Serazul Haque

Thu Dec 09 2021 05:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

44539S H

On March 25, 1971, the Pakistani army cracked down on a sleeping Dhaka and began a massacre. A large number of traitors abetted the occupation army to form a paramilitary called Razakars. They took the occupation army to the villages far from the city and town. They killed people, burned houses, and looted indiscriminately. About one crore (ten million) people lost everything and were forced to leave the country for India.

A band of Razakars accompanied by local Muslim League leaders came to our village, Kandapara, one day. More brutal than the occupation army, the Razakars caught 19 young men, brought them to gunpoint on the highway, killing them. In the flood of blood, much like a slaughterhouse, they groaned to their deaths.

Anjar Fakir was a Razakar leader with the blood of thousands on his hands. He led the biggest band of Razakars and Punjabi police to Dasmoholla, a Hindu populated area. There, he killed thousands of Hindu men, women and babies. Along the way back, armed forces burned every house that Hindus owned.

We could not experience any more of these tragic atrocities. I, along with 42 other young men ages 14 to 28, left home for India. There, we were equipped with weapons to liberate the country. We went quietly and unseen through the villages and past houses turned to ash. We mostly walked, later traveling by boat. After three days and three nights, we crossed the border. We reached Basirhat, where our local MP (member of parliament) arranged for our accommodations in an old building.

Some days we spent in a camp under a tent. Then we were sent to Bihar by a train that ran all night, stopping at Ahmedabad Railway Station, where we took buses to Rampara, the training center. We trained for 29 days. Most of the trainers were Sikhs, and we respected their sincerity and humility. They trained us on how to use the weapons, open, join, wash and fire them.

We were taken to a hill for firing practice. After the 28th day of camp firing, we celebrated until midnight. Some of us danced with the instructors on their shoulders. The following day a commission rank army officer gave us a gorgeous farewell with 50 taka each.

We were sent to a camp in West Bengal, where we stayed for 10 days. We were overjoyed to know that we were going back to our motherland. Two buses carried us to the border. We were unfed and tired but well-equipped. We walked during the night and stopped by day.

There were three camp locations—Chitalmari, Khalispur, and Dhapakhel. Our captain, Tajul Islam, took his quarters at Khalispur. I was entrusted with planning, operating, and rationing as part of the intelligence branch. We rested one day, then prepared for an operation with our weapons. We ran about two and a half miles and took position on the south bank of the Kachua Canal. There was heavy firing. Enemies countered the attack. Eventually, they stopped firing and retreated.

Bagerhat stands on the Bhairab river. It was the headquarters for Razakars and the Punjabi police. On several occasions, we crossed the river by boat and caused heavy casualties. We returned safe and sound every time. Once, we were able to shoot the Razakar leader but he was taken to a military hospital, escaping death narrowly. We carried on an operation to a building where a chairman lived on the bank of the Baleshwari river. He lived in a well-guarded building surrounded by thick walls. At the dead of night, we took positions around the building and fired. They fired back. Some of us jumped the wall and almost broke into the main building. The other Razakars nearby were quickly informed. We were losing. Two of our freedom fighters were shot dead. Towards the end of the mission, the Razakars took shelter in buildings in the town and didn’t come out.

We won on December 16, 1971, Victory Day, following the surrender of the occupation army. We couldn’t go home to Bagerhat right away, but when we did we were given a gorgeous reception, one that is still fresh in our memories.