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Blood and Tears - Chapter 9: Slaying in Thakurgaon, Hilli PDF Print E-mail
Written by Qutubuddin Aziz   
Friday, 26 March 2004 00:50
Article Index
Blood and Tears
Chapter 1: The Ides of March in Dacca
Chapter 2: Terror in Narayanganj
Chapter 3: Human Abattoirs in Chittagong
Chapter 4: Massacres in Chandraghona, Rangamati
Chapter 5: Fire and Death in Khulna
Chapter 6: Satkhira Aflame
Chapter 7: Hell in Dinajpur
Chapter 8: Carnage in Parbatipur
Chapter 9: Slaying in Thakurgaon, Hilli
Chapter 10: Slaughter in Laksham, Rajbari and Faridpur
All Pages
The Awami League’s rebellion cast its dark and ominous shadow on the lives of the non-Bengali populace in Thakurgaon, a town in the Dinajpur district, in the middle of March 1971. Before the outburst of genocidal frenzy against the non-Bengalis in the last week of the month, the belabouring of non-Bengali young men by groups of Bengalis on the streets and in alleys had become a frequent occurrence. The police had swung to the side of the Awami League rebels.

In the last week of March and the first fortnight of April 1971, armed Bengali rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles joined the Awami Leaguers and unleashed terror and death on the non-Bengalis. About 3,000 innocents were killed in this barbaric slaughter. More than two-third of the non-Bengali population in Thakurgaon was wiped out; their houses were looted and many were burnt. Dead bodies by the hundreds were deliberately incinerated in blazing houses by the killers. Non-Bengali teenage girls were kidnapped, ravished and tortured in sex assault chambers; most of them were murdered by the rebels before they quit the town. Some pregnant women were bayoneted; their still born babies were bludgeoned. The dead bodies of some prominent non-Bengalis were dragged through the streets and displayed in public from flagpoles. The Army regained control over Thakurgaon on April 15, 1971.

Mohammad Sohail Tanvir, 21, an articulate student who lived with his father in their own house in Rahmatganj in Thakurgaon town, described the murder of his father by the Bengali rebels in these words:

“My father was a prominent Muslim Leaguer in Thakurgaon. He had served as a Basic Democrat for many years and was respected by the Bengali and non-Bengali residents alike. We had lived in Thakurgaon for more than 18 years and we spoke Bengali very well. My father had done well in business and bought some property. He helped many charitable institutions in the town........

“In the last week of March 1971, a pall of death and destruction enveloped the non-Bengalis in Thakurgaon and several thousands of them lost their lives. My father had gone to the main Mosque in our locality to offer his evening prayers. With him were two non-Bengali and a Bengali friend. As they stepped out of the Mosque, a killer gang of Bengali rebels brutally killed him and his three friends. They threw the dead bodies inside the Mosque and wiped out other non-Bengalis in the neighbourhood. I and some members of my family escaped the carnage with the help of a God-fearing Bengali friend of my father. After India’s conquest of East Pakistan in December 1971, we escaped to Nepal. Early in 1974, we were repatriated from Nepal to Karachi.”

Sohail’s slain father, Mr. Tanvir Ahmed, as a member of the local Council in Rahmatganj locality, had devotedly worked for the social uplift of the Bengalis as well as the non-Bengalis. “My father advocated fraternisation between Bengalis and non-Bengalis”, said Sohail.

Sohail recalled that it took the federal troops some days before they could retrieve all the dead bodies of non-Bengalis and arrange their proper burial. Heaps of human skulls and bones were found in the gutted houses of non-Bengalis.

“The Awami League killers in Thakurgaon had instructions to kill all the non-Bengali male adults”, said Afzal Siddiqi, 50, who lost his two sons and a daughter in the carnage in Thakurgaon. He had migrated to East Pakistan from Calcutta in 1947 and settled in Thakurgaon in the mid 1960’s. Repatriated from Dacca in January 1974, he reported that he escaped the massacre of non-Bengalis in the last week of March 1971 by hiding in a dry, derelict water tank, not far from his house in Rahmatganj. He said:

“I worked as a commission agent for the sale of household wares. My three children were born in East Pakistan My Bengali wife had died some years ago. In spite of our close links with East Pakistan, the Awami Leaguers called us Biharis.........

“Since early March 1971, non-Bengalis were harassed and intimidated in Thakurgaon by the Awami League militants. But in the last week of the month, the killers went on the rampage and wiped out most of the non-Bengali population in Thakurgaon. I was away from my house when an assassination squad raided my house, looted it, murdered my two sons and kidnapped my teenage daughter. When I returned to my house I saw it aflame. The bodies of my sons lay on the doorstep. I knew that the killer gang was at work. Fearing that they would return for me, I went into hiding in a dry water tank which had a large hole in it. I slipped into it and covered it with leaves. It served as my hideout for a fortnight before the Army crushed the rebels.........”

Witnesses from Thakurgaon estimated that out of the 9,000 non-Bengalis who lived in this town, barely 150 survived the March-April 1971 massacre. A non-Bengali army major held nearly 1,000 Bengali rebels at bay for more than 72 hours. When his ammunition was exhausted, he fought the raiders with a dagger and died a hero’s death. The killer mob slayed his wife and his children and paraded their dead bodies as trophies of victory. The attacking mob was led by the local leaders of the Awami League, the sons of the head of the local administration and half a dozen police officers.

Amongst the other towns of Dinajpur district where non-Bengalis were liquidated en masse by the Bengali rebels between the second fortnight of March 1971 and the third week of April were Hilli, Phulbari, Jamalganj, Ponchagarh and Chaur Kai. Estimates of the non-Bengali death toll in these four towns ranged from 3,000 to 4,000. The Times of London, in its issue of April 6, 1971, reported:

“Thousands of helpless Muslim refugees who had settled in Bengal at the time of partition arc reported to have been massacred by angry Bengalis during the past week........The facts about the massacres were confirmed by Bihari Muslim refugees who crossed the border into India this week and by a young British technician who crossed the Indo-Pakistan frontier at Hilli today............He said that hundreds of non-Bengali Muslims have died in the north-western town of Dinajpur alone”.

Most of the killing of the non-Bengalis, it was gathered from eyewitnesses, was conducted by the rebels of the East Bengal Regiment, the East Pakistan Rifles and armed volunteers of the Awami League. The pattern and mode of extermination of the non-Bengalis here was similar to “Operation loot, kill and burn” staged by the Bengali rebels in Dinajpur and Parbatipur. The rebels, as they retreated to the sanctuary of the Indian border in the face of the advancing Pakistani Army, carried away with them a number of teenage non-Bengali girls whom they had kidnapped from Dinajpur and other places in the district. The border town of Hilli remained for many days the principal escape chute of the Bengali rebels into India. Some of these unfortunate captive girls — amongst them were a few from Punjabi and Pathan families— made a brave and desperate bid to escape the clutches of their fleeing captors but they were mowed down with machine gunfire by the rebels in Hilli. The rebels, while they held Hilli, were aided by the Indian Border Security Force and received arms and ammunition from their Indian benefactors. In Phulbari, Ponchagarh, Jamalganj and Chaur Kai, the liquidation of non-Bengali families was wholesale and ruthless. Some non-Bengalis of Bihar origin, it is reported, escaped the rebels death noose and succeeded in crossing the border into India. The Indian police and military forces caught them and quite a few are believed to be languishing in jails in India.

Witnesses reported that not more than five per cent of the 5,000 non-Bengalis who lived in the town of Ponchagarh survived the March-April 1971 massacre. Awami league cadres, rebels from the East Pakistan Rifles and infiltrators from India waged the massacre of the non-Bengalis in Ponchagarh.

The President of the East Pakistan Refugees Association, Diwan Wirasat Hussain, in a memorandum submitted to the British Parliamentary Delegation in Dacca on June 20, 1971, estimated that out of the more than 50,000 Muslim refugees from India who had settled at the time of the 1947 Partition in Birganj, Manickpara, Shetabganj, Sahebganj, Deviganj and Sall Danga in Dinajpur district, barely 150 survived the March-April 1971 massacre of non-Bengalis. According to his figures, more than 100,000 non-Bengalis were killed in Dinajpur district.



-3 # 2010-04-12 15:23
খুবই মর্মান্তিক একটা ইতিহাস পড়লাম যা অত্যন্ত সুচারুভাবে এতদিন ধামাচাপা দেওয়া হয়েছিল। বাংলাদেশে এরকম কোন বই আজপর্যন্ত কখনই প্রকাশ করতে দেওয়া হয় নাই। এসব খুনি চরিত্রহীন মুক্তিযোদ্ধাদের কেই এখন পরিচিত করা হচ্ছে দেশের সেরা সন্তান বলে!!!! এদেশের স্বল্প শিক্ষিত ও কুশিক্ষিত মানুষগুলো যে খুব সহজেই রাতারাতি জানোয়ারে রুপান্তরিত হয় তার নমুনা আমরা সাম্প্রতিককালেই আবার দেখেছি। বিডিআর কি নির্মমভাবে তার স্বজাতিয় আর্মির অফিসারদের হত্যা করল, তাদের স্ত্রী, মেয়েদের সম্ভ্রমহানি করল। এদেরই পূর্বপুরুষ ইপিআর-এ কাজ করার সময় মুক্তিযোদ্ধাদের সাথে তাল মিলিয়ে যে গণহত্যা,ধর্ষন ও লুটপাটে লিপ্ত হয়েছিল সেটাতে অবাক হবার কিছু নেই। জাতি হিসেবে আমাদের এসব নৃশংসতার জন্য অবশ্যই ক্ষমা চাওয়া উচিত। লক্ষ লক্ষ অবাঙ্গালিদের হত্যা করে গণ কবর দিয়ে সেগুলোকেই আবার নির্লজ্জের মত নিজেদের বলে প্রচার করে কত যে নিচে নেমেছি আমরা! সাধেই কি আজ আমাদের এই অবস্থা।
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+1 # 2010-04-13 00:58

Hello Moinul Hasan you are listening one sided story and are passing your comments without knowing actual facts. Killing goes on on Bengali also by the non Bengalis especially in Pahartali Wireless colony by stopping a train coming from Nazirhat to Chittagong city and slaughtered the innocent passengers.

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+11 # 2010-04-13 16:08

Mr Sikder, you are right for so long we were used to listening one-sided story of Awami propaganda machine. Those liers knew they cannot stand the facts and thats exactly why they always censor this kind of books. What were you trying to imply by the rest of your comment? Firstly, do you know how ludicrous your claim is to accuse a tiny non-Bengali community of mass killings of the huge Bengali community while the incompetent Pakistani Army was lying dormant before 25th March? How can non-Bengalis even think of attacking Bengalis in systematic manner? Especially during the period when the region was virtually run by the mob rule of Awami thugs. Your tone is similar to that of the Hindu mobs of Gujrat, who used the same lie (accusing the Muslim minority for attacking the Hindu majority) to justify their genocidal acts.

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+10 # 2010-04-14 21:21

This video clearly proves the brutality and animal nature of Mukti Bahini.

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+3 # 2010-12-26 06:48

Muslim killing the other Muslim. Is this the lesson what their Prophet taught them? Not strange to me because those also claimed to be Muslims who Martyred the Grand Son of their own Prophet in the field of Karbala.

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+3 # 2010-05-20 14:12

It is not necessary that who killed whom, it is also not necessary to know the color or nationality of killer/victim, but it is very necessary to know whether the victim warranted a brutal death or not. Most of the Bengali and non-Bengali women and children killed during war of liberation were innocent. I was quite matured during that period, to my judgment a very few non-Bengalis should have been punished by bullet, rest could be punished according to their crime. My conclusion is that we did the same crime what Pakistanis and Biharis did.

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+10 # 2010-05-30 01:39

Last week,Indian Army's Eastern Command destroyed documents relating to the liberation war of Bangladesh.It is suspected that those were destroyed as the time approached for declassifying and making the documents available to the public.The documents showed the extent of Indian involvement in then East Pakistan even before formal war was declared on 6 December 1971.One would think that a large number of the freedom fighters was actually Indian saboteurs in disguise and they were responsible for a large number of massacres of both Bengali and non-Bengali innocent persons.

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+10 # 2011-12-16 05:36

Very well said brother Hasan. It was Mukti bahini & India's RAW which carried out brutal massacre during 1971. Separation Movement which was being carried out by Indian Agencies trained Mukti Bahini to kill Bengalis and non Bengalis. But Pak Army was accused. The main culprit were Indian Agents- Awami League and Mukti Bahini.There was a agenda to separate Pakistan to make Indian market therein Bangladesh. Now you can see that Bangladesh is a big market for Indian Products. India is making Dams on Bengali Waters and Bangladesh don't dare to say anything to them. It was to take revenge from Pakistan of Freedom on 1947.

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-1 # 2016-05-11 17:09
Since my birth I've listened only one sided story. Today I read some different kind of story. I can predict what Awami league was during the liberation war period as I can see what they are doing now. I'm not saying every person is demon but I can say, I see every bad people (Ideally and morally) always supports Awami League. Don't know why may be they know it very well...
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-1 # 2016-08-30 19:17
This is a true story I'm eyewitness, My father had business in Chandraghona co-operative market. Some one killed one of the Bihari infront of me and my elder sister. His name was Barsati and he was selling Ice creme at that area.
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