, as preplanned by them. From the movement of the Army Chief, it became clear to me that they were planning to conduct a secret operation against the Bangalees at the directive of Yahya Khan. As the Army Chief left, I telephoned Awami League leader M. R. Siddiqui and he came to my house. I told him everything and requested him to talk to Sheikh Mujib and Colonel Osmani about the the matter. “We have no time to waste....something will happen soon......tell Sheikh Shaheb to give us permission. If we go for an action without wasting time, it will be easy for us to achieve victory.” On Siddiqui’s request, I arranged for him a car from the Superintendent of Police. Siddiqui went to Dhaka to talk to Sheikh Mujib. Next day he returned and reported to me that Sheikh Mujib said, “Brigadier Majumdar should be patient....Negotiations are going at the political level. He should wait until the negotiation ends. I will speak to him in time.” Osmani asked him, “How will you contact Brigadier Majumder?” Sheikh Mujib replied, “Postponement of the transmission of Bangla programme on radio will be a signal of the failiure of negotiations. I will record a message for him and send it to him through Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury.” This recorded message of Sheikh Mujib was sent to Chittagong after his arrest on March 25 but I was not there. On March 26, however, Awami League leader M. A. Hannan riding a rickshaw publicised the message of Sheikh Mujib by mike in the port city of Chittagong. Based on the statement, Ziaur Rahman declared independence of the country from the radio station. The message was recorded on March 21. Tension continued for the next couple of days. On March 24, General Khadim Hossain Raja and General Mitha Khan came to the East Bengal Regimental Centre by two helicopters. They told me that the President would hold a meeting that evening. “All senior officers have been asked to join the meeting. So you’ll have to go.” I said, “A tense situation is prevailing now in Chittagong. If I go, trouble may occur here. Particularly,
civilians are very agitated.” As I was suspicious about the meeting at Dhaka, I asked Captain Amin (now a Major General), “Make a call to Colonel Osmani and enquire wheather or not I should go to Dhaka to attend the meeting but in vain.” Tikka Khan said, “You must come because the President wants to talk to all senior officers. After the meeting, if necessary, we’ll send you back.” Unfortunately, I believed him. I thought what he told me could be true. So, I boarded the helicopter to Dhaka. Amin accompanied me. The helicopter landed in Dhaka and I was taken to the residence of Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab. He was better known as Brigadier Arbab. He was in charge of Operation “Searchlight” in Dhaka City. Arbab was one of my old friends. Arbab, Ziaur Rahman and I worked together during 1960-62. Arbab became my close friend at that time. As I reached the residence of Arbab, I saw snacks ready on the table. I asked Arbab, “What’s the matter?. I have been told that the President would hold a meeting with officers. But I don’t see any arrangement here. Then why I have been brought here?” Arbab said, “Majumdar, don’t tell anyone . You have been removed from Chittagong and Brigadier Ansari has already taken charge of your Centre. I have been ordered to take care of you. You’ll have to stay with me until you’re given a new posting anywhere in West Pakistan.” Arbab told me everything, but kept secret the fact that I was under house arrest. I was surprised to hear of my transfer order and replacement, because it was done without informing me. I asked Arbab, “Can’t I go to Chittagong anymore?” He replied, “No.” Soon after my removal, Brigadier Ansari started unloading the cargo from the ‘Swat’. Bangalee officers and soldiers also joined in the work. Next day (March 25), I saw that Arbab was very busy with his work. He was so busy that he had no time to talk to me. His attitude and movement deepened my fears. In the evening, I left his house in his absense. I directly went to my elder brother Sajjad Ali Majumdar’s Dhanmondi residence and apprised Colonel Osmani of the matter over phone. He replied, “I’m coming soon.” My sister-in-law went to the residence of Tajuddin to bring him also, but he was not at home. Osmani came and we sat for a closed-door discussion over the whole situationin in my brother’s bedroom. I told him, “You have wasted much time. I sent messages three times — through M.R. Siddiqui, Captain Amin and myself, but you did not respond. The Pakistanis are buying time under the cover of negotiation, but it is clear that they would not compromise. I learnt through reliable source and informed you as well that they would not allow Sheikh Mujib to assume power. They army will go for action soon. We could win easily if we had gone for action a few days ago. If Sheikh Mujib permits, it is still possible to do something.” Osmani said, “No, Sheikh Mujib does not want that. He wants to resolve the crisis through political dialogue.” He said, “You want to revolt, but do you have the arms to do so?” I outlined my plan. “The Bangalee troops have enough strengthto seize the magazines of non-bengali unit and force the Pakistani officers to surrender. They’ll definitely surrender. Because they all know that if they try to resist us in the present situation they would die. The Pakistani officers are not in a position to take that risk.” Thereafter, Osmani went to discuss with Sheikh Mujib. At first he wanted to take me with him, but later he thought that it would be unwise to move together, because the intelligence people were keeping vigil around Sheikh’s house. Osmani went alone and told me that he would infom me of Sheikh Mujib’s views over the phone. I waited tensely in the evening for the phone call. At 8 pm, Osmani rang me and said, “Mujib is now reached a settlement with Yahiya. He has asked you to be patient.”
At 11.30 pm, the whole capital was ablaze with gunfire and bullets. I went to the roof top of the house and saw that fire had engulfed the city. The Pakistan army had struck ruthlessly. It was what I had apprehended. After about two and a half years of solitary imprisonment in Pakistan, when I returneded to independent Bangladesh, Dr. Farash Uddin Ahmed (Now the Governor of Bangladesh Bank) told me that Osmani had made the phone call to me from Farash Uddin’s residence at 8.30 pm on March 25, 1971. Next day I came to know that my family was brought to the cantonment and kept at the residence of Brigadier Ansari. I went to the cantonment on March 26 but did not find any male person. They were busy in the operation. I took my family to my father-in-law’s house without any hindrance. My wife apprised me of her terrible experience at the Chittagong centre on March 25 night. I was deeply shocked being informed how Pakistani occupied forces swooped on the centre with their tanks in the dead of the night and killed numerous Bengali soldiers including my loyal officer Colonel MR Chowdhury and rendered my wife and children helpless. My wife Saadat Sultana told me that while she was sleeping in the night she heard the sound of bullets inside the house. Switching on the light she found that a bullet had pierced through the window and stuck onto the wall. Quickly the attack took a serious turn and she could hear the sound of bullets in and around the centre like heavy rain. The bullets were also directed towards my residence. She saved herself and the children lying under the cot. When the attack by the Pakistan forces stopped after an hour later, she rang Colonel MR Chowdhury, but failed to get him and then called Awami League leader MR Siddiqui. She requested Siddiqui to inform Major Zia of the East Bengal Regiment about the situation, so that he could launch a counter attack on the Baluch Regiment. Later, when she tried to contact Dhaka, she found that the telephone line was dead. Earlier in next morning Colonel Shigri of my Centre came to my residence and asked my wife to get ready to go to Dhaka. When she required how she would go, she was told that a helicopter from Dhaka was waiting in the Baluch Regiment. She tried but failed to get her ornaments, cash money and clothes for the children, due to interception of Colonel Shighry. On the way to the Baluch Regiment, she was horrified to see number of Bengali soldiers bodies on both sides of the road leading to the centre. She identified the body of Colonel MR Chowdhury lying in a pile. On March 27, I was sitting in the varendah waiting for Amin to go to Chittagong with him after offering morning prayers. Suddenly I saw military vehicles coming towards the house. I came outside the house and saw many soldiers guarding the house.They asked me, “Sir, are you Brigadier Majumdar?” “Yes”, I replied. “We have come here under orders of Tikka Khan to take you cantonment. Get ready,” they said. I went with them. From March 27, I became a prisoner. They confined me, along with my family members, at an abandoned house in the cantonment area. We stayed there for two days. They did not allow us to come out of the house. Thus began physical and mental torture upon me and my family. In 1971, the Pakistanis tortured me in two ways. Firstly, they looted my house-hold goods and tortured me physically and secondly, they tortured my family members, relations and others. On March 26 morning, Pakistan Army went in search of me to went to my Shamoli residence in Dhaka. As they could not find me, they brought our servant Tasir out of the house and slaughtered him publicly. They also attempted to kill his son but he survived hiding in water tank on the roof top. The army arrested the husband and two sons of my youngest sister living at Zakiganj in Sylhet. When the army took them, my sister fell unconscious. She was taken to a hospital at Sylhet, where she died of the shock. The army also burnt the house of my sister. Yahya Khan’s postponement of the session of the National Assembly on March 1 flared a bloody clash
between Bangalees and Biharis at Railway Colony, Wireless Colony and Sher Shah Colony at Chittagong on March 2 and 3. During the clash, the Pathan soldiers led by Colonel Fatemi set ablaze the houses of Bangalees. They killed and burned hundreds of innocent Bangalee men, women, children. Fatemi was then the martial law administrator of Chittagong. On March 4, General Yakub removed Fatemi and appointed me to the same post. Aftert taking charge, I went to visit the Railway and other affected colonies. I saw the Bangalee houses were burnt to ashes. I saw the Pathan soldiers guarding over the burnt houses. Almost all the inhabitants of the area had already fled. I came to know that many people were killed there. The injured were admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) and other hospitals. Then I went to CMCH and observed many people with burn injuries on various parts of their bodies were receiving treatment there. I checked their addresses recorded in the hospital register and found that most of them were Bangalees. On March 30 in the midnight, somebody knocked my prison door. I was told to get ready in 15 minutes. I came to know that we were being taken to West Pakistan. They took us to Dhaka airport when it was raining cats and dogs. From Karachi airport, we were taken to Malir Cantonment. We stayed there for a night and next morning we were taken to Kharian Cantonment. We were confined at an old rest house, about 14/15 miles away from Kharia. The army authorities turned the rest house into a prisoners cage as it was secured with barbed wire and soldiers with machine guns. They kept me and my family members separately. I got a small room at a corner of the house. There was no furniture. I was told, “This is exclusively for you. Your family members are allowed to move inside the house, but you are not allowed to go outside the room. This restriction is not for your family members, but they would not be allowed to go outside the boundary.” I had to sleep on the floor. There was an open toilet. One soldier always stood nearby to guard me round the clock. I was kept there from Arpil to August 10 under the supervision of army. They used to take me to Jhelum, about 10 kilometres away from there every morning for interrogation. After interrogation they used to take me back to the rest house. Sometimes I was interrogated round the clock, sometimes continuous two days and nights. I had to remain standing until the end of interrogation. I was not given food during interrogation. However, they did not torture me physically. The interrogators used to ask me the same questions regularly. They alleged, “Sheikh Mujib, Colonel Osmani and you planned a rebellion and muting in East Pakistan to break the country and make East Pakistan an independent. Your East Bengal Regimental Centre was the operational headquarters.”*
*A Pakistan armed forces public relation officer Saddiq Salik stated, ‘The commandant, Colonel (later Brigadier) Mozumdar was a stocky little fellow fired with Bengali nationalism. He had direct contacts with Mujibur Rahman, which gave him a rare combination of pride and prejudice : pride in Bengali nationalism, prejudice against West Pakistan. I met him on the flower-decked lawns of his office and apprised him of my mission. After an hour’s conversation, I was convinced that his reputation was not groundless. He talked proudly about his importance, Bengali nationalism and injustices done to the Bengali people. He said, ‘Why do you want to beat your drums about doubling the quota? Even if the President’s order is fully implemented, it would mean only fifteen per cent representation for the Bengalis while they constitute fifty-six per cent of the national population.’ After this ‘briefing’ by Mozumdar, I had lunch with a West Pakistani officer. . . . My host related a small incident. He said that when the last batch of recruits was about to sail for Karachi, the colonel told them, ‘You are proud Bengali soldiers now. You are not going there to polish the shoes of Punjabi officers. Soon they will be polishing yours.’ Witness to Surrender, Siddiq Salik, Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 1978, p. 11.
They also alleged, “You wanted to capture all the arms and ammunition of Pakistani soldiers with the help of EPR (East Pakistan Rifles), Police and students. You planned to remove all the border posts with India to bring arms from that country. For this purpose, you (Majumdar) had a meeting with Commander , Indian Eastern Command, Khulna. You gave out your plan to the Eastern Command and sought their help. You told them that beside arms and ammunitions, you’ll need military training in India. You also had a plan to arrest all non-Bangalees at Chittagong and kill them if they tried to resist.” The members of ISI (Inter Service Intelligence) and Pakistan Army Intelligence Unit interrogated me. I denied all allegations as false. In the first week of August, Colonel Anjum and Colonel Mokhtar of Army Intelligence took me to Jhelum. They said, “a Bangalee officer named Colonel Yasin told us that you had meetings with Sheikh Mujib, other leaders of Awami League and also with the Commnader, Eastern Command of India. You have discussed in those meetings how India could help you.” At one stage they said, “As the army failed to get a confessional statement from you, it has been decided that you’ll be handed over to Special Police.” The next morning several military vehicles came to the rest house cage and escorted me to the headquarters of the Special Police at Lahore leaving my family members there. The Army handed me over to the Special Police. Police Inspector Durrani received me and confined me in an underground cell. He said,”Sorry Brigadier, we cannot provide you with mosquito net, pillow or bedsheet. You’ll have to stay here without all these things.” Cell No. 12, where I was held captive, was like a bathroom. It was actually built for prisoners. It had an iron door with grill. There was no window, fan or even ventilation. A high-power bulb was always kept on which made the cell very hot. There was a commode. There was no arrangement for food. Before confining me in the cell, the authorities took away my shirt and trousers and replaced them with prison clothes. Their was a ozifa (religious book) in my suitcase. I wanted it, but I was told that it would be given to me later after examination. On the first day, I was not given any food. Inspector Durrani came to visit me on the second day, but he did not talk to me. I had to go hungry the whole day. At night, a sepoy came with three West Pakistani rotis (bread) and a bowl of vegetables for me. They passed the food through the narrow space under the iron door. When I got the food, I noticed a lot of dust in it. It was not fit for human consumption, and so I did not take it. A few minutes later, the sepoy returned and took the plate back. So I remained without food for the whole night. In the morning, Durrani came and asked, “Did you have your meal?” “No, I haven’t,” I replied. He said, “Why?, Didn’t they serve you food?” I replied, “I’m not hungry.” I did not disclose to him the real reason for not taking the food. Then Durrani said, “You’ll have to take some food. If you don’t take it, there is nothing we can do. We can’t serve you any better food.” Then he ordered for tea and a big bread. The space under the door was so narrow that they couldn’t pass the mug of tea through it. So one sepoy opened the door and gave me the tea mug. After I finished it, Durrani took the mug away and left. At about 11 am, Durrani returned along with two sepoys. They opened the door and the sepoys held my hands strongly. Then they took me upstairs to the room, where I had earlier been handed over to the police by the Army.
Durrani sat on a high chair, like the boss of an office. I sat in front of him on a stool. Two police officers — Shafi and Safdar Kazi interrogated me there. They asked me many questions. They said, “You have killed many non-Bangalees in Chittagong. What have you to say about it?” I said, “I didn’t kill any non-Bangalee. They were killed before I had taken the charge as Martial Law Administrator of Chittagong. Before me, Colnel Fatemi was in charge. He could not control the situation. The army also killed many Bangalees. That’s why General Yakub Khan removed Fatemi and appointed me in his place. Yakub gave me the charge on the telephone. There was no political killing after I had taken charge as Martial Law Administrator.” As I was speaking, Police Inspector Shafi suddenly sprung up on his feet and slapped me so hard that I fell down from the stool. I was totally shocked. I got up and said in mixed Urdu-English, “You are of my son’s age. Look at my rank and age. For God’s sake, don’t beat me.” Then Durrani took me to the cell and said, “I’m sorry. Don’t mind.” I was crying like a baby. Durrani said, “Don’t worry. They will not do it again in future.” After being put in the cell. I started to read out Sura Yasin, an important verse from The holy Koran, with firm belief that whoever recites the holy scriptures will never be humiliated. While, reciting I banged my head against the wall again and again. I could not believe what was happening as I never imagined that a police inspector sould slap a senior army officer like me. Even army personnel did not show such impertinence. As I was lost in thought, Durrani came again. He took me upstairs where I found five or six fat men inside the room either sitting or standing. There was no chair or table in the room. Durrani told Shafi, ‘Don’t beat him even if he does not admit anything.” Shafi roared in anger saying, “What are you saying? This fellow will not say anything unless he is beaten, killed thousands of Pakistani brothers in Chittagong. He sided with Sheikh and betrayed Pakistan. He looks small, but he is a culprit. I will not get peace until I beat him.” Shafi and Kazi started beating, slapping and kicking me. When they stopped, the people who had been standing outside, came into the room. They were carrying bags, ropes, waterbags and hockeysticks. Shafi and Kazi proceeded to tie me up from the back. All of a sudden Durrani said, “Majumdar is a Hindu name. Examine whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim.” Immediately the sepoys stripped me naked and I started crying. I told Durrani, “Inspector, you said that no torture will be unleashed on me. What can be more inhumane than this? I am an elderly man. Look at my face and my rank. You got me naked in front of the sepoyes” Humiliated and pain stricken, I continued to cry. Durrani ordered the sepoys to return my trousers and thereafter I was sent back to the cell. The pain increased slowly and my body became blue. It was increasingly unbearable as the night approached. The nights were more terrible as high-powered lights were kept just over my head and the cell used to become hot like a oven. I kep crying throughout the night. Brutal physical torture coupled with humiliation of being stripped anguished me bitterly. The following day they came at about 10 or11am. Durrani took me away. I saw the same people were standing outside the interrogation room. The room looked like the same as it was on the previous day. Shafi and Durrani said, “Yesterday you told us that you knew nothing and that you had no meeting with Commander, Eastern Command of India. But Colonel Yasin has told us everything about you.” I said, “Okay, bring Yasin to me, and I will ask him some questions. You will then understand that he has made false statements. I had no meeting with Indian Commander of Eastern Command.” Both of them went out to bring Yasin and returned after sometime saying, “Yasin is reading the Koran and holding the Koran he said everything he said was true, but he does not want to meet you.” “Then bring the Koran and I will affairm that Yasin was a liar do the same.” I said, but they simply
repeated, “Yasin touched the Koran. He cannot lie.” Suddenly Shafi jumped on me and the others tied me with a chair. I was kept in between the two other chairs as if a goat was being tied for slaughter. In the meantime, they had removed my shirt and trouser. Durrani brought a wire and connected it with a rod. In my hanging position with a hocky stick between the chairs, Durrani himself pushed the rod into my rectum and started giving electric shocks. I shouted as the pain of electric shock was unbearable and almost fainted. Durrani said, “You will not be freed until you say what we want you to say.” I said, “Please kill me. Don’t give me so much brutal pain.” He then said in Urdu, “Marne se pehele to bohut kuchh baki hai (there are lot of things to be done before dying).” I was then again sent back to the cell. These inhuman torture continued for the following few days. One day at noon, I was put in a gunny bag and kept outdoors in the scorching sun of August. The interrogators continued their effort to get a confessional statement, and I continued to deny everything. One day, I was taken to another room adjacent to the room where I was tortured earlier. The room was full of electrical equipment. The interrogators said, “Tell us what conspiracy you hatched along with your prophet Mujib and patron Osmany.” As they did not get the required reply, they tied me upside down, hung me the ceiling and beat mercilessly with hot waterbag and a jute rope. They used the technique to ensure that no beating of amrks were visible on my body. After failing to extract anything from me, they brought me down on the floor. I cried, “Please give me a glass of water.” Shafi opened his zipper and urinated on my face and said, “Ye lo pani (here is water).” I cannot describe in words what a terrible physical and mental torture it was. The painful memories of those brutalities still hurt me often. I was left alone lying on the urine. Ten minutes later the interrogators came back. Shafi made me stand up, and said, “Tum insan ho ya hiwan ? Tumhara upar itna zulum ho raha hai, fir bhi tum sach nehi bolta? Job tak tum sach nehi bolega, hum tumko nehi chhorega (are you a human being? Even after so much torture, you are still not telling the truth will not leave you until you tell the truth).” They tied me on a cot holding my legs upward and Durrani again started giving electric shock on my wounded rectum and I groaned in pain. A soldier squeezed my scrotums with his hands and I screamed. The prolonged squaeezing pain was so unbearable that I had to give in. I said, “Please stop the torture. I will say whatever you want to say.” Durrani said, ‘Aab dimag thik hua, aab hush aaya. Thik hai, utho (well, now you have to come your senses. Ok, get up).’ The soldiers brought a chair, a tool and a jug of water, with which I quenched my thirst. Durrani told me, ‘Write all the charges brought against you. Otherwise, look at the consequence.’ He pointed to the rooftop from where a rope, electric wire and other equipment of torture were hanging. ‘All these things will be applied on you. If you want your good, you will do as told.’ I said, ‘Better you write. I will sign.’ He thought I will not be able to write or if I wrote the charges may be not be rightly worded weakening the case and agreed. Then they started to behave properly with me and for the first time I was given rice and moat. But my body was sore with pain, specially the rectum and scrotum. I told Durrani, ‘Brother, my condition is very serious. My rectum and scrotums are seriously injured. I cannot urinate.’ He said, “We will take you to a doctor in the evening.” There was a hospital in the fort and the doctor found that the tip of my penis had been plugged, the
scrotums were swollen and the rectum was infected. The doctor said, “His condition is very serious. He has to be given treatment here.” Durrani disagreed, saying, “It is not possible to keep him here.” Then the doctor told Durrani something, which I could not hear. That convinced Durrani to allow me to stay in the hospital. I was given pain killers at night. After two to three days I was discharged from the hospital. Back at the interrogation centre, Durrani said, “You know good English. I will dictate in Urdu and you will write in English.” After that was done he said, “You will have to make a statement in front of the magistrate that you wrote it yourself and then sign. I will take you to a magistrate tomorrow.” The following day Durrani and Shafi took me to a magistrate’s chamber in Lahore by car. While entering the chamber, I saw the name of the magistrate in the name plate as “Bajwa”. He offered me some soft drink. He asked me some questions, such as, where I came from and where was I educated. I told him that I was a graduate of Calcutta University. Then I told him, “Brother, you are not policeman, you are a magistrate, an educated person. My brother was also a magistrate. I know magistrates are men of principles. When the police take someone to a magistrate after beating him up, the detainee expects that he would get justice and makes a true statement. I also want to make a true statement. The statement produced before you is not my confessional statement. I was ruthlessly tortured by the police who forced me to sign it. One army colonel Yasin had made a false statement and they took my signature on it. I am denying in front of you that I made that statement.” The magistrate replied, “Mr. Brigadier, we are under martial law and if you decline the confessional statement that you have given to the police, you would be tortured more harsh than before. You could even be tortured to death. It is better to confess everything.” So I understood that the magistrate belonged to the same class as the police. I said, “If you say so, I will sign”. Thereafter, I was taken back to the police headquarters. After a few days Brigadier Ejaz was came there and he told me that I would have to face a court martial, on account of my confessional statement. Earlier, Durrani, had threatened me not to do or say anything that would give a hint to Brigadier Ejaj that I was tortured. I was kept in solitary confirment in at least 10 condemned cells and jails making my meals, prayer and sleep irregular. I was worried that I might be killed or handed a court martial verdict. I became ill in Malakand Fort. I suffered from fever, rectum infection and my face was swollen, when I was finally taken to the Mardan Combined Military Hospital for treatment. I came to know from the hospital bed that on December 16 Bangladesh had gained its independence. On January 15,1972, the Pakistanis freed me and I went to a relative’s house in Rawalpindi, where I learned that my family members had left for Dhaka. I was summoned by the Pakistan Commission of the1971 War headed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan in March, 1972. Appearing before the court on March 10, I gave oral and written statements and informed the Commission that the police took the so-called deposition after torturing me. It, however, resulted in my re-arrest, and I was sent to Wana Fort in remote south Owaziristan where I was kept in solitary confinement until November 5, 1973. I returned to Bangladesh on the following day as per the extradition agreement between the two countries.
Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
One day they forced me to lie on a slab of ice Lt. Col. Masoudul Hossain Khan (Retd.) Lt. Col. Masoudul Hossain Khan (Retd.) was in command of Second Battalion of the East Bengal Regiment in 1971. His unit later under the leadership of its Second-in-Command, Major Shafiullah played an important role during the Liberation War. Col. Masoud was arrested on March 23, 1971, on the charge of organising a revolt in the Army on March 19, 1971. He was taken to Pakistan in the first week of April where he suffered imprisonment and was tortured brutally by the Pakistani Army and Special Branch of Police . His statement was recorded on October 9, 1999.
In March, 1971, I was the officer-in-command of a battalion of the East Bengal Regiment stationed at Joydevpur. In early March, there was a cricket match between Australia and Pakistan at the Dhaka Stadium. I went to see the game. Before beginning of the match, I came to know that the scheduled session of National Assembly had been postponed. Earlier in 1970, Awami League achieved absolute majority in the general election, but the Pakistani rulers conspired not to hand over state power to the Awami League, triggering postponement of the National Assembly session. As the news spread, the crowd gathered at the stadium burst into the protest. They came out to the streets that forced the authorities to abandon the match. Then a non-cooperation movement against the Military Junta began at the call of Sheikh Mujib. Due to strike, banks were closed, and it was not possible for me to pay salaries to the soldiers of my battalion on the first day of March. I could not even bring food rations from Dhaka to Joydevpur. We were facing some other problems also connected with administration of my unit. On March 19, my boss Brigadier Jahanjeb Arbab came to Joydevpur along with 8 to10 vehicles carrying troops. He said that the purpose of his visit was to see the situation and our problems. But we were suspicious of his real purpose, due to the huge contingent accompanying him. He must have had some other intention and that was to disarm us. Since last few days, I had been getting such hints. At that time I had only 250 soldiers available at Joydevpur out of the total of 900 personnel of my unit. There were five companies in the unit. Only Headquarter and One Rifle Company was staying at Joydevpur. Out of the rest three, two were sent to Tangail and Jamalpur on the excuse of resisting so-called Indian aggression in the boarder and one was deployed to protect Gazipur Ordnance Factory. The main purpose behind these deployments on orders from higher authority was to remove Bengalee soldiers from the headquarters at Joydevpur. It was clear to everybody, as it was to me, that the Brigade Commander had come to disarm us. The local people put barricades on the road from Tongi to Joydevpur Rajbari, where we were staying, so that the Pakistani troops could not reach there easily. However, we remained alert at that time, since we were alert always to resist so-called Indian aggression from border. The army contingent led by Brigadier Arbab took extra time to reach Joydevpur after removing the barricades on the roads. After lunch, when they were planning to return, the local people once again blocked the road at the Joydevpur Railway Crossing, by placing rail wagons. Brigadier Arbab ordered me to remove the barricades. He said, “Why there is so much movement here? Remove the barricades so that I can return to Dhaka. If required, shoot the people.” I said, “I’ll see what I can do. But it is absurd for us to shoot our own countrymen.”
After a while, Brigadier Arbab realised that I was not interested in firing on the people excepting one or two casual shots. Bypassing me, Arbab ordered Major Moyeen, a Bengalee company commander of mine, to take the responsibility. I told Moyeen to fire in such a way that the bullets did not hit the people. Seeing all these, Brigadier Arbab finally ordered his own troops to shoot on the people. They were taking positions behind and on flanks of our troops and started firing from machine guns. As they were firing from behind us, we became almost captive. Some people, including one Monu Mia, were killed in the firing. The local people also used shot guns and light weapons, but finally their efforts went in vain against strong Pakistan troops. We tackled the situation by shifting our position and making way for the troops of Arbab. At that time, we did not think about using armed measures against Arbab, because the negotiation for a political settlement between Sheikh Mujib and Yahiya Khan was still going on. Before leaving Joydevpur, Brigadier Arbab threatened me saying, “Command your troops properly. This is not the right way.” He indicated that I would have to face a tougher situation in future. On March 23, I was called to join a conference in Dhaka. It was nothing but a ploy. I came to Dhaka in the morning, since my family members lived there. When I went to Brigade Headquarters, Brigadier Arbab was not there. He had gone to the city where a tense situation was prevailing. In fact, he was engaged in killing Bengalees in the city. The Brigade Major told me to wait with my family members until the return of Brigadier Arbab. After about two hours, I received a phone call. The Brigade Major told me on phone that the Commander had returned and was coming on the line. Brigadier Arbab said, “Colonel Masoud, you are not returning to Joydevpur. You are no more the Commanding Officer of the Second Bengal. Somebody else will come and take over. You stay at home and don’t move from the house. You must report to Station Headquarters everyday from now onwards.” In fact, I was placed under house-arrest on March 23. When I went to my house, I saw plain-clothe ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) personnel moving around the area. There was a rest house beside my house. Earlier I saw the ISI personnel at the rest house. Their duty was to intercept my friends and relations while entering my house. At that time it was quite impossible for me to go outside my residence. In the meantime, my driver came with the car to take me back to the regiment office. But the ISI men sent him back. I was replaced a few days later by Colonel Raqib, a Bengalee officer who was the commander of 32 Punjab Regiment. But the Bengalee soldiers could not accept him spontaneously. Major Shafiullah was actually commanding the unit as Col. Raqib was not accepted by the troops, who came from a Punjab Regiment. On the night of March 25, trouble erupted in Dhaka. I heard sound of moving tanks. I never heard so much heavy firing in my life. I called Major Shafiullah over telephone and informed him about the situation at Dhaka. I also wanted to know from him the situation at Joydevpur. He replied, “No, nothing wrong happened here.” I told him, “You should be prepared. Joydevpur is a likely target, and you may face an attack any time.” Earlier, I had told the entire battalion that we might have to leave Joydevpur and take shelter at Madhupur jungle or any other place. I said this in early March. At that time, Shafiullah had said, “Sir why are you saying this so loudly?” I said, “I’m telling this to you only. Every body here is Bengalee, so no problem.” Some Bengalee officers who were present there laughed at it for this comment. Then I said, “I may not be with you in the days ahead. Nobody knows what will happen to us tomorrow. So I’m telling you what I’m thinking today.” I told Shafiullah by phone, “You better try and leave that place.” Shafiullah was also thinking on those lines. Two or three days after talking to me, he left along with all his troops, arms and ammunitions. He also took away the reserve and additional military equipment which were at Joydevpur and was surplus for a battalion. When the Pakistan army came to know that Shafiullah had fled, they suspected me. They took me to Station Headquarters on March 28 in the evening. They said that they would not allow me to stay at my house. At first I thought that they would tell me to stay in the officers mess, but later I was confined in a quarter guard (military prison) of a Punjab Regiment Battalion (32 Punjab). Every regimental unit has a quarter guard for soldiers. I was a colonel at that time, and so the quarter guard was not a suitable place for me. However, they forced me to live there and the army officials started torturing me. They used to treat me as an ordinary soldier. At first they started torturing me mentally, and not physically.
Sometimes breakfast was given at 10 a.m. instead of 7, and lunch at 3.30 p.m. instead of 12.30. Sometimes they did not serve me any meal at all. Sometimes I was given cold tea and dry bread. About 8 or 10 days later, in the first week of April, on an early hour (about 1am) a Subedar came and said, “Sir, get ready. You’ll have to go with me.” “Where?” I said, but he did not reply. Frightened, I asked, “Where you’re taking me? And why?” I also wanted to know whether I should wear my uniform. The Subedar said, “No need, you better come in plain clothes.” I had a bag with me. I took some clothes in the bag. Then I was told to get into a jeep. The soldiers handcuffed me and tied my hands from behind with a long chain, like a prisoner. The jeep was advancing towards Air Headquarters at Tejgaon. I had heard that the Pakistan Army used to take freedom fighters there and kill them. I thought that possibly I was being taken for the same purpose, and I was very frightened. My physical condition also deteriorated fast. My situation then can only be imagined by those who have faced death or were about to face. After reaching Air Headquarters, the jeep crossed the air strip and stopped near the Hanger. A Boeing aircraft was waiting there. I was dragged and ordered to board the plane. At that time I was still tied with a chain. I again asked, “Subedar Saheb, where you’re taking me?” “Aap jaar ahe hain West Pakistan (You’re going to West Pakistan),” he replied. “But why you’re taking me in such a manner? Why you have tied me with chain? Am I an animal?” I asked. “I am carrying out the order of my officer. I must do it.” He forced me to sit in the plane in the same condition. I shouted, “How can I sit like this?” At this time, a pilot of Pakistan Airlines, possibly a foreigner, came and said, “He cannot sit like this. This a flight of 10 to 12 hours.” At that time, Pakistani aircraft were not allowed to fly over Indian skies, and so the West Pakistanbound flights were operated via Colombo. On the request of the Captain, I was allowed to sit with my hands placed in front of the body, but they did not unchain me. It seemed to me that I was the only Bengalee officer who was being taken to West Pakistan, because all other passengers were Pakistanis. They were going to Pakistan due to the war and most of them were family members, women, elders and children. During the journey of 10 to 12 hours, I had to go to the toilet with the chain tied to my handcuffed wrist. The subedar used to hold the chain from outside. The plane reached Karachi Airport and I had to get down in the same condition. Subsequently, I was taken to a quarter guard of Malir Cantonment. A captain received me. I wore sunglasses, and the captain said, “Colonel, You can’t wear a sunglass. You have been killing our Pakistanis.” He took my sunglasses, money and all other belongings. After 3 or 4 days, three officers came one early hours of morning and said, “Colonel, You are going with us. We’re taking you somewhere else.” They took me in a jeep without handcuffs this time. According to rule, an army officer should be escorted by an officer of the same rank. For the first time I saw an officer of the rank of colonel escorting me. There were 2 or 3 jeeps with us. On the way, we stopped and Brigadier Majumdar and his family members were also picked up on the way. We were taken to Lahore by plane. My family members still had to live in Dhaka Cantonment. From Lahore, we were taken to a place named Pannu, near Kharian Cantonment. We were confined in a dilapidated rest house of the Roads and Highways Department. It was protected by two-fold barbed wire. The roof was also protected by barbed wire. Soldiers were on guard on the roof with machine guns. Armed guards were also posted at all corners of the rest house. It was like a camp for prisoners of war. Brigadier Majumdar and his family members were confined on one side of the building. However, I was not given even a suitable room. I was confined in a tiny chamber under the staircase where there was no electricity or furniture. I got a blanket and a cot. It was the month of April. Soon I felt exhausted with the hot weather in that desert-like place. The mosquito menace added to my miseries. After repeated requests, an officer gave me a mosquito net and a small fan. The food was fair, but it was not usually served on time, though served from an officers mess.
One day I asked an officer whether I could contact my family members in Dhaka. He allowed me to do so. So, I wrote a number of letters to Dhaka, but all my letters were censored. My family members also wrote to me, but I used to get the letters after a long period, sometimes even after a month. All the letters from Dhaka were read by the army authorities. My address was : C/O M.I. Directorate, General Headquarters, Rawalpindi, West Pakistan. The name of the place where I was confined (Pannu or Kharian) was not in the address. I had to write all the letters in English so that they could read those or censor. After about one month, I used to be taken to Jhelum from Pannu. It was on the way to Rawalpindi. I was regularly interrogated there. Sometimes the interrogation continued for 3 to 4 days in a row. They used to interrogate me by setting up some high-powered bulbs towards my face. My interrogators used to ask various types of questions like “How do you know Sheikh Shaheb?” “What sort of discussions did you have with him?” “What you have done at Joydevpur?” “How have you maintained contact with the Awami League?” I used to reply some of their questions and avoid some others. My old colleague Colonel Quaiyum Anjum from the MI Directorate was among those officers who interrogated me at Jhelum. He was my old friend. He allured me a lot. He used to tell me, “Masoud, you were my cadet-mate. I know you well. Please tell the truth. I’ll free you. You’ll become a full colonel.” He further said, “Colonel Yasin gave us a statement about you. According to it, you had a meeting with other high ranking Bengalee officers at Joydevpur. You were planning to make East Pakistan an independent country.” I replied, “Let him face me.” As they could not succeed in geting any information from me, they sent me to the Special Interrogation Centre of the Punjab Police Special Branch at Lahore Fort in the month of August. I was told earlier that Colonel Yasin was there and I would have to meet him and confront his statement. I was confined in a cell near the special interrogation centre of the fort. I was taken to the centre everyday for interrogation. During interrogation, I saw Mr. Durrani, a Punjabi, and Mr. Mohammad Anwar, both Special Branch police officers. They referred of Colonel Yasin while interrogating me. I denied everything. On the very first day, Mr. Durrani asked, “What sort of link have you maintained with the Awami League? We know that you had direct contact with Sheikh Shaheb and Awami League. You were involved in politics and planned to make East Pakistan an independent state.” I denied the allegation outright, “Question does not arise, I’m an army officer. I never got involved in politics breaking discipline of the armed forces. I have never maintained contact with any political leader.” When he realised that I would not say anything, he started beating me up. Once he slapped me and pushed a burning cigar onto my leg. I cried out in pain. Durrani and Anwar used to initiate the torture sessions. Then others carried it on thereafter. Both the officers used to watch this standing by the side. Once they posed me a new question. “You arranged a picnic at Joydevpur Rajbari in early January and invited some serving and retired army officers to join. Many senior Bengalee retired officers like General M.I. Majid, Colonel Osmani and their families joined the picnic. When the ladies were busy cooking, you had a meeting to hatch a conspiracy to divide the country.” I denied it also. Then they said, “Colonel Yasin and Brigadier Majumdar said this. Why you are denying?” I said, “Take me to them for cross-examining their statement.” They thought that I was lying. So they began another session of furious torture. Beside slapping, fisting and boxing, they pierced needles into my nail, pushed burning cigar onto my legs— from knee to toes. At one stage, I fell unconscious. When I recovered slightly, they gave me electric shock on my nipples, and other sensitive parts of the body making me unconscious again. After a few days, one Brigadier Kader came and said, “You had a good career record in the last few years. However, your career has been finished by the negative confidential report submitted by Brigadier Arbab. General Khadim Hossain Raja, the G.O.C. and General Yakub of Eastern Command however gave good reports about you. Why you are not telling the truth? If you do so, I’ll arrange your freedom. You’ll be promoted to the rank of Brigadier. Why you are spoiling this great opportunity?” This Brigadier was a few months senior to me. I was not convinced by his temptation. The interrogators again they started torturing me. Durrani beat up me with an iron rod wrapped with rubber. They wrapped rubber so that there was no stain on my skin. I fell unconscious many times during the torture. Sometimes they used to apply unusual method of torture. One day they forced me to lie on a slab of ice. In severe pain, I shouted loudly. At that time they held my hands and legs. I fell unconscious again and remained so for hours.
Sometimes they used to hang me upside down with rope tied with my legs and beat me up mercilessly. My nose often started bleeding, but the torture continued. Sometimes I found myself lying in a pool of blood. One day they brought a red hot iron rod. One of them said, “Tell everything, otherwise it will be pushed into your rectum.” They again started the interrogation, but I denied all the allegations. Then they applied the hot iron rod on my back. I fell unconscious for several hours. When my sense came back, I found myself on a bed in the Police Hospital. One day I felt severe pain in my gums. I asked to be taken to a dentist, but instead of doing this, one of the soldiers boxed me with his full strength and my tooth broke. My mouth started bleeding. I have no language to express the barbaric torture unleashed on me by the Pakistani army and police. After about two months, a captain came with a signal message from Dhaka that had reached Pakistan a month ago. They had already read it. I came to know that my 8-year-old son was suffering from pneumonia. But the army authorities did not allow my family to get him admitted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH). Due to movement restriction, my family could not take him outside the cantonment. So the CMH was the only hospital where he could be treated. However, due to lack of treatment one of his lungs was damaged. When the other was also infected, the authorities finally gave permission to admit him at the CMH. According to rules, when an army person or his family member falls seriously sick, the head of the family is informed and allowed to stay beside the patient. In my son’s case, they only informed me that he was on the D.I. list, but did not allow me to go and see him. Some officers said, “Your son is very sick. If you want to see him, you can tell us.” I said, “Yes, I want to go.” The officers said, “You’ll be sent back to East Pakistan soon, if you confess your guilt.” A few days before this, my family members sent some photographs of my sons and daughters. They opened the envelop and saw all the photographs. Then they threatened me saying, “Your children are good looking. They are also good students, but they are now in our palm. If you do not confess everything, we’ll crush them to instant death.” They threatened me again and again, but could not convince me. One day they showed the statements given by Colonel Yasin and Brigadier Majumdar and said, “They are being freed as they told the truth. You also do the same and get freed.” In this way, the interrogators tried to allure me, tried to confuse me. At that time I was so mentally disturbed that I could not think about promotion. I only thought how could I see my sick child. At last I agreed to their proposal. I said, “O.K. I’ll do whatever you tell.” The Pakistani interrogators brought a typed statement which I signed. In late September, I was shifted from Lahore to Layalpur Jail. The guards used to tell me that Sheikh Mujib and Dr Kamal Hossain were there. Later I came to know that there was a Special Tribunal Court inside the jail. I also came to know that I would be tried in the tribunal. If I agreed to be a state witness, I would be released. I would have to tell before the court all that contained in my signed statement. The chairman of the tribunal was one Brigadier A Rahim. A civil judge and three or four other military officers were the members of the tribunal. Brigadier Rahim handed me an album during the trial. Showing a photograph, he asked, “Do you know these people?” I said, “No.” A few minutes later, he further asked, “Tell us which one is Motia Chowdhury.” I said, “I can’t, because I never saw her.” Thus all the information mentioned in the statement proved to be irrelevant. Then Brigadier Rahim showed me some other photographs and asked, “Tell us which one is the residence of Sheikh Mujib.” I said, “I can’t recognise.” Sheikh Mujib was present in the tribunal and was smiling hearing me. I was present before the court for five minutes only. Then the tribunal allowed me to go. Two days later, I was brought to a rest house in Rawalpindi. At one noon, one of my old colleagues, Major Sarwar said, “Sir, you’re returning home by the evening flight. Your son is still very sick.” On October 8, I reached Dhaka from Pindi via Colombo. Sarwar also came with me. He handed me over to another officer. I was taken directly to my house so that I could meet my family members. Then I was taken to CMH where my son was admitted. My son started crying on seeing me. After about half an hour, the major escorting me said, “You’ll have to go with me.” I said, “Where? To my house?” He said, “No Your house is not safe, because the Muktibahinis will kill you. You’ll be taken to the officers mess.”
Before being taken to the mess, I was allowed to meet my family members again. I went to my house, but could not enter it, because a guard was sitting in the drawing room. The guest room was also occupied. Mrs Khaleda Zia and her two sons were there. The same soldiers were guarding two families confined in my residence. I was taken to a guest room of the Ordnance Corps Officer Mess. Taking permission of the authorities, I brought my youngest son aged about 3 years to stay with me. I used to go to see my other son at the hospital everyday under strict escort and security. A few days later, I saw Mrs Khaleda Zia and her sons sitting near the lawn, since they were also shifted from my family residence to the Ordnance Officers Mess premises. I was allowed to keep my transistor with me. I told my wife to put my small pistol inside the transistor. At that time we used to listen to Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra which mainly broadcast the victory stories of the Muktibahini. Hearing these news, I also started dreaming of becoming free. I wanted to keep the pistol with me for protection of my son and also to resist any sudden attack. The guards never noticed that I had a pistol in the transistor. My son did not recover even in late November. He was being given oxygen everyday. In such a condition, the hospital authorities discharged him abruptly, because the number of injured people and dead bodies from war front increased at that time. As the hospital authority failed to accommodate all, they decided to remove the Bengalee patients. The hospital authorities told us, “Try to get your son admitted somewhere else.” I said, “There is no other hospital inside the cantonment area. So I’ll have to go outside.” They said, “No, you have no permission to go outside. If possible, bring doctors from outside.” My son was released from the CMH in a serious condition. I could not manage further treatment for him. Finally, both his lungs were damaged and he died lying on my lap, a few weeks later. On December 14, the allied forces conducted an airstrike on the cantonment targeting the headquarters of General Niazi. Several bombs fell near our officers mess creating a large ditch. But we remained unhurt miraculously. Then I sent my youngest son back home and I stayed alone. It was December 16. I heard that the Pakistani forces would surrender that day. Without delaying a single moment, I rang a telephone number, that was of the ISI, and said, “You’re surrendering today. Now permit me to return home. I want to meet my family.” The ISI men said, “We can’t. Because we can’t contact Rawalpindi and we have no orders for you.” I said, “You’ll never be able to contact Rawalpindi. How do you expect that? Bangladesh has already been established. The surrendering ceremony is going to be held this afternoon.” The ISI official said, “We have nothing to do. We’re surrendering and going to become prisoners. You’ll also be with us, as our guest!” I said, “You are going to be the guests of Muktibahini.” Refusing my request to release me, they took me to the Combined Workshop, where I saw about 150 Pakistani officers surrounded by Indian guards. Suddenly a Pakistani officer named Major Iftekhar came and said, “Sir, you have still been kept confined unnecessarily.” Then I told him to make arrangements for my release. Iftekhar said, “If you give me your jacket, then I will try.” I wore a warm jacket as it was December, but I agreed to give it to him. Iftekhar promised me that he would try to free me in the evening. For this reason, he went round the area to find out ways. In the evening, he took me near the position of Indian army. A Pakistani guard asked, “Where are you going?” Iftekhar somehow managed him and said, “My duty has finished. Now you have to face the Indian guards. You’ll have to manage it. If they see me with you, they will not allow you to go free.” A Sikh soldier intercepted me and started interrogation. I told him that I was a Bengalee officer. The Pakistanis confined me for long nine months and tortured me. I also showed him the torture marks on my body. The Indian soldier observed carefully and allowed me to go. Thus I was freed on the evening of 16th December. I got rid of the mental and physical torture. However, what was more painful for me was that I could not regain my position after independence. Even after 28 years, whenever I look at my feet or touch my back, I go back to that horrible chapter of my life. I recall those frightful moments shivering in fear again and again. Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
They pressed lighted cigarettes on my throat Masud Sadique Chullu During The Liberation War of Bangladesh, Masud Sadique Chulla was a valiant Freedom Fighter of the Guerrila Squad, Crack Platoon, under Sector 2. On August 30.1971, he was arrested in Dhaka where he was to carry out an operation. He was taken to the Nakhalpara MP Hostel Concentration Camp, Dhaka, and was tortured brutally. Fortunately enough, he was spared death as his elder brother Mr. ASHK Sadique (present Education Minister) was a key bureaucrat in the then Pakistan Government. Masud Sadique Chullu’s testimony was recorded on September 20,1999.
During the liberation war I was a member of a, 17-18 member Guerrila group, known as ‘Crack Platoon.’ We spent nights at 1 Tenament House, Elephant Road (Near Ramna Thana) the official residence of my elder brother Mr. S.S.H.K. Sadique, who was a top civil servant of the then Pakistan Government. There we stored enough arms and ammunitions to resist the Pakistan army for three to four hours. On the midnight of August, 29,1971, the Pakistan army attacked our house. Lead by Major Quaiyum, followed by a small group, knocked at the door. When my, brother opened the door the Major asked, “Sir, how many people live in this house?” My brother replied, “My mother, wife and children.” The Major asked again, “Anybody else?” My younger brother Masud Sadique,” replied my brother, carefully avoiding my nickname. The Major, however, wanted to know my nickname, to which my brother said, “Chullu”. I was hearing all this from an adjoining room. My brother asked me to get up. I came in front of the army team. The Major said, “Sir, we want to take him to the police station for an hour. Don’t worry, he’ll be back in’ the morning. Such a situation was apprehended as we were making preparations for an operation at Azimpur that very morning. For this I had to go to my house at Dhanmondi Road No.28. Which was used as a camp of the Guerilla group and arms and ammunitions were hidden underground. While entering my house, a guard of an adjacent house informed me that some members of our group were caught by the army and were brought to that house. Although I could not know who were arrested, I suspected possible danger. For security reason, members of our group were careful not to live in the same place, but to divide and live in different places in separate small groups. We never took permanent shelter. When I told my brother about the arrests they advised me to go into hiding and thus I decided to leave the house next morning with all the arms and ammunition. I spent a restless night. However, before I could leave, the army reached my brother’s house to arrest me. My brother asked the guard to open the gate. The Major said sarcastically, “No need. he (indicating me) is used to jumping over walls.” I could understand what the officer actually meant. I started to get mentally prepared to face a tough situation. When I got into the army jeep they blind folded me and tied my hands. I could not figure out the destination. On the way, the jeep stopped several times. They whispered to each other. I was still in the jeep, when they surrounded the house of Major Dalim to arrest his brother Swapan, who was able to escape by jumping from the roof.
After about half an hour, the vehicle finally reached its destination (I came to know later that it was the Nakhalpara M.P. Hostel). They took me to a small dark room measuring about 10 feet by 10 feet. When I entered the room, Colonel Hejaji of field intelligence unit asked rudely “What is your name?” I replied. Then he shouted in urdu “Musalmanka bachcha, musalmanko marta hai? (Being a Moslem you are killing Moslems) You have killed my brother.” He kicked me on the face. My teeth broke with the spikes of his boot. Then he asked in English, “How many Pakistanis have you killed so far? How many operations have you conducted?” I replied “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” The Colonel said “You will understand in a few moments” and ordered Havildar Shafin Gul to hang me up. He hung me from the hook of the ceiling fan. Then the Colonel himself started beating me up. After his turn, Havildar Shafin Gul and three others took charge. Shafin Gul was the most notorious person among the Pakistan army contingent camped at the M.P. Hostel. He continued interrogation while torturing me. He asked, “Where are the arms?” Groaning in pain, I replied, “I don’t know.” As I repeatedly denied their allegations, they increased the level of torture and at one stage I fell unconscious. I can not recall how long I remained unconscious, but I do remember somebody bringing me down and projecting a search light towards my face. Suddenly I heard the sound of a window opening. Hejaji came and asked a man beyond the fence “Is this Chullu?” I heard the reply, “Ha, yeto Chullu hai” (Yes, this is Chullu). Hejaji said, “Well, you’re the commander of Dhaka city? You couldn’t recognise them, but they recognised you. Now tell me where are the arms?” As I refused to disclose, Hejaji shouted in anger and ordered his men to torture me again. They hung me up again and beat me up mercilessly. I fell unconscious again. On the afternoon of March 30, I regained conciousness. I realised that my white shirt and black pants had become blood stained. I tried to open my eyes, but could not. I could not make out whether I was alive or dead. I could not move my legs as they felt heavy like stones. I failed to raise my head too. I was thirsty, but I was not given a single drop of water. I felt pain in my hands also. The army men thought me to be dead. One of them told somebody to bring down my ‘dead body’. When they brought me down, I heard the azan of magreb prayer. I saw all the soldiers offering their prayers on the balcony. A few moments later, they returned and realised that I was alive. They again hung me with clamps attached to the wall. I heard them asking the same question, “Tell us, where are the arms?” “I don’t know”, I replied. Shafin Gul punched my belly with full strength and started beating me with a cane. Then four soldiers began to torture me pressing my body to the wall with bamboo sticks and iron rods. Before falling unconsious, I said, “Stop torturing me ... I’ll tell you everything.” However, when they released me, I refused to tell them anything. They started torturing me in the same manner and I fell unconscious again. Before falling unconscious, I gave them the addresses of some houses where we used to keep arms previously. They conducted raids on those houses, but failed to recover any arms. I never told them the real address, because we kept arms at my brother’s official house. If I told them that address, they would have killed my brother and other members of my family. The next morning, I locked myself inside a bathroom. I was feeling severe pain in my leg. My skin had became mutilated due to torture. They once again brought me to Colonel Hejaji for interrogation. Then the same story of interrogation and torture continued. I did not disclose anything. They handed over me to Shafin Gul and Capt. Sajjad again. He ordered to torture me more severely. Shafin Gul took me to a 10 feet by 10 feet room. Several soldiers sat on my body and pressed me down so strongly, that I felt as if all the internal parts of my body were coming out. After some time, they clamped me to the window of the torture cell. All arrangement of torture were ready in the cell. There were many clamps on the windows, walls and ceiling of the room. Light could barely enter into the cell as there was a high wall outside the window. During the torture session, they used to press burning cigarettes on my throat and I screamed in pain. From my throat to knees, they carried out the same method of torture. Once they pressed a burning cigarette into my rectum. I lost all sense due to the acute pain. I can not recall how long I remained unconscious. I could
not make out whether I was alive or dead or on the borderline between life and death. When I regained my senses, I found myself in a dying condition. They tried to collect information from me by inserting ice into my rectum. They applied new methods of torture everyday. After the first 5/6 days of torture, I could not open my eyes. But I could hear a little. Once I saw the father of a freedom fighter, Ashfaq. The army brought that innocent man to the torture cell. He was astonished to see me there and said, “Don’t tell them anything ... if you tell, they’ll get the arms and our struggle will remain incomplete. You know, you’ll have to die one day”. I said, “Uncle, I didn’t tell them anything so far. But I can’t bear the torture anymore.” When I recall those days, I still feel pain. I don’t know how I withstood the torture. I did not tell them about our arms and ammunitions only for the safety of my Brother and others. It became a routine for them to torture me, hanging me with clamps against the wall of the torture cell. During interrogation, a Captain of the Pak Army asked me, “I’ll release you, if you tell me where you have kept the arms.” I realised, he was bluffing. So I did not tell him anything. They brought me down from hanging position. I lay in the small dark room alone. I could not see who were being tortured beside me. I only could hear them screaming. During the first few days, I couldn’t distinguish between day and night. They used to bring me to the torture cell at dawn and take me back to Ramna police station late in the night. As they failed to unleash any information from me by torture for a week, they brought freedom fighter Badiul Alam in front of me and said, “Bodi told us that you have some arms.” Due to the torture by the Pakistan army, Bodi’s face had became deformed and it was difficult to recognise him. I realised that he might have said something to save his life. The soldiers tied Badi and me with chains in the corridor. Then he described the story of his arrest and torture. Due to pain, he could not speak clearly. He told me that he would try to escape from the torture cell. ‘I must take revenge” and “I am ready to die for that.” I was surprised to hear of his plan considering his physical condition. He even advised me to flee, but at that time, I did not have sufficient strength to run. My knees were broken due to torture and I could not even stand or walk. I used to crawl on the floor. Badi did not forget his plan. One morning when the soldiers were taking him to another room, Badi attacked a soldier. He snatched the sepoy’s stengun and started running. I tried to get up but failed. The soldiers caught us and started to physically abuse us. Badi’s nose and mouth started bleeding. We fell unconscious. Two days later, the army took away Badi somewhere else. After that I never saw Badi. To punish me for trying to flee from the torture cell, they tied my hands and legs and kept me there alone. I could not make out whether it was day or night, whether I was dead or alive. The soldiers used to give me water in a container and bad smelling food. From September 10 or 11, they started threatening me that I would be hanged if I did not tell them about the arms and the guerrillas. I was awaiting death. My face by then, was disfigured due to their torture. Everyday, soldiers used to inform us about the fate of freedom fighters they had already killed. They wanted to threaten and make me frightened. They used to say, “Your trial will begin soon.” My elder brother A.S.H.K. Sadique, having obtained permission from higher authorities, came to the M.P. Hostel to meet me. He was shocked to see my condition. My face was distorted, my gums were protruded, and eyes were almost shut. I could not see clearly. My brother told me that the army also took him for interrogation. They interrogated him for several hours and wanted to know the whereabouts of arms and guerrillas. They told my brother, “You must know something. Some young men used to come and stay at your house every night.” As my brother was a CSP officer, his colleagues protested the army interrogation. They lodged a complaint to the central government that the army was compelling the CSP members to be aggrieved. In mid-September, I was shifted to Ramna police station from Sher-E-Bangla Nagar M.P. Hostel. A professor of the English department of Dhaka University, Ahsanul Haq and one Abdus Samad were with me. The army used to take us to the M.P. Hostel interrogation cell everyday. After about a month and a half, we were taken to Dhaka Central Jail. For the first few days, we were confined in the condemned cell usually kept for the convicts of capital punishment. A few days later, I was shifted to another cell in front of the condemned cell. Up to the time I was brought to the central jail, I had only
one set of dress which had became rough as my blood, urine and stool had dried on it. The whole body had marks caused by burning cigarettes. The jail authorities gave me the clothes used by other prisoners. Fortunately, they did not torture me in jail. During the stay in jail, everyday I heard the screaming of other prisoners. I heard the news of killing of freedom fighters from the army sepoys, prisoners and jail police. Jail Super Shamsur Rahman was sympathetic towards me. One day some soldiers came to my cell and forced me to sign on a piece of blank paper. By November 7/8, they finalised a charge-sheet against me. The allegations were : leading a guerrilla group, possessing and supplying unauthorised arms, carrying out bomb attacks, killing civil and military Pakistani citizens and so on. One morning, a soldier informed me that two prisoners would be hanged on that day in the ground in front of my cell. Both the victims were employees of PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) who were arrested in April for killing a Pak militia at Gulistan in Dhaka city. The entire arrangement for the hanging were made in front of me. I witnessed it from my cell through the grill of the ventilator. Both the convicts roared like lions when they were hanged. Everyday we used to get news about mock trials and execution of freedom fighters. My trial began on November 22 or 23. At that time I was waiting in my small dark cell for the verdict. The date of verdict shifted several times. During the trial, my brother came to meet me. It was the month of December. The Indian army joined the freedom fighters in the war against Pakistan army. At this stage, my trial was postponed. I heard that I would be shot after being taken to the cantonment. After December 3, every day, I heard news of victory of the freedom fighters and Indian army over the Pakistan occupation army. I started dreaming of survival once again. Other members of our guerrilla group ‘crack platoon’ did not know whether I was alive or dead. On the morning of December 17, Alam, Zia, Maya Fateh Ali and other members of ‘crack platoon’ came to take me out of jail. They were shooting blank shots. The Jail Super informed them that he can not release me without a government order. As the guerrillas became enraged, the Jail Super released me. I was overwhelmed to see thousands of people fervently awaiting in front of the jail to receive us. Amongst them were apprehensive eyes searching their relatives. Amidst firing, everybody was cheering to celebrate the glorious victory. Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
I had seen many deaths, heard about many incidents of women repression, but never thought that I’d also have to become the victim of such cruelty Ferdousi Priyobhashinee Ferdousi Priyobhashinee, a renowned sculptor of Bangladesh, was virtually imprisoned by the Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators at Khulna during the nine-month Liberation War. She was on the secretarial staff of Crescent Jute Mills. She witnessed the genocide, atrocities and destruction of the occupation forces. While giving her statement, she narrated how the Pakistani troops slaughtered innocent Bangalees by guillotine with jute cutting machines of the mill. She also became one of the victims of the barbaric Pakistanis. She gave her testimony in seven installments between September 25 and November 2, 1999.
I am Ferdousi Begum. In my early childhood, my grandfather Abdul Hakim who was the Speaker of the then East Pakistan Provincial Assembly, had given me an adorable name – Priyobhashinee (girl with a sweet vocabulary). I’m one of the quarter million Bengalee women who were raped by the Pakistani forces in 1971. I want to tell you about those horrible days and nights of 1971, as the trial of those who killed three million Bangalees and raped a quarter million women is yet to be held. The new generation is completely ignorant about the frightful time we spent during the war in 1971. I want to recall those terrible times also because we know very little about the Pakistani repression on women during our Liberation War. This is because of our conservative society and family environment. I hope that my statement will encourage other repressed women to come forward with their own experiences and raise their voice against the barbarism. You may have read about the repression on women in 1971 in the 8th volume of ‘Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddher Dalilpatra’ (Documents of Bangladesh Liberation War). Professor Neelima Ibrahim in her book has also described experiences of some rape victims without disclosing their names. Three such victims had come from Kushtia to make their statements when Jahanara Imam and others organised a mock trial of Ghulam Azam in a public court held on 26 March, 1992 in Dhaka. Later, I came to know how they were humiliated after returning to their homes. Neelima Ibrahim in her extraordinary book ‘Ami Beerangana Bolchhi’ has elaborated how Bangladesh society after independence has denied the role of repressed women in the war. Not only society, but many families had also refused to accept them. She wrote that many of the heroic women were not accepted by their fathers, husbands and other family members. Although they knew their fate, some of these women preferred to go to Pakistan along with the Pakistani soldiers after the war was over. The father of the newly-born state Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to rehabilitate the repressed women. He addressed them as ‘Beerangana’ (heroic women) showing due honour to them. Even he could not succeed in securing their rightful place in society with honour and dignity. I have experienced the persecution by the Pakistani forces and have also seen the same barbaric act among the local Bengalee collaborators. Those who handed me over to Pakistani troops were people of this land. We know about the courage of the freedom fighters during the war, but I did not see the same courage th
among them after the country was freed from the occupation forces. They did not stand beside the rape victims. When a woman of a family was being repressed during the war, male members of the family were either in hideouts or had already laid down their lives. Most of the women did not have any means to flee, they had none to protect them. It was one of the main reasons that they were the victims of repression. Before presenting my testimony of 1971, I will say something about myself. I come from an aristocratic family. We had the inane pride of aristocracy in our family, but our financial condition was endurable. I was the eldest among eight children of my parents. My father and mother were separated when I was only 15. This compelled me to engage myself in a job just after I completed high school education. I got married with a student of engineering in 1962. I had to bear the educational expenses of my husband, apart from my younger brothers and sisters. I completed graduation but could not continue my studies further. I was divorced in 1968 when I was mother of three children. Since then my children lived with their paternal grandmother at Khulna. I was working at Crescent Jute Mills and residing with my mother and younger brothers and sisters in the Khalishpur area of the town. In those depressing days, one of my senior colleagues, named Ahsanullah, had extended his hands of sympathy to my helpless family. I was never involved in politics. But my family had a radical cultural environment. My father was involved with the cultural troupe of renowned dancer Bulbul Chowdhury and had made many visits to Europe. My mother had learnt music from Ustad Munshi Raisuddin. My uncle, Nazim Mahmud, who passed away recently, was a leading cultural personality of the country. Mainly because of him, I was associated with a cultural organisation, Sandeepon. Music and dance were part of our family heritage. In the early 1971, Ahsanullah proposed to marry me when the country’s political situation was very uncertain. Ahsan’s family was very much against his decision to marry a divorcee with three children. In fact, considering the future of my children and bitter experience of my earlier marriage, I myself was not interested in a second marriage. As Ahsanullah failed to convince me, he sought help from my uncle Nazim Mahmud. Though we were not married, Ahsanullah used to act like the guardian of our family. Later, I agreed to marry him on advice of my uncle. Like all other places, Khulna’s Khalishpur also became turbulent with scattered clashes between Bengalees and Biharis during the first half of March, 1971. As the situation was deteriorating, we were paid off our salaries on March 20. Salary day was always pleasing to me as I had to bear almost all the expenses of my family. I used to wait for that day throughout the month. I went to my office on March 24, but returned hurriedly following a riot between Bengalees and Biharis in Khalishpur. The Biharis set fire to many houses of Bengalees in the area. It was the time of non-cooperation movement throughout the country called by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of Awami League, the party which won majority seats in the parliamentary elections of 1970. The Pakistan army junta was reluctant to hand over power to the elected representatives. Like other government and semi government officials, the members of East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) also joined the non-cooperation movement against the military government. The political situation was very uncertain. Everything was dependent on the ongoing meeting between Sheikh Mujib and Yahya Khan, the then President of Pakistan. Failing to apprehend the consequences of the political situation, I could not decide what to do. Earlier, we had seen political unrest and series of strikes for a certain period which became normal eventually. So I thought everything would be normal again. I was optimistic that the legitimate demands of Sheikh Mujib would be accepted. Even then I was tense as I watched the anxiety among my colleagues. I was more concerned about my job because if the jute mill went on strike and the office remained closed for a long time, what would be the fate of my family? If there was any irregularity in receiving my salary, we would have to starve. On 25 March, I did not go to office. I saw EPR personnel were deployed on the streets. Some EPR personnel came to our house and asked for drinking water. They also wanted to know whether we were Biharis or Bengalee. We hesitated for a while. Later, we informed them about our Bengalee identity. After knowing our identity, they wanted to have some food. They also cautioned us saying: “The situation is not th
good. We don’t think the negotiations will be effective. Don’t leave the place.” The riot between Bengalees and Biharis spread throughout the town on March 26. It turned more serious in the next two days. Everywhere there was fire. The army came entered the town on 29 March. Ahsanullah used to visit our house regularly and everytime he insisted that we leave the troublesome area. He was a labour officer of Jessore Jute Industries. As we were not married at that time, he could not stay with us and was not in a position to give us protection. However, he tried his best as a family friend. On March 30, he came with a jeep amidst a horrifying situation. He parked the jeep near a graveyard close to our house and told us to get ready to leave the place. I asked him, “Where shall we go with such a big family? Who will give us shelter?” “Don’t argue. We shall have to leave the house immediately,” he said and proceeded towards the main road. He returned shortly and said, “The army and Biharis are coming.” Without delaying further, we came out of the house. The Bengalee houses around the area were on fire. People were running for safety. We could not board the jeep because it was on the main road. We had to make a short cut through the graveyard moving towards Jessore-Khulna highway. When we were crossing the graveyard, I felt something abnormal under my feet. I saw scores of corpes scattered on the ground. Those were the bodies of Bengalee people killed by the Biharis. After running for sometime, we reached the house of a village leader, who was known to us. But he refused to give us shelter saying that he could not provide shelter to supporters of the Awami League. The man was involved in Muslim League politics. So we had to look for another shelter and we decided to go to my mother’s house in Khulna. We took rickshaws from Goalkhali gate. We found some Pakistan army men had set fire to a bus and a rickshaw at Noornagar. We were afraid and started walking, apprehending that the army might open fire if the burning wheels of rickshaws blasted. Late in the evening we reached the house of my maternal grandfather at Muslimpara in Khulna town on foot. But we were not feeling comfortable in the house. We felt that we had become a burden on the family. The house had become too crowded because many people had already taken shelter there. It was quite embarrassing for us to stay there, but there was no choice. Though we came to that house for security reasons, the area was not free from army movement. The army used to come quite often and we had to leave the house and take shelter in a nearby paddy field or somewhere else. I remember an interesting incident that happened during our stay there. One day as the army came, we were rushing to hide. An elderly woman of a neighbouring Hindu family asked me, “Why are you fleeing?” I said, “The army is coming.” I told her to flee also. The old woman had never heard the word “army” before this. She asked me whether the army was good or bad. I told her, “It’s not the time to discuss. Move at once.” Then the elderly lady said, “If I flee what will happen to my cattle?” Most of the innocent people in the countryside were like that woman. They were totally ignorant about the holocaust of the Pakistan Army, and that is the reason the Pakistani forces could kill so many innocent Bengalees during the war. The entire day we had to take shelter in the cowshed of a house, because firing was going on like hailstorm all around us. After some days, the situation became apparently calm. I told my mother, “Let’s go back to Khalishpur. We’re not even safe here. If we have to die, it’s better to be at our own place.” We came back to Khalishpur. The house was ransacked and everything was looted. We were totally helpless. One day my mother washed our clothes and hung those on the rooftop for drying. Ahsanullah somehow saw the clothes and came to our house. He was quite worried, and asked me, “Why have you come back? Killings are taking place everyday, everywhere. I’m leaving the place today. Because the army is looking for me.” He also asked my mother, why we had returned. My mother told him, “What else shall we do? Is there any place to go?” Suddenly I saw an army patrol on the street. We closed the door immediately. Hearing the noise of massive firing, we looked through a hole in the window and saw the killing of 15/16 people of Munshibari, a neighbouring house. Ahsanullah left the house saying that he was not safe because the army was looking for him. “If I stay here, the army will kill you.” th
Along with my mother, brothers and sisters, I came out of the house. Mother asked me to hire rickshaws for them. She planned to go to Jessore to one of my brother’s house. I gave her my last hundred taka and said, “I’ll join office as soon as it opens. Then I’ll send you money regularly.” Mother said, “Don’t be upset. If we survive, we’ll meet again.” Thus I became alone as my family and Ahsanullah left the town. I went to many houses which were previously known to me. Everybody was busy looking after their own safety. Nobody gave me shelter. I stayed in the house of an engineer for some days, but here too there was also a problem. His wife did not want me to stay there. The engineer wanted to help me which created a family problem. The engineer pleaded with his wife, “How could I drive away a helpless girl in this situation?” But his wife was adamant and I had to leave the place. I felt very bad finding myself totally helpless. Standing on the road, I was thinking what should I do? Where shall I go? All of a sudden I found my non-Bengalee colleague Jahangir Kerala, an accountant of our office. And that was the beginning of my miseries and nightmares. Jahangir asked me in a sympathetic voice, “Hi sister, what you’re doing here?” I said, “I’m in a very bad situation.” On finding the accountant, I was thinking of getting some advance. I wanted to know whether the office was open or not. He said, “Yes, do you want to join?” Then he proposed to give me a lift on his motorbike to reach the office. I told him that I could not board the bike. I took a rickshaw and followed him. He led me to a beautiful olive-coloured house in the Wireless Colony area of the town. It was ‘Muscat House’, residence of a rich non-Bengalee. While going to office, I used to see the house many times and wondered who lived in that beautiful place. As he took me inside the house, I asked him, “Why have you brought me here?” He did not reply. After taking me to a room, he started behaving in an indecent way. The man who never dared to talk to me before, pushed me hard and said, “Don’t move from this place. Some army officers will come in the evening. You will be given a job.” Then he left the house. I decided to leave the house at any cost. I saw two guards of the house, through a hole in a window, who were discussing something, pointing to the room where I was staying. I went to them and said, “Could I have a cup of tea?” The younger one replied, “Yes. But it will be cold.” I told him it was fine. As he went to bring tea, the other guard made a gesture to leave the place. He seemed to be an angel to me. The guy who had gone to bring tea returned to the gate when I came down to the street. He shouted, “Where you are going? You’re not allowed to leave this house.” Riding on a rickshaw hastily, I replied, “I’m going to bring my clothes. I’ll come back soon.” Then I went to my office. The first man I found was the elderly general manager Mr. Fidai, who was smoking a pipe casually. He asked me, “Where have you come from?” To get his sympathy I told him, “Sir, everyone has left me. I’m completely alone. I don’t know what to do.” He asked me, “Do you want to join the office?” I said, “Yes sir, but I’ve no shoes, even my clothes are not adequate. How can I attend office?” He gave me a chit and asked me to meet the chief accountant. The chief accountant gave me three hundred taka and said, “Take a car and go shopping now. The car will also go to your place tomorrow morning. Where do you stay?” By that time, I had decided to stay at the house of a police inspector at Pabla, instead of Khalishpur because it was dominated by the Biharis. I knew the family of this police officer. Two young boys of this family, who could sing very well, used to visit us quite often. As I did not want to let the accountant know my address, I said, “It’s a very remote area. The car can’t go up to my house.” “Okay, no problem. Tell the driver where to wait. The car will go at 7:30 in the morning,” he said. The car came the following day. I attended the office. Within half-an-hour, an accountant named Sultan Panjwani, a non-Bengalee who had never dared to talk to me earlier, said me in an intimate voice, “How are you? You’re looking very nice.” He also made an indecent gesture. I gave him a hard look. After some time, Mr. Fidai phoned me and asked, “Where you’re going to have your lunch today?” I replied, “In the office, sir.” Then he said, “Why don’t you take lunch with me?”
To keep the general manager in a good humour, I agreed. While having lunch he told me casually that, Captain Ishtiaque would come in the evening to take me to the cinema. I was afraid and said, “I don’t watch films.” “Don’t argue. There are many allegations against you. You have to go with him,” he ordered me in a commanding voice. Before 1971, the man was like a saint to us. I worked with him for a long time, and had never once thought that he could do any misdeed or something bad to others. But, as soon as the Liberation War started he emerged as a devil. He told me, “Go upstairs and chat with Captain Ishtiaque.” As I went upstairs, Captain Ishtiaque asked me whether I watched films and TV. I replied, “No, I don’t watch films.” “Let’s enjoy a movie today,” he proposed. Fidai ordered me to give Ishtiaque company. He came in the afternoon to take me to cinema, but I told him that I was sick and I would go some other day. However, Fidai would not give up. When office was over, he came to me and said, “Let’s go out. I’ve some important things to talk with you.” All the employees of the office were afraid of Fidai. They did not have the courage to disregard his order. He made me more afraid by saying, “Your brothers have joined the Liberation War, so the army will not spare you. You’ll have to compensate.” Finding no other way, I sought mercy from Fidai, and requested him saying, “You’re like my father. I joined office on your assurance. So please rescue me.” “I can help you if you cooperate with me,” he said and tried to embrace me. I burst into tears in fear. I felt humiliated. Then he said, “Don’t shout. It’ll be no good. The army people will tear and grab you.” The fact was that Fidai himself tried to tear me that night before the army people grabbed me. I tried my best to protect myself before I lost my sense. After I regained sense, Fidai shouted, “You didn’t cooperate with me. You shall have to face consequences.” I said, “I want to go home.” “Go,” he said. It was around 8 or 9 p.m. One rickshaw was waiting in front of the house in the dark of the night. It took me to my house. I cried for the whole night recalling the threat by Fidai that the ‘army will tear and grab you.’ I could not sleep all the night. Once I thought of committing suicide. I also thought of fleeing, but could not. The faces of my children as well as my brothers and sisters, who were dependent on my income for the last nine years, kept me from killing myself. I felt some anger at Ahsanullah. In my heart I considered him to be my husband. He was like the guardian of our family. Why had he left, leaving me all alone? When one of my brothers joined the Liberation War, I had felt very proud, but later I felt that he was the cause of my humiliation. I also felt that nobody in the world was more helpless than me. I had seen many deaths, heard about many incidents of women repression, but I never thought that I would also have to become the victim of such cruelty. As the sleepless night was over, another day began. I took a long shower and got ready to go to office. I felt like a prisoner kept in a condemned cell. I thought that I would not get freedom until the country is liberated. I realised the fear of the army was a perennial matter for me, but at the same time I would have to work to feed my children and family. Fidai did not say anything to me for the next few days. I thought he might be repentant, but I was wrong. Calling me to his room again, he said, “Naval Commander Guljarin has called for you. You were on the spot when Professor Bhuiyan was killed. You are charged with murder.” I smelt of a fresh conspiracy. Professor Bhuiyan was a colleague of my father at Doulatpur College. He was a leader of the Peace Committee. The day I had gone to the house of Afiluddin at Pabla, the naxalites killed him in front of me.
I heard that Guljarin was a very ferocious person. He was infamous for torturing women. I requested Fidai to protect me saying, “You asked me to join the office. Now you’re doing all this against me. Then who will protect me?” However, all my efforts to convince him went in vain. He ordered me, “You’ll have to reside in the bungalow of the mills from today.” “According to my position, I am not entitled such a big bungalow,” I said, but he pressed me to go to the bungalow and threatened to bring murder charges against me if I did not agree. Finally I said, “I’ll be afraid to live alone in such a big bungalow. So please allot me a flat in the junior officers’ colony.” At last Fidai compelled me to go to Naval Commander. Commander Guljarin, an elderly man who looked very dreadful, but spoke gently. As I entered the room, he told me to sit down. With a devilish smile on his face, Guljarin looked at me and asked, “What do you want to be – a friend, daughter or anything else?” Very nervously and in broken English I said, “Please behave with me like a gentleman.” He said, “I’ll make some proposals. You can accept or refuse. Stay with me for one month. However, I’ll not be able to give you something special. But I’ll be happy.” Then he pawed my back and shook me holding my neck. Shivering in fear, I said, “How is it possible, sir ? How could I stay here?” Guljarin said, “Why not? I’ll give you a lot of money. I’ll send money for your family.” After a pause, he said in a firm voice, “Your brothers have joined the Liberation War. You need security. Stay with me. I selected you as my secretary. You’re the right person.” I started crying and pleaded with him to let me go. He became restless and said, “Haven’t you heard that women who come to Commander Guljarin cannot go back ? Perhaps you don’t know that. But don’t worry, you’ll be able to go back.” At that time two officers entered the room. When they saw me crying helplessly, they started mocking me. One of them told Guljarin jeeringly, “Sir, hand her over to us. We’ll take her out for a while.” Guljarin refused, but they continued to scoff at me. I was still crying. As they wanted to misbehave with me, I pleaded with Guljarin: “I’ll come to you later. Please let me go now. I’ve a big family who are totally dependent on me. So it’s impossible for me to escape.”, but Guljarin did not allow me to go. He gradually become more terrible and tortured me like a beast. In the afternoon, he made me promise that I would have to come to him whenever he called, and then only could I leave. The next noon, two officers came to my office. They were Naval Captain Aslam and Captain Ghani. Aslam was younger. Ghani was older as he was promoted from non-commissioned rank. They brought along an elderly jute inspector Fazlur Rahman whose house was taken away by the Biharis and turned it into a slaughter house. Mr. Rahman was looking very pale. Ghani took him outside. As Mr. Rahman was leaving my room, he gave me a blank look. Captain Aslam wanted a glass of water from me. As I was busy with my work, I asked the peon to give him the glass of water. After a couple of minutes, Ghani came back. He handed over Fazlur Rahman to the Biharis. Some time later the Biharis killed him and played ‘hulia’ (game with human blood). Some Biharis, besmeared with the blood of Mr. Rahman, came to Captain Aslam to confirm his death. I felt doomed watching the Biharis whose hands were blood-stained. The river Bhairab flows beside the Crescent Jute Mills. The jute godown of the mill was on the bank of the river. It was only 200 yards from my quarter. One night I watched another terrible incident near the godown. One of my younger sisters was with me in the quarter. I kept her as I was panic-stricken all the time. One night she told me, “Sister, while I was sleeping last night I heard people shouting ‘Save me, save me.’ I’m afraid of living here.” I had assured her saying, “Okay, now please go to sleep, I’ll look after that.” In those days I was so tired it was almost impossible to remain awake all night. but I did not sleep that night.
It was about 3:00 a.m. I heard someone shouting from a distance “Save me, save me.” I sat on the bed and peeped through the window. There was a truck parked in front of the godown. Some people, their faces covered with black cloth, were walking around the area. Suddenly the lights went dim. One person was brought down from the truck. He was taken to a jute-cutting machine, which looks like a guillotine. Then I saw the terrible incident. The men with black cloth on their faces, put the man under the sharp blade of the machine and within a couple of seconds, he was beheaded. This barbaric act continued one after another. After watching four killings in that way, I closed the window. I could not sleep that night. I still cannot get rid of that nightmare. Quite often I see in my dreams the images of the killers, faces covered with black cloth ; through a hole in a window, the beheaded dead bodies of those Bengalees ; the truck ; and the cry – ‘Save me, save me’. Since then, I never stayed in that room. I could not tell my sister about the blood-chilling incident, because it would make her more frightened and she might have left my apartment One night my sister told me, “Sister, the army has cordoned-off our house.” I noticed it too and asked her to hide. One army man came forward and told me that Major Altaf Karim was calling me downstairs. I wanted to know who Altaf Karim was, but didn’t reply and asked me again, “Who is Ferdousi here?” I told him, “She’s not here. She has gone to Jessore. I’m her maid.” He said, “You must be Ferdousi. We’ve come to take you with us.” “No gentleman comes to anyone’s residence in the middle of the night. Please go away,” I told the army personnel. I recognised Lieutenant Korban, Captain Khaleq and Captain Sultan among the group. That night they came to me after attending a dinner in the house of Fidai, the general manager. When the dinner was over, Fidai showed them my house. They had also told me that Mamtaz, a niece of the then minister Mr. Amjad was in the car. My sister told me that she would commit suicide if they take me away. I pressed clothes into her mouth to keep her from speaking. If they come to know her presence, they would have definitely taken away both of us. I told the army men, “Don’t take me now. My younger sister is here. I’ll send her to my mother. After that you can take me.” Then I asked them why they were so desperate to take me with them. One of them replied that there was murder charge against me. I said, “Whatever it is, I’m not going now. I’ll go in the morning.” It was almost dawn and they left my house. I decided to send my sister to my mother as I realised that it was not safe for her to stay with me any longer. After going to the office, I phoned the general manager and described the incident that had taken place that night. He told me that he knew everything. “Didn’t you entertain them? You have been kept here for that purpose. Don’t try to escape. If you try to flee, you’ll be killed.” I said, “How I can stay here in this situation? This is tantamount to killing me.” At this stage, he got angry and said, “Colonel Khatak will talk to you. You’ll have to go to Jessore. His people will come to take you. If you disagree, you’ll be sent to a concentration camp. You’ll never be able to return from there.” Captain Sultan, Lieutenant Korban and a non-Bengalee businessman Malik Yusuf came to me at night with a letter from Fidai. They took me to Jessore. On the way they raped me in the car. I was raped again by them in the billiard room at Jessore Cantonment, before I was handed over to Colonel Khatak. I have no language to express my mental condition of that time. I saw the dumping of dead bodies of Bengalees killed by Biharis and the Pakistani army, in the graveyard. Their burial was not held. I felt that my body was not mine, and it seemed to be decomposed. Several times, I lost my senses following continued torture. Once I remained unconscious continuosly for 28 hours. I cannot remember when the doctors visited me, or what treatment I was given. Colonel Khatak and Colonel Abed interrogated me over Professor Bhuiyan’s killing. They accused me of
having contact with my brothers who had joined the Liberation War. There was no dearth of excuses for unleashing torture on me. However, I know they tortured and killed millions of people without any cause. I knew my answers would not make them happy and they would not release me. At one stage, I stopped replying to any of their questions. I told them, “Please kill me. Don’t torture me in this way, but unfortunately it was not my fate to be killed by the Pakistanis. I was brutally tortured by both Colonel Khatak and Colonel Abed. Colonel Abdullah and Colonel Zafar also tortured me at Jessore Cantonment in the name of interrogation. My request, my tears, my resistance, my hate — nothing could stop the Pakistani army officers who held high ranks. I read many stories of repression by the Nazi soldiers, I also watched many films on the second World War, but all those incidents of repression faded in front of the brutality of the Pakistani forces I witnessed everyday in 1971. During the horrifying days of my nine-month long captive life, I found only one Pakistani army officer who seemed to be comparatively gentle. He came to Jessore Cantonment one night. Watching my condition, he became astonished. He said, “Could you remember me? I met you at Crescent Jute Mills. I’m Major Altaf Karim. I liked you. I think you’re a woman with self-respect. I still like you. Whatever it is, I want to tell you something. My father is the principal of a college. I did not want to come here. But I’ve been compelled to do so. I’ve been asked to take you to the concentration camp. Would you please go there to have a glimpse?” Today I know what a concentration camp is, but in those days, I had no idea. I asked him, “Where’s the camp? Would I be able to return to my home from there?” Altaf said, “I’ve been asked to take you to the camp for a visit. As you have denied every allegation brought against you, you’re being taken to see the camp. I can’t help you to go back home. Anyway, how do you want to go to the camp? By rickshaw or jeep?” I said, “I can’t walk. It will be better to go by jeep.” The concentration camp was like a small barrack. There were so many rooms. I heard the sound of beating and the groaning of people who were tortured there. Altaf informed me that the sound carries the message of torture. He also asked me whether I wanted to see more. The scenes made me frightened and I lost my strength. I was unable to remain standing. I told Altaf, “I don’t want to see anything more. Please let me free.” “You have a pact with Guljarin. I can’t do anything. However, I can submit a report that you were kept here for two days.” Later I saw Altaf hurling abuses on me in front of others. One day he took me to Brigadier Hayat on a jeep. Hayat gave me a letter, and said, “You’ll be staying at the place where you have been told to stay so that we can get you whenever we need. The interrogation is not yet complete.” That day, Major Ekram took me to the jute mill at Khalishpur at the request of Major Altaf, who was his friend. I came to know more about Major Ekram later through some important works. One day an officer from Khulna Army Headquarters phoned me and asked whether I knew anyone named Farid of Pabla. “Yes, I know him,” I said. I had met Farid at the residence of the police inspector, where I had taken shelter. The officer said, “He has been caught. He requested that you be contacted.” At first I thought it was a trap. Later I figured that if it was true, I would have to do something for Farid. At the same time I also knew I would have to return the favour to the army people if I asked for any favour for Farid. Gripped in shock and frustration, I told the phone caller that I would do something the next day. The officer informed that Farid had been sent to Jessore the previous day. I knew that Major Altaf was in Jessore. Immediately, I made a phone call to him and giving a description of Farid I told Altaf that army had arrested an innocent boy. Altaf said, “Your case was an exception. I tried my best for you. But I can’t do anything for that boy. Major Korban is at this moment beating him up.” Later Major Altaf inquired about Farid and told me that he would not be released, because, the army had recovered a letter of the Muktibahini from his possession. Altaf also advised me to come to Jessore and contact Major Ekram.
Accordingly, I went to Jessore and rang up Major Altaf, who helped me meet Major Ekram. Farid was then under Ekram’s supervision. Ekram asked me how I got to know Farid. He also told me that they had found a letter of the Muktibahini on him. I said, “It’s a conspiracy. In fact, one of his step-brothers conspired against him and kept the letter in his pocket.” “Well, come three days later to take Farid,” Major Ekram assured me. Later he made arrangement for me to meet Farid. As soon as I entered the room, Farid touched my legs and said, “Sister, rescue me please.” I tried to console him saying, “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to you.” After three days, I went to Jessore to bring Farid. Major Ekram behaved very politely with me. Perhaps, Major Altaf had told him something about me. Meanwhile, my brother Shibli met up me. He told me, “Sister, you know Major Ekram. He has some maps of important places of Jessore. Besides, I need to visit their conference room. Could you take me to him?” At first, I hesitated out of fear, because I knew it was very easy for the army to know that Shibli was a freedom fighter. Later I thought I could take Shibli keeping his identity secret. He was 19 at that time, but looked only 16. His face was very innocent looking. I phoned Major Ekram and told him, “You did a lot for me. I like to see you just to express my gratitude.” Ekram asked me to come the next day. It was a holiday. Along with Shibli, I went to see Major Ekram. I introduced him as Syed Hasan, my younger brother. Shibli had the ability to gain a person’s confidence within a very short time. He started talking with Major Ekram on various subjects. Ekram was also very cordial. He tried to convince Shibli to his point of view, saying that if the country is divided, the economic condition would further worsen. Shibli agreed with him. Ekram invited us to the lunch. I said, “ I have to do overtime in the office. So I have to leave now. I’ll come another day.” Shibli asked Ekram, “Do you play cards?” “Why not? Will your sister also play?” “She can’t play,” Shibli said, adding, “I’ll show you some tricks.” Later Ekram took us to the adjoining room where he used to take rest. Although Ekram was entrusted with some important responsibilities, things in his room used to remain at sixes and sevens. Many important documents were on the table. Ekram went to the toilet before the game started. Shibli searched the room for some papers he needed. He found them under the mattress and kept them in his pocket. Shibli looked very nervous at that time. Then they started playing cards. After some time I said, “Now I have to go. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get a bus to return.” Before seeing us off, Ekram said, “Please let me know if you face any trouble.” Later, Shibli and his comrades blew up some important installations in Jessore with the help of the maps he had taken from Ekram’s room. There was some trouble when we’re returning from Jessore in that afternoon. The local Razakar (militias collaborating with the Pakistani army) commander Sabdar Ali followed us and boarded the bus. He pushed at me with his gun and asked, “What’s your name?” I replied confidently “Why are you asking my name?” He said, “You’ll be taken into custody. You are a naxalite.” In an angry tone, I said, “What will you do?’ “I will arrest you,” the Razakar said. He again hit me with his gun and said, “Come on. I’ll teach you a good lesson.” He also pointed the gun at me and threatened to shoot, but could not do so due to protests by the bus passengers. After sometime, he disembarked from the bus as it reached near Avoynagar police station. Before getting down he said, “I have already hung two heads (of Bengalees) at the Shaheed Minar. I’ll hang more heads.” Later I was shocked to see two heads hanging on the Shaheed Minar beside the road. The two ill-fated Bengalees were killed and beheaded by the Razakars.
After some days, I received a phone call while working at my office. “I’m Captain Zafar from the Naval headquarters. I heard a lot of good words about you. I would like to see you,” the caller said. I refused to meet him, but he used to visit me frequently. Captain Jalil, who came from West Pakistan, also used to disturb me. I was not spared by any of the junior officers. In late September, I became pregnant after being raped repeatedly by Pakistanis. I was bewildered. I could not sleep at all. I used to feel the unholy touch of the Pakistanis on my body each and every moment. There was nobody to console me. I could not share my pain and agony with anyone. At last I decided to remove the stigma of the Pakistanis from my body through abortion. I knew Dr. Kader of Khulna. When I went to him and told him about my decision, he said, “Arrange for the money required. I’ll manage everything.” He wanted 250 Taka, but I could not collect more than 200 despite frantic effort for seven days. Dr. Kader said, “I don’t take less than 250 taka.” “It is impossible for me to collect any more,” I said, requesting him to perform the operation. Then Dr. Kader said, “I need the permission of your husband.” In those days, the process of abortion was not as modern and easy as these days. It was compulsory for a doctor to have the consent of the husband of the patient. I pleaded Dr. Kader saying, “My husband is not available here at this moment. So I am my own guardian.” At last he agreed to do the abortion and I was freed from the filth. In the month of December, the Pakistani army started retreating in the face of strong resistance by the freedom fighters. But the scenario inside the Crescent Jute Mills and Khalishpur area was different. Since late November Biharis had started killing Bengalees living in the area. Killings were also taking place inside and outside of the jute mill. Everyday hundreds of Benglaees went missing. The general manager of the mill, Fidai, made frequent visits to Pakistan at that time. Meanwhile, another untoward incident occurred on December 2. One Bihari driver named Rashid used to drive me to my house everyday. That day he was drunk and forcibly took me to a dark street near Newsprint Mills instead of my house. He was driving like a mad men. I protested and he shouted abuses in Urdu and also made indecent gestures. I screamed and hit his neck, and then got down from the car by breaking the lock. At that time my left hand was badly injured. I still carry the marks of that injury. The next day Khawaja Mohammad Ali, a senior officer of the mill, asked me about the previous day’s incident. He also asked me why I did not tell him about the incident earlier. I said, “Sir, these days it is very difficult for me to decide on to whom I should lodge any complaint. I don’t know who can help me.” On December 4, I received a telephone call from Ahsanullah. He informed me that a conspiracy had been hatched to kill me. He advised me to rush to another jute mill, Jessore Jute Industries. He also said that all the four gates of our mill were already closed. After a few minutes I had another phone call from Major Altaf Karim who was in Jessore. “The situation here is very bad. We’re battling with Mukti Bahini face to face. I don’t know whether I’ll survive,” he said. He apologised to me and said, “If you come to know that I’m no more, please inform my father and brother.” He gave me his home address. Finally he said, “I know our fight is unjust. But I’m a soldier. I have nothing to do.” Once Altaf had proposed marriage. He also wanted to carry the responsibilities of my children. He told me, “The non-Bengalees here know that I love you. They will kill you in my absence. In Pakistan you’ll get the honour of being my wife. If your husband comes back, I’m sure that he will not accept you.” I refused his proposal promptly and told him, “I don’t bother if my husband accepts me or not. You’re a good human being. But I can’t think of marrying a Pakistani. You know the reason. The hate for Pakistanis in my mind will remain forever.” Altaf didn’t proceed further. I saw him for the last time on December 4. It was very difficult to recognise him as his face was pale. We did not talk that day. He gave me a salute before leaving the place. During the war, Altaf was the only Pakistani I met who had some conscience. He knew the Pakistanis were doing wrong. Except Altaf, all the Pakistanis — from soldiers to high ranking officers —were sadists. They used to enjoy killing innocent people.
After receiving the phone calls, I went to my house. I tried to come out after packing my clothes in a wooden box, but the Biharis intercepted me at the gate. I could not leave the place. I got another phone call from Khawaja Mohamad Ali the next noon. He said, “Major Belayet Shah is coming to my office today. If you want, you could go out with him.” In fact, I told Mohammad Ali earlier that I wanted to leave the area. At first I hesitated to go with Major Belayet Shah. He was crazy for women, but I had no alternative. That day he made an indecent proposal. He wanted to take the car to a dark place on the highway to Khulna. To save myself, I told him, “Mukti Bahinis are guarding the area. They will kill you.” Whatever the reason, Major Shah did not proceed further. I got down from the car in front of Jessore Jute Industries to meet my husband. As soon as I saw Ahsanullah, I became very emotional and angry with him, for having left me in a helpless situation. I was shouting and crying as if I had gone insane. I do not know what happened to me. In anger, shock and pain, I came out from Jessore Jute Industries and returned to Crescent Jute Mills in the evening. On December 6 at noon, Aktar, a Bihari clerk of my office, phoned me and said, “I always liked you, but couldn’t express myself. Now I’m giving you an important news. Just now I got a message that you’ll be killed shortly. So leave the place without delaying any moment.” I came out. The main gate was a quarter mile away from my office. I was apprehending an attack on the way, but I was lucky and got a rickshaw. I asked the puller to drive the rickshaw speedily. On the way I found Anwar, another clerk of my office, who lived on the third floor of my building. He was going to office. When I reached the main gate, the gatekeeper said, ‘Just now Anwar was killed.’ I got a baby-taxi in front of the gate. The driver demanded a fare three times higher than the normal rate, but I was not in a position to bargain. I quickly boarded the taxi and went to Jessore Jute Industries. Ahsanullah was waiting, and as soon as I reached there, he received me with a hearty embrace. I told him everything. He said, “You’re a great freedom fighter. Don’t worry thinking about how Pakistanis treated you.” The general manager of Jessore Jute Industries Mr. Idris was a non-Bengalee. However, he was not like our general manager Fidai. Mr. Idris protected the Bengalee staff of the mill from the attack of the Pakistanis. Ahsanullah had joined work in November on his assurance. On December 6, Mr. Idris was ordered by the military authority in Jessore Cantonment to leave the mill along with all non-Bengalees and go to Khulna. The order was given because the army had planned to kill all the Bangalee staff of the mill. But Mr. Idris was committed to protecting each and every staff member of his mill. He took all his staff, along with us, to Khulna. We took shelter at Hotel Selim. The mill authorities bore all the expenses and Mr. Idris made the arrangements. He was the only non-Bengalee who was duly honoured by his Bengalee staff after independence. Finally Bangladesh came into being as the occupation forces surrendered on December 16. The next day Ahsanullah said, “Let me take you to a particular place.” We boarded a car. He took me to Gallamari mass grave in Khulna were we found thousands of dead bodies lying on the ground. We saw many corpses also on the cultivated lands – jute fields, paddy fields. Those were the dead bodies of innocent Bengalees who were killed by the Pakistanis and their collaborators only three or four days back. It was a horrible scene. But there was a strange feeling inside me. Standing in front of scores of human bodies, I was thinking about the terrible experience I had undergone during the nine months of the Liberation War. I thought, though I am alive, there is no difference between my body and the corpses lying on the ground before me. Today, whenever I recall the dreadful days and nights of 1971, I feel that for the last 28 years I have been carrying a body, which is fatigued and decomposed. Interviewed by Shahriar Kabir
A burning cigarette was pushed into his limbs and needles pierced into his finger nails Syed Abul Barq Alvi Syed Abul Barq Alvi, a Professor of the Fine Arts Institute of Dhaka University, is a noted painter. He took part in the liberation war. He was arrested along with others on August 30, 1971. The Pakistani occupation force conducted barbaric torture on him. He gave the following statement.
I was working in the Department of Films and Publications (DFP) in 1971. I was not involved with political parties. But since my student life, I was influenced by leftist thought. Being a conscious artist, I had experience of writing posters and making festoons during different movements and struggles. We had also been bringing out a cyclostiled magazine long before the Pakistan Army launched their attack on March 25, 1971. It was an underground publication. It had carried news items on organised protests against repression of the Pakistani junta. As the Liberation War started, I crossed the border in May through Comilla and got shelter in a refugee camp in India. After formation of a “Mukti Camp” there, I joined it. I came to Bangladesh several times to gather information and collect maps of important installations like the airport and cantonment in Dhaka. Another job was collecting donations for the freedom fighters. I used to return along with people seeking shelter in India. During my fifth visit from the camp to Bangladesh, I had carried huge quantities of arms and ammunition. I came with three others —Baker, Fateh Ali and Komol. We entered Bangladesh in the third week of August. While travelling by boat along with the arms and ammunition, we narrowly escaped capture by Pakistani troops. Finally we reached Dhaka and kept the arms and explosives at the residence of a relative of Baker at Badda area. According to the plan, we were to meet at USIS Library at Topkhana three days later. But we had to change the plan following the absence of Baker. Later on August 29, I went to the house of noted music director Altaf Mahmud. He intended to send with me one of his businessman friend to India. But due to curfew at night, Altaf Mahmud told me to stay at his house. It was the early dawn on August 30, 1971. I was sleeping in the drawing room of Altaf Mahmud’s residence at Rajarbagh. A pickup came and stopped in front of the house. I heard the sound of parking and the noise of stepping of boots. Surprised, I got up from bed. Some 5/6 uniformed Pakistani army personnel started kicking the door of the drawing room. I was frightened and confused on whether I should open the door or not. All residents of the house, in the meantime, woke up. Altaf Bhai came forward slowly and said “I’m opening the door.” As soon as the door was opened, Pakistani army soldiers pointed their guns at the chest of Altaf Bhai and shouted, “Who is the music director?” “It’s me,” replied Altaf Bhai. “Where are the arms?” one soldier asked loudly. As there was no answer, they took Altaf Bhai to the backyard. Some of them stormed into the bed-room and checked everything. They put me, Altaf Bhai and his two brothers-in-law on to the pickup. Some boys from a neighbouring house were also taken. While taking us to the pickup, the Pak soldiers beat us with the butts of their rifles.
The pickup van took us straight to the martial-law court. The court was at the then MP Hostel, which is now the residential area of the employees of Prime Minister’s Secretariat. Three buildings were being used as martial-law courts. We were lined up and later taken to the kitchen of the last building. All of us were asked to sit on the dirty and damp floor. I was seated after one or two persons. A sepoy called one of us who was very close to the door. He was taken to the torture room. We could see a little of what was going on there. Sound of whipping could be heard from there. As the questioner was asking in Urdu, I couldn’t understand all the questions, but one thing was clear that he was asking the man about who were the persons with him. We were frightened as the whipping, shouting and groaning continued. He was taken to another room after being tortured for about 15-20 minutes. We saw his body was bleeding. His face was badly wounded. It was a horrible scene. The next one was a brother-in-law of Altaf Bhai. He was tortured in same way at the interrogation cell but the army couldn’t collect any information from him. In fact, he did not know where the arms were, who were freedom fighters and where they stay. A burning cigarette was pushed at his limbs and needles pierced into his finger nails. Later the sepoy said, “Come on, mister music director.” Altaf Bhai looked at all of us and went to the adjoining torture room. I heard, he was being questiond: “Tell me where are the rest of the arms?” “Don’t know.” “Who had kept the arms?” “Some people whom I don’t know.” I heard Altaf Bhai being whipped and hit by rods. The repression was slightly visible through the window. Altaf Bhai was not able to bear the pain of the torture. As he didn’t disclose the names, the level of torture on him increased. He was being hit with rifle butts indiscriminately. Burning cigarettes were also pushed on him. Altaf Bhai did not shout like the others, because, he knew that he would not be freed and it would be his last day. He admitted everything about himself, but did not name any one else. He fell down many times as he could not bear the torture. But every time, he was compelled to stand up. The questioning and repression continued. He was taken to another room after about an hour. Another person was taken from us and the repression continued in the same way. I was the next to be taken away. So I decided what I would say. They asked in Urdu, “Who is Alvi?” I was surprised to hear my name. How they knew my name? Did Altaf Bhai tell them my name? No, he couldn’t have. Then the next person? Or was it anyone else? I was silent for a while thinking of all these things. The sepoy again shouted, “Alvi Koun (Who’s Alvi)?” I stood up. Others in the waiting room were observing me. I could not escape denying my name. They knew it. As soon as I entered the torture room, one officer mentioned a date and said, “You came from India along with the arms.” He also mentioned the names of the freedom fighters who came with me. Everything in his statement was correct. How did they came to know? I understood that one of our team had been caught. Nervousness started gripping me. I firmly denied everything — I never went to India, I knew none. Showing a piece of paper, one of them asked, “Do you know Fateh Ali Chowdhury, Komol and Baker?” “I know none of them,” I replied confidently. The army personnel wanted to know, “Are you Alvi?” “Yes, but I don’t know any of them.” One of the interrogators said, “You will be freed if you admit everything.” Again I said, “I know nothing.” Among the three or four armymen, one started beating me mercilessly. Such indiscriminate beating continued. He struck me hard in the abdomen with the butt of a rifle. At the same time, I was also being whipped and questioned. A soldier said, “Do you think you’ll be freed after denying everything?” I was feeling severe pain at the beginning of the torture. At one stage my feelings became numb. My palms were seriously wounded as I tried to resist the beating with my hands. Bleeding started from the hands. As I had no sense following continued torture, I could not fathom the exact condition of my body. Later, I found bleeding from the back and legs. The beating stopped after a long time. Again the questions were repeated. I denied again. They mentioned many other names who were known to me. They had gone to India along with me at the beginning of the war.
The middle-aged armyman who was torturing me became ferocious like a blood hound after he had failed to dig out anything from me. He hit my abdomen with the butt of a rifle. He also repeatedly punched and kicked me with full strength. I fell down, but was forced to stand up again. The extent of torture increased. I had no strength to remain standing up. I fell down repeatedly. At one stage Baker was brought. He was our team leader. Only one week back we carried arms from India under his leadership and kept those in the house of one of his relatives. He was to come on August 29, but he did not. We were worried about his fate. Now seeing him in front of me, I understood everything. The army personnel asked Baker, “Is he Alvi?” Slowly raising his head, Baker looked at me and said, “Yes”. Then he was taken to another room. His entire body and face was stained with dry blood. It was for the last time I saw Baker. I told the army personnel, “I don’t know him. He gave a wrong statement. He lied to save his life. I never saw him.” In fact, from the very beginning I had decided what I would tell them. I knew they would not spare me if I admitted the facts. The army officer asked me, “Do you know Fateh Ali Chowdhury?” I replied in the negative. “I’ve no friend by that name. However, I can try to check whether he is known to me if you could bring him in front of me.” The officer tried to lure me that I would be freed if I tell the truth, otherwise, I could have to die. But he could not get any information from me, and became almost like a mad dog. He started hurling abuses and asked a sepoy to take me and beat me. He said in Urdu, “suaarka bachchako udhar le jao. Aur maro usko” (Take away the son of bitch and beat him up). Being excited, he also threw a paper on my face. Perhaps, the paper was the torture report containing the list of those who were picked up or would be arrested later. The sepoy took me to another room where torture continued until evening. I was not given a drop of water all day. An elderly army man, perhaps a subedar major, secretly brought two pieces of bread for us at about 3 p.m. He also brought some sugar. The man was a Beluch. Among the barbaric soldiers, only he showed a little kindness. Looking at me, he told the sepoy, “Itna mar na maro. Ye bachcha hai. Itna mar marne se ye mar jayega” (Don’t beat him too much. He is a kid. He will die if he is beaten anymore.) The blood over my body made me more confident that I would not admit anything. Never. At night we were taken to Ramna police station by a bus. The army troops handed over us to the police. A policeman told the troops to record the names of those who were taken to the police station. I thought, my name should be changed and it would be helpful to prove myself innocent. In fact, except for my close relations no one knew my full name as it was a long one. I mentioned my name as Syed Abul Barq. Intentionally I hid the last name Alvi. We were kept in custody at the police station. There were many others like us. I told Altaf Bhai the story behind my name. He said, “Ultimately there is no way to escape. Baker might be called again tomorrow. He will again identify you. They will again interrogate and torture you.” In police custody, we’re kept along with some theives and pickpockets. They were very sympathetic to us. The Bangalee policemen at the thana were also sympathetic. A pickpocket cleaned my face and back with his towel while others rubbed ointment on our wounds. At that time, the prisoners kept medicines like paracetamol and painkiller, iodex etc. Their relatives used to supply those. We could not sleep at night due to severe pain all over the body. The next morning we, as per the list, were taken to the martial-law court. This time they took us to another building (building no. 2). On not seeing any of the previous day’s army men there, I felt courageous. We were kept in a room, with a wide balcony. We were taken to the balcony one after another, according to the list, for interrogation. But the torture was not like the previous day. There was only questioning. Altaf Bhai was the last man to be interrogated. I was not called. Somehow I was dropped from the list. Maybe my name was on the paper which was thrown at me. I stood up and said, “I was not called.” The army officer looked at me, and asked me my name. I said, “Syed Abul Baraq.” Now the officer looked at the list he was carrying. He went through the list from top to bottom several times, but did not get the name. He asked, “Why were you caught?” “I don’t know. I had gone to the house of Altaf Bhai in the evening and was picked up from there the next morning.”
“Why had you gone there?” I said, “His parents are related to me.” “Did you not know that he is involved with the Mukti Bahini (Freedom fighters)?” asked the army officer. “No.” “What do you do?” “I do work at the DFP.” “Do you attend your office?” “Yes.” “What is the telephone number of your office?” I didn’t go to office after March 25 except for somedays to get my salary. In fact, the entire time I was in India. At first I thought I should give him a wrong number, but that could be more dangerous for me. So, I told him the correct number. I was thinking if the officer rings up my office and anyone and asks about my absence, I would get into trouble. Hpwever, I was confident that everyone at my office would say that I was attending office regularly as they liked me very much, specially, my boss Mr. Bari. The army officer took the telephone set. He dialed thrice keeping an eye on me. Perhaps, he was trying to observe if there was any change on my face. Again I thought that I was going to face trouble. Instead he said at last, “Okay,” and asked me to stand beside him. In the meantime, one army man brought a copy of the holy Quran. The officer ordered, “Touch the Quran and say I never went to India. I don’t know anyone.” I did the same without any hesitation and said to myself, “May Allah pardon me. Saving one’s life is the prime farz (duty).” These incidents, one after another, were making me feel more and more confident. I heard, the army people talking among themselves, “He is a kid. He has been tortured enough.” A new problem arose when it was confirmed that I was going to be released. The subedar major who had brought bread the previous day came into the room at the last moment. He heard everything about me. He could tell others about me. It was my good fortune, he did not say anything. Other than Altaf Bhai, all of us were released. But I had some more problems. The sentry on duty at the gate, was the one who had told me on the previous day, “Do you think you’ll be freed after denying everything?” To avoid him, I said, “How shall I go? I can’t even stand up. If you give me a lift up to the road, I’ll manage somehow to go thereafter.” The officer enquired and found out that there was no car. He said, “You are young enough. I believe you can walk and go.” As my attempt to avoid the guard at the gate failed, I said, “I will not be allowed to cross the gate in this condition.” The subedar major ensured my crossing the gate by carrying my body on his shoulders. We came to the main road on foot. The sepoy who had threatened me the previous day was looking at me with anger as if a tiger had lost his prey, but he could not say anything as one of his senior colleagues was accompanying me. The Beluch army man coming near the road touched my back and said, “Go home, you must call a doctor to check your condition. Take care.” I was on the main road bu there was no vehicle. At this time, a private car came back after crossing me. I was astonished. The driver said: “Come on.” He was a neighbour of Altaf Bhai, father of TV actress Nima Rahman. I stayed at Altaf Bhai’s house for 15-20 days. I went to India again along with a group. My fingers started to become normal after treatment at Muktijoddha Hospital for many days. At that time, my only work was drawing pictures of war fields. I still feel the pain on my fingers whenever I paint for a long time. The horrible memories still haunt me and take me back to those tormenting days I spent at the Pakistani army camp during the Liberation War. Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
As we entered the building, we saw many other dead bodies lying on the floor Abul Fazal On the midnight of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces launched an attack on Dhaka University campus with morters and tanks. They killed many teachers, students and employees of the university. Abul Fazal is one of the eyewitnesses of the massacre. His statement was recorded in October, 1999.
I was at the Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University in the night of March 25, 1971. At that time I was working in the postal service. I came to Dhaka for official training and decided to stay at Jagannath Hall with my school friend Shishutosh Dutt, nephew of General C. R. Dutt. It was Room No. 8/A of the Extention Building, which was later named October Smriti Bhaban. On March 1, 1971, General Yahiya Khan postponed the session of National Assembly that sparked instant protest by the people. The students of Dhaka University also came down to the streets and staged demonstrations against the government decision. Tension was mounting on the campus due to the political trouble since early March. On the midnight of March 25, we heard heavy firing on the streets. The students came out of their rooms and saw many trucks carrying Pakistan Army soldiers. The military trucks stopped near the east gate of the hall where the students earlier put up barricades. We saw the troops shouting and hurling abases as they had to stop there. I cannot recall how many trucks there were. Due to a wall, I could not see all the vehicles from our room. But I think at least 8/10 trucks came there. Professor Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta lived in a university quarter near the east gate. We heard firing and outcries of women from that direction. Then it became clear to us that the army had started killing operation. Beside, Shishutosh and me, and two other students were inside the room. One of them was my friend Mostak, who was a student of the English department and the other was Shibu, a student of Botany. Shibu left the hall after March 7, but in that evening, he returned with a guest named Niren. Shishutosh, Mostak and me had our supper at a restaurant at Purana Paltan that day. We saw Shibu and Niren returning to the room. Shibu came back to Dhaka as he was a private tutor. When the firing began, I went to the adjacent room to see what was going on. The soldiers were firing from machine guns in a bid to lower the new national flag of Bangladesh hoisted atop the five-storied building where Professor Guhathakurta lived. I had never seen a machine gun before. I was involved in politics during my student life, but I had never faced such a troublesome situation. I could not decide what to do. From the adjacent room, I saw that the military men were trying to break the locks of the east gate in order to enter into the hall. We had some dynamite powder in the room. We collected it to make bombs. At first we threw the containers through the window so that the military could not blame us. We thought that they would not accuse us anything due to lack of proof.
But the army started indiscriminate firing after entering into the hall. Sensing trouble, we crawled from the room and took shelter in a toilet. After a few minutes, we saw the army set fire to the tin shed canteen owned by one Sudhir. Smoke was entering the toilet and it soon became difficult for us to breathe. The toilet had a small window. I came out through the window and took shelter in the apartment of a fourth class employees of the hall. Shibu also followed me. To protect myself, I tore my vest so that the army men would not recognise me as a student. Then I jumped over the wall and fell into a drain outside. As I tried to get up, I saw some army men standing there. Then I again jumped over the wall to come inside. I went to a tin shed building inside the hall and stayed with the sweepers, gardeners and other fourth class employees of the hall. Shubhash, Shibu and Niren were also there. We saw some dead bodies on the fields in front of the building. The army had killed them as they tried to escape. They continued firing in the direction of the main building of the hall. We also heard firing from the residence of Professor G.C. Dev. Mostak also jumped over the wall and ran quickly towards the Kalibari (temple) of the hall. The army men fired to kill him but missed their target. The army members were observing us, but we thought that they would not recognise us. They would consider us as hall employees. Among us, there were a number of female employees. A few minutes later, a soldier came and ordered the male employees to stand separately. We carried out the order. I was then thinking about my fate. Suddenly some soldiers came and started beating us with branches of trees kept there for use as firewood. Then they took us to the field near the hall laundry. As ordered, we sat in front of the laundry. The army had a plan to kill only Bangalees. So they ordered the Bangalees and Biharis to sit separately. Those who knew Urdu, claimed themselves as Biharis and sat separately. Then the army soldiers took the Bangalees including me, to the quarter of Professor Guhathakurta. In the meantime, they finished their operation in the teachers’ apartments and started operation in the main campus. The armymen ordered us to bring the dead bodies from the teachers apartments to Jagannath Hall. I can still recall, I carried the dead body of Dr. Moniruzzaman, who also lived in the same building as Professor Guha. I also brought the bodies of two other unknown young men. We just brought the dead bodies from the apartments, crossed the road and kept the bodies on the ground. Another group took the bodies to the main building now called G.C. Dev Bhaban. When we were told to go there, we saw some other dead bodies in front of the main building. As we entered the building, we saw many other dead bodies lying on the floor. I saw the body of a young man on the right side of the ground floor. It was almost half-burnt. Some people were still carrying dead bodies there. I saw the dead body of my friend Shishutosh. He was one of my two closest friends. We were a trio — Shishutosh, Mostak and me— all from Sylhet district. I took the body of Shishutosh and placed it on the pile of dead bodies. His shirt was stained with blood. I also saw the bodies of those who claimed themselves as Biharis. The Pakistan Army had killed them too. The army men then ordered us to line up near the Shahid Minar of Jagannath Hall. We were a group of 6 to 7 people including Shubhash and Shibu. It was the last batch to kill. The operation was nearly over. We were lined up near the boundary wall. A portion of the wall was broken. The students used to move through the broken wall. I saw some army men take their morning tea there, after finishing their successful killing operation. Through the hole of the wall, I saw one or two army convoys moving on the street. Possibly they were returning to the cantonment after conducting operations in the city. We were directed to line up facing towards the north. The wear end of the of line turned towards a pond. A soldier standing at about 8 yards from the line-up raised his machine gun to fire. He was waiting for the order of his commanding officer sitting behind him. However, the officer ordered him to lower his weapon, because he had spotted a Pakistani army officer was coming from the direction of the pond. He had gone there to wash his hands. The army men did not fire to save their colleague.
I was somewhere in the middle of the line-up. I was thinking about saving my life. But Shubhash, being frustrated with the situation, said, “It is meaningless to live anymore.....They also killed Dr. G.C. Dev.” As the officer ordered not to fire, the soldier lowered his machine gun. He brought out from his pocket two packets of cigarettes. I still recall that one was ‘Gold Leaf’ and the other was ‘King Stork’. I thought they must have taken the packets from the house of some teacher while conducting operations in the teachers’ apartments. The sepoy threw the packet of King Stork to the officer and lit a cigarette from the packet of Gold Leaf. He was a little unmindful. At that time I sat on the ground as I was tired, but I was observing them with attention. At one stage, I saw the officer turn his back and advance towards a sepoy who was leaving the place. Taking advantage of the situation, I slipped towards the pile of dead bodies and I lay on the dead body of a guard of the hall. The body was still bleeding. My face and other parts of body was stained with his blood. I lay there like a dead body. Thus I succeeded in deceiving the killers. A few moments later, they fired from the machine gun. The people standing in queue fell down. Some fell upon my body. After the brush fire, they found some people were still alive and shot them again. Fortunately, the soldiers could not see that I was alive under the pile of dead bodies. I lay motionless and in silence until the army left the place. I lay there for 5 or 6 minutes, before raising my head, and saw nobody was there. Some women and children were running towards the place. All of them were wailing, because, they were the family members of the victims. They came close and tried to find out the bodies of their dear ones. They had come with some hope of finding their beloved ones alive. On seeing those people approaching to the killing site I was sure that the army personnel had left. I started running towards the gate. Another boy too got up from the pile of dead bodies and also started running. Later, I came to know that the boy was from Bazitpur. He was not a student but he lived in the hall. I crossed the area of Jagannath Hall and went to a building on the other side of the road. I knocked on the door, but nobody opened it. Then I went to the roof and saw a helicopter flying above. A few minutes later, a boy came with a jug full of water. He said, “I heard you, but could not open the door. My family members did not allow me. I became desperate to see you.” The boy helped me to drink water and further asked, “What can I do for you? I can’t do much. Stay here, I’ll take care of you.” After an hour, I came downstairs and entered a flat on the second or third floor of the building, where a gentleman lived alone. A few days back, he sent his family members to the village. Many people in Dhaka city did the same after the 7th of March. The gentleman requested me to sit in his room. He told me to change my blood-stained dress and wash my body. He said “These could prove dangerous for you.” I went to the bathroom and washed my clothes and body. They gentleman said, “You are not safe here. You’ll have to go somewhere else.” After about 3 or 4 hours, he took me to another building. The boy from Bazitpur was also there. I saw blood along the staircase of the building. I concluded that either the Pak army had conducted an operation in that building or that injured people had taken shelter there. The gentleman thought this building too would not be safe for us to live. He took us to another building from where the playground of the hall could be seen clearly. At noon, we saw some army men in the field. A man wearing a tupi (cap used by muslim religious man) was with the army men. The dead bodies were still there. Nobody removed those from that place. On the morning of 26th March, the army brought a bulldozer and drove it over the pile of dead bodies in order to bury those. The barbaric Pakistan army razed the bodies to the ground. We witnessed the tragic scene through a window of the building. We went to the field when curfew was lifted the next morning. We saw about 50 dead bodies there. Hands and legs of some victims were on the ground while the bodies under the soil. I still feel frightened whenever I
recall that horrible scene. I have never heard about such cruelty of men. I never saw such killing of men like birds. We have read the history of Halaku Khan and Chengiz Khan, but could not imagine that such cruel incidents could happen in a civilized world. I could not even think of committing such a barbaric act. When we were at the killing field, my friend Mostak came looking for me. Until then I had thought that he had also became a victim of the massacre. Another student, Suresh, also came. He had bullet injuries on his shoulder. He said, he was in a line-up of some people who were killed by brush firing by the army on the roof of a building, but being a short man, the bullets hit his shoulder, instead of the head. As we were hungry, Suresh, Mostak and I bought some puffed rice from a shop near the hall. Then we went to Dhaka Medical College Hospital on foot. Suresh was admitted there for treatment. Mostak and I decided to leave Dhaka and go to Sylhet. On the way, we saw Anwar Zahid prying out the dead bodies from Curzon Hall of Dhaka University. When we were crossing Baitul Mukarram mosque, we saw many dead bodies on the street. We reached Matuail with the stream of home-bound people. We took shelter at the house of Bazlu, one of my colleagues. After two days we ate warm food Bazlu’s house. In the afternoon, he gave us some money and helped to cross the Demra area. While returning to Sylhet we saw the uprising of the people and their spontaneous resistance against the occupation army. We saw the new national flag of Bangladesh, inscribed with the map of the country, flying atop houses across the country. Interview by Ruhul Motin
I saw signs of terror everywhere Protiti Devi Protiti Devi is the daughter-in-law of Dhirendranath Datta, the first man demanded Bengali as state language of Pakistan in 1948 in the then Provencial Assembly. Datta, a member of the Provincial Assembly, also played a vital role in the anti-colonial rule. He was tortured by the Pakistanis after being arrested in Comilla. Protiti Devi, in her testimony, describes the inhumane torture unleashed on him.
When barbaric atrocities by Pakistani forces continued in Dhaka on the night of March 25, firing also started in police line area in Comilla town and quickly spreaded to other parts of the town. We were in fear as my father-in-law Dhirendranath Datta was a famous political leader. So, we were apprehending the worst. Many of our family friends had suggested my father-in-law to leave home, but he did not agree saying “If I leave this place, they will kill my innocent people here.” The firing continued all through the night. The Pakistanis killed the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police in Comilla on March 26. Curfew was imposed in the town. Movement of people was hardly seen on the streets. We could not understand what was happening outside. As the shops were remained closed many people came to us to take rice. Our house was in Dharmasagor area. This area as had some significance jail, main offices, court and residences of elite were also located in this area. Curfew was withdrawn on March 27 afternoon. A road in front of our house goes straight to Sonamura border. We saw a stream of frightened people of all ages and walks of life heading towards the border. Three of six our house helps were sent to their village homes. Only 10-year-old Sadek and two others were in the house. My father-in-law was not convinced to leave the house. Others, present in the house were my brother-inlaw Dilip Datta, daughter Aroma, son Rahul and me. On March 28, we saw some trucks dumping human bodies in Faizunnesa Girls High School ground. There were, perhaps, some wounded people among the bodies brought from the outskirts or nearby villages. The barbaric Pakistani troops sprayed petrol and burnt the bodies reducing the injured people to ashes. We heard a big bang outside our house at about 10 pm on March 29. The sound continued for about an hour. Later we came to know that the house of Bachchu Kaka (Awami League leader Zahirul Quaiyum) was attacked. Firing and explosions continued amidst the curfew. I was very puzzled. My father-in-law looked restless. His blood-pressure rose very high. It was 266. He took medicine after I had washed his head. All of us were sleepless. We heard heavy firing in front of our house at about 1:30 am. It was horrifying. I went to my father-inlaw’s room and again back to my room. The doorbell rang. Dilip rushed towards me and asked “What should I do?” I said, “We have no option but to open the door.”
I tried to get up, but he rushed and opened the door. Immediately some Pakistani soldiers pointed their bayonets at his chest and stormed the room. They took Dilip to the chamber-room of my father-in-law, who was also dragged to that room. Aroma and Rahul were in the adjoining room. I tried to come out. Since minor Rahul was being taken away. But a young Beluch captain carrying a torch-light intercepted me. I heard shouting from Aroma’s room. The entire house became a horrifying sight. I did not hear anything other than firing and shouting since the door was open, as if, several thousand army men had occupied the house. Firing followed by sound of breaking of glasses continued. I could fathom that the pictures in my father-in-law’s room were being broken by bullet shots. Blood started to flow from that room. I heard someone moaning, “Let me free, let me free”. I could make out that they were being bayoneted. I tried to come out forcibly, but the Beluch captain would not allow me. The soldiers in Aroma’s room were looking for female university students. On being asked, Aroma replied that she had appeared for the matric exam. Somedays back I had brought some female students from Dhaka University’ Rokeya Hall along with Aroma. The army’s main target was to kidnap university student, Aroma. Since Aroma was being interrogated, the Beluch boy didn’t allow me to go there nor did he allow anyone from the other side to enter. As a result, Major Bokhari, known as killer of Comilla, did not realise there was any female inside the room. Among the soldiers, there was one who knew Urdu a little bit. He kept repeatedly asking, “Who is from Dhaka? Obviously, there is someone from Dhaka.” I tried my best to shout loudly that there was no one from Dhaka. In fact, they were looking for university student, Aroma. At one stage one of them had allowed Aroma to leave the room telling her, “Go to your mother.” As the firing continued breaking windowpanes and blood flooded the floor, I felt that no one could have survived. Perhaps not even Rahul? The dreadful operation was over after 11 minutes. Army officers of all ranks, including a brigadier and a colonel, had come. Stenguns were set up on both sides of the house. The road in front of the house was crowded with troops. An ambulance came and took away my father-in-law and Dilip. Rahul was sent back to me. He was saying time and again, “Uncle needs a bandage.” In fact, minor Rahul had become very nervous. It was not possible for him to bear the pain of seeing such notorous atrocities. He fainted time and again. The ambulance disappeared. The army officers also started to leave the house in phases. The house was freed completely of army personnel by dawn. I had lost my all senses, I did not know what to do then. Until the last soldier left the house, the Beluch boy remained standing. Later, I realised Aroma and I could survive only because of him. The entire house bore signs of blood. A deathly silence gripped the entire home. The only sound was the groaning of Aroma. I went to my father-in-law’s room. There were signs of destruction wherever I looked. Blood covered the floor; the walls bore the signs of indiscriminate firing and damaged-pictures were lying on the floor indiscriminately. Sadek was in my room during the operation. He boiled milk and served it to Aroma and Rahul. As I lost my father-in-law and brother-in-law, I was thinking about how could I save my daughter and son and how to leave the house. I did not find any way as curfew was going on outside. Army guards were in front of the house. They were also patrolling the streets. I stood up on a chair and tried to looked outside peeping through a ventilator. All of a sudden, the door of the bathroom was knocked from the backside. I thought the soldiers had come back again. I opened the door frightendly and was astonished to see a neighbour, Mr Rahman, a C&B service holder. He secretly came to know of our condition. Defying strong army guard around the house, he came to us crossing the boundary wall with a high risk. His courage and humane amazed me. I said, “Please manage two burkhas (veil) for us. Then we could try to leave the house.” He said, “There is curfew outside. Soldiers are patrolling in the streets and in front of the gate. You’ll not be able to go out.” “What’s your suggestion then?” I asked.
He advised me to wait and told till Curfew withdrawn at about 11am for an hour, then he would back again. I myself thought several times of fleeing through the back of the house, but it was not possible to open the old door on the backside as it would create a sharp noise drawing attention of the soldiers. I heard knocking on the bathroom door at about 11am. Frightenedly, I opened the door and found Mr Rahman. He asked me to come out, and brought Aroma and Rahul over the wall to backside. I crossed myself, but I did not know how Mr Rahman could cross the high boundary wall alongwith Aroma and Rahul. After reaching to Rahman’s house, he asked me, “Didi (sister) where will you go now? The army might come as soon as the curfew is withdrawn.” I replied, “At first I’ll go the Daroga (police inspector) bari (house).” Aroma and I wore the burkhas. Mr Rahman took sick Rahul and adviced us not to glance back while walking on the road as it would make the soldiers suspicious. The gate of our house is on the way to Daroga bari Police officer’s residence. While crossing the gate, I started weeping. The area around the gate was marked by signs of blood. Our pet dog and cat were crying around a blood-stained shoe of my father-in-law was in front of the gate. As we were barefooted, it was very tough for us to walk through the street. Elderly people were consoling us saying, “Oh! Obviously they are from an elite family. Now they have to walk barefoot.” Aroma was weeping while walking. I tried my best to stop her. I told her, “My child, don’t cry now. We’ll have to cry throughout the lives. If you cry now, soldiers will come and pick us up.” After walking for sometime, we reached the Daroga Bari. Mr Kamal of the house said, “Sister, it’ll not be wise for you to stay here anymore. You’d better to go hide where.” They kept Rahul along with them and managed a safer place for us. Mr Rahman gave Rahul a new name- Bacchu Mia- for his safety. I still did not know where we would be taken to, where we would be kept. However, I heard that we would be taken to a close relative of theirs. After sometime, one man came and took Aroma and me away. Our new destination was five-minutes walking distance away. It was the residence of Mr Eskander Ali, a nephew of Mr Kamal. Mr Ali was a captain and physician in the Pakistan Army. He was stranded after coming from Chittagong. He had no contact with his mother, wife and 10-month-old son who were in Chittagong. Eskander took the responsibility of Rahul’s treatment. Aroma was still abnormal. She continued weeping all the time. In the meantime, Eskander got news that his family members in Chittagong were shot dead. He told Aroma “Why are you crying. You at least have your mother. But I have lost everyone.” He was able to console Aroma. It is impossible for us to the gratitude I cannot express sufficiently what the doctor did for us at that time. Taking a life risk, he had in wards cooked food himself and took special care for Aroma like his own daughter. Army personnel used to come to that house to interrogate Mr Eskander everyday. He talked to them keeping us in secret places. A Pathan cook, was appointed for him, also helped us. The cook even tried to make the army understand that there would be no point killing the doctor as he might help them in case of need. When ever the army personed came we were kept in the bathroom or the kitchen or other secret places. Had the army known of our presence in that house, a death penalty was certain for Mr Eskander. Our domestic help, Sadek used to visit us and brought clothes, rice and other things from our Dharma Sagar house. We also came to know about other developments from him. He told as about the killings inflicted by the army and their atrocities. I felt very tense all the time. Rahul was yet to recover, Aroma was still sick. I used to know the developments from Radio Australia and All India Radio. At the end of April, I came to know that army personnel was hunting for us. They had also announced a cash prize for our capture. In this condition, I did not want to be a cause of trouble to Eskander. So I requested him to, rent a house for me. On April 30, the Pathan cook informed us that the house would be raided in the next day. Then I asked Eskander to take us in another place.
In the dark of the night, Aroma and I were taken away to another house. I did not know where the house was situated. It took 10-15 minutes to reach there after walking thorough a garden. Here we faced another trouble. People gave us suspicious looks. They started questioning — who are we? From where have we come? Where would we go? We requested them just to allow us to stay for a single night. On May 2 morning we again went to Mr Kamal’s house, where we heard a Akashbanee (Indian radio service) news item in the morning that the Parliament in Delhi would adopt a condolence motion to show respect to Shaheed (martyred) Dhiren Datta. I realised it would not be wise to stay here furthermore as the army had intensified raiding many houses to hideout the family members of Dhirendranath Datta. May be they were looking for us to compel us to make a statement that we were in safe. The reason was simple, they did not want to let the world know about their brutal atrocities. It should be mentioned here that Radio Pakistan had broadcasted the death news of Dhirendranath Dutta saying he died of cardiac arrest. I thought Dilip had died immediately after he was taken away from the house. Dhiren Babu was not supposed to be alive for a long time enduring the inhumane torture. However, Ramanimohon Sheel, a barber of our area, who was also picked up to the cantonment, said he saw Dhiren Babu and Dilip being tortured in the cantonment. Army personnel killed them unleashing brutal repression for straight five or six days. The barber claimed he had even witnessed their burial. After the news of Akashbanee the Daroga bari advised us to cross the border. But it was very risky. At last Mr Kamal could convince his cousin Syed Mia to reach us to the border. Accompanied by Syed Mia, we started the journey from Daroga Bari by a rickshaw at about 12:30pm. I still could visualize the people of Daroga Bari were crying to say us good bye. The road and the destination were unknown to us. The rickshaw proceeded towards the Goumti river. There was risk of death at each and every moment. Indiscriminate firing could be heard from the direction of the cantonment. Like us, many rickshaws were bound towards the Goumti and then to the Sonamura border. On either side of the road, we saw the bodies of many people, including women and children. Many rickshaws behind us were blown away by shells. We were still confused of our destiny even after crossing the Goumti. There was only an endless void. We went through a route of which I knew nothing. On our arrival at the dam after crossing the Goumti, Syed Mia said, “Mother, now we are free from risk. No shell from Pakistani forces can reach here.” While passing through the dam, we saw signs of atrocities of Pakistani forces — many houses were burnt to ashes. We could still hear the sound of shelling. In the evening we reached Sonamura border. As we were about to cross the border, I saw some soldiers jumping out from a convoy. They were ‘Gurkha’ soldiers. For the first time I realised how would we cross the border, as we did not have passports. I introduced myself and told the Indian border authorities about our situation. They said, “Papers and passports are not please follow us.” They took us to the Sonamura Police Station. Then, began a new chapter in our lives, leaving behind the peace of home. Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
They used to uproot the prisoners’ nails by piercing knives to their fingers Singer Linu Billah Nakhalpara MP Hostel was the biggest torture centre in Dhaka during the 1971 liberation war. Music Director Altaf Mahmud and many other people were killed there by the Pakistan Army. Singer Linu Billah, who is a relative of Altaf Mahmud, was also arrested with Mahmud and brought to MP Hostel camp. Linu Billah described his experience while making a statement on September 23, 1999.
In the early hours of August 30, 1971, everybody at home woke up hearing the outcry of my younger sister Shimul. I rushed to her room and found that some black-dressed Pakistani army soldiers had rifles pointed at her neck. The Pakistani army men entered the room through the kitchen door which was always kept open. Shimul was at that time practicing of her singing. One army captain asked, “Who is Altaf Mahmud?” Altaf Mahmud came forward to introduce himself and said, “I’m Altaf Mahmud”. “Mall Kaha? (Where are the arms)”, asked the captain. “I don’t know,” replied Altaf boldly. Without waiting a moment longer, the captain struck Altaf Mahmud with his rifle. Altaf felt severe pain on his abdomen. His nose started bleeding. Then the army men compelled him to unearth some boxes full of arms and ammunition near the tube-well behind the house. From then, the army formally began to torture him. Before taking us from our residence in front of Rajarbagh Police Line to the MP Hostel, the army unleashed torture on us several times. I cannot say how I was taken to MP hostel. Soon after the car carrying us reached the front of the Hostel, the Pakistani army burst into joy as if their favourite food stuff had been brought for them. The soldiers started torturing Altaf on the street. They asked us to walk for a while and line up there. Then we were taken to a small kitchen. Many others were confined in the room. At about 8 a.m. they noted down our names after taking us out from the tiny house. Then the formal torture session began. A well-trained group of army personnel took us to an adjacent room and started torturing us. Before entering the room, I heard the groaning sounds of other people who were being tortured at that time. The soldiers continued torture on them for 20-30 minutes and then sent them back to the kitchen. Havildar Shafin Gul was the leader of the torture group. He used to unleash torture in many ways. I heard Altaf Bhai groaning at regular intervals as he was being tortured mercilessly in the room. From another room, the screams of other freedom fighters were also heard. Through a hole of the kitchen door I saw a man who‘s face was almost distorted. His right eye was about to come out while the left one was bleeding. His face was badly injured. He was yelling in Urdu, “Mujhe goli mar doo, lekin mat maro (Kill me, but don’t beat me anymore).” Hearing the voice, I thought I might know the man, but I could not recognise him then. Later, I found out he was Hafizur Rahman, a close aide of Altaf Mahmud. He was a skilled player of various musical instruments.
I found a group of 5 or 6 army men inside the room when I was called in. Shafin asked me, “Who were with you and where are the arms?” In reply, I said, “I know nothing.” Then the barbaric Pakistani soldiers forced me to lie down on the floor. Two of them stood on my hands while two others on the legs. Another man pressed my neck to the floor with his legs. They started inhuman torture on me. They beat me mercilessly from my shoulders to the knees as if they were chopping meat like butchers. It was their routine torture on freedom fighters. It was a common punishment for those who claimed to be innocent from the beginning. They continued torture on me for about 15 minutes. I found my clothes had got wet with continuous bleeding from my back and other parts of my body. At the same time, the devilish army men unleashed torture on the other Bangalees confined in the balcony and in a room next to it. I could realise the extent of torture by hearing the screams. I also realised that I was tortured less than the others. I was sent back to the kitchen after torture lasting for about 20-25 minutes. The torture on the others, continued . I saw the detainees taking care of the injured people back from the torture cell. They washed the blood from their face, shoulders and clothes. Spraying water on their faces, some detainees tried to bring back the sense of those who had fainted. I did not know the whereabouts of Altaf Mahmud. The barbaric soldiers took Altaf away from the camp at about 10 a.m. They also tortured my elder brother in a barbaric way. By this time we met two handsome guys in our room. We realized that they were badly tortured. They were continuously bleeding from their nose, lips and face. Their clothes were stained with blood. The elder one was looking towards me, my four brothers and Alvi by reclining his head on the wall. Despite such unbearable torture by the army men, he was smiling. He was Sharif Imam, husband of Jahanara Imam. The younger man was Jami, his youngest son. Mr. Sharif Imam made gestures to us not to make any noise, because the army men used to multiply the level of torture on those who made noise. We were confined in a 3-room flat of the MP Hostel. One evening, about 7 or 8 p.m, we got frightened with the sound of kicking on the door. We heard the sound of unlocking of the room. The soldiers brought in a young man, aged about 27-28 years, who was about to die. They kicked and left him in the room. One of the army soldiers said, “Bloody, want to flee? We’ll not kill you by shooting”. The young man was moaning and said, “Don’t beat me, please kill me.” The boy lay with us in the room, but as the door was open, we could not do anything for him. When the door was closed, we tried to raise the boy so that he could sit by the wall, but he was too weak to sit. His face was almost distorted. His nose and mouth were bleeding continuously. He tried to get up several times, but failed. We could not recognise him. Later, Alvi told me that he was Badiul Alam, a freedom fighter. He was known as Badi in the Dhaka University campus. Badi made an attempt to flee from the concentration camp as he thought it was better to die than to be tortured, but the Pakistani armymen foiled his attempt and arrested him. Badi fainted as the army men unleashed brutal torture on him. The devilish Pakistanis left him in an unconscious state in our room. His off-white trouser and shirt were stained with dry blood which made the clothes blackish. At about 8 p.m. the armymen took him away. I never saw him again. After several rounds of interrogation and torture till 8 p.m. the army men took us away from there in two pick-up vans. At about 9.30 p.m. the army men took some other people from adjacent buildings. They picked up another handsome young guy in a separate jeep from Building No 2. He was severely tortured, but still strong enough to stand. He himself got into the jeep. His name was Rumi, a freedom fighter and the eldest son of Jahanara Imam. It was my first and last meeting with Rumi. We were taken to the Ramna Police Station by 10 p.m. Everyone was lined up in the verandah. I was surprised to see Chullu Bhai in the line-up. He was also severely tortured. Chullu Bhai told us not to disclose anything. On August 31. Pakistani soldiers came to the Ramna thana by bus. They packed all of us in the bus and took us again to the same Nakhalpara MP Hostel at about 10 a.m. Everybody was feeling severe pain on their body due to the previous day’s torture. The army men started torturing us again that day in same way, asking similar questions. The torture turned more violent. I applied the strategy according to tips given by the detainees in the Ramna thana custody. It worked. At one stage the severity of punishment was lessened. I gave Alvi and others the same tips. In the meantime, one of Alvi’s
finger was fractured. It happened when he tried to resist the stroke of the baton. His finger was still bleeding. The army men slapped Dilu my younger brother, on the ear, as he did not give satisfactory replying to their questions. His ear was also bleeding. He could not even hear anything after the blow. Dilu is still short of hearing. We spent the whole day in a reign of torture. At about 10 p.m. they took us to a cell at the Ramna police station. The next day was September 1. At about 9 o’clock an army bus was brought and the army men asked us to get into the bus. For the first time there I saw cricketer Jewel sitting beside me with bandage on his finger. I heard that he had received bullet wounds on his finger during an attack on the Pak army near Dhanmondi Road No 18. I heard Jewel reciting from the Quran. Perhaps he thought that he was going to die soon. His injured finger was proof of his active participation in the war. Jewel was an active fighter in several important operations against the Pakistani occupation forces. On August 30, when he was being brought as a prisoner, he told Mr. Samad, “You have helped the Pakistan army to arrest freedom fighters. If I return I will kill you.” But Jewel never returned. He embraced martyrdom. We were detained again in the same rooms after getting off the bus. After a few minutes, all the prisoners were taken outside the buildings. The soldiers ordered us to line up and walk slowly towards the ground floor of the biggest building of the three. They also ordered us to be seated on the floor. The place resembled a court room. A colonel was sitting nearby along with two captains. It was Colonel Naser Hezaji. One of the captains was called Quaiyum, but I cannot recall the name of the other. Among others, Shafin Gul and his accomplice Bihari Muktar were there. We understood that they were going to take the final decision as to who was to be killed and who to be released. I was observing the captain who was sitting beside Colonel Hezaji. I recalled that the captain used to go to the DIT television centre. I decided to talk to him. The captain was so ferocious that he used to remove the prisoners nails by piercing knives to their fingers. The colonel was delivering the verdicts like a judge, by pointing his finger to the right or left — release or punishment. At about 12.30 p.m. I was called in. The colonel asked me, “What’s your name?” I replied. Then he asked the names of others. The Captain was moving the knife about as if it was a pistol. Suddenly I told him, “I’ve seen you earlier.” Surprised, the captain said, “Where?” I said, “At the Television Centre.” Then the captain said, “Yes, I used to go there, but what did you do there?” In reply, I told him that I was an artiste. The captain smiled and asked what my job was. I replied that I used to sing and play the tabla (a musical instrument). As soon as I replied, the captain kicked a small table towards me saying, “Play on it and sing a song also.” I felt a new lease of life, and I started singing and playing on the table like a tabla. I cannot recall which Urdu song I sang. All of us were released, except Altaf Bhai. The captain once again ordered us not to disclose anything of what happened there. He also asked us to supply the names and addresses of the freedom fighters and report regularly about their activities. When we were leaving the Hostel, Altaf Bhai said, “Don’t worry about me. Take care of Shaon, my child.” Interview by Ruhul Motin
They broke ribs by beating with iron rods Professor A. M. M. Shahidulla University teachers were one of the main targets of Pakistani occupation forces during the liberation war. From March 25 to December 15, 1971, they indiscriminately killed the teachers and unleashed inhumane torture on them. Professor A. M. M. Shahidulla of the Department of Mathematics, Dhaka University was picked up and fell victim to their torture during the war. The statement of Professor Shahidulla was recorded on September 28, 1999.
It was midnight on August 13,1971. I couldn't sleep in anxiety. I had been sick for the last two days. Suddenly, I saw a group of Pakistani soldiers coming from the Fuller Road towards my residence. Another group of 50 to 55 soldiers were following them. They came straight to Building No. 12 and took position in and around the house. I lived at flat No. 12/C. Having observed the situation for the last few days, I guessed that they came to arrest me. Before any untoward incident could take place, I opened my door. The group led by City SP climbed up to the fIrst floor. They verified a list containing the names of five university teachers with my name on the top. The other names were Professor Saad Uddin, Professor Ahmed Sharif, Professor Abul Khair and Professor Rafiqul Islam. Indicating my name, the group leader asked me, "Are you this person?" "Yes, I am," I replied and the group leader tightly slapped my neck asking me to follow them. I told them to wait for a while so that I could change my dress and take essential medicines with me, but the officer, possibly a Colonel, did not pay heed to my request and said, "You will get everything after going there." I was identified by Kazi Mohiuddin, the then Officer-in-Charge of Ramna thana. They took me near the garage of Building No. 16 where Prof. Saad Uddin resided. The Colonel asked me the address of Saad Uddin. I replied that I just know he (Saad) had been residing in the Building No. 16, but I did not know the flat number. Then the City SP slapped me, hurled abuses and said, "Don't you know the house of your friend?" Then the troops moved to Ahmed Sharif's residence. Failing to reach Prof. Sharif, the army men stormed into and brought out Dr. Abul Khair from his residence, Building No. 35 located aother side of the Fuller Road. Then they divided us into two groups. The soldiers put Dr. Abul Kahir and Saad Uddin in a jeep while me in another vehicle. I was taken to Nilkhet where Professor Rafiqul Islam lived. The army ordered me to crawl and snake into the house as the main gate was closed. 'I don't know how to crawl', I told them. Suddenly, one of the soldiers shoved me on to may knees. I felt severe pain and was compelled to crawl into the house and to call Prof. Rafiqul out of residence.
I guessed that somebody had made allegations against us to the Pakistanis and it was the reason behind the arrest. Earlier, the then university Registrar issued a circular through the Vice Chancellor Professor Sazzad Hossain asking submission of our present addresses to the authorities. I had given a fake address and my other colleagues did the same. The Pakistanis verified the addresses and found the fake ones. Then the university authorities issued a similar circular further. Thus we understood that someone had supplied our names to the Pakistani occupation forces. From the month of June, we had been receiving letters regularly from some unknown sources who claimed themselves as Jamdut (The angels of death). In those letters, we had been branded as 'traitors' because of supporting country's independence and the freedom fighters. They even threatened to feed our bodies to tigers, dogs and foxes. Other teachers who were still at large also received similar letters. Later, when we discussed the matter ourselves, understood clearly that some of our colleagues were orchestrating conspiracy against us collaborating with the Pakistanis. They told the Pakistan authority that the university would run well if we were arrested. During my interrogation in concentration camp, I came to know that the Pakistanis apprehended something wrong against us. They thought that we would do something dangerous before Pakistan Day. For this reason, they treated us like members of a guerilla group. We were taken to the Ramna Police Station at around 2.30 am. I was surprised to hear what the City SP told Kazi Mohiuddin, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Ramna P.S. He said, "You have been asked since last one week to report me about the listed people, but you said they are not available. I will see you tomorrow". Next morning I was surprised to see my wife and two colleagues at the police station along with residential caretaker Syed Daliluddin. Later I came to know that the OC had told my wife to come to the police station in the morning to meet me while I was being picked up on the previous night. Seeing Daliluddin, the angry OC said, "I'll shoot you. I told you to inform the teachers to go hide. Why had'nt you cautioned them earlier?" I realised that Mohiuddin was very sympathetic towards us. The night before night he allowed us to sleep on some benches instead confining us in lockup. I saw the miserable condition of the detainees, including a radio engineer and other officials, who were kept in the lockup. It was clear that the Pakistanis had left them in police custody after inflicting brutal torture. At about 11 a.m. we all were taken to the MP Hostel concentration camp. The army personnel first kept us in a room for one and a half hours and then shifted at a fenced building in the hostel compound. There were many small rooms in the first floor of the building. There I met one of my former students Fariduddin, the Police Super of Faridpur, and many other well-known personalities, including film director Khan Ataur Rahman. We were not given food till 3.30 pm. The OC of Ramna Police Station had arranged some food for us on the previous night, but due to unfavourable circumstances we could not took then. In the hostel four or five people were kept in each room which was ... very small in size. They used to change our room-mates regularly so that we did not get unite and exchage views. However, in the process of changing rooms, I met A.N .M. Yusuf, Cabinet Secretary Azizur Rahman, T &T official Sajedur Rahman, Petrol Service official Ahsanullah, Alamgir Kabir, Mulkutur Rahman and other high officials. The Pakistan army had arrested Mulkutur Rahman, one of my college friends alongwith arms from Kurigram area. A teacher of Political Science Department, Mulkutur Rahman was involved in a guerilla group. He was caught by the Pakistan army while bringing arms from India. He was sent to Dhaka by a helicopter after severe tortured. Many army officers including Major General Majid came there. Awami League leader from Barisal, Mohiuddin Ahmed was also in the torture camp. On the third day in the MP Hostel, we were brought to the interrogation cell. There they gave me a blank paper to write the names of all my friends.
We used to write the names of such friends who were in hiding by this time. We also provided fake addresses. We were detained in a dark small room before being taken to the interrogation cell. We had to sit and sleep on the floor. We were served some food brought from the central jail. The guard used to enter the room at regular intervals to check on what we were doing. The army officers also used to come to see us. One day Brigadier Fakir Mahmud came along with a Flight Sergeant. The sergeant taking his split to his eyes said ridiculously, "Oh my Bengalee brothers (!), What pain you have! We will give you freedom only after 25 years!" Fakir Mahmud also ridiculed me saying, "You used to teach Bengali nationalism in the Trigonometry subsidiary classes". It make me clear that either one of my students or my colleagues had informed the army. It was not possible for Brigadier Fakir Mahmud to know what I taught in classrooms. I understood that such information was supplied regularly to the cantonment from the university. During interrogation, one day a man came and asked me, "Can you recognise me? I met you at the Dhaka University Club". I recognised him instantly, but could not recall his name. Once he had gone to the Club to become an external member of the club, but he was not given the membership. While interrogating me he said, "You were the house-tutor and treasurer of Iqbal Hall. Is it true that you had contact with Razzak, Tofail, Shahjahan Siraj (student leaders) and others? What is your opinion on Bengalee nationalism?". Failing to get a satisfactory reply, he slapped me, stripped off my clothes and kept me standing in public for hours together in broad daylight Sometimes he used to push cigarette butts on my back. Other detainees were also tortured in front of me in the same way. The Pakistanis used to press them on their chests with iron rods and break their ribs by beating mercilessly. They also used to remove their nails using needles. Sometimes they used to pierce needles into their heads. I did not know the people who were tortured in front of us. Later, I learnt that they were Bengalee army officers. I witnessed some of the victims being taken in stretchers in an unconscious state. I heard that some of them were beaten to death. An army officer was always on duty to torture me. The officers were changed by rotation. One day a Major named Bashir came and told me, "See, what a miracle! I have studied only upto class four, but now I'm a Major in the Pakistan Army". Brigadier Bashir came on another day. He wanted to know the name of my district. I told that I was from Comilla. Then he said, "All the people in Comilla are Hindus. So you are named Shahidulla unnecessarily!" I got angry and protested. He again questioned, "Do you say prayers?" I said, "Yes, I'm a Muslim". However, he asked the same question again and again. They interrogated me for nine days. A new officer used to come everyday. On the last day of my imprisonment, Colonel Hejaji, a notorious army officer, interrogated me. The Pakistanis treated everybody as a Bengalee, not as a Muslim during interrogation. I witnessed that bearded old Muslims, wearing caps, were also tortured. They took our photographs tagging name badges on our chests as if we were criminals. We heard the sound of firing around the area every day and night. The guard on duty used to inform us that they were killing some people. Prof. Saad Uddin and I renamed the sentry as Janowar (animal), because he proudly claimed that he had killed some 13 people so far. I heard the screams of women every night. The Pakistan army picked up many women and raped them repeatedly in the concentration camps. In mid-September, we became panicky one day as the Pakistanis came and suddenly shut down our windows and doors. We thought that we were going to be killed, but within an hour the windows and doors were reopened and we came to know that they had taken such cautionary measures as Tikka Khan had flown away to Pakistan at that time. It was also known that he had declared amnesty before leaving Dhaka. However, at about 1.30 a.m. we were charge-sheeted so that we could not get amnesty. I was charged on seven
allegations that included anti-state activities and giving shelter to a Bengalee army officer's wife. All the complaints were false and fabricated. The Pakistanis considered university teachers as dangerous elements. That is why our activities were regularly monitored in those days. A Bihari physician used to come to our cell often to provide us some minimal medical treatment. His assistant, a handsome guy, used to pass important information to us. He even made an arrangement to send my messages to my family members. He was later killed by the army. In October, guerilla activities increased in Dhaka. We were sent to jail then. The Pakistanis introduced a special provision for the university teachers giving them the opportunity to get released on bond. One day I saw Professor Ahsanul Haque, a simple and soft-hearted man, getting down laughing, but he returned wiping his eyes after a few minutes. I asked him "What's the matter?" He told me that he had tried to be freed on bond, but his mother told him not to do so. She said, "The country will be independent. Don't come out from jail giving such bonds. If need be, you die in prison'. I'll never forget it. I'm proud of such a mother. It inspired me a lot." Notorious Razakar (collaborator) Moulvi Farid Ahmed once met us in prison. He acted as if he was going to helping us to be released from the jail. Instead, he took us to Brigadier Bashir's chamber. Muslim League leader and collaborator Nanna Mia was also there. He was taking bonds from us all. Dr. Khair, the bravest man in our group, forbade me to give bond though Nanna was his relative. However, we were freed with the help of Nanna Mia. We were taken straight to the VC Sajjad Hossain by a jeep and asked to stay in certain houses only, as per the authority's choice. Within a few days, I came to know that the teachers, who were freed, were being picked up once again and killed by the Pakistan army. The brother of Professor Rashidul Haque and Professor Abul Khair were killed in the same way. In early December, Dr. Murtaja, one of my physician friends, helped me to escape along with my family members from Dhaka by a car which was marked with the sign of the International Red Cross. Keeping my spouse and two children at a house in Kamalapur, I passed my time here and there, and thus I survived. After the victory in the War of Liberation against the Pakistani occupation forces, I returned to Dhaka University campus. On my return, I learnt that my friend Dr. Murtaja was no more. The uncivilised Pakistani army brutally killed him. Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
The Pakistanis used to enjoy everyday after unleashing torture on us Capt (Retd) Syed Suzauddin Ahmed Syed Suzauddin Ahmed, a former director general of the Mass Communication Department, was a commissioned Bengalee officer in Pakistan Army during Liberation War. He was arrested on April 8, 1971 from Satkhira area. Then he had to suffer inhuman torture by the Pakistanis in the name of interrogation. His testimony was recorded on September 25, 1999.
I was at Jessore on March 25, 1971. Being a resident of Bihari Colony, I saw the Biharis get panicky amidst the tension prevailing in the town. We assured the Biharis that Bengalees would not attack them. I went to the Awami League office to know the latest situation. At that time I was on two month’s leave. I did not return to Pakistan to join although my leave was finished. It was a major offense as per the rule of the armed services, but I wanted to see the result of the negotiation that was going on between Yahiya Khan and Bangabandhu. I thought that everything would be normal within a day or two and I would be able to return to Pakistan. I would have gone to Pakistan if the crack down had ocurred 6 or 7 days later. On the midnight of March 25, I came to know about heavy firing in Dhaka. I tried to make a phone call to one of my distant cousins who lived in Dhaka, but did not get him. That night I could not sleep due to the tension. On the morning on March 26, curfew was imposed in Jessore town. It was announced that if anybody was found blocking roads, he would be shot at. We saw army vehicles making the announcement. Then, we were preoccupied with the incidents of Dhaka, because only a few days earlier we had seen the people’s uprising in Dhaka. We thought that people would came out on to the streets and eventually many of them might be killed, and that was what actually happened. On March 26, one of our neighbours tried to look through window. The army shot him dead. We were waiting for information about the incidents happening across the country. At that time the radio was the only medium. On March 26, army took position at all important installations including T&T and EPR camp. They lifted curfew for two hours on March 27. Taking this opportunity, I went to the EPR camp and met one of my friends Asmat. I asked him whether they would take any step or not. He said, “We are waiting for the action of Third Bengal and directive from Major Abu Osman who is now at Chuadanga.” The authorities relaxed the curfew the next day. Some people were already killed in the town in scattered incidents. The Pakistanis killed Colonel Habibur Rahman, an army physician. On March 28, a public announcement was made calling for surrender personal arms. My family had a shotgun, which my father told me to deposit. On my to deposit the gun, some youth stopped me on the way and wanted the gun. I told them to snatch the gun from me, but surprisingly they did not do so. Then I deposited the gun at the police station. I realised that most people wanted to resist the Pak army, but could not be organised due to lack of strong leadership. Everybody was trying to resist individually, not collectively. As a result, we were unable to build
up a strong resistance movement. But who will bell the cat? In the meantime, we heard that the army cracked down in the cantonment area. On March 30, my friend Asmat came from the cantonment. He said, “It is now dangerous for us to wait anymore. They have already disarmed the Bengalee troops in the cantonment. Now they’ll also disarm the officers.” Then all the members of EPR and police came down to the streets with their arms. The Pakistani army members who were in the town escaped and took shelter in the cantonment. The rest who could not escape, were killed. Local Awami League leader Salahuddin Ahmed played a courageous role against the Pakistanis. On April 9, a retired army officer with about 150 people came from Narail to the Jessore district office of EPR. They were gathering in the town to attack the cantonment. At that time, we saw army planes were landing at the Jessore airport carrying troops. We heard that Major Osmani had revolted and was advancing towards the town with his troops. It seemed to me that the Pakistani army might conduct operations at anytime. I told Asmat, “Friend, if you stay here in such a disorganized manner, you will be killed. So leave the town.” In the afternoon, we saw people leaving the town in fear. Then I told Asmat, “When you go with the EPR, take me with you also.” The next morning, I went to the EPR camp, but nobody was there. My friend Asmat had also left. The camp was completely empty. Returning home, I told my father, “Let’s leave the town at once.” We planned to go to Barisal via Khulna. We hired a truck and took some neighbouring families with us, but could not advance towards Barisal as the road was blocked. Then we decided to go to Satkhira. We reached there safely and took shelter in the house of a friend of my father. He was a government official. Satkhira town was then free from the army. There were some EPR members who were protecting the town. The sub-divisional officer of Satkhira was non-Bengalee, held captive by the EPR. There was no civil administration in the town, but the law and order situation was fairly normal. In the early hours of April 8, a huge army contingent (possibly it was 26th Beluch Regiment) entered the town and set up camps at PN school. Captain Abbas, a non-Bengalee officer who was my course mate, recognised me. Colonel J. J. Dil was in command of the regiment. A Pakistani officer pointed at me told Abbas, “Woh gaddar hai, usko mardo, zinda nehi chhoro” (He is a traitor. Kill him. Don’t leave him alive). Saying this, he also kicked me, but Abbas stopped him saying, “ we are taking him alive with us”. They also took several other persons along with me. We were kept on the ground floor of a two-storied school building. We heard the groaning of women from the first floor. The Pakistani army had killed their family members. Abbas, who could speak in a little Bangla, told me, “Tell the women not to shout, otherwise it will be worse.” I saw a few dead-bodies on the playground of the school. They were killed by the army when they were entering the town. When I went upstairs, I saw about 150 women, young and old, held captive by the army. I told them not to cry and said, “They will go after a while. Everything will be all right.” I heard an army officer shouting, “Why you have killed muslims. We ordered you to kill only Hindus.” Thus, I realised that they wanted to kill all Hindus of the country. After interrogating me at PN school, Captain Awlad left the camp for Jessore taking me with him. The army personnel had killed all but two persons including me. The troops were surprised to see us alive. They also thought that we were all dead. On the way to Jessore, we saw houses on both sides of the road burnt and destroyed by the army. They army troops did this on their way to Satkhira. At Jessore, we were kept at the cantonment. No food was given to us that night. The next morning, possibly it was April 16, they brought us to Dhaka by an F-20 plane. Through the window of the aircraft, we saw that all houses and shops of the area were burnt to ashes by the army. We were taken blind-folded to the army headquarters in the cantonment area. At that time they were saying they they would kill us soon, bue we were kept the whole day. Then we thought we would be killed the next morning. An officer opened the door in the morning and I thought I was going to be killed. However, we were not killed for reasons not known. At that time, the Pakistani army personnel were not questioned for killing Bengalees, nor were brought to trial for such killings.
They took us at the godown of the ammunition dump of the air headquarters. There were some small rooms measuring 15 by 10 feet. They used to keep 5 or 6 prisoners in each room. There was no light, no ventilation. They used to torture in various ways us regularly. The methods were slapping, punching, kicking and beating with rods and rifle buts, even using bayonets. A few days later, they took me to an interrogation cell and started beating me before asking any question. An officer, of the rank of major, asked me, “Your leave has already finished. Why you didn’t you join ? Why did you go to Satkhira? Did you plan to join the Muktibahini? Did you see any Indian army? How many Biharis have you killed?” Sometimes they interrogated me blind-folded, and at other times with my eyes open. They used to beat my up mercilessly whenever I refused to reply. They tortured on my feet and palms. They liked to force me to sit under the open sky blind-folded. Once they took me to an empty room. They told me to sit on a chair and a major started interrogating me. He wanted to know why I, being an army personnel, went to Satkhira instead of going to the cantonment. I told him that the road was blocked. That is why I went to Satkhira. Captain Bashar was with me. The army men beaten him up mercilessly as his reply to their questions were not considered by them to be satisfactory. I heard that they eventually killed Captain Bashar in that torture cell. I heard his outcry on the day he was killed. Later a sepoy came and told me that Bashar had been killed. Besides, I saw the army personnel beating Captain Huda. He was also killed. They did not keep us in the same cell for many days. They changed the inmates regularly for security reasons. The whole area was surrounded by barbed-wire. The doors of the cells were kept open during the day time. In the evening, the doors were closed until the next morning. So during the night, we were not allowed to go to toilet. Every morning, they used to take us to the toilet. where we also bathed for the day. They did not permit us to go to toilet during the rest of the day. If anyone so requested, he was beaten up by the troops. During breakfast time, they used to serve a cup of tea and a piece of bread to each of the prisoners. A bowl of rice and some soup-like substance made of pulses and pumpkin was served during lunch time and only rice and pulses at night. They gave a jerrycan to each of us for drinking water. The Pakistani troops, whenever they wished, used to enter the cells and started torturing us. They used treat us like animals. They kicked us indiscriminately on our bodies. After torturing, thy used to shout with joy. One day, one of them hit me on the kidney. As I tried to protect my kidney, he became angry and hit me again. I fainted in pain. They continued this type of torture on me for about five months. They confined about 200 civil prisoners in a hall room there. Once I saw, the army men took a young man outside, forced him to sit under open sky and beat him up. In the afternoon, the young man died. Before dying, the young man jumped several times and then became silent forever. We heard that he had tried to snatch the firearm from the guard in a bid to escape. After this incident, the troops beat up each and every prisoner with thier rifle butts and boots. The sepoy posted to guard our cell informed us that all prisoners were beaten up there. Sometimes we saw the troops carrying dead bodies of prisoners. One morning General Niazi came to our camp and asked ,”Having good time?” It was clear to me what he meant by ‘good time’. Many renowned personalities were confined with us like Pistol Mohiuddin of Barisal Awami League, former BNP leader Abul Khair, Major Altaf, Major Abdullah, consultant of Jamuna Bridge ANM Yusuf and S. O. Alam. When the sepoys came every morning to serve breakfast, they used to beat up the prisoners. They poked us with their rifle butts. Colonel Rabbani died when a sepoy poked his kidney with his rifle. They used to beat us randomly, according to their wishes. One morning when a sepoy was beating up Mr. Alam in the cell, he told the sepoy the amount of money he used to get as salary at that time. They sepoy became dumbfounded and forgot to lower the rifle he had raised to beat Mr. Alam. It was quite unbelievable for the poorly-paid sepoy. I was and surprised. I saw Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury (Now working as diplomat in a foreign mission), captain Aziz, Lt Nasir and others in the torture cell. In the month of October, we were shifted from the prisoners camp to the VIP cage in the MP Hostel in
Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. I often heard the cries of women at night from the quarters situated behind the MP Hostel. The MP Hostel was like a heaven for us compared to the prisoners camp where we were kept earlier, because, we were allowed to go to the toilet 24 hours a day. In the meantime, they submitted a chargesheet against me. In November, they took me to Pakistan. This was done at the directive of the chief of the Multan Regiment, of which I was an officer. An officer named Zia Masud found me out and arranged for my transfer to Pakistan. Before leaving, he told me that he was not used to seeing me in such a condition, “I cannot belive my eyes to see you in such condition,” he said. However, I could not retain my position after returning to Pakistan. They kept me under open arrest in my regiment. We were not allowed to return home even after Independence in December. They took all the Bengalee officers and confined us at Saghai Fort in Khaibar Pass. In all we were about 800 Bengalees. In 1973, we returned home under the extradition agreement. After returning to Bangladesh, I heard many stories of the cruelty practised by the Pak Army. A relative told me that an army major at Pirojpur named Sazzad Hossain tied a woman named Bhagirathi to his car and drove around the whole town. The woman was said to have supplied information about the Pak army to the freedom fighters. After this cruel punishment, there was nothing left but the skeleton of Bhagirathi. All the people of the town witnessed the barbaric act. It is a matter of regret that Sazzad Hossain came to Bangladesh a few years ago for business purposes and returned safely. What could be more shameful than this for us? Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
My arms, hips and back turned blood-stained as they beat me mercilessly Naser Bukhtear Ahmed Naser Bukhtear Ahmed, now the Deputy Managing Director of Prime Bank Limited, was a Grade-1 Officer of the State Bank of Pakistan in 1971. He was arrested on August 30, 1971 by the Pakistani occupation forces. He fell victim to inhuman and barbaric torture by the Pakistan Army. His statement was recorded on September 9, 1999.
We were neighbours of noted music director Altaf Mahmud. It was early August 30, 1971. The time was 5 or 6 a.m and I was still asleep. All on a sudden I heard shouting outside my house. I saw large army contingent coming towads our house. I jumped out of bed, and came to the veranda on the first floor. I noticed that an eight-member group of Pakistani army men, led by one captain, were proceeding towards my house. I saw Samad and Altaf Mahmud along with the troops. They came near a tubewell in the backyard of my house and started digging the earth. We did not know what they were looking for. My elder brother shouted, “Why are you digging there? There is nothing.” The army jawans pointed their rifles at our house. The captain was hurling abuses. He ordered my brother to come down. A big trunk was found under the soil. It was full of explosives and arms. Possibly these were kept there to conduct an attack on the Pakistani army troops staying at Rajarbagh police line. The army personnel took away 11 people, including me, my brother, Altaf Bhai and some others aged between 15-50 from the houses in the area to the cantonment. As the space in the two vans was not enough to accomodate all of us, an army man kicked out Tonu, brother-in-law of Altaf Bhai from the vehicle. Our names and addresses were recorded in the cantonment. We were kept under detention for hours. Later, we were taken to Nakhalpara MP Hostel. It was used as a martial-law court at that time. At first we were ordered to stand up in a line. There were some others who were picked up earlier. All of us were later taken to the kitchen on the first floor. We were beaten up mercilessly after being taken there. The size of the kitchen was 10 feet X 12 feet. They started to call us out one after another, according to a list. As the torture session started, we heard the groaning of victims that made us freeze in fear. At one stage, I was called in. One of the 5-man army group sitting in the room asked in Urdu — “Where are the arms? Who were with you? Tell me names of Muktijoddhas. Tell us their addresses.” I said, “I know nothing. I do a government job. I don’t know anything.” The army captain got angry. “Suarka bachcha tum governmentka nokri karta aur rat me Muktibahini ki sath deta (Son of a bitch, you’re a government employee and you cooperate with the Muktibahini at night).” I cannot recall the name of the colonel. May be Colonel Rashid. Whatever his name is, I was forced to lie down. Two jawans kept my hands under their boots applying heavy pressure. A jawan kept my head down
also by pressing his boots. Another started beating me severely with heavy sticks. I could not move for a single moment and started groaning following the inhuman torture that continued for 20 to 25 minutes. I was attired in a trouser and T-shirt. My arms, hips and back had become blood-stained by the mercilessly beating. Bleeding started also from other parts of the body. I could feel drops of blood coming out from my nose and dropping on to the floor. At one stage I fainted. When I regained sense, I found myself lying in the kitchen. The Pakistani army used to continue beating a man even after he lost sense. The torture continued on one person after another. The victims used to fall unconscious due to the inhuman torture. They were again taken to the torture room 3 or 4 hours after regaining sense, and the army person asked them the same questions. They used to push needles into the fingers, while nails were uprooted by something like an iron-hook. We heard groaning from the kitchen. My brother’s fingers were seriously injured following the torture. Uprooting nails was the second phase of torture. The third stage was more serious, just putting burning cigarette butts on the flesh. I still feel the pain at my back, which I received during the torture by the Pakistani forces. Besides, they used to put off burning cigarette by pressing it on my body. Punching, slapping, kicking and hitting with the butt of the rifles were very common at any time. The method of torture was more ferocious on others than on me. Even, burning cigarettes were pushed into the rectum of some of us. Renowned artist Alvi was also among us. He was picked up from the residence of Altaf Mahmud. When he said he is an artist, the Pakistani army uprooted his nails. I heard him groaning. The torture unleashed on Altaf Mahmud was very serious, inhuman, and terrible. I saw him being repressed. He was hung keeping his head down and tying his legs with the ceiling fan in the adjoining room. They used to keep his face dipped in boiling water. I saw Altaf Bhai murmouring and taking long breaths. Then he was asked, “Bol sala, mal kahan rakkha hai? Koun lok tera sath tha? (Son of a bitch, where are the arms? Who are with you?)”. For the sake of our lives, we used to reply in broken Urdu. But Altaf Bhai was the exception. He gave all replies in Bangla. He said, “Tomra ja ichchha tai koro. Ami Kichchhu janina” (Do whatever you want to. I know nothing.) I remembered those horrible memories for a long time — the blood stained body, continuous bleeding from his face. I can feel the pain of Altaf Bhai while describing the situation even after 28 long years. During the first year, I could not sleep well. Sometimes I saw him in my dreams and I used to get up screaming. The torture had no end. It continued all the day and without any break. One group was coming from the beatings, followed by another group. The Pakistani troops used to throw their leftover food to us and asked us to eat those. If someone refused, he was given extra torture. We were taken to Ramna police station after being tortured throughout the day. The Bangalee policemen supplied us medicines like pain-killer tablets and ointment. They also supplied bread and tea. However, they requested us not to disclose about the medicines and food. The next day when we were being beaten up again, the army personnel smelled the ointment, but they did not question the matter. The army men while unleashing torture on us, used to remove this nameplate and cap. We were tortured for four consecutive days. At that time I did not see anyone to die, but several were missing. Among them were Rumi, Jewel, Badi, Baker, Azad, Bashar and some others. Later we came to know that they were killed after being taken to the cantonment. Following the daylong continued torture, I had no strength to stand up. At about 12 p.m. on the fourth day, we were taken to the cantonment from the MP Hostel. We sat there for half an hour. At that time one captain, may be Captain Hezazi, asked me, “Ghar ja na mangta (Do you want to go home)?” I said, “Yes.” The captain said, “Okay. You are free for the next two weeks. You don’t need to go to office during the period. You’ll have to monitor the activities of others. You’ll be brought back if you don’t follow the order. Our people will follow you. Go straight home, but don’t disclose it to anyone.”
Then the captain ordered a jawan, “Get him a rickshaw.” For the first time an army officer used a respectable word to address me - Shaheb. Earlier, they used to abuse me by calling me ‘suyar ka bachcha, ‘kafer’, ‘munafek’, ‘gaddar’, whatever they liked. A search light was projected on my face so that I could not see anything. As I reached my home by a rickshaw, I found my elder brother also coming. I told the rickshawpuller, “Wait for a while. I have no money. I’m bringing it.” The puller burst into tears saying, “Sir, they asked me not to take money from you.” After I came back with money, I did not find the rickshwpuller. As I was not prepared to go to any doctor, my mother and grandmother gave me some quick treatment that healed me a little. At that time, we provided the freedom fighters with clothes, money and food. We also used to supply information that the freedom fighters needed. I do not blame Muslim League or others, who were supporting Pakistanis out of political conviction. One may have personal liking or disliking. The most heinous criminals were those who killed millions of innocent people, raped our mothers and sisters, and unleashed atrocities on our towns and villages. They must be tried. The war criminals of 1945 World War are being punished even till today. I know even in 1998, one General was picked up from Argentina and was punished. I don’t know why we could not try the war criminals for the last 28 years. Those who were in power and now are in power must answer for this. Interviewed by Ruhul Motin
Before hearing the sound of firing we thought that they would burn us to death Durgadas Mukharjee Pakistani military authorities arrested Durgadas Mukharjee, a former communist leader and a noted journalist of Bogra. He was living an underground life during late sixties. In the month of March, 1971 he came to Dhaka and witnessed the crack down of 25th night. He was arrested the following day. After his arrest, the Pakistanis took him to Shankhari Bazaar, a Hindu majority area, in the old part of Dhaka city where he witnessed the destruction, killing, torture and violation on women. Following is the written statement of Durgadas Mukharjee which was sent on October 12, 1999.
The military autocrat of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan postponed the first session of the newly elected National Assembly scheduled to be held in Dhaka on March 1, 1971. The entire Bengalee nation burst into protest when they came to know the announcement. Cities and towns across the country, including the capital Dhaka, turned into the cities of demonstrations and rallies. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the unparalleled leader of the nation, called for non-cooperation movement throughout the country. The Pakistani rule had limited effect on Bangladesh after the historic announcement by Bangabandhu. In a mammoth gathering at Race Course Maidan (ground), Dhaka on March 7, Bangabandhu called on the people to make strongholds in every house and remain prepared always to fight against the Pakistanis. He told the huge gathering: “This movement is for freedom, this movement is for independence”. I was involved with the then East Pakistan Communist Party (Marxist-Lelinist), which was banned by the government. I remained underground at Barisal. On March 23, the Swadhin Bangla Chhatra Sangram Parisad called for hoisting the proposed National Flag of Bangladesh across the country. Responding to the call, proliberation people, even Muslim League leaders and the supporters of Pakistani army at Barisal become busy in this purpose hoisted the new flag atop of their houses. In view of the situation, some of my friends suggested me to leave Barisal. I decided to go to Dhaka along with my family members, but my grandmother informed me that my wife was pregnant and it would be risky for her to move in such a condition. Following grandmother’s suggestion, I started for Dhaka on March 24 by launch leaving behind my wife. I advised her to be carefull at all times. The motorboat was supposed to touch Dhaka by 7 the next morning. But it remained stranded for several hours for dense fog while crossing the Meghna river at night. Finally, touched Dhaka at about 12 noon. One of my friends was supposed to receive me at launch terminal. But he left the terminal at 11 after waiting for several hours. As I found no one at the terminal I got frustration on my arrival in Dhaka. The number of passengers was very small that day and the terminal was looking unusually calm and quiet. A saw few rickshaws plying on the street. Under these circumstances, I decided to go to one of my relative’s residence at North Brooke Hall Road in the old part of Dhaka city and contact my friends afterwards. On reaching the house at about 1 p.m, I came to know that my relative had left Dhaka for Bhola two days
ago. I was in a fix. One of the residents of the house informed me that a room was vacant and I could stay there. I felt relief. I opened the room and found a cot, on which I put my bedding and took rest for a moment. In the evening, I went to meet Syed Jafar, one of my party colleagues. We discussed the latest political situation and tried to figure out what would happen in the days to come. He informed me that the meeting between Yahya, Bhutto and Sheikh Mujib had already turned into a mockery. On the other hand, troops from West Pakistan had started assembling in Dhaka with arms and ammunition. The Seventh Fleet of the USA was seen in the Bay of Bengal. The situation was very grave. No solution could be found in the meetings between Sheikh Mujib, Yahya and Bhutto. While talking to Jafar, I noticed that the streets had become deserted, and hardly any rickshaws could seen. By this time, I came to know that Yahya Khan had left Dhaka, and the city dwellers were apprehending a major crisis. Syed Jafar noted down my North Brook Hall Road address and asked me to stay there at night. He assured me of taking to a shelter in the following day. On way to the temporary den I found most of the streets empty, shops had downed their shutters, and only one hotel remained open having insufficient food. I went to the house and slept overnight after taking some food hurriedly. In the midnight of March 25, all the inmates of the house got scared hearing heavy firing with hue and cry outside. I also woke up. Coming out of the house, I found that the sky had turned reddish with flames of fire. Firing continued everywhere. Though I could not understand what was exactly going on, I assumed that the Pakistani occupation forces had started a massacre of the Bengalees. All the inmates of the house passed the night in a panicky situation. On March 26, I came to know by a radio announcement that curfew had been imposed in the city. So I could not leave the house for whole the day. I got more scared as some relatives of the house inmates informed us about the massacre launched by the Pakistani forces. I did not ever believe such inhuman and brutal killings could take place. I ventured out from the house with the aim of returning to Barisal instead of going to Bogra. As I started towards the Sadarghat Launch Terminal, I found ruins of shops on both sides of the road. These had been torched by the military. Several markets were burnt into ashes. I found scattered marks of blood on the streets. I noticed signs of killing at the Sadarghat that took place in the night of March 25. The entire Sadarghat area was blood-stained. No boat or launch was available at the pontoon. Some gunboats with cannons pointing to the terminals were anchored. I thought that it would not be prudent to stay there. Suddenly, I found a youth behind a shop listening a radio secretly. I stood beside him and tried to listen to the announcement of Major Zia on behalf of Bangabandhu. The young man concealed his radio and left the place soon, giving me a fearful glimpse. At that moment, I decided to go to Barisal by any means, carrying food and other essentials. My wife and two children had been staying in Barisal. But I could not find any shop open in the area. I again started for the North Brook Hall Road residence. While crossing Beauty Boarding, I found some boarders and staff of the hotel were being picked up by the Pakistani army people at gunpoint. I saw several non-Bengalees with the Pakistan army. At last I reached the North Brook Hall Road residence and suggested to all the inmates of the house to leave immediately. I also told them that the Pakistan army had started arresting Bengalees. Unfortunately, one of the aged inhabitants of the residence opposed my proposal. He said crudely, “What will happen to us? Are we the members of Naxal or Joybangla?” I told him that the Pakistanis had launched the attack on March 25 on the Bengalee army, EPR, police, and political leaders who believed in the independence of Bangladesh. The occupation forces torched even slums where the innocent poor people lived. Then the old man did not object any more. By this time, two of his sons went out saying, “We are going out to see what is going on”. A young and beautiful housewife of that family, being informed about the torture by the Pakistan army, requested her husband to leave their residence immediately. But the husband hesitated in doing so. While I made an attempt to cross the boundary wall of the house, the newly married housewife drew me back and said, “Please help us, my husband is being beaten up outside.” I assumed that there was no way to escape. There was no way for her to flee crossing the wall. I peeped through a hole in the wall and found that the Pakistanis had cordoned the entire house which belonged to a Hindu Jamindar (Land Lord). Within moments, several Pakistani soldiers equipped with deadly weapons entered the house. They
ordered us to keep our hands up. One of the soldiers punched me on chest and said, “You are the man of Joy Bangla, you have bombs, Where are the bombs?” By this time many other soldiers had entered the house and started looting valuables breaking suitcases and boxes. I had a valuable golden chain of my wife and several thousands taka in the bag that I carried from Barisal. The greedy soldiers became very happy looting these valuables. The Pakistanis confined five women in a room and chained them while detaining seven other men pointing guns at them. By this time, a new group of soldiers entered the room. Pointing modern and deadly weapons they said, “Don’t talk”. We were then taken outside one after another. They cautioned us not to look anywhere. The Pakistani soldiers kept us standing in front of a park for a few minutes. Then a big lorry, carrying Pakistani soldiers, came and some of the soldiers ordered us to keep our hands on each other’s back. We were walking, as per their directions, holding hands on each other’s neck in a row. As curfew was relaxed for sometime, people were moving about on the streets. I thought I was going to die. None of my friends, children, relatives, comrades and wife would be able to know of my death. We were moving forward in a row and were thus taken to the Jagannath College compound. I found some other people were kept tied there. Some of them seemed to be shot dead. We thought that the Pakistan army would kill us also in this way. Then we entered a hall room after the Pakistanis had counted the number of heads. We were told to remain seated silently. I secretly observed the entire hall room to see the condition of the other detainees. All the prisoners were sitting frightened on a bench. I assumed that all the captives belonged to the minority Hindu community. The guards on duty in the hall room were hurling abuses at us while taking tea. In the evening, I planned to escape from custody by the excuse of going to the toilet. I asked the soldiers in Urdu to go to the toilet, but the soldiers asked me to discharge excreta in any corner of the hall room. I told them that stench would be spread over the room, and only then two of the soldiers took me to a toilet. However, I found no way to escape. Some detainees were beaten up by the soldiers when they asked for drinking water. The wide-eyed Bengalees were sitting speechless in custody while the Pakistani soldiers were taking tea, laughing and abusing the Bengalees in a joyful mood. An old man was dozing. A soldier ordered a youth sitting beside the man to slap him. The young man hesitated. Then the soldier slapped the youth hard and said, “This is the way you must slap the old man”. Eventually, the youth was compelled to slap the old man. The aged man fell down on the floor. Then the soldiers attacked the man old and started indiscriminately punching, slapping and kicking him. The soldiers refused other detainees to go to the toilet saying that they would not allowed to discharge urine. They continued unleashing torture and hurling abuses. After sometime, a high official of the army came in and politely informed us that one Major would meet us immediately. We were told that we would be freed if we informed the Major that we were not the men of ‘Joy Bangla’. Suggesting this the officer started searching us for valuables. Some money and several golden rings were with some of the detainees. The officer seized all the valuables and noted down their names saying that the things would be returned later. It was nothing but an act of cheating. I understood from hearing their conversation. There was no written document regarding the deposition of the things. I had some coins and some essential medicine with me. A pen was in my pocket. The officer took it away. Earlier there were some chits and addresses of my party colleagues with me. I tore the papers and chewed those up as it could be dangerous for me. After sometime, another soldier came in and asked us if there was any Muslim who could speak in Urdu. Two of the young men responded positively. The soldier took the two out and soon after I heard the sound of gunshots. I realised that the two had been shot dead by the military men. They did not even spare those who had identified themselves as Urdu-speaking Muslims. After this incident, several soldiers entered the room and asked us to stand up. They also ordered us to come out keeping our hands on each other’s back. We started coming out one after another. We were moving forward in the dark and cold night with armed vigilance around us. We were taken to the lanes of Shankhari Bazar on foot. The small houses of the area were set ablaze. The dead bodies in the houses were burning. I
thought that we would be killed in a similar fashion. The soldiers ordered us to stand in rows in front of a house near Shankhari Bazar. Some of the soldiers kicked and broke open the doors of the house. They examined something in the room and came out again. Then we were ordered to march forward. Suddenly they again ordered us to halt in front of another house. Several soldiers came out from the house and ordered us to enter the house. Hearing the order, some of the detainees burst into tear. The soldiers hit them with their rifle butts. Some of the detainees, who refused to enter the room, were severely beaten. I thought that all of us would be torched to death in the house. Some 37 detainees were gathered there in a tiny room. Having failed to secure a place under the cot, I kept lying beside it. Many people were on my back. It was difficult to breathe due to their weight and pressure. In the meantime, the house became silent as the detainees got in. Suddenly the Pakistani soldiers started brush firing on the detainees. I was almost sandwiched by the pressure of the corpses. The stream of hot blood, still dripping from the deceased, made my body wet. At that time I was thought that I had been hit by the bullets of the Pakistani soldiers. But I was still alive. There I was with blood on my body, though the bullets had not touched me. Before the firing started, I assumed that the soldiers would torch us to death, but my assumption was incorrect. At the firing stopped I heard various sounds in the house. One of the detainees, who was dying, caught my legs and told something in his distorted voice. I was then lying silent. It was uncertain whether the killers could see me or not. It is really impossible to describe the situation. I suddenly faced a flash of lights. I think the army men had come there to find out whether all the Bengalees were dead or not. I was still lying motionless on the floor. After sometime I thought that there was no way to escape death as the army personnel started firing again. This time, I received some bullet injuries on my hips and right hand. Blood started coming out. All of a sudden the firing stopped. I was then trying to regain my senses as I felt faint. I would have to remain alive. I examined the wound on my body. My breathing was still normal. Recalling the ruins of the Shankhari Bazar, where thousands of dead bodies were burning, I thought that the Pakistanis would also blow this house using explosives. I realised the army would leave before the explosion and if there was any opportunity I would have to flee. I was waiting for that moment and trying to keep myself from fainting. Suddenly, I heard the sound of army boots. It seemed that the Pakistanis had come to torch us. I clearly heard the command (in Urdu), “Lets go”. I saw the killers leaving the house. As soon as the army left, I got up from the pile of dead bodies. It is difficult to remember how many bodies I had to remove to clear my way out. I started shivering seeing that another detainee was getting up when I reached the door. I was about to faint when the man caught me by my hands. The man started running towards Islampur, holding me. By this time, I heard the sound of several explosions. Later, I came to know that the Pakistanis had destroyed the house where we had been detained. The two of us were running in the dark of the night. It was nearly 12 midnight. We stopped in front of a wall. The man who came with me was the owner or an employee of a battery shop situated in front of the North Brook Hall Road residence, where I had temporarily taken shelter. The man lifted himself on to the top of the wall and asked me to do the same. I was too weak and nearly dead. Unable to lift myself up or cross the wall, the man disappeared after crossing it. My vision become obscure as the man disappeared leaving me alone. I started shivering and thinking that there was no way to escape. The entire area was unknown to me. Suddenly I heard the voice of a woman, “Koun Hai? (Who is there).” At that moment I thought I would die, but instead a window behind me opened. A non-Bengalee woman was looking at me in the light of a hurricane lamp. Noticing my blood-stained shirt, the woman wanted to know my identity. She was a Bihari. Addressing her as mother I appealed in broken Urdu sought her help. I said, “The military men shot me, and I barely escaped death”. The woman was kind enough to respond to my appeal. She took me in. Several women were looking at me suspiciously, after I entered the house. Of them, a comparatively aged woman eagerly wanted to know the incident. On getting my reply, she assured me that I could escape death after such torture, due to my father’s blessings. I felt weaker as the bullet wounds caused continuous bleeding, and I was shivering from severe cold. Anticipating death, I requested the ladies to keep my address. One of the women gave me a piece of paper and
a pencil. After writing several addresses of Barisal, Bogra and Dhaka, I requested them to give information about my death at the addresses. The women consoled me and said I would survive with the blessing of Almighty Allah. Then they took my bloody clothes and gave me a fresh lungi and panjabi. I requested them to remove the bullets from my body. They tried to pullout the bullets with cotton bandage and hooks, but failed. There was no male member of the family at that time. Finally, I fainted when one woman extracted a bullet from my body. I do not know for how long I remained unconscious, but I felt my body and head soaked with water and felt very cold when I regained sense. The women covered my body with mosquito nets and rags since I was shivering. I had to spend the entire night in the non-Bengalee shelter. The women also told me about the lack of security in their lives. I found some young healthy people in the house in the morning on March 28. Perhaps they were the husbands or relatives of those women. I became panicky as the men were talking to the women about me. Though I was afraid of the non-Bengalee men, a middle-aged man among them, suggested to me to go to hospital and remove the remaining bullets. As curfew was relaxed, people began moving about on the streets. Several rickshaws were plying in the lanes and by-lanes. The middle-aged man agreed to take me to a hospital. I came out after saluting the women. We got a rickshaw after walking for a while. Noticing the panicky people running here and there on the streets, the rickshawpuller dropped us off after sometime. Later, I learnt that the Pakistani soldiers shot dead several Bengalees in broad daylight on the Nawabpur Road and as a result, the people had panicked. As I reached Segunbagicha on foot, I disclosed to the non-Bengalee man that I knew a doctor who resided there, and I would be able to get admitted into the Medical College Hospital with his assistance. The nonBengalee urged me, saying that I could go to their shelter, if I face any problem. I once again saluted the non-Bengalee man before leaving him on Segunbagicha road. There was a big business house ‘Rahman Brothers’ at Segunbagicha. The owner of the firm was from Bogra. I found three people there. Everybody became scared on seeing me. One of them was known to me but he could not recognise me. As soon as I told him my name, he gave me three takas and asked me to leave immediately. First, I shorted looking for Dr. M. A. Karim’s house, but it was difficult to find. I moved around and reached near Razarbagh Police Line. Razarbagh area was almost smashed by the Pakistani army. People were hardly moving on the streets. I was in a quandry as to where to go next. I found some youth on the street and asked them whether they knew the residence of writer Badruddin Umar. Replying negatively, the youth were about to leave, when I told them that I was detained by the Pakistan army. I said, “I have two bullets embedded in my body. My life is near death. It will be difficult to survive if you don’t help for me.” The youth firstly doubted me seeing me in rags and dirty clothes. They wondered how and when I had come to Dhaka. I told them my story in brief. Kamrul Hasan, brother of Communist Party leader Manzurul Ahsan, Kazi Akram and Mostafa Whahid Khan of Chhatra Union, were among the youth. They behaved cordially with me and took me to a secure place, but they failed to get any doctor. Then the youth decided to take me to the Medical College Hospital. One of them was trying to get through to Dr. Rafiqul Islam Zinnah of Bogra, who was well known to me. The youth hired two rickshaws and showed one rickshaw puller the way to go to the hospital. The other rickshaw followed the first one. I reached the Medical College Hospital safely and met Zinnah at the hospital. He consulted some surgeons immediately. In the afternoon, the surgeons removed the bullets lodged in my right hand, but they found no bullet in my hip. The surgeons said that I was out of danger. For security, I was described as Matiar Rahman in the hospital’s registration book, because the Pakistani army had earlier picked up many patients bearing Hindu names. The hospital authorities reportedly took such measures. Dr. Zinnah had suggested that I should not to stay in own bed, and so I had to go the morgue, whenever the Pakistani soldiers visited the hospital. The Pakistani soldiers used to come to the hospital at night in search of branded Bengalee people, but due to the courageous role of the doctors and other staff who were in favour of the freedom fighters, they could not find us that easily. I had to hide several times in the mortuary when the soldiers came to the hospital. A nurse used to warn me in advance.
The coming and going of the Pakistanis to and from the hospital caused fear among the patients. Dr. Zinnah told me that would I have to go elsewhere and to leave the hospital secretly. On March 30, Dr. Fazlee Rabbi, an eminent heart specialist, drove me to a house in Chameli Bagh area in the city. After a short stay in the house, owned by one Major Enamul Haque, Dr Zinnah and one of his students took me to another house at Goran area. Later, we reached Kanchan area by boat. Dr. Ashikul Alam of Sattar Jute Mills of Kanchan was one of the organisers of the mass upsurge of 1969. He was a Marxist since his student days. After staying some days under his care, I went to a village in Lauhajang of Munshiganj district. By this time, my comrades informed me that the Pakistani soldiers were getting prepared for launching fresh attacks on Bogra and Barisal. As my wife and children were staying at Barisal, I had to go to Barisal. My friends arranged a launch to go to Barisal along with a doctor for dressing my wounds regularly. On reaching Barisal, I found my grandmother at our town residence. My wife and children were at a relative’s house in Kashipur, a village adjacent to the town. My grandma burst into tears seeing me as they had thought I was dead. I started for Kashipur on that night. Then I took my wife, children, grandma and a neighbor to village Kajlakhati in the next morning. Keeping them in this village, I once again went to Dhaka after some days, as my stay here was not safe. Though I survived hiding in many villages, the Razakars, Al Badrs, Jammat and Muslim League activists (collaborators) unleashed torture on the innocent people of the villages where I took shelter. Besides, the extent of torture by the Pakistani occupation forces also increased that time. My wife returned to Barisal as she could not stay in the village for long. In the meantime, almost all furniture and other valuables were looted from my town residence. In my absence, my wife and the two children were compelled to convert to Islam through affidavit, due to the threat of fundamentalists. My friends sent essentials including, rice, pulses, oil and salt for their survival during my stay in Dhaka and Narayanganj, but the members of Al Badr and Razakars in Barisal looted all the valuables sent for my family. I was known as Musharraf in Narayanganj and Bikrampur area. There I started working for the liberation war in guise of a bearded Darbesh (Muslim saint). On December 16, 1971, a new state was born in the history of the world. My wife also gave birth to a girl child in a missionary hospital in Barisal. The missionaries gave her the name ‘Mukti’ (Freedom).
The Pakistanis used to pierce needles into my nails everyday during interrogation Mosharraf Hossain Mosharraf Hossain was a first class contractor in Pabna during the War of Liberation. He was one of the local leaders who organised people to resist the Pakistani occupation forces. During the final stages of the war, he was arrested by the Pakistanis and faced severe torture. While giving his statement on October 18, 1999 in Pabna, Mosharraf recalled his experiences and the torture he faced 28 years back.
I was engaged as the Ansar Battalion Commander (Honorary) of Pabna district in 1971. I was also the founder member and assistant secretary of Pabna Rifle Club. In the first week of March we had assumed that the Pakistani authorities would not hand over the charge to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of Awami League, the party which won the national assembly election in 1970. I started providing guerilla training to some 50 youth at the Krishnapur Girls’ High School in the district, though which I had to face resistance from different corners. The then Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Pabna, Nurul Kader Khan, gave all-out support to my effort. On March 23, Anwar Hossain Ghutu, Civil Defense Commander Rahimuddin Peshkar, DC Nurul Kader Khan and I jointly hoisted the National Flag of Bangladesh, instead of the Pakistani flag, at the Pabna Police Parade Ground. We took salute at the parade when the members of the Girls’ Guide, Ansar Bahini and Civil Defense presented the guard of honour. As per the directions of the DC, I took away some 30 thousand bullets of .22 bore rifle and distributed them to the trained Ansar members. I also handed over some 49 rifles, including mine, to the members of the Ansar Bahini. Local Awami League leaders, DC Nurul Kader Khan and the then Police Super of Pabna went to India as the Pakistani forces occupied the town for the second time. The new DC, SP and SDO (Sub-Divisional Officer) secretly called me and suggested to continue cooperation with the freedom fighters. I collected arms and ammunitions from the police line and sent those to the freedom fighters through one Idris Ali. Apart from these, the SDO sent relief goods and Taka 20 per family to provide the freedom fighters with food, through me. However, the Pakistanis branded us as suppliers of arms and ammunitions to the freedom fighters in the early stages of the war that started on March 25. We drove out the occupation forces from the town through fierce battle during the early stages. A fight took place at Nazirpur in Pabna Sadar thana between the freedom fighters and Naxsalities leaving 7 or 8 Naksalities dead. Tipu Biswas led the Naxsalities in the bloody clash. The Naxsalities blamed me for killing their men. Tipu Biswas’s uncle Khondaker Nurul Islam lodged a complaint with Captain Taher of the
Punjab Regiment against me, with 13 allegations. Pakistani forces cordoned my residence and took me away to the WAPDA camp tying my hands and legs, about two months before Victory Day. I was taken into the custody of Captain Taher and he questioned me in Urdu. The captain said, “Many of my men could have been saved if I had known earlier that you are a ferocious tiger of Pabna”. The Pakistani captain during interrogation, raised various topics and poked my hands and mouth with his bayonet to get information from me. I fainted at one stage when the captain unleashed severe torture on me which I still carrying on different parts of my body. I remained unconscious continuously for 24 hours. After regaining sense at noon the next day, I found my pajama-panjabi (clothing) had turned blackish with the stain of dried blood. Devilish torture started once again at about 2 in the afternoon. I was tied to a pillar keeping my hands up by a rope. Sitting on an easy chair before me the captain was smoking cigarettes. He ordered his subordinates to beat me up. The soldiers started beating me with sticks wrapped with hard belt, used in the rice mill to move its big wheels. The Pakistanis were enjoying while beating me. On the other hand, I was screaming with severe pain. They became desperate to make me confess the 13-point allegations brought against me. The soldiers repeatedly unleashed torture on me and I fainted after 25 minutes. On the fourth day, Captain Taher ordered a subedar to get confessional statements from all the inmates confined there, including me, otherwise, to suffer beating again. The detainees were hung from the branch of a mango tree in front of the WAPDA control room and were lashed with stick-belts mercilessly. Everyday, in turn, we were beaten from noon to dusk. Having failed to get my confessional statement after 12 or 13 days in custody, the Pakistani soldiers took me to an office room. Four of the soldiers pressed me down to the floor and another soldier inserted ice pieces into my rectum. “You are a gentleman, tell us the truth and we will release you (Tumm Bahut Sharif Admi Hay! Sach bata do, tumco chhor dega), they said when I started screaming. I fell unconscious again, as I could not bear the terrible pain. I found myself on the floor when I regained sense. After two days, I was taken blindfolded to the concentration chamber. I was laid down undressed on the ice-carpeted floor and a 25-kg ice piece was propped on my chest. At that time, four army men put pressure on my hands and legs pinning them to the floor. In unbearable agony, I fainted once again. Apart from these, the Pakistani army men used to pierce needles into my nails everyday to acquire information about our activities. I often saw Captain Taher passing orders, while on the easy chair, awarding punishment in different ways to us. He was the main supervisor of the torture sessions. The Pakistan army unleashed torture on every inmate in the custody on the same scale as they did to me. The most common form of torture was beating with sticks wrapped with hard belt. The torture of Pakistani soldiers was so terrible that the victims did not have any strength to stand again. They threw the Bengalees to the floor holding their hands and legs together. The victims, who were tortured severely, could not regain their senses for 5 to 6 hours. I saw the skin of their hips rotting as a result of the beatings. The Pakistanis used to bring 4 to 5 people everyday into their custody while some were taken outside blindfolded by jeep, never came back. When asked about their fate, the Subedar used to jokingly reply that they were sent to the moon. Every evening, each one of us was waited anxiously wondering wether we would be taken away. Those who were taken blindfolded from custody were shot dead somewhere else. I was taken to the District Council Hall on the 14th day of my arrest. Captain Taher produced me before Major Aslam Khatak of the Punjab Regiment. The captain lodged complaint to the Major saying that I did not make any confessional statement. After consultations between them, the Pakistani soldiers threw me blindfolded in a truck holding my hands and legs together. The truck stopped after two-and-a-quarter hours of travel. Then the Pakistanis took me off the track and two soldiers holding my body from two sides forced me to walk for nearly 100 yards. I felt sand beneath my feet. I assumed that I had been taken to Nagarbari Ghat, on the bank of river Jamuna and to be shot to death. The Pakistanis interrogated me again and again. They lured me saying that if I told them the
truth they would free me or else kill me. They also told me that the 13-point complaint brought against me was false. “I know nothing about this. False allegations have been brought against me over a business contract dispute,” I replied. I fell down as the Pakistani soldiers repeatedly hit me with their rifle butts, and they threw me again into the truck. I was about to faint. The army men started pressing me under their boots. The truck moved thereafter and reached the concentration camp after an hour. The soldiers confined me in custody at the WAPDA torture center. I was sent to jail after staying in that cell for five more days. I was released on bail after 13 days. We were served two pieces of chapati and given a bucket full of water a day during our confinement. We had to sleep on the bare floor using slippers as pillows at night. The Subedar who had arrested me asked again, “What happened between Captain Taher and you? Why did he beat you repeatedly?” I came to know the name of Major Aslam Khatak from the Subedar later. I am sure that Captain Taher was directly involved in the killing of thousands of unarmed Bengalees at Demra, Satbaria and many other places in Pabna district. The captain was a very ill-tempered officer. He was trained in America specially on torture methods. I had to bear the inhuman torture unleashed by the Pakistani army as I had joined the freedom struggle. The uncivilized Pakistanis brutally killed my father-in-law Muhammad Ali Khan, his three sons Siraj, Izaz and Nurul and other relatives. Despite all these incidents my name is absent in the list of freedom fighters prepared after my country’s independence. Due to political tussle my name was not included in the list. Interviewed by Shafiul Alam Raja / Krishna Bhowmik
I had to run for a mile behind a truck with a rope tied around my neck Mohammad Nazrul Islam Mohammad Nazrul Islam is an ordinary peasant of Brahmarajpur village in southern Satkhira district. He fell prey to the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971. He was arrested and tortured only because he was the relative of a local MP of Awami League. He still suffers physical pain following the torture. His testimony was recorded in his village home on October 11, 1999
I am Mohammad Nazrul Islam, son of late Mohammad Hossain Sardar, village Brahmarajpur, Sadar thana, Satkhira. In 1971, I was engaged in farming in my village. My brother-in-law M.A. Abdul Gafur was a local Awami League leader and was elected an M.L.A. in the 1970 general elections. For this reason the Pakistani troops led by Major Naser Khan came to my home to arrest me. They came in a jeep and a truck and gheraoed the house in collaboration with local peace committee secretary Shukurali. They woke me up and asked, “Where is your father? Where are the machine guns and stenguns?” Later they dragged me out and searched the rooms. The Pakistanis tied me up with rope and took me to their headquarters at Mahmudpur. After taking me there, they tied my hands up at first and started beating with sticks. Later, they forced me standing in a pond with bricks on my head overnight. Again I was beaten up after being taken away from the pond in the morning. On the following day my throat was tied up with rope, attached to the back of a truck and dragged me for a mile. They also tied up me with a pole and wounded severely hitting with bayonets indiscriminately. Three days passed under such conditions. I fainted several times following the torture. In fact, I lost all my senses and could not say what the Pakistanis did with me. I could only recall a Pakistani hitting me with his rifle and I lost all of my teeth. I was compelled to lie down on the sand and the soldiers would walk over my body with their heavy boots. On the fourth day, I was taken to Satkhira Police Station and kept there for 27 days. Inhumane torture was unleashed on me at the police station. The nterrogators repeatedly wanted to know from me the whereabout of Abdul Gafur. They also asked about arms,. In fact, I did know anything. About one month later I was released from the police station at the initiative of my other brother-in-law Abdul Latif under Tala Police Station. He contacted the officer-in-charge of the police station and freed me by giving him cash money as bribe. Since then, the razakars and peace committee members (collaborators of Pakistani army) used to visit my house without any notice to find out about my activities. I recovered from the wounds after taking treatment from Dr. Siddiqur Rahman for four months. I still feel pain in my body during the time of new moon and full moon. I have to take two injections whenever the pain rises. The injections relief me a little bit but I fell weakness in my physicial condition. I am still suffering from physical pain over 28 years subsequent to the Pakistani forces tortured me. Interviewed by Abul Kalam Azad
I found my father’s body on the pile of dead bodies on the street Gazi Kamaluddin Gazi Kamaluddin is the son of a martyr of Chittagong. The Pakistanis killed his father Ali Karim on November 1971 and left the body at Pahartali killing ground in Chittagong. Pahartali was the largest execution field in the district. Kamaluddin’s testimony was recorded on October 4, 1999 in Chittagong. He described his father’s killing and the massacre launched on the Bengalees at this mass grave.
The people of Chittagong city were not spared from the barbaric torture and destruction done by the Pakistanis during the country’s War of Liberation began on March 25, 1971. My father Ali Karim was the head clerk of the Railway Department in Chittagong. We, seven brothers and a sister, lived in my father’s government housing at Panjabi Lane (now Shaheed Lane) in Pahartali area. Many Biharis also resided there. I was only 13 years in 1971. Many Biharis joined hands with the Pakistani occupation forces as soon as they started torturing and killing the unarmed Bengalees. As the locality was dominated by the Biharis, the unleashed wide-renge torture. Being distrubed by such activities, we left the government housing estate and moved our village home on foot on April 5. We stayed in village for several days. In the meantime, three of my brothers—Gazi Mezbahuddin, Gazi Shamsuddin and Gazi Salahuddin—left the country for India to join the Liberation War, leaving us in the village home. The war then intensified across the country. The then Pakistan government had been instructing the Bengalee officials repeatedly to join respective work places. In late September, my father came to Chittagong along with me and my uncle Ali Hossain. We started residing at our 230/B Pahartali house. Mr. Gofran of our village, Mannan and Aslam from the Railway quarter were also staying with us in the house. We were frightened all the times as there were sounds of firing all around the house. Apart from this, looting by the Biharis and their and heinous acts of Biharis kept us anxious. Despite such a volatile situation, my father and the other Bengalee officials were attending their offices regularly. The way to their offices passed through the Bihari occupied areas. As many Bengalees were tortured to death on their way to office, the Bengalees had to find out an alternative road, avoiding the road through the Bihari village. Like on other days, my father started for his office at day break on November10. It was the month of holy Ramadan. Usually I locked the door after seeing off my father in the morning. But that day I left the door unlocked. After a while, I heard sounds of heavy firing and outcries of people outside the door. Peeping through the door my uncles and I, saw that the entire quarter had been cordoned by the black-dressed militia and Pakistani soldiers. The Biharis under the soldiers’ shelter started looting, and taking away many Bengalees from their houses to hand over to the Pakistanis. Whenever I recall the torture unleashed by the Pakistanis in those days, my body still shivers in fear. However, my father suddenly came back home and closed the front door. He called us inside and soon departed through the back door asking us to leave the house immediately. I was too frightened to talk to my father. I went to the back door to call him, but he had already been left.
As we got ready to leave the house keeping it under lock and key as per my father’s advice, a few Bihari men along with the soldiers stormed into the house. I hid myself beside a drum under the cot. The soldiers talked to my uncles and asked them to go with them. The soldiers said that they would be allowed to return home after identifying the dead bodies lying on the road. They were also told that General Niazi himself had come and that high Railway officials were there. I came out from under the cot soon after the Pakistanis took my uncles with them. I was wondering what to do. Suddenly, some 2/3 Biharis and soldiers entered the house breaking the door and asked me in Urdu, “Where have you came from?” I told them that I was hiding in the house. But the Pakistanis took me away to the northern part of the colony. I found my uncles tied back and lined up on the opposite side of the Eye Hospital. Two soldiers were guarding them from two sides. The Biharis were bringing away many Bengalees from different houses and handing them over to the Pakistanis for killing. My uncle gestured to me to flee and I tried to flee. One of the soldiers followed me from behind and shouted, “Arrest him”. I took shelter in a toilet tank behind the house. All their attempty were in vain. They returned after failing to catch me. After waiting for several hours I took shelter in my maternal uncle, Mohiuddin’s residence. After a shower, I came out from that house in search of my father. By this time, many had come out to search their missing relatives who were picked up by the Pakistanis. After sometime, the black-dressed militia forces appeared again and cordoned the entire area. Having failed to get any information about papa, I went to the house of Mr. Nadiruzzaman, a collegue of my father. Nadiruzzaman and my father left office at about 11.30 a.m. as they came to know about the volatile situation in Punjabi Lane area. Mr. Nadiruzzaman said that my father might have been arrested by the Pakistani soldiers. He saw my father talking to two Biharis on the way. I came back and my uncle took me to his Patharghata residence at night. Next day I returned to the Punjabi Lane quarters and found many dead bodies in an open space, where the Chittagong Television Centre is located now. I was looking for the dead bodies of my father on the road and roadsides. Finally, I found it among a pile of bodies. At that moment the black-dressed militia and members of Beluch Regiment cordorned the entire area and fired gunshots to disperse the people who had gathered there in search of their relatives’ dead bodies. I saw from a hilltop that the militia and the Beluch Regiment members burried all the bodies together in a big ditch. Presently the mass grave is totally unprotected. We demand it’s proper maintenance, because this execution ground is a historic place carrying evidence of the destruction and killings launched by the Pakistanis in 1971. Interviewed by Prithwijeet Sen Rishi
One Punjabi hound jumped on my body and raped me repeatedly Rabeya Khatun Sweeper of Rajarbag Police Line, Rabeya Khatun witnessed the massacre and repression on women by the Pakistan Army at the police line after March 25, 1971. The statement of Rabeya Khatun is a blatant evidence of the babarism of the occupation forces. This statement has been obtained from the Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddho O Dalilpatra (Part-8). She gave the statement on February 18, 1974.
When the Punjabi forces attacked Rajarbag Police Line on the night of March 25, 1971, I was at the S.F. canteen of the police line. I had swept the barracks whole the day but did not leave the place in fear of a possible attack. When I heard the sound of heavy firing from mortars and tanks, I was shivering. In the morning, the Bangalee police tried their best to resist the attackers, but ultimately they failed. The Pakistani army set fire to S.F. barrack and unleashed an attack on the Bangalee policemen. They charged with batons and kicked and beat them up mercilessly. At gun point, they took me out of the barrack and kicked me again and again. I fell down on the ground. They physically abused me in public and burst into laughter. It was intolerable for me. I thought that they were going to kill me. To save my life, I started crying and requested them not to kill me. I said “I am a sweeper. If you kill me, then who will clean your toilets and drains? For God’s sake, don’t kill me. If I die, you will not be able to live here. The police line will became a dirty place with the dead bodies and human blood. Nobody is here to clean the place.” However, they did not pay attention to my request. Punjabi soldiers raped me one by one. When they noticed that I was going to die, one soldier said, “Thik hai, tomko chhor dia jayega zara bad. Tom bahar nehi niklega. Harwaqt line par hazir rahega (OK, we’ll not kill you. You will be freed now. But you can’t go outside. You’ll have to be present here all the time.) Then the soldiers released me. On the orders of the Pakistan army I had to stay in the police line. The Punjabi soldiers used to bring Bangalee women, mostly young and under-aged, to the police line from various parts of the city including posh areas, universities, schools and colleges. The Bangalee razakars and dalals (collaborators) helped them. While cleaning drains at the police line, I saw the soldiers brought a large number of young women in jeeps and trucks. Then they were confined at the SF canteen of the barrack. Some women were taken upstairs of the headquarters building and the rest were forced to line up standing on the verandah. Most school and college girls had books in their hands, some of them wore ornaments. Almost all were crying in fear. Then I witnessed the soldiers raping and torturing the girls. The Punjabi soldiers entered the barrack licking their tongues like hounds and jumping over the bodies of the Bangalee women. They tore the clothes of the hapless girls to make them fully undressed and raped them repeatedly. Some of them were performing the heinous act standing on their feet. Some burst into roaring laughter while doing the same. I observed the mass rape on the pretext of cleaning the drains of the police line. The victims could not save themselves from the atrocities of the Punjabis. They could not even resist or protest. The soldiers did not stop only after raping the women. They were bit on their cheeks and breasts making the bodies blood-stained, scratching flesh from the bodies of young girls. The breasts, cheek, back, waist and other parts of their bodies were almost torn to pieces by the rapists. Some women refused to become their victims. The Punjabis gave
them tougher punishment. They applied third degree method to punish them. I saw the soldiers pulling out their hair and scratching their breasts. The rapists mutilated many girls’ bodies by penetrating it with sharp knives, bayonets and gun-barrels were pushed into their rectums. Some furious soldiers, after raping underaged girls, tore their bodies into pieces. I witnessed all these while cleaning drains there. Most of the soldiers were drunken, and behaved like animals. Not only the soldiers, the Punjabi officers also took part in the heinous activities. I saw many high-ranking officers raping the Bangalee women and shouting with beastly exaltation. They were always engaged in raping and torturing the ill-fated undressed women. They did not allow any of the victims to take rest. Many young girls died due to the inhuman torture. They used to cut the dead bodies into pieces and put them into sacks before taking them outside. Seeing their fate, the others became panicky. To save their lives, they were compelled to surrender themselves, but even after becoming instruments of entertainment of the Punjabis, these women were not spared. Sometimes the Punjabis used to rape a girl collectively, cut her breasts, flesh from her hips and push a sharp knife into her rectum. They used to celebrate and burst into laughter when the victims were groaning. After raping them, the soldiers used to take the victims to all the floors of the headquarters building. I saw the soldiers kicking the women before confining them in the rooms of the barrack. They locked the rooms so that the victims could not escape. Some women were kept hanging with wire from the verandah of the police headquarters. Everyday the Punjabi soldiers used to baton charge the hanging bodies. Some of them used to stab them and cut their breasts, some push their sticks into their vagina. Some brutal soldiers liked to celebrate by cutting flesh from their hips, some liked to bite their breasts scratching flesh from the bodies. Sometimes the victims used to cry in severe pain. The soldiers used to push iron rods into their vagina and kill them brutally. The hands of each and every woman were tied behind their backs. They were the victims of regular torture. Parts of their bodies became mutilated. Some lost their teeth, some received severe wounds on their lips, fingers of some women were fractured due to regular torture by the soldiers with sticks and iron rods. The soldiers did not allow the women to go to toilet freely. Their hands were always kept tied behind their backs. Those who were kept hanging on the first floor of the headquarter, were compelled to respond to natural calls there. I had to clean their excreta everyday. I saw some of the hanging girls dying of inhuman torture. I saw many Punjabi soldiers removing the dead bodies. I had to stay there almost 24 hours a day. The soldiers used to remove the mutilated deadbodies from the barrack and bring new girls from different parts of the city. Some armed soldiers were deployed to guard the women so that they could not escape. No Bangalees were allowed to enter into the barrack. Only I was allowed as the sweeper. I witnessed these devilish acts of the Punjabi soldiers at Rajarbag, but despite having every intention of saving them I could not play my due role in this regard. I could not help the poor Bangalee women who became victims of rape and torture. In the month of April I was able to free a girl named Ranu (a resident of Siddheshwari). She was a college student. I dressed her as a sweeper and helped her escape from the police line. Until the victory in December 1971, the Pakistan army unleashed such brutal torture on the Bangalee women. I am an eye-witness of the incidents. When the allied forces started bombing Dhaka city in the first week of December, the Punjabi soldiers killed many women confined at Rajarbag Police Line with bayonets. The entire building of the police headquarters was stained with the blood of the victims. All the Punjabi soldiers surrendered when the allied forces entered the city of Dhaka just before the country’s victory over the Pakistan Army. L.T.I. Rabeya Khatun 18.2.74
Description and photographs of some killing fields
Mass Grave of 1971 Found Even 28 Years After Liberation War Twenty-eight years after the Liberation War, another mass grave of 1971 has been found in Dhaka’s Mirpur. It was totally unknown to the nation. The lately detected mass grave revealed a new dimension of mass killings of 1971. As journalist Julfikar Ali Manik had an intensive investigation over the Muslim Bazar mass grave, he also unveiled the mystery behind the killing of celebrated film-maker Zahir Raihan who was “missing” since January 30, 1972. Occupation Pakistani froces and their local allies were involved in the killing in independent Bangladesh. Discovery of Muslim Bazar mass grave inspired journalists to find out many undiscovered slaughterhouses of 1971 across the country.
The capital city Dhaka’s Mirpur area was freed from the enemies on January 31, 1972. It was among theplaces of independent Bangladesh, which were freed from the enemies after the occupation Pakistani forces surrendered on December 16, 1971. Mirpur was also the last one to be freed one-and-half months after the Liberation War. Every year January 31 is observed as Mirpur Free Day. Another bloody war was fought to free the area from the enemies, although Bangladesh had won the war before it. The history remained unearthed for the last 28 years. The unknown history started to come out in public after the Muslim Bazar mass grave was discovered at block D of Mirpur section 12 on July 27, 1999. It reflects the barbarity that was perpetuated by Pakistanis and Biharis one-and-half months after the Liberation War ended, after the heroic war for nine months. Digging a mass grave to find the the proof of history after unearthing it three decades after the Liberation War was the first such bid in Bangladesh. The discovery and digging created a sensation among the people. Not only newspapers, but also ordinary people tried to find out about this unknwon portion of history. Relatives of martyrs thronged the mass grave as newspapers carried news items of the discovery of human remains and other evidence. The bid to find out the truth of history, by digging beneath the earth began all of a sudden. It was the month of July 1999. Construction work to expand the Noori Mosque at Mirpur section 12 was going on. The mosque committee members on July 27 found an abandoned well under the ground as the construction workers were trying to set up a piller there. The opening of the well was covered with a concrete slab. As soon as the workers broke a part of the slab, they found three skulls and some human bones. The next day another skull and some more bones were found. A local organisation “Ekatturer Smriti Parishad” (Memorial Council of 1971) collected the skulls and bones and deposited those with the Muktijuddho Jadughar (Liberation War Museum). It was Dainik Prothom Alo that first published a news item on discovery of human remains while constructing the new building of Noori Mosque. Other national dailies also started to publish news of the discovery with due importance. The land adjacent to the mosque was identified and declared a mass grave. The Liberation War Museum decided to dig under the soil. Its target was recovery of human remains and other proof under the ground and thereby identification of the martyrs as well as unearthing the untold history. The Museum authorities officially started digging the abandoned well adjacent to the Noori Mosque on July 31. The digging continued till September 7. In the meantime, the Museum requested of the government to provide help of the Bangladesh Army. The government appointed the Bangladesh Army on August 12 to help in digging the well to recover human remains of the martyrs and other historic documents. The Liberation War Museum at a press conference on August 8 declared that the human remains at the well were of Bengalee freedom fighters and innocent people—they were killed by bullets and sharp weapons during the Liberation War. They reached this decision after examining the formation of the skulls, their size and the clothes, shoes and other usable items found along with the human remains. As experts confirmed to the Museum authorities that the human remains were of Liberation War martyrs and other things belonged to them, the well and the areas around it was formally declared as a mass grave of
1971. It was named Muslim Bazar Mass Grave due to its proximity to the market called Muslim Bazar. Every day more and more human remains were found when the digging took place from July 31 to September 7. Ministers, members of parliament, the mayor of Dhaka and deputy commissioner, various proliberation political parties and organisations, leaders of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, celebrated intellectuals and children of martyrs visited the newly found mass grave. Besides, people from farflung areas also thronged the mass grave to have a glimpse of the human remains and other things found. The Liberation War Museum arranged an exhibition of photographs of the human remains and the digging operation. A comment book was opened. From renowned personalities to ordinary people, all wrote in the comment book, demanding the trial of the killers of the martyrs. They expressed their hate for the killings. Close realtives of martyrs thronged the mass grave to find out whether their father, mother, brother, sister, husband or wife was killed at that spot, and many elderly local people recalled as to how innocent people or freedom fighters were killed by Pakistani occupations forces and their local agents and Biharis as well. So far, the personal identity of any of the martyrs whose remains were found at Muslim Bazar mass grave is not known. It may be an impossible task, but the discovery, 28 years after the Liberation War gave a new pulse to history. While elderly people recalled their memory, the younger generation showed a fresh interest to know the bloody history of their independence. The newspaper, Daily Bhorer Kagoj carried a series for several months to dig the untold history of the area stained by blood of the martyrs. It had a number of investigative reports to bring the undiscovered tales to the public. As a result, many witnesses of unearthed historic incidents were found. Their statements revealed many untold chapters of our history. There were two unions (local area) — Mirpur and Harirampur — under the post-liberation Mirpur. Bhorer Kagoj found out the post-liberation first Chairman of Mirpur Union Parishad. By interviewing the Chairman, Fakir Shafiruddin, Bhorer Kagoj unearthed much hitherto unknown information. Shafiruddin disclosed that there were seven more mass graves in Mirpur. He had seen thousands of bodies in the slaughterhouses. Elaborating the “Ambagan Mass Grave” at Bangla College, he said: “Immediately after the liberation, we found the signs that Bengalees were slaughtered there.” Shafiruddin said that they found signs of hits by sharp weapons at the root of old mango trees. They saw skulls on the low-lying area beside the trees and human body parts on the highland on the other side. It gave them an idea that the Bengalees were slaughtered keeping them at the root of the mango trees. The heads fell on the low-lying area while the rest of the body remained on the high land. Mirpur was occupied by the Biharis during the Liberation War. They helped the Pakistani soldiers directly or indirectly in killing the Bengalees in the area. Important information about these collaborators came out from the testimony of Fakir Shafiruddin. He informed that one Akter Gunda was leading the mass killing in Mirpur. The post-liberation government in 1972 had formed a ‘Collaborators’ Court’ in Mirpur Union Parishad as elsewhere in the country, for the trail of the accomplices of the Pakistani killers. Chairman Fakir Shafiruddin was the chief of the three-member jury board. Akter Gunda was arrested soon after Mirpur was freed, and sent to the jail, he said. The union level court sentenced him to death as punishment for killing the Bengalees and unleashing torture on them during the war. The higher courts also upheld the verdict given by the union court. After the assasination of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, the then government scrapped the Collaborators Act and Akter Gunda went over to Pakistan after being freed from jail. Apart from giving the account of seven mass graves in Mirpur, Fakir Shafiruddin, in his interview, said that they had seen many skulls and bones scattered on the streets while walking along the roads. Most of the ditches in the then villages in Mirpur were filled with the corpses of Bengalees. Many skeletons would be found in the ditches even today if these are dug. Recalling his post-independence days, 28 years after the Liberation War, Shafiruddin said, “In fact the entire Mirpur was a mass grave.” But, the bodies went deeper into the ground as massive infrustructural development took place in Mirpur after Independence. Fakir Shafiruddin said they had marked seven killing grounds in Mirpur after the Liberation War. These are: Shialbari, the slaughterhouse at Section 10, Kalapani at Section 12, Aalokdee, Aambagan at Bangla College, Shareng Bari at Section 1 and Shernirtech near the zoo. Of those, the Shialbari is the largest mass grave where he witnessed thousands of corpse and skulls soon after the war. The bones were not more than six inches in
length. The Pakistanis chopped the Bengalee corpses into pieces like butchers. He also saw a huge swerage reservoir full of corpses at the slaughterhouse in Section 1. The bodies of Bengalees were dumped there after killing them brutally. Shahiduddin Ahmed, Sub-Divisional Engineer of Mirpur Housing Estate of post-liberation Bangladesh, gave an account of another mass grave near the Mirpur Zoo. Ahmed was engaged in various development projects taken up by the government in Mirpur for a long period. During his work in the area he found a mass grave at Raainkhola near the zoo. The Daily Bhorer Kagoj disclosed information about the mass grave, given the testimony of a government official, whom the daily located after a hectic investigation. Shahiduddin also elaborated about the mass graves at Shialbari and Slaughterhouse in Mirpur Section 1, which were earlier disclosed by Fakir Shafiruddin. As the discovery of Muslim Bazar and other mass graves at Mirpur were made public through newspapers, the dailies also unearthed some other slaughterhouses across the country. The newspapers published the discovery of the mass graves in Laksham and Bogra. It has been learnt that nearly 10,000 Bengalees were killed in the mass grave of Laksham. The dailies and weeklies also published series of news item on how brutally the Pakistanis and their local agents — Razakars and Al badrs — unleashed torture on the Bengalees and killed them. The mass graves of 71' became a much talked about issue all across the country in mid-99. From the government side much effort and arrangements were made. The ‘National Committee for Demarcation of the Mass Graves’ decided to set up six mausoleums in six divisional headquarters. Apart from this, the government has also announced its intention to set up two other memorials in newly discovered mass graves at Muslim Bazaar and Rajshahi University. While investigating the mass graves at Mirpur, the Bhorer Kagoj also disclosed that renowned filmmaker Zahir Raihan was killed in the area on January 30, 1972. On that day, Pakistani soldiers who had gone underground after the liberation war and took shelter at Mirpur’s Bihari occupied area, launched an ambush attack with the help of Biharis and killed many Bengalee police and army personnel. The attack was launched when police and army teams went to the area to recover illegal arms and ammunitions. They fought a fierce battle with the Biharis and the Pakistani soldiers to free Mirpur and recover illegal arms. After this bloody war Mirpur became free on January 31, 1972, but the history of the Mirpur war was still unkown before the discovery of the Muslim Bazaar mass grave. Flimmaker, writer and journalist Zahir Raihan was the only civilian who participated in the Mirpur Operation along with the army and police on January 30, 1972 and since then he remained missing. January 30 has been observed as the Zahir Raihan Missing Day for the last 28 years. After the Muslim Bazaar mass grave was discovered, Onol Raihan, a son of Zahir Raihan, conducted an investigation to discover the history of Mirpur war after which his father remained missing. On completion of the investigation he presented a cover story in the Bengali magazine, Weekly 2000. The title was ‘In Search of Father’s Bones’. Onol Raihan took testimonies of some of the indirect witnesses of the Mirpur War. Though he did not get any direct witness who saw his father die, he was sure that Zahir Raihan was shot dead by the Biharis during the war between the Bangladeshi soldiers and the armed Bihari people. The mistery of Zahir Raihan’s disappearance came to an end through an interview of a witness, who had seen the dead body of Zahir Raihan. Bhorer Kagoj interviewed the former Bangladeshi soldier and published a long report confirming the death of Raihan. The interview also disclosed many untold stories of the Mirpur war after the liberation. Returning to Dhaka after the liberation war ended, Zahir Raihan had started an investigation to collect evidence against war criminals in 1971. He was the chairman of the Enquiry Commission to Probe the Killings of Intellectuals and gathered much of the evidence on the genocide within a short span of time. Due to his prompt and efficient performance, Zahir Raihan had become the target of the killers. The killers took the opportunity of the Mirpur war. During a planned ambush, the Biharis, Pakistani soldiers in plainclothes and Razakars killed many Bangaladeshi soldiers, policemen and Zahir Raihan, by firing bullets and chopping the injured. The cruel clues of history came to light with the discovery of the Muslim Bazaar mass grave. Indeed, it is painful to unearth such history, but it is also a must for the sake of the history itself. The new generation wants to know the truth.
Killing Fields in Rajshahi
Ten thousand skeletons were found in one hundred mass graves Dr. Sukumar Biswas is one of the researchers of Swadhinata Juddher Dalilpatra, a book on the documentation of the liberation war history. He traveled all over the country and gathered information about the killing fields during his period of service at the Bangla Academy from 1972 to ’74. Several stories, based on data and statistics gathered from interviewing witnesses and victims, have already been published in some newspapers and also in the Swadhinata Juddher Dalilpatra. The following description on the killing fields of Rajshahi is a compilation of those reports.
The village Pakuria is situated 30 kilometers north of Rajshahi Sadar, now under Manda police station in Naogaon district. This village experienced mass killings in 1971 during the war of Bangladesh’s liberation. The Pakistanis turned the Pakuria High School ground into a killing field. The ground was full of dead bodies and smeared with the blood of more than a hundred peace-loving innocent Bengalees. In the early hours of 28 August, 1971, Pakistani army troops and their local collaborators entered the village. They announced that a meeting of the ‘Peace Committee’, an organisation formed by the collaborators to repress the Bengalee people, would be held at the High School ground. They also ordered all villagers to attend the meeting. The villagers were hardly prepared for such an announcement, but there was no way to escape. By kicking, slapping and punching, the Pakistanis forced some 128 people to go to the school ground. They were told to sit in the centre of the field. Suddenly, Pakistani machine guns roared on the innocent people. All were finished after screaming and groaning for sometime. Thus the Pakistanis killed the villagers under the plea of a meeting of the Peace Committee. Naogaon was then a sub-division of greater Rajshahi Division. The small town is full of mass graves and killing fields. A correspondent of Purbadesh, a vernacular daily, reported in 1971: ‘While entering the town you will find an old but beautiful bridge on the river Jamuna that flows through the town and a cinema hall named ‘Taj’, which was destroyed. Numerous dead bodies would be found piled up south of the cinema hall. There is a well which was also filled up with many decomposed dead bodies. Such a vivid instance of genocide cannot be found even at the village of Mai Lai in South Vietnam. There are two big tin-shed houses near the place. Uncountable ropes are hanging from the roof in the houses. You will find some shoes and clothes left here and there on the floor. A small mosque would be seen on the left side after crossing the Veterinary Hospital near Taj cinema hall. Beside the mosque, there is a building where Idris Ali, a Bihari businessman, lived earlier. He used to arrange a three-day religious gathering at the house every year in the name of Khawja Baba, a Muslim saint, but everyone would be frightened after entering the house, because it was a slaughterhouse. One could see the signs of brutal killings in the house, innumerable ropes hanging in one of the rooms and blood marks in another room. You would think that the Bihari businessman painted his doors and windows with the blood of the Bengalee people after slaughtering them. There is a well in the house where many Bengalees were buried. None can imagine such a horrible scene without seeing it with ones own eyes.’ In the book titled Muktijuddher Anchalik Itihas (Regional History of Liberation War), edited by Abu Mohammad Delwar Hossain, there is a vivid description of Naogaon’s mass grave. It says : Local people discovered this killing field on December 18, 1971. They found no male corpse there. Uncountable dead bodies of women and children aged from 4 to 35 years were found in the killing field, the ground of Par Naogaon Primary School. The Pakistanis and their collaborators used to bring young women to a house in the th
area and rape them repeatedly for several days. Then they used to slaughter them before dumping the in a big well. A similar well was discovered on the western side of the Naogaon branch of Janata Bank. Apart from these, several other killing fields were discovered in Par Naogaon. Many corpses were found in the garden of one Rouf Miah, on the eastern side of Mardula Girls’ High School, and in a wasteland located near one Dr. Hasan Ali’s residence. These were the killing fields of Naogaon. However, presently new houses and other structures have been built up on the fields. At village Dogachi in Naogaon district, there is another killing ground where many Bengalees were brought from Pirojpur, Khidirpur, Chandipur, Raninagar, Balirghat, Shimulia, Ilishbari and Sultanpur. These people were killed brutally afterwards. Another killing field was found at Balihar Union in Naogaon. Many other mass graves were also found in Chapainawabganj district. The mass graves were found at Rehaichar, Sona Masjid in Shibganj thana, the then Nawabganj EPR camp, Shamasan Ghat, Kashampur, on the bank of the river Punarbhava, behind Rohanpur high school, Boalia village, Kalupur, Dorshia village and Gomostapur Bazar. The then treasury of Nawabganj, now AG office, was made the torture center of the Pakistanis. Many people were killed after being tortured there. There is a mass grave in the heart of Rajshahi city. Collaborators of the Pakistan army created the mass grave. It is located behind the residence of Muslum Shah, a contractor, some 25 yards off Boalia police station. The collaborators set up a concentration camp occupying the building after he went to India during the war. The collaborators brought many people from in and around Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj and repressed them at the camp. They used to rape and kill the women and bury them together in the jungle behind the camp surrounded by a wall. In the third week of December, 1971, after the historic victory in the liberation war, several thousand skeletons were recovered from this mass grave. The mass grave lies parallel beside Katasur, Shialbari and Godnail. Another killing field was found there. The body of A. Z. Shawkat Reza, a student of Engineering University was found in this grave. On January 12, 1972, a report published in Dainik Bangla, a vernacular daily, said: ‘An armed group of 14-15 Al-badars, (a group of collaborators) supported by fascist Jammat-e-Islami activists and Officer in Charge (OC) of Rajshahi town police station, stormed the hostel room and picked up four students, including Shawkat Reza, and led them away, blindfolded. One of them escaped and later identified two of the Albadars. The OC was Shamsul Alam while the Albadar members were Abdul Hai Farukee, a student of Rajshahi University, and Mazharul Islam, a student of Engineering University, son of Anisur Rahman. Reza and his friends could not understand where they had been taken as they were blindfolded. They were detained in a dark room for more than three days, said Shahabuddin, a classmate of Reza. Shahabuddin was able to escape from the hands of the collaborators. The Pakistani army used Shahid Shamsuzzoha Hall of Rajshahi University as a cantonment for the entire nine months of the Liberation War. They used a one square mile area behind the hall as an execution field. The Pakistanis and their collaborators killed thousands of people there. A mass grave was also discovered some half a mile east of the hall on April 23, 1972 when a brick field was started there. Freedom fighter Nurul Islam and contractor Zober Mia collected skeletons and skulls digging the field. They recovered five watches, five pens, two tupis (a cap usually used by Muslim religious men), 300 taka, a key ring, two keys, ear rings, three cigarette lighters, wallet, kohl tubes, female scarfs, stone rings, combs, cardigans, shoes and other things from there. Villagers of Mohonpur informed that Pakistani occupation army killed thousands of people bringing them from different areas by trucks and jeeps on May 5 and 6, 1971. Uncountable Bengalee people, hands and legs tied, were brought of the Shamsuzzoha Hall and killed. Many trenches were found on the southern side of Rajshahi railway station. The trenches were filled with the corpses of men and women. The body of Mohammad Abu Sayeed, the Daily Azad correspondent and the then Secretary General of Rajshahi Journalists Union, was also found later. Collaborators of Pakistan army took away 28 people, including Abu Sayeed. He was initially taken to the Rajshahi Circuit House and detained in the residence of a Rajshahi University teacher for a week where he was brutally tortured. Sayeed was then taken to Zoha Hall on July 5 with 15 other people. The Pakistani collaborators killed a railway official of Dinajpur in front of them. They
compelled the detainees to carry the body up to the railway station. They dug a large ditch under an acacia tree beside the station. Then by poking with the bayonets and by other means of torture, the Pakistanis tried to kill all of them, but two of them survived — Abdul Kader and Rupbhan Mia of Shampur. They helped each other to escape from the place and flee to India. After independence, they described the horrifying story. Moloy Bhaumik, a correspondent of Daily Sangbad writes: ‘Those who were killed after torturing at Zoha Hall camp, were buried carelessly under the soil of the horticulture center, located at the northern side of the hall. Many skeletons and bones were found while digging the grave.’ In fact, Pakistanis took over the control of Rajshahi city within April 14. They set up a stronghold in the Rajshahi University campus. They set many houses on fire on both sides of the roads and killed hundreds of people soon after they entered the city on April 13. They launched a reign of terror at Katakhali, Maskata Dhigi, Shampur, Dashmari, Talaimari and Kazla by torching houses and unleashing torture on innocent people. On April 14, the army set camps at Zoha Hall, Abdul Latif Hall, Zinnah Hall, Arts Faculty, Chemistry Building, Science Building, Experimental School Building and in some staff quarters in the university campus. Later they used Zoha hall as the main camp. The Pakistan army completely destroyed the university Shaheed Minar and looted the dormitories, teachers and staff housing areas. They even destroyed apparatus in the science laboratory and books in the library. They also looted money from the Habib Bank branch in the university campus. They picked up Kazi Saleh of the Statistics department, Mujibur Rahman of Mathematics, Dr. Rakib of Applied Physics and Dr. Abu Hena of Bangla department and unleashed inhumane torture on them day after day. Many women fell victim to their torture. Even a 12-year-old girl, daughter of a third class employee of the university, was not spared. The then Vice Chancellor of the university, Syed Sazzad Hossain directly helped the Pakistanis in doing such heinous and destructive acts. He even handed over a list to the Pakistanis mentioning the names of the departmental heads of the university. On the other hand, Dr. Matiur Rahman of Psychology department, Dr. Jamil of Philosophy, Dr. Shamsee of Geography and the Dean of Law faculty, Shah Zillur Rahman fled to Pakistan after looting huge quantities goods and money of their colleagues. Shukhranjan Samaddar, an Associate Professor of the Department of Sanskrit, was a nonpolitical personality in the university. He was reputed as a simple and a peace-loving man. He did not leave his house when the Pakistan army invaded in the campus on April 13. Some 5 or 6 army men entered his house in the name of searching for EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) members. When the soldiers were going back from his house, Dr. Matiur Rahman, a non-Bengalee teacher of the university, informed the soldiers that he (Shukhranjan) was a Hindu. On that count alone, the soldiers picked him up, and it was his final journey. A Purbadesh correspondent reported in 1972: ‘...Sree Shukhranjan Samaddar was brutally shot to death by the soldiers near a pond at Kazla, a village in front of the university, at noon on April 14. The villagers buried his body with due sanctity the next day. Risking their lives, Abdul Hakim, Haran Mandal, Joinuddin, Asgar Ali, Kanubashanta and Fazlu buried his dead body. The body was reburied at the campus on February 25 this year (1972).’ Joinuddin, a brave son of village Kazla later studied at Rajshahi University. He is now a Professor of Bangla in Rangpur Cadet College. While visiting Dhaka in 1994 he told me that the body of Samaddar was found in a ditch at Kazla. Giving a heart-rendering description of the killing field of Kazla-Ghoshpara, Joinuddin said, vast areas of Kazla and Ghoshpara were full of human bones. Many innocent people were killed during the war by the Pakistan army and their local agents. The Daily Sangbad’s correspondent Moloy Bhaumik further informed: ‘Another mass grave was discovered at Kazla at the southern border of the Rajshahi University campus beside the Rajshahi-Natore road. Skulls and skeletons of more than one hundred martyrs were found there. One Nayan Banu of Rajshahi court area identified the skeleton of her husband seeing the wrist watch found with the skeleton. It is a matter of regret that this mass grave is still ignored. No step has been taken to preserve the grave. Another mass grave was discovered on the bank of the Padma river where the dead body of Mir Abdul Qaiyum, a lecturer of Psychology department of the university, was found.’ Moloy Bhoumik said, there is another mass grave in an acacia garden on the bank of the Padma beside the Boalia club, which is still ignored. Local people preserved this grave fencing it with bamboo and cane. The
Pakistanis killed hundreds of people at this acacia garden during the war. Most of the people killed here were intellectuals of Rajshahi city. Many of the bodies were drowned in the Padma. Several intellectuals were killed in the city in the first and second week of December. Habibur Rahman, head of the Mathematics department of Rajshahi University, has been missing since. He was picked up by some Pakistani soldiers and taken to the guest house of Brigadier Aslam and Colonel Taj, but he never returned. A survey was conducted in 1972 by teachers and students of the university to collect information about the killings and destruction by the Pakistani occupation forces during the war. The surveyors questioned many people in at least 25 villages during their week-long investigation. On the last day of the survey, the then Vice Chancellor of Rajshahi University, Dr. Khan Sarwar Murshid, Begum Noorjahan Murshid, local MCA and Regional Commander of freedom fighters Gias Uddin visited different areas. They also addressed the war-ravaged people. During this survey two other mass graves – Gaganbaria and Jogishwar – were found. Of them, the grave of Gaganbaria covers a vast area. An eyewitness, who miraculously escaped from the killing field, explained his horrible and painful experience. He said: ‘It was the first week of holy month of Ramadan. The people were brought away by the Pakistan army in phases from Gaganbaria, may be from elsewhere also. At least 500 people were lined up and fired upon suddenly in that dark of night. The entire Gaganbaria village was shattered by the screaming of 500 bullet-wounded people. Some of them were still groaning, but they were not spared. The Pakistanis shot them again. After the Pakistan army had left the place, I found myself miraculously alive, and then I started running to save my life leaving behind the piles of dead bodies and stream of blood.’ It was May 1971. The occupation forces called the local people of Jogishwar village saying that a ‘Peace Committee’ will be formed and everybody would have to attend its meeting, but only 27 people came. The Pakistanis ordered them to be lined-up keeping their hands behind. Then the soldiers sprayed bullets on them and all of them died instantly. It was not the end of the story. The Pakistani soldiers destroyed villages after villages and unleashed torture on women. At least 55 women of the area were raped by the Pakistanis during the period. Pakistani military also established a mini cantonment at Sopura Colony in the suburbs. It was a temporary but well protected camp. Sub-Divisional Officer of Rajshahi sub-division with the help of the activists of Awami Sechhasebak League (a front organisation of Awami League) discovered at least 100 mass graves in the cantonment area. Skeletons of some 10 thousand people were recovered from the graves. Thousands of people thronged to the grave area hearing the news. The 5th May, 1971 is a red letter day for the people of Rajshahi. There was a big pond at the North Bengal Sugar Mills compound in Lalpur thana of Natore district. On that day brutal killings took place on the banks of the pond. The Pakistani soldiers lined up some 50 Sugar mill officials and employees, including the General Manager Anwarul Azim, and killed them in brush fire. They were buried on the bank of the pond. Earlier, the huge pond was named Gopal Sagar, but it was renamed as Shaheed Sagar after the War of Liberation to show respect to the martyrs. Many others were killed at the same place before the country’s independence. The Gopal Sagar turned into a mass grave as the Pakistanis used its banks as a killing field. They threw hundreds of dead bodies into the pond. As soon as the war ended, uncountable humane bones were recovered from the pond. Wife of Anwarul Azim, the GM of the mill, informed that non-Bengalee collaborators including Sugarcane Supply Officer Massadi, Assistant Agro-Chemist Jamil Siddiqui, Foreman Hazi Asgar Ali and Assistant Engineer Ansari created a reign of terror in the entire sugar mill area. They looted many houses and raped a large number of women. The non-Bengalee collaborators of the Pakistan army did not allow the relatives of the martyrs to come near the dead bodies on the banks of the pond even after the soldiers left the place. The bodies remained there for several days. The collaborators took away valuables like watches, golden rings and money while searching the corpses. They buried the bodies on the pond banks after digging ditches.
Killing Fields in Khulna
Bodies of the Bengalees drowned in the river after mass killing The Pakistani occupation forces slaughtered and shot dead many Bengalees in the killing fields of Khulna during the War of Liberation. Before killing them the Pakistani soldiers used to torture the Bengalees. The rivers of the district turned reddish with blood spread from thousands of beheaded dead bodies dumped by the killers. The bodies in the mass graves became the source of food for carnivorous animals like jackals and dogs. Journalist Gouranga Nandi gave this hellish account of the torture unleashed by the Pakistan army. He visited many killing fields and talked to several witnesses. The final report is based on the information he collected and some newspaper reports of 1972.
The river Gallamari flows by the southwestern side of Khulna city. A bridge was recently constructed on the river. On the other side of the bridge, there is a memorial column. It was established on the left side of Khulna-Satkhira road in memory of thousands of martyrs who laid down their lives in the liberation war. The Khulna University campus was established on the right side of the road. In 1971, Khulna was not a populous town. There was no bridge on the Gallamari river. The KhulnaSatkhira road was constructed after the war. In those days, Gallamari was a solitary place three kilometres off the city. The building now used as the administrative office of Khulna University was used as a radio transmission centre in those days. During the war, the Pakistani forces occupied the building in the name of capturing the Radio station. They turned the adjacent area into a mass grave within a few days through mass killings. The Pakistanis used to pick up people irrespective of religion, age and gender from different places and kill them by shooting and slaughtering. After killing them the uncivilized army used to dump the dead bodies in the river Gallamari. In 1972, Dainik Bangla, a vernacular daily reported : ‘The Bengalee people were brought from different places and gathered at the heliport and UFD club ground throughout the day. In the middle of the night, the Pakistanis used to kill the unarmed Bengalees in brush fire. The Pakistanis used to shoot the tied-up innocent Bengalees after lining them up in front of the building. People from the adjacent areas heard the screaming of the hapless people who were taken to the killing ground by trucks. However, they could do nothing in those days because curfew was imposed outside. A resident of Sher-e-Bangla Road of the city was shot dead by the Pakistani soldiers as he opened his window to see who was screaming outside. The occupation forces used to kill at least a hundred people every night and then dump the dead bodies in the river. At the time of high tide, some bodies used to come close to the river bank. Relatives of the victims could recognise the bodies, but nobody dared to bury those with due rituals. They knew it very well mean death as punishment, if the Pakistanis came to know of it. After somedays, the killers introduced slaughtering instead of firing. They continued to kill around one hundred people per day. Earlier they used to kill the people at night, but later, they started killing innocent Bengalees in broad daylight. The Bengalees were usually taken to the killing field by trucks. Every day many trucks used to leave for Gallamari carrying Bengalees and then return empty after an hour. The dead bodies remained piled up at the Gallamari killing field. Soon after Khulna city was freed, two trucks of human bones were recovered from the Gallamari mass grave.
The report of Dainik Bangla also said that an inhuman scene was also seen in a paddy field at Gallamari village when the reporter entered there for taking a photograph of the dead bodies. ‘Many bodies lay there. A dog was eating one body while the other was taking rest sitting on another body’. A monument was erected there to highlight the memories of the Bengalees whose laid down their lives in the killing field. But the work of the memorial column was not done as per the original plan. Elderly freedom fighter Abdus Sattar presently looks after the monument. He hoists the National Flag every morning at the altar of the memorial column. He lives in a house adjacent to the mass grave. In an emotion-choked voice freedom fighter Sattar said, “I’m doing the work of this memorial column with those hands with which I held arms to resist the occupation forces during the War of Independence. I can remember even today the terrible incidents of those days – groaning of people, sound of firing and the bloodstained dead bodies floating in the Gallamari river”. Sattar was shivering with emotion while describing the torture unleashed by the Pakistani occupation forces. He said, “On December 16 and 17, it was really difficult to walk in Gallamari as innumerable skulls and skeletons lay everywhere. It was a scene beyond imagination. The air was heavy with the stench of rotten dead bodies. Thousands of bodies were found in the mass grave at Gallamari. The entire area — Gallamari river, its banks, paddy fields, Radio Transmission Centre and other adjoining places — were filled up with thousands of dead bodies. To find out the dead bodies of their near and dear ones, people continued their search at the killing field by putting their hands on their noses to get rid of stench spread from rotten human bodies. Some people found their relatives, some did not. Not only the relatives of the victims, some other people also went there to witness the brutality of the Pakistanis. Poet Mollah Fazlur Rahman was one of them. He wrote : ‘Except Khulna, entire Bangladesh was freed from the occupation forces on December 16. Khulna became free on 17 December. The flag of freedom was hoisted all over the country. A new sun rose in the sky unchaining the nation after a long confinement of decades. I walked through the roads in Gallamari to see the killing field. I found either side of the road was full of skulls and skeletons. I saw clothes of a young couples. Dogs and jackals were barking around the area and tearing apart fresh parts of the human bodies. Many dead bodies of young men and women were also found abandoned in the muddy canal of the river Gallamari.’ th
The heliport of Khulna was situated near the Circuit House. Now it is the office of District Shilpakala Academy. In this place, the Pakistan army used to unleash torture on innocent Bengalis in broad daylight everyday. Many people died here after being tortured. The Pakistanis used to express joy in a devilish manner after killing the innocent people. They used to dump the dead bodies in the river Bhairab also. Kamruzzaman Tuku, a freedom fighter in Khulna, said, “We returned to the city during the final stages of the war after fighting in rural areas. I heard about the killings at Heliport Forest Ghat and Gallamari when I was engaged in fighting.” Expressing his agony about the war he said, “Horrible! It was beyond description. Many dead bodies remained scattered here and there. Bloodied clothes of men and women were also found all over the area”. He further said. “People were brought to the heliport, located in front of the Judge Court and adjacent to the Circuit House. While torturing, they were hung upside down. The Pakistanis beat them up and hit them with bayonets until they fainted. When they regained their senses, they were hung up once again and tortured. The Forest Ghat is nearly 500 yards from the heliport, just behind the Judge Court. The Bengalees were slaughtered there. The bodies were dumped in the river. The residence of the Judge is beside the Ghat (river terminal). The Judge perhaps heard the screaming of the hapless people as the air became soaked with their cries. The Judge became anxious about such actions of torture at heliport in the daytime and in the Ghat area at night. The Judge once requested an army officer to refrain from unleashing torture on the Bengalees there. The officer got angry and threatened to kill the Judge, but did not get the opportunity, as a few days later the Judge died of cardiac arrest. There was another slaughter ground at Chuknagar in Khulna. Several thousand people were killed there on a single day.
A.B.M. Shafiqul Islam, the Principal of Chucknagar College, described the mass killing that took place on May 20, 1971, “Thousands of people from Khulna, Jessore, Bagerhat and even Barisal started fleeing to neighboring India when the uncivilised acts of the Pakistan army became unbearable. The fleeing people had to use the only route to India via Chuknagar. The savage Pakistanis staged a ‘festival of killing’ at Chuknagar by murdering thousands of people who were on their way to India. Many people coming from different places were taking rest there. Some of them were making breakfast for themselves. The village market on the bank of a river was crowded with thousands of men, women and children. Most of them came by boats. The river Bhadra was full of small boats carrying India-bound people. Suddenly, Pakistan army soldiers who came in 3 or 4 trucks opened fire on the crowd. Repeated brush firing by the soldiers made the entire crowd quiet for a brief period. A few moments later, screaming of the victims created a terrible scene there.” Mr. Shafiqul Islam was at the village market when the Pakistan army launched the attack. He said, “Hearing the dreadful sound of firing, I started running towards my home, one kilometer off the market. On the way, I saw many people like me running to save their lives. I saw many children fall victim to the stampede while people were rushing here and there. I saw a child sitting on the ground crying and seeking help from passers-by.” When he once again went to the village market in the evening, he found dead bodies everywhere. Blood was still fresh all over the road. The stench was everywhere as the blood started drying up. The river was also full of corpses. Many of the victims were killed by bayonet charge by the Pakistanis. About 35 to 40 corpses were found under a huge baniyan tree in the market place. The Pakistani soldiers not only killed the Bengalees by firing, but also drowned them when they tried to survive by swimming or crossing the river by boats. “The Chuknagar market looked like a vast cremation ground”, Mr. Shafiq said adding, “It is impossible for me to forget the cruelty shown by the Pakistanis. It is really beyond description”.
Killing Fields in Chittagong
Skulls of at least 20 thousand Bengalees would be found if the ground of Pahartoli is excavated After visiting greater Chittagong district of Bangladesh, Sukumar Biswas writes : The Pakistan army launched genocide in at least 20 killing fields in the district during the liberation war. As many as three hundred thousand Bengalees were killed by the occupation forces in Chittagong. At least 20 to 25 thousand skulls of Bengalees would be found if the grounds of Pahartoli area including the Foy’s Lake, Sher Shah Colony, Wireless Colony and Ambagan of the city and suburbs are excavated.
Some 2500 trainee soldiers at the East Bengal Regimental Centre (EBRC) in the Chittagonj Cantonment were nearly unarmed when the War of Liberation began. Lieutenant Colonel M.R. Chowdhury, Captain Akhond, Captain Bashar, Captain Aziz, Capten M.S.A. Bhuiyan, Captain Enamul Haque Chowdhury, Captain Mohsin, Captain Nurul Amin and Lieutenant Abu Taleb were among the Bengali officers. On the frightful night of 25 March, 1971, the 20th Beluch Regiment launched an attack on the unarmed Bengalee soldiers at the EBRC. Tanks were also deployed. Several hundred Bengalee soldiers and officers were killed in the first round of attack launched by the Beluch Regiment. They tried to resist the attack, but could not stand up against the Pakistanis for long. Captain Enamul Haque was on duty at the EBRC on March 25, 1971. Recalling the memories of the black night, Captain Haque said in an interview: “....I heard the final outcries of the dying Bengalee soldiers. Most of them were moaning in pain, some were requesting for water, but the savage Pakistani soldiers continued torturing the Bengalee soldiers who were almost at death’s door. They were pressing the unarmed Bengalee officers under their boots so that they die soon. I saw more than 100 dead bodies of the Bengalees killed by the Pakistanis being loaded in a truck by the army men on the morning of 26 March. Four soldiers, holding the hands and legs of the victims from two sides, were taking each of the dead bodies. They treated those like the corpses of dogs, not of human beings. I saw some soldiers dragging the dead bodies on the ground.” Perhaps, this was the biggest killing incident in the entire Chittagong city on that day. Nearly one thousand Bengalee soldiers were killed on that day. Innumerable people were taken to the Chittagong cantonment and killed there. There are several mass graves in the cantonment area. Nobody knows how many people were actually killed in Chittagong. But most of the local people are of the opinion that a huge number of people were killed there. According to a correspondent of Daily Purbadesh, there are 20 mass graves in Chittagong district. I had visited Chittagong cantonment, city and suburb, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati, Kaptai and Teknaf during 1972-73, and so I think the number of mass graves is higher. A report published in the Daily Purbadesh in 1972 on the mass graves is considered an important one from many points of view. The report says: The Pakistanis launched massacre action at 20 killing fields in Chittagong city and its suburb, nine other thanas of the district. In the city and in its outskirts the occupation forces created 10 killing fields. It is assumed that on an average at least 5000 people each were killed in eight of the ten killing fields. It is practically impossible to know how many people, whose dead bodies were dumped in the river Karnaphuli, were killed in the Chittagong Port area and Navy Barrack area during the nine-month long war. Some quarters estimated that about one hundred thousand people were killed in Chittagong. But I think the number will stand at three hundred thousand. Skulls and bones of some 20 to 25 thousand people would be found if Ambagan, Wireless Colony, Sher Shah Colony and Foy’s Lake area in the th
city and its outskirts are searched. Thousands of people were also killed in Chandgaon, Lalkahan Bazar, Halishahar, Cantonment and Circuit House in the city, and in the remote hilly and forest areas of Mirsharai, Sitakundu hills, Rawzan, Patia, Satkania and Banshkhali. The skulls and bones of the martyrs are still found sometimes in these areas. In the Wireless Colony, Jhautala and hill areas of Nasirabad in the city, skeletons would also be found if a massive search is conducted. I saw many skeletons in safety tanks and hillside jungles. Several thousand Bengalees were killed at the Shibnath hills in Sitakundu. A permanent centre for slaughtering people was set up at Jorarganj and Wireless area in Mirsharai. The Pakistanis used to bring hundreds of people by bus, truck, train and other vehicles to the center and imprisoned them. They used to kill at least 50 to 100 people daily. Many graves are still seen in these areas. According to the local people, 15 to 20 thousand people were murdered in the Mirsharai and Sitakundu killing fields. Similar killings took place at Rawzan, Patia and Banshkahli thanas. In the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, at least three mass graves were found at Kelatoli, Baharchhara and in front of Cox’s Bazar Rest House. Some five thousand dead bodies were recovered from these killing grounds. A large number of skeletons were also recovered from the areas adjacent to Motel No. 1 and 2 in the resort town. Nearly half of the bodies recovered from the mass grave in front of the rest house were of women. These were identified as female bodies by means of the clothes found. The Pakistanis used to rape the women at the rest house before killing them. The Dainik Bangla reported in 1972: ‘Seven dried up bodies were found in a room of the rest house. Two of the bodies were beheaded. They were slaughtered. The storeroom was marked by dry blood stains everywhere. Eleven human skeletons were found in a well in front of the rest house while 77 others were recovered from the grave of Teknaf Cantonment. Mass graves were found also in Takiya.’ In 1993, Priyotosh Pal Pintu, a correspondent of the Daily Sangbad wrote: ‘A concentration camp was opened in the rest house at Cox’s Bazar while a killing field was created on the sea beach in front of the rest house. Hundreds of men and women were taken there and shot to death after being tortured. The Pakistanis used to bayonets the women after raping them. Apart from these, several other mass graves were found at different places of the district. The local agents of Pakistanis helped them all the time. During the eight months of occupation, several thousand people of Cox’s Bazar district were killed by the Pakistanis. People of Moheskhali thana were the worst victims. The Pakistan army formed the ‘Civil Pioneer Force’, a well-organised group to kill Bengalees. The force was formed in different government and non-government offices secretly. It is learnt that this group killed some 1300 employees and 18 officials of the Eastern Railway department in Chittagong. The Pioneer Forces were very active in the government controlled Chittagong Port and other offices. The then central government maintained secrecy in forming these forces. The group started its operations in September as the process of its formation was successfully completed in late August. The group was formed mainly from among the nonBengalee officials aged below 40 who worked in the railway department. Later a few Bengalee officials joined the force for assisting the Pakistanis in the killing operations. It is estimated by their killing action, that the group was a large one though the accurate number of its members is still unknown. The headquarters of the Civil Pioneer Force was situated in Chittagong with several branch offices at Shantahar, Saidpur and some other railway towns. Chittagong Circuit House and Pahartoli were used as its training centre. This force, in cooperation with the Pakistan army, killed many people in the forest areas of Pahartoli, Foy’s Lake and Jhautala. The killing fields of these three areas were mainly used by the Civil Pioneer Force. The force not only killed 1300 railway employees, but also a huge number of people in other killing fields at Mirsharai and Sitakundu. They used to bring people travelling by train and murdered them in the killing fields. The then Assistant Accountant of Pahartoli Railway Centre, Mohammad Shamsul Haque gave an interview to the National Council for History of Liberation. In the interview he said, “....It was November 10, 1971, 20th day of Ramadan. From the daybreak some people had been picking up Bengalees from Panjabi Line, Wireless Colony and Bahadur Shah Colony and taking them to a hill near Wireless Colony. They deceived the Bengalees by telling them that military officers had called for them, but when they reached the hills, the Pakistanis and their local agents slaughtered the innocent Bengalees with sharp weapons. The killing continued till 3 p.m. from the morning. Along with Afsar Uddin, Sabed Mia and Abdus Sobhan, I observed
the killings from a nearby jungle. The killers poured petrol and set fire to the clothes stripped off the dead bodies after killing about 200 people. At about 3 p.m. a military official came to see the scene. About 300 local people went to the place and saw hundreds of dead bodies lay there. The killers burnt some of the bodies. They refused to hand over the bodies to their relatives. Some bare bodies of women having severe injury marks were also lying on the hilltop.” Shamsul Haque said that military men and the Biharis launched the killing operation. Some 83 skeletons were recovered from a pond in a village west of Hinguli in Mirsharai of greater Chittagong district. The pond was located in a jungle area near the rail-bridge on the river Feni. The freedom fighters comprising Bengal Regiment, EPR, Ansar, Mujahid, and students destroyed the bridge to resist the occupation forces. Failing to cross the river, the Pakistan army stopped there and killed at least 240 people of village Chhagalnaiya in Feni district. After this incident, the Pakistan army used to kill some people on the bridge everyday. Thus the bridge turned into a killing place. There is a mass grave near Dampara police line. Many people were brought to the police line from different places and buried thre after killing. The erstwhile Superintendent of police A.H.T. Zaman laid a foundation stone of a Shaheed Minar at the Dampara Reserve Police Line premises in memory of the martyrs of liberation war. At the foundation stone laying ceremony, he said that some 73 people, including two Superintendents of Chittagong Police, three inspectors, four sub-inspectors and four head constables were killed there. He also mentioned that 24 others were missing during the war. After the liberation war, a grave was discovered at Panchlaish Dumping Depot. Hundreds of human bones, some of them with bullets, were found after removing the soil from there. It is assumed that more than 500 people were killed at that place. Near CDA Market in Sholashahar area, another mass grave was discovered where thousands of bones and skulls and clothes were found. Observing the bones and skulls, it was deemed that people were killed there in early December. Perhaps, the worst ever mass grave was found near Garibullah Shah’s Mazar at Dampara. According to the witnesses, some 40 thousand people were killed in the killing fields between March 30 and December 16. One Nasir Ahmed, a shopkeeper near Garubullah Shah’s Mazar, witnessed the entire massacre during the war. There are two other witnesses of the genocide — Abul Kalam and Abdul Zabbar, both guards of the mazar. Quoting Nasir Ahmed, the Dainik Bangla reported in 1972 : ‘Between March 30 and the first week of December, every evening five to six trucks full of people were brought to the mass grave under tight security by the military men. The hapless people were always blindfolded. The trucks used to leave after dumping the victims. Then they were lined up and killed. Afterwards another group of army men removed the dead bodies and took away then to another place by trucks. A deep well was dug at the place for burying the dead bodies. The remaining dead bodies were dumped somewhere else. The grave was surrounded by hills. The shoes and clothes were found here and there in the killing fields. The ground was enveloped with blood. It proves that several hundred people were killed till early December. While walking along the grave, I saw dozens of suits on the ground. These belonged to the officers of the railway and Port Trust who were killed there.’ According to Nasir Ahmed, The barbaric army killed 40,000 people at the mass grave. The army fitted silencers to their guns, because the people who were brought to be killed used to scream after hearing the sound of firing on others in front of them. Another mass grave was discovered at village Shakpura in Boalkhali thana of Chittagong district. On April 20, Pakistani forces and their collaborators surrounded the village. The villagers were sleeping. So they could not resist the attackers and escape. Some tried to flee, but received bullet wounds on their way. The occupation forces torched the village and then started indiscriminate firing. When the village Shakpura turned into an inferno with the screaming of people of different ages, the collaborators started looting their valuables. They raped many women. At one stage, the outcry turned to silence as everybody was finished. About 150 people were killed in the massacre. The people, who had fled during the destruction in the morning, returned in the evening, but they found nothing in their houses. Some lost their sisters, some lost their brothers, some lost their children, wives, fathers and mothers. There was no food in their houses. They held each other and started crying. It was a heartrending scene. Such tragic scenes were a common feature everywhere in Bangladesh during the War of Liberation.
Killing Fields in Laksam
Rape became a regular phenomenon in those days Sridham Chandra Das alone dug more than 125 cavities in the killing fileds in Laksam. He buried several hundred dead bodies. The Pakistani occupation forces used the Chandpur Tobacco Factory in Laksam as a concentration camp. For the sake of his job, Sridham had to go there everyday during the War of Liberation. He witnessed the barbaric torture on Bengalees by the savage Pakistan army and their local agents. Journalist Mustafa Hussain recorded Das’s statement at the office of Jahangir Mawla in Laksam on 5 September 1999. He unveiled his tormenting experiences and what he witnessed during the war. Jahangir Mawla, Chowdhuri Abdul Bari Majumder, Nazir Ahmed, (all freedom fighters), Professor in the Department of Accounting of the University of Chittagong Dr Shantiranjan Das and retired officer of Railway Mohammad Bashiruzzaman were present during the interview. Dr. Das and Mr. Zaman also witnessed the torture of the Pakistani occupation forces. Zaman was the only survivor of the concentration camp. Thirteen others who were with Zaman were shot dead. Sridham Chandra Das went to the mass grave after recalling the experiences of the liberation war and brought out many skeletons which were later deposited with the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka. th
I was a cleaner in the Railway Hospital in Laksam in 1971. I was then 18 or 19 and my service age was four. When Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for the country’s independence in early March, we extended support from our respective positions. Then came the frightful night of 25th March. The situation in the entire country was volatile. We were in a fix - where to go and what to do. We thought that the Pakistanis would not show much hostility on us as we were engaged in low ranking but essential jobs. They did not get angry on us, but unleashed some form of torture on us which we had to tolerate. Witnessing the mass killings and atrocities by the Pakistanis I questioned myself again and again, “Is it possible for human beings to do so? Why they are killing hundreds and thousands of innocent people?” I find no answer even today. My frightful memories are still haunting me. I get totally upset while recalling the horrible experiences of those days. It is not possible for me to get rid of those frightful memories until death. I have no language to describe those horrible scenes. The Pakistanis used to unleash torture on Bengalee men and women in front of the Chandpur Tobacco Factory’s gate, near the southern part of the railway cabin and on both sides of the bunkers which was used during the World War II. The Pakistanis set up their Sub-Sector Headquarters inside the tobacco factory. It was their main concentration center. The Pakistanis used to bring away the Bengalees from many places and unleash severe torture on them. Their main target were the freedom fighters, but, in those days it was very difficult to find the freedom fighters. That is why the Pakistani army and their collaborators targeted all young people of the area. The Pakistanis were especially malicious towards the Hindu community. The activists of the Awami League, the party which led the War of Independence in 1971, were also one of their main targets. Initially the killers used to target selected groups of people, but later they launched mass killing and torture on the entire Bengalee nation. They considered neither age nor the gender. They used to unleash torture on whoever they wished. They used to beat up people mercilessly in the concentration camp. Rape became a regular phenomenon in those days.
I saw the signs of rape on the dead bodies of many women. I saw bite marks on the poor womenss breasts and lips. The barbaric Pakistanis cut the breasts of some women into pieces. I had to see the unclothed dead bodies of many women with severe injury marks. It was unfortunate for me that I had to bury all of them. Sometimes, I had to bury them separately in one or two feet deep cavities, sometimes together in deeper trenches. They used to bring women to the torture centre from near and far. The so-called ‘Peace Committee’ (a forum of anti-liberation elements) members and the collaborators directly assisted the Pakistanis in doing this heinous acts. Some people of Laksam and its adjacent villages were involved in the Peace Committee. Many people of the Paschimgaon village were engaged in doing these inhuman acts with the help of razakars and Al-Badars (groups of local people who collaborated with the Pakistanis). The members of the Peace Committee and razakars and Al-Badars used to hand over the girls, brought from different places, to the Pakistani soldiers. They were shot dead after being raped overnight. Many of them died before shooting, following repeated sexual abuses. Then the barbarians used to take the survivors to the killing field situated several hundred yards away from the torture centre. Many women were taken directly to the killing field. The Pakistanis used to line up the women beside the trenches and then shoot them. Some of the victims used to fall into the trenches or beside the trenches. Then the killers used to kick the bodies into the trenches. After their death, the Pakistanis used to order me or Upendra Chandra Das, my maternal uncle, to bury the dead bodies. It is really difficult for me to give actual statistics on the number of people who were killed by the barbaric Pakistanis. Everyday they killed many people — men, women, children, youth and old people. As far as I could make out, at least 20 to 25 women were killed everyday on an average by the Pakistanis. Of the victims, a few were freed and taken to other places from the concentration camps. Maybe, one or two women were freed after suffering barbaric torture in the camps. During my stay there, I knew only a few people in the concentration camp. It was difficult to recognise them as they were brought from remote places like Chandpur, Noakhali, Feni, and the southern zone of Comilla district. I will never forget three of them, who were from our locality. I knew them from my very childhood, and all of them had affection for me. One of them was freedom fighter Abdul Malek. He organised the local youth for the liberation war by providing them with arms and giving training soon after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib had delivered his historic speech on 7 March in Dhaka calling for the independence of the country. The other two were Mr. Sobhan of Paikpara and Nuru Miah of Bainchatia village. They were taken away by the Pakistanis with the help of their local collaborators and brought to the concentration camp at night. They were kept in the torture center until the next day. Everybody in the area came to know it, but there was nobody to rescue them. None dared to request the Pakistanis to release them. th
The next morning, I went to the cigarette factory, my workplace, with my equipment a little earlier than usual. I decided that I would try my best and beg the Pakistanis to spare the lives the three. Pakistani soldier Bakaul Hawlader, who led the operation to arrest them, was well known to me. However, I did not have enough courage to request him for the release of three people though I had earlier decided to do it. The detainees saw me in the concentration camp. They were thirsty and requested me for water. I saw anxiety on their pale faces. I thought they were expecting some help from me to get rid of the Pakistanis. On seeing their faces, it was difficult for me to control myself and I burst into tears, but wiped my eyes quickly so that the Pakistanis could not see it. Failing to do something for them, I felt as if I was the most ungrateful man in the world. It was my duty to rescue Mr. Khaleq who had earlier helped my family a lot. My father brought rice and other foodstuffs from Mr. Khaleq many times to feed us. I thought I must do at least something for him. I must try to give them at least water, if not food. So I went to the nearby pond to bring water. I brought a pot full of water secretly so that the Pakistanis could not see, but when I was handing over the pot to Mr. Khaleq, one of the soldiers noticed it. The soldier got
angry and broke the pot with a kick. Hurling abuses, he said that they would not allow the detainees to drink water. The savage soldier told them to drink their own urine. Returning home after finishing my duty, I told everything to my mother. Mother asked me to pray to the God only. She said God must not tolerate such cruelty. He must punish the repressors. Thus I failed to do anything for them. I failed to save them. Bakaul Hawladar’s bloody eyes refrained me from trying to save the three lives. I knew Mr. Sobhan well. He was a priest like man. I knew Nuru Miah, a pious man. But what an irony of fate for me! I had to dig ditches for them! Bakaul Hawladar shot them one after another in front of me. I heard Nuru Miah’s screams after bullets hit his body. That day for the first time in my life I heard such a loud cry from a human being. A man can cry in such way only at the time his death. Nuru Miah uttered the name of God so loudly I thought his body had blown up in the sky. I thought his screams had shattered the all-pervading seat of God. At the time of shooting, I closed my eyes and recalled mother’s advice. I started praying to the Almighty to save their lives, but God did not respond. I had to witness the killing of the three men who were respectable to me. Moreover, I had bury them under the soil on the orders of the Pakistanis. I could do nothing for them except bury them in separate graves to show respect to their departed souls. After the country’s independence, I exhumed the three dead bodies from the mass graves. Their family members buried them at their respective graveyards with due solemnity and rituals. At the same time I also exhumed another corpse of a women from the same mass grave. I had conversations with many of the barbaric Pakistanis during the war, but I cannot remember the names of all the soldiers. I can remember some of them, like Bakaul Hawladar, Captain Gazzali or Gadrazi. They set up several camps at the Railway School, Railway Rest House, cigarette factory and its adjoining areas. The Pakistanis used to launch attacks on the villagers from those camps. One day, a soldier went to the house of Kanu Das, one of my relatives, to torture one of his family members. When Kanu resisted the soldier, he beat him up mercilessly. Like me and my uncle Upendra, the soldiers too buried many people at the western side of the cigarette factory and on the bank of the pond digging many cavities. I have been living with such terrible memories for the last 29 years. I still cannot think or imagine, how human beings could do such inhuman acts.
The dead bodies of the students of Sergent Zahurul Huq Hall, Dhaka University, Killed during the dark night on March 25, 1971 A visual document of Pakistan army's atrocities in the district of Kushtia
An ice berg of brutal women repression by the Pakistani occupied forces which become a regular phenomenon during nine months of Bangladesh liberation war
Two repressed women at the Rehabilitation Centre in Dhaka during 1972
The bodies of the intellectuals at Rayer Bazar slaughtering spot. Apprehending ultimate defeat, the Pakistani occupied forces prepared list of the top most intellectuals of the country with the help of their local collaborator Jamaat-e-Islami's killing squad Al Badar and executed the pre-planned elimination
A example of crime against humanity: Pakistani soldiers used to humilate people in this manner to identify whether he is a Hindu or Muslim
The bodies of innocent Bengalees on the street of Jessore district
Dhaka city wore a vies of devastation : aftermath of the March 25 crack down in 1971
Indian Army preparing lists of the sophisticated arms laid down by Pakistani occupied forces on December 16, 1971
The agony of a women in a west Bengal refugee camp in India whose husband and others family members were killed by Pakistani army The human skeletons recovered from the slaughtered sites. More than 5 thousands such sites are calculated in different part of Bangladesh
The thousands of localities were destroyed by Pakistani shells leaving hundreds dead or jnjured. A bid for treatment of a burnt boy
The wailing parents at a refugee camp in Indian state of West Bengal, who lost their children
Appendix List of the war criminals of Pakistani armed forces Bangladesh government prepared a list of five hundred Pakistani war criminals in 1972. Later it was reduced to two hundred. The following enlisted names are of only those defense personnel's who were taken to India as prisoners of war. That's why the names of the top most war criminals like the then President and Chief Marshal Law Administrator Aga Mohammad Yahya Khan, Chief of Staff", Pakistan Army, General Abdul Hamid Khan, then East Pakistan Governor and Marshal Law Administrator Lt. General Tikka Khan, Major General Khadim Hussain Raja, Major General AO Mitha, are not in the list. Major General Rao Farman Ali and Major General Khadim Hussain Raja were in-charge of 'Operation Searchlight' during March 25 crack down in 1971. As they were not in t, Dhaka during the surrender, their names were not mentioned in the lists. The victims or witnesses, who have given us testimony, disclosed names of some high ranking army officials. But most of those names are not mentioned in the list as they were not in Bangladesh during the surrender on December 16,1971. We have found the names of nine officers in the list of 200 war criminals against whom charge sheet were drafted. Charge shuts against the rest are believed to be lost OT were not prepared. 1. Name : Lt. Gen. Niazi 2. No. : PA477 3. Unit : 4. Post held : Corps Commander: Martial Law Administrator Zone B 5. Particulars of allegations inter alia : The accused is alleged to have arrived incognito at least by the 1st of March in Dacca. Thereafter, he participated in a series of high level conferences where the military operations connected with genocide were planned and finalised. His participation was under cover. After he took over as M.L.A. (in Zone B), the accused made a large number of public statements and issued a large number of orders in respect of the plan of I genocide and the military operations connected therewith. He also took upon himself the whole responsibility for all the criminal acts by men under
General A M Yahya Khan President of Pakistan
Gen. Abdul Hamid Khan Chief of Staff, Pakistan Army
Lt.-Gen. Tikka Khan Governor and Martial Law Administrator
Lt. Gen. Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi Commander, Eastern Command
Maj.-Gen. Rao Farman Ali Adviser to Governor of East Pakistan
Maj.-Gen. Khadim Hussain Raja GOC, East Pakistan
his command indeed for all acts of his troops during the military occupation of Bangladesh. Admissions are available about mass rape and the criminal violation of women by the men under his command. It is alleged that he was personally present on the scene of the systematic murder of Bangalee intellectuals on or about 12th to 16th December, 1971.He is also alleged to have visited the site for the plan of murder of intellectuals in Brahmanbaria prior to the commission of the acts. He is also alleged to have illegally detained at least 50 women and girls in Dacca "for his personal pleasure." 6. Proposed charges: Conspiracy to wage aggressive war, conspiracy to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit crime against humanity, complicity in the commission of genocide and war crimes and crimes against humanity. Failure to maintain discipline, false arrests, rape, assault and battery and murder and criminal violation of international agreements. 1. Name : Major General Farman Ali 2. No. : PA1364 3. Unit : 4. Post held : Deputy ML. R. Zone B (as Brigadier in March 1960 to July 1971); from July 1970 Major General Civil Affairs. 5. Fuctions : To use the civil administration for the purpose of Martial Law, screening of civil servants before posting in districts, political appreciation through daily or weekly meetings either with civil officers or intelligence officers and feeding information to military junta in Islambad. 6. Particulars of allegations inter alia: Participation in all the secret meetings held by General Yahya Khan from 15th March onwards in Dacca Cantt. Participation in all military exercises in Bangladesh. His recommendations and formulation of the master plan to eliminate all Bangalee intellectuals and A wami Leaguers and selection of time and date of army crack-down in Bangladesh in executing the master plan. 7. Proposed charges: Conspiracy to wage a war of aggression, conspiracy to commit genocide and crime against humanity, complicity in the commission of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Execution of plan of genocide and crimes against humanity. 1. Name : Major General Ansari 2. No. : PA4404 3. Unit : 4. Post held : Station Commander, Dacca (prior to 25th March, 1971). Station
Commander, Chittagong vice Brig. Majumdar. G.O.C. 9th Division, Sub-Martial Law Administrator, Sector III. 5. Particulars of allegations inter alia : Evidence indicates that the accused was associated with and participated in planning of the military operations that were launched from 25th March, 1971. He appears to have attended a number of high level staff and operational planning sessions in which the details of the plan of genocide were finalised. In Chittagong, he was associated with and directed the operations designed to eliminate the Bangalee military personnel serving in Chittagong Garrison. When he assumed Command as GOC, 9th Division and Sub-Martial Law Administrator, Section III, he became responsible for a large area comprising Jessore, Jinadah, Barisal, Khulna, Khulna Port, Satkhira, Magura, Kushtia, Faridpur, Chaudanga, Gopalganj, Madaripur, Patuakhali, Bhola and Bagerhat. There is wide evidence of widespread mass atrocities including murder, torture, rape and arson in the area under his control or by members of the formation under his command as from July 1971 till surrender. 6. Proposed charges: Conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. Execution and direction of operations in pursuance of the conspiracy to commit genocide, mass murder, torture, rape, arson, false arrest and detention etc. 1. Name: Brig. Manzoor Hussain Atif 2. No. : PA3547 3. Unit : 4. Post held: Commander 117th Brigade, Comilla, Deputy Sub- Martial Law Administrator of Comilla, Chandpur and Feni (Earlier he served as Lt. Col. in Barisal) 5. Particulars of allegations inter alia: The accused is alleged to have been involved or actively participated in a series of murders committed on persons detained in concentration camps in Barisal. Evidence exists of wide-spread atrocities carried out in the area under his control or by troops under his command. 6. Proposed charges: Execution of plan of genocide, murder, incitement to genocide, torture, rape and arson, false arrest and detention; criminal violation of international agreements and international law, failure to maintain discipline. 1. Name: Capt. Abdul Wahid 2. No. : PSS 8464 . 3. Unit : 30FF 4. Particulars of allegations inter alia: The accused was posted in Dacca City at about the time of military crack down
which commenced on the 25th March, 1971. Evidence exists of his participation in the acts of murder, loot and arson that were perpetrated on that day in Dacca. 4. Proposed charges: ; Murder, loot, arson, failure to maintain discipline. 1. Name: Major Mohammad Abdullah Khan 2. No. : PTC 5911 3. Unit : 4. Post held: Deputy Sub-Martial Law Administrator, Sub-sector 12, Brahmanbaria. 5. Particulars of allegations inter alia: On 21st November 1971, the accused is alleged to have taken some 50 persons from Brahmanbaria sub-jail and killed them at a place near Pairtala Bridge where subsequently 42 dead bodies were disinterred. Eye witness accounts are available. This area was visited by Lt. General Niazi and Major General Majid Khan prior to the murder of intellectuals in Brahmanbaria. Evidence discloses a design to commit genocide in that area. 6. Proposed charges: Execution of plan of genocide, murder, false arrest, etc. 1. Name: Major Khurshid Omar 2. No. : PA4553 3. Unit: To be located (he was attached with 614 Intelligence Unit, Jessore Cantt.) 4. Post held: 5 Particulars of allegations inter alia: The accused was incharge of field intelligence unit at Jessore Cantt. at least from March 1971 till the surrender. He appears to have had responsibility for the collection of political intelligence and submission of intelligence reports of the political situation in that area. He was also incharge in this connection with the interrogation and screening of Bangalee military and civilian personnel with a view to executing the plan of genocide. At least 900 persons were brought before him interrogated and in many cases tortured under his order and or supervision. Several persons thus interrogated later died. The accused appears to 'have specialized in devising ingenious instruments of torture. 5. Proposed charges: Execution of the plan of genocide, murder, torture, false arrest and detention and criminal violation of international law and agreements. 1. Name: Col. Yakub Malik 2. No. : P A 3837
3. Unit : 53 Field Artillery regiment (53 Brigade 14 Division) 4. Post held: C.O. 5. Particulars of allegations inter alia: His unit was stationed at Comilla even prior to 25th March, 1971 and remained in Bangladesh till the surrender. On and between the 25th and 29th March, 1971,300 Bangalee military officers and other ranks were disarmed and detained in Comilla at Brigade Headquarters. In addition, 1600 civilians were also arrested. On the 30th March, 1971, batches of 15 and 20 persons from among those detained were taken out and killed in the precincts of Brigade Headquarters. In the same night with the help of petromax light, these bodies of persons killed were buried in mass graves in the cantonment limits. The accused was at all material times in Comilla and on the date of the killings was actually present through the day at Brigade Headquarters where the killings occurred. 6. Proposed charges: Execution of planned genocide, mass murder, torture, criminal violation of international agreements, false arrest and detention etc. 1. Name: Lt. Col. Shams-ul-zaman (also known as Col. Shams) 2. No. : PA4745 3. Unit: 22 FFR and Infantry Battalion (107 Brigade, 14 Division) 4. Post held: Assistnat Sub-Martial Law Administrator (Khulna) till June 1971; Sub-Martial Law Administrator (Jessore) July 1971. 5. Particulars of offences inter alia: The accused was stationed at Jessore even prior to 25th March, 1971. Later, he moved to Khulna and appears to have returned to Jessore. He was at all material times in Bangladesh. There is evidence of widespread atrocities in area Jessore-Khulna. For example, on 4th April, 1971, military personnel of Pakistan army, in company strength, went to Chachara Mahalia of Jessore town and opened indiscriminate fire killing 250 persons. From March to May 1971, nearly 2000 persons in batches were brought to Khulna Circuit House, tortured and killed at Forest ghat which is 200 yards away from the Circuit House. During this period, the accused was living at the Circuit House and personally inspected the torture chambers. 6. Proposed charges: Execution of planned genocide, mass murder, torture, criminal violation of international agreements, false arrest and detention, etc.
List of accused P.O.Ws Sl. No. 1 1.
P.O.W.No. 2 1
PA No. 3 PA-477
Rank 4 Lt./Gen
Name 5 Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi
Unit 6 East Comd.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
2 3 4 5 6
PA-1170 PA-4404 PA-882 PA-1734 PA-1364
Maj/Gen Maj/Gen Maj/Gen Maj/Gen Maj/Gen
Nazar Hussain Shah Mohammad Hussain Ansari Mhammad Jamshed Qazi Abdul Majid Khan Rao Farman Ali Khan
16 Div. 9 Div. DGEPCAF 14 Div
7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.
7 8 9 11 12 13 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 25. 26 27 28 29 30 35 37 44 45 58 67 57 60 65 68 72 74 73 55 78 81 202
PA-1674 PA-2235 PA-1109 PA-1897 PA-100088 PA-1738 PA-3414 PA-3547 PA-2111 PA-1148 PA-2729 PA-1999 PA-2103 PA-1044 PA-1702 PA-3430 PA-3548 PA-1880 PA-2110 PA-2130 PA-1817 PA-3799 PA-1963 PA-100115 PA-2200 PA-4489 PA-3568 PA-3347 PA-4087 PTC-4318 PA-4062 PTC-4329 PA-5027 PA-4745 PA-4608 PA-3248 PTC-3239
Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Brig. Col. Col. Col. Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col.
Abdul Qadir Khan Arif Raja Atta Muhammad Khan Malik Bashir Ahmed Fahim Ahmed Khan Iftikhar Ahmed Rana Manzoor Ahmed Manzoor Hussain Atif Mian Mansoor Muhammad Mian Taskin Uddin Mir Abdul Nayeem Mohd. Aslam Mohd. Hayat Mohd. Shafi N. A. Ashraf S. A. Ansari Saad Ullah Khan S. J. Syed Asghar Hasan Syed Shah Abul Qasim Tajmmal Hussain Malik Fazle Hamid K. K. Afridi Mohd. Khan Mohammad Musharaf Ali Abdul Ghaffor Aftab H. Quereshi Abdul Rehman Awan Abdul Hamid Khan Abdullah Khan Ahmed Mukhtar Khan Amir Mohd. Khan Amir Nawaz Khan Amir Mohd. Khan A. Shams ul Zaman Ashiq Hussain Aziz Khan Ghulam Yasin Siddiqi
Isharat Ali Alavi Mukhtar Alam Hijazi
Maj. Gen. Civil Affairs & Adviser to Governor, E.P.
93 BDE HQ SIG 7 BDE CAF HQ EC 313 BDE 57 HQ BDE 117 BDE 39 Div 91 BDE 34 HQ BDE 53 BDE 107/407 BDE 23 HQ BDE CMD Natore GRN Rangpur GRN 27 BDE Sylhet force C.C.ATY ECO 205 HQ BDE 314 HQ BDE 9 Div ISI 14 ADMS Div HQ SIGEA 33 Baluch CAF ML HQ EPCAF 30 FF 7 SEC ML 13 FF 34 Punjab 22 FF 24 FF 32 Baluch ST HQ Dacca AA & QMG 14 HQ Inf. Div EPCAF
Remarks 7 They planned and/or executed the plan to commit genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity in Bangladesh during the war of liberaiton.
46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69.
170 116 128 140 152 147 169 138 48 129 168 171 175 180 178 196 192 181 182 205 201 200 199 216
PA-3600 PA-4100 PA-4301 PA-2700 PSS-2590 PTC-3645 PA-4766 PA-4416 PA-100207 PA-2917 PA-3610 PSS-2899 PA-2821 PA-5074 PA-4550 PA-4817 PA-3932 PA-4920 PA-4560 PA-4368 PA-3817 PA-5178 PA-4518 PSS-3743
Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col. Lt/Col.
Mustafa Anwar M.R.K. Mirza Matloob Hussain Mohammad Akram Mohd. Akbar Mohammad Nawaz Mumtaz Malik M.M.M. Baiz Mohd. Matin Mazhar Hussain Chauhan Mukhtar Ahmed Sayed Mustafajan Oman Ali Khan Reaz Hussain Javed Rashid Ahmed Seikh Mohd. Naeem Sarfraz Khan Malik S.F.H. Rizvi S.H. Bokhari Syed Hamid Shafi Sultan Badshah Sultan Ahmed S.R.H.S. Jaffari Zaid Agha Khan
15 Baluch 33 Punjab 18 Punjab Tochi Scout EPCAF 15 Baluch HQ East Comd 8 Baluch 72 ADMS MED BN ISSC HQ MLA Cav HQ MLA Zone Survey Sec 31 Punjab HQ EPCAF 39 Baluch 31 Punjab 32 Punjab 29 CAV. DEF Purchase 8 EPCAF 31 Baluch HQ SIG EA HQ EF LOG
70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97.
122 231 284 290 304 233 301 294 241 256 235 262 283 255 320 348 358 344 363 367 376 374 712 419 423 414 485 431
PA-3837 PA-7059 PA-5640 PA-7214 PA-6736 PSS-8394 PA-7299 PA-7530 PSS-8547 PTC-4664 PA-3838 PA-7251 PRR-4438 PA-4990 PA-5868 PA-4122 PTC-4390 PA-7439 PA-6959 PA-6646 PTC-5733 PA-6729 PA-5250 PA-4553 PTC-3947 PA-7576 PA-7657 PTC-5911
Lt/Col. Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major
M.Y. Malik Abdul Ghafran Anis Ahmed Arif Javed Atta Mohd. Abdul Hamid A.S.P. Quereshi Ashfaq Ahmed Cheema Abdul Khaleq Kayani Abdul Waheed Mughal Abdul Hamid Khattak Ahmed Hassan Khan Anees Ahmed Khan Abdul Waheed Khan Ch. Mohd. Jahangir Ghulam Mohd. Gulam Ahmed Ghazanfar Ali Nasir Hadi Hussain Hasan Mujtaba Iftikhar Uddin Ahmed Iftikhar Ahmed Shah Muhamad Osman Faruqi Khursheed Oman Khurshid Ali Khizar Hayat Mehr Mohd Khan M. Abdullah Khan
14 HQ Div East Comd. 205 HQ Inf. BDE 22 CAV 29 Baluch 31 Punjab 25 Punjab 39 Baluch 6 Punjab 22 Baluch ML HQ EPCAF 15 Baluch 31 Baluch HQ MLA ZB 2 Baluch EPCAF EPCAF 24 FF 8 Baluch 33 Baluch 8 Punjab 7 Sig. BN 814 FIU Survey Sec. 4 FF 31 Baluch 27 BDE
-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-doThey committed genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity in Bangladesh during the War of Liberation in violation of laws of War, customs and usages.
98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103.
533 441 553 595 504 481
104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113. 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121. 122. 123. 124. 125. 126. 127. 128. 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. 147. 148. 149. 150. 151.
493 428 459 544 586 555 455 592 527 583 579 543 506 604 496 562 580 547 525 615 634 632 654 666 667 651 702 510 686 674 730 689 723 695 690 698 735 705 720 737 704 706 756 785 806 817 858 815
PA-7253 PA-7405 PTC-3246 PA-6870 PA-6793 PS-3935? 2935 PA-6554 PTC-4157 PSS-4245 PTC-3007 PSS-6110 PA-5964 PA-2818 PSS-6150 PA-5141 PA-7231 PTC-3016 PSS-6092 PSS-4634 PA-5312 PA-6067 PA-6440 PA-7559 PSS-4320 PA-6460 PA-5962 PSS-7996 PA-4748 PTC-4632 PA-8655 PSS-6148 ACO-390 PA-6063 ACO-2099 PRR-3389 PA-6893 PSS-4224 PSS-8015 PA-7415 PTC-5930 PA-6858 PA-5684 PA-7289 PA-6542 PA-5080 PA-7428 PA-7076 PA-6851 PA-6272 PSS-8124 PSS-8464 PA-10202 PSS-8836 PSS-9634
Major Major Major Major Major Major
Mohd. Afzal M. Ishaq Mohd. Hafiz Raja Mohd. Younas Mohd. Amin Mohd. Lodhi
8 Baluch EPCAF 34 Punjab 32 Punjab 107 HQ BDE Natore Gar.
Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Major Captain Captain Captain Captain
Mirza Anwar Beg M.A. K. Lodhi Madad Hussain Shah Mohd. Ayub Khan Mohd. Sharif Arain Mohd. Iftikhar Khan M. Yahiya Hamid Khan Mohd. Yamin Mohd. Ghazanfar Mohd. Sarwar Mohd. Siddique Mohd. Ashraf Mohd. Ashraf Khan Mohammad Safdar M.M. Ispahani Mohd. Jamil Mohd. Safi Mohd. Azim Qureshi Qures Mohd. Zulficar Rathore Mushtaq Ahmed Nasira Khan Nasir Ahmed Rana Zahoor Mohyydin Khan Rifat Mahmood Rustam Ali R. M. Mumtaz Khan Sardar Khan Mohammad Azam Khan Saif Ullah Khan S.T. Hussain S.M.H.S. Bokhari Sajid Mahmud Sher ur Rehman Salamat Ali Sajjad Akhtar Malik Saleem Inayet Khan Sultan Saud Sarfraz Uddin Shaukatullah Khattak Sultan Surkhro Awan Sarfraz Alam Sarwar Khan Tafair ul Islam Zaumul Maluk Abdul Waheed Aftab Ahmad Arif Hussain Shah Abrar Hussain
88 ORD COY 16 HQ Div 18 Punjab 97 BDE 33 Punjab 202 HQ BDE 6 Punjab ASC ISSC 33 Punjab 205 HQ Inf BDE HQ EPCAF 53 HQ BDE ISSC HQ Eastern Cmd EPCAF 32 Punjab ISSC 13 Engr. BN Det 630 ASC 26 FF 409 GHQ FIU 18 Punjab 31 FD Regt. 314 HQ Bde 31 Baluch HQ MLA 12 A.K. ISSC 734 FIC 24 FF 32 Punjab 29 CAV EPCAF ISI 57 HQ MLZB EPCAF ISI 36 Sig. BN 33 Punjab EPCAF Tochi Scout HQ Natore 18 Punjab 30 FF 31 Baluch ARTY EIZI EMD 30 FF
152. 153. 154. 155. 156. 157. 158. 159. 160. 161. 162. 163. 164. 165. 166. 167. 168. 169. 170. 171.
853 876 75089 869 802 849 882 221 951 947 941 964 960 976 972 985 1047 1255 1178 1201
PSS-9959 PA-10129 PA-10185 PA-10985 PSS-9904 PSS-8005 PSS-9363 PSS-9440 PSS-8144 PA-10241 8867 PSS-8821 PSS-9614 PSS-6910 PSS-9765 PA-7838 PA-11554 PSS-9387 PA-11551 PSS-8820
Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain
31 FD Regt. ARTY 53 Fd. Regt. EPCAF 12 AK INF BN 19 Sig BN HQ Natore GR 31 FD Regt. 22 FF 20 CAV ISI 31 Punjab 24 FF 29 CAV 33 Baluch RFT CAMP 315 HQ BDE 25 FF 18 Punjab 80 Fd. Regt. ISSC
Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Captain Lieutenant Lieutenant Major
Amjad Shabbir Bukhari Ausaf Ahmed Abdul Qahar Ashraf Mirza Abdul Rashid Nayyar Aman Ullah Aziz Ahmed Gulfraz Khan Abbasi Ikramul Haq Ijaz Ahmed Cheema Iftikhar Ahmed Gondal Ishaq Parvez Iqbal Shah Javed Iqbal Jahangir Koyani Karam Khan Manzar Amin Muzaffar Hussain Naqvi Mohd. Sajjad Mohd. Zakir Raja (Muhammad Zakar Khan, Arty) Mohd. Arif Mohd. Ashraf Mohd. Iqbal Mohd. Rafi Munir Mohd. Jamill Naeem Sadiq Sher Ali Salman Mahmood Samshed Sarwar Shahid Rehman Saleh Hussain Shaukat Nawaz Khan Zahid Zaman Munir Ahmed Butt Zafar Jang Nisar Ahmad Khan Sherwani
172. 173. 174. 175. 176. 177. 178. 179. 180. 181. 182. 183. 184. 185. 186. 187.
1126 1131 1149 1096 1159 1238 1351 1322 1325 1343 1321 1350 1396 1505 15532 641
PA-7862 PSS-9018 PSS-8977 PSS-9927 PSS-10287 PSS-9077 PSS-9454 PSS-8093 PA-11009 PSS-7745 PSS-10431 PSS-9508 PA-7898 PSS-11843 PSS-12191 PSS-6127
14 HQ Div 12 Punjab 12 Punjab 18 Punjab 6 Punjab 409 HQ FIU 39 Baluch 26 FF RFN CAMP 29 CAV 18 Punjab 6 Punjab 53 HQ BDE 31 Baluch Regt. 38 FF 32 Punjab
188. 189. 190. 191. 192. 193. 194.
338 487 924 1102 993 628 934
PSS-8534 PA-4992 PSS-8880 PSS-10828 10147 PA-6726 PSS-10384
Major Major Captain Captain Captain Major Captain
Fayaz Muhammad Mian Fakhruddin Hidayat Ullah Khan Md. Siddique Khalil ur Rahman Nadir Parvaiz Khan Hassan Idris
29 Baluch 91 HQ Inf. Bde. 29 Baluch 27 Sig. BN COD, Dacca 6 Punjab EPCAF
195. 196. 197.
65483 65484 65510
P-953 PAF-1069 PAK-5332
Air Cdre Gr. Cpt. Ft/Lt.
Inam ul Hoque Khan M.A. Majid Baig Khalil Ahmed
PF Dacca PF Dacca PAF
Port Trust Base Comd.
Responsible for man killing, loot, arson
Pakistan Air Force
Pakistan Navy 198. 199. 200.
71755 71756 71757
P-138 PN-108 219
Rear Adm Cmdre Cmdre
Mohamed Shariff Ikramul Haq Malik Khatib Masud Hussain