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23 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Stories of Liberation War

Wounds of War

By Bipul K Debnath
Wounds of War

"The Liberation War of 1971 is the most glorious chapter in our nation’s history. It was a time when all patriotic Bangladeshis fought together to liberate our country from oppression and exploitation unleashed by the regime in West Pakistan. Bangladesh was born as a free nation after a nine-month bloody war, through the selfless sacrifices of countless heroic sons and daughters of this soil. As we celebrate 47 years of independence, The Weekend Independent talked to some freedom fighters, many of whom were teenagers and wounded during the war, and some people in general who lived through the fighting to hear their war stories and hopes for the country’s future."

SM Shakwat Hossain, Age 64

I was born at Babor Khana village in Uzirpur upazila of Barisal district. I was a class-9 student in 1971. I was at the local bazaar on March 7. I, along with other villagers listened to the 7th March address of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the radio. After the speech, our seniors at the school started thinking there was no way of staying with Pakistan anymore, and they made a plan to join the war. One day, they asked me to go with them. I agreed to their proposal.

In May, we went to Hasnabad in West Bengal, India, for military training. We were 35 in number and we registered our names there. My friends, Mozamel, Habib, Abdul Malek, Jitendra Nath Roy and Mahmud, were also with me. Later on, we were sent to Birbhum district of West Bengal for higher training.

After completing our training, I, along with 72 freedom fighters, joined the war in Sector 9, under sector commander Mohammad Abdul (MA) Jalil. Our team was prepared for fighting on the island district of Bhola. There, I took part in several battles. The most remarkable fight was held at Char Pata village in Daulatkhan upazila in November. Most of the people of Char Pata were Hindus. We had an informer, who worked as an electrician in the Pakistani camp there. But I do not remember his name now. He informed us that the Pakistani soldiers would attack the village with the help of razakers (collaborators). So, our commander took the decision to fight them and thus, he divided us into several groups. We were 11 in our group.

When we went to the area around 10pm, a local influential man, named Mohammad Tuni, arranged food for us and gave us shelter. But we did not realise that he was a razaker. In the meantime, he informed the Pakistanis about us.  However, we believed that Pakistani soldiers would never attack us at night. So, having no alternative, we decided to stay on. When morning came, the Pakistani army attacked us. I, with the others in my group, did our best fighting in that counterattack. We killed 80 Pakistani soldiers in that battle. Four of our freedom fighters were also killed.

Around 5 pm, a bullet hit my left hand and seriously wounded me. I fell down on the ground. Some of my friends rescued me and took me to the village doctor, Sushil Chandra Halder. After giving me basic treatment, he sent me to Bhola Sadar Hospital. After liberation, Shahjahan Omar, Bir Uttam, took me, along with other wounded freedom fighters, to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barisal for better treatment.

I returned to my village after the war and enrolled myself in class-10 at Babor Khana High School. But I could not continue my studies. I am very optimistic about the future of our country. And of course, our new generation will ensure our development, preserving the spirit of our great Liberation War.

Shuna Miah Khan, Age 65

I was born at Chagolchira village in Muksudpur upazila of Gopalganj (then Faridpur) district. I was 18 years old during the Liberation War. My elder brother was a freedom fighter and he inspired me to join the war. On July 7, I went to Kotalipara upazila in Gopalganj district to meet my brother, and learned about Hemayet Bahini, which was a guerrilla force known by the name of its leader, Mohammad Hemayet Uddin, Bir Bikrom. Later, they helped me to go to India for training.

After coming back to Bangladesh, I took part in the Hosenpur battle at Rajoir upazila of Madaripur district on September 18. My brother was also there. It was a face-to-face combat with Pakistani soldiers. My company commander was Jinnah Molla and our group commander was Selim Khan. I was a brave fighter, and so I was given the duty of hurling grenades at the Pakistani camp.

On September 20, my brother was injured by a bullet and he jumped into the river to save his life. But he did not survive. We found his dead body later on. His sudden death forced me to seek revenge. So, I started throwing grenades relentlessly. We killed all the Pakistani soldiers in that battle.

The most significant fighting took place at Dignagar village in Muksudpur, where around 150 Pakistanis and 35 razakers were killed. The battle started on December 8. We had some women freedom fighters with us. They helped us in many ways in that battle. It was a 24-hour combat and a combined attack with 71 freedom fighters. On December 9, I was seriously injured by a grenade fragment and fell down. My fellow fighter took me to a nearby camp. I was treated for 15 days by a doctor named Sawkat Fakir. On December 11, Dignagar became free.

What did we not do to liberate our country? I want our new generation to know the proper history of our nation and take part in every development activity.

Momotaz Uddin Ahmed, Age 65

I was born at Birol upazila in Dinajpur district. From my childhood, I was a follower of Bangabandhu. I was very active during the Liberation War. I could fight with many people at a time, without any weapons. So, I was a popular figure among the villagers for my strength. I think the March 7 address of Bangabandhu is an important document of our Liberation War through which we got the direction to liberate our country.

When Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence on March 26, I, along with other young people of my village, decided to take part in the Liberation War. I took military training in India and became a guerrilla commander. Guerrilla fighting is very difficult. For that, a brave heart and physical fitness are very important.   

I fought in many battles in Sector 7 (Dinajpur and Naogaon districts) and my sector commander was Kazi Nuruzzaman, Bir Uttam. But I cannot remember the names of the other fighters.

Now, I am suffering from kidney disease. I am satisfied with the allowance given to us by the state. Pray for me so I can be free of this disease. Then, I hope I will be able to share more of my war stories.

Nazir Ahmed Chowdhury, Age 65

I was born in Palashi area of Dhaka city in 1954. My father, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, was a government employee. From my early days, he inspired me to take part in any movement for the betterment of the people.

I was a student of Nabakumar Institution at Bakshi Bazar in Old Dhaka. I was doing politics under ASM Abdur Rab, then vice president (VP) of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU), who raised the flag of Bangladesh for the first time at Bottala of Dhaka University on March 2, 1971. We arranged regular processions, from Shaheed Minar to Sadarghat, to demand equal rights for the people of then East Pakistan.

Actually, those of us who were doing politics together started taking preparation from February 1971. So, we regularly did physical training with 400 students of different institutions in the field of BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology). Our trainer was Bakshi, I have forgotten his full name.

Our leaders, including Abdur Rab and film actor Sohel Rana, gave us directions to get ready for fighting against the Pakistanis. I was lucky to have heard the 7th March speech of Bangabandhu from a place very close to the main stage. It was a great experience of my life. I saw lots of people there and became inspired by the bold words of Bangabandhu.  

We, the activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, went to the residence of Bangabandhu (at Dhanmondi Road 32) at 10am on March 25 when he gave a short speech to the workers of Baby Ice Cream factory (a popular ice cream brand at the time). The factory owner was not paying due wages. That was why the workers went for a demonstration. In his morning address, Bangabandhu said: ‘Janina ki hobey, tomra shobai prostut theko.’ (I don’t know what will happen, all of you be prepared).

After Operation Searchlight (a brutal crackdown on the people of East Pakistan by the Pakistan army on March 25), we left Dhaka and reached our relative’s house in Sylhet on April 15. Then I, along with Farid Gazi, Abdul Munim Chowdhury and Abdul Rahim, went to Karimganj camp in India and stayed there. My father came there to find me and gave me some money.

Later, an Indian army officer, GS Bakshi, came there to recruit us for military training. As I was young, he told me not to join, at first. But I visited the training camp and demanded to join the training. Then, seeing my interest and experience of PT (physical training), Farid Gazi and Abdul Munim Chowdhury recommended me. Then I, with my close friend Rabindra Chakraborty and others, took training there.

After training, we came returned to Sector 4 and started fighting there. Our sector commander was CR (Chitta Ranjan) Dutta, Bir Uttam, and our sub-sector commander was Mahbubur Rob Sadi. On September 4, the biggest battle took place. Seventy-seven fighters, there were 25 Indian soldiers among us, advanced toward the Pakistani soldiers. My right eye was injured with a bullet and I fell to the ground. Then my friend Jamal Pasha took me to the camp medical centre. From there, they sent me Guwahati hospital in Assam for eye surgery. One month later, I was sent to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India for better treatment. After our victory, I returned to Bangladesh.  

I am very happy with the present economic growth of our country. I hope Bangladesh will be a developed country very soon.

Photos: Courtesy, Archives.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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