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“The killer gang had orders to murder every non-Bengali in our factory”, said Asghar Ali Khan, 38, who was employed as an Overseer in the Pakistan Fabric Company’s factory in Narayanganj, an industrial township close to Dacca. He gave this pathetic account of the slaughter of non-Bengalis in March 1971 in Narayanganj:
“The non-Bengali population resident in Narayanganj was not large. Many non-Bengalis worked by day in Narayanganj and commuted in the evening to their homes in nearby Dacca.
“Since the first week of March, Awami League militants were at work in Narayanganj, inciting the Bengali mill workers against the non-Bengalis. They had marked the houses of non-Bengalis by the middle of the month..........
“On March 21, a large, violent mob of yelling Awami Leaguers attacked the factory and the quarters where the non-Bengali employees and their families lived. They did not damage the factory but they butchered the non-Bengali employees and their families. I was the sole occupant of my quarter and I slipped into the house of a very dear Bengali friend when the Awami League’s raid began. He hid me in his house and I was saved.
“In the afternoon of March 26, after the Bengali rebels had been routed, the federal troops visited our factory and arranged the mass burial of the 160 dead bodies of non-Bengalis which lay stacked in their quarters.............”
“The killer gang had looted the houses of the victims and every article of value had vanished”, said Asghar Ali Khan.
Witnesses said that the Awami League demagogues, in their harangues to the Bengali millhands, told them that the unemployed Bengalis would get factory jobs if the non-Bengali employees were liquidated. The non-Bengali employees were known by the generic name of Biharis.
“Four armed thugs dragged two captive non-Bengali teenage girls into an empty bus and violated their chastity before gunning them to death”, said Gulzar Hussain, 38, who witnessed the massacre of 22 non-Bengali men, women and children on March 21, 1971, close to a bus stand in Narayanganj. Repatriated to Karachi in November 1973, Gulzar Hussain reported:
“I was engaged in the Jute Trade in Narayanganj and I lived in a rented house not far from the commercial hub of the town. Since the first week of March 1971, the Awami Leaguers were trying to stir up trouble in Narayanganj and their goal was to wipe out the non-Bengali population.............
“On March 21, our Dacca-bound bus was stopped on the way, soon after it left the heart of the city. I was seated in the front portion of the bus and I saw that the killer gang had guns, scythes and daggers. The gunmen raised ‘Joi Bangla’ and anti-Pakistan slogans. The bus driver obeyed their signal to stop and the thugs motioned to the passengers to get down. A jingo barked out the order that Bengalis and non-Bengalis should fall into separate lines. As I spoke Bengali with a perfect Dacca accent and could easily pass for a Bengali, I joined the Bengali group of passengers. The killer gang asked us to utter a few sentences in Bengali which we did. I passed the test and our tormentors instructed the Bengalis to scatter. The thugs then gunned all the male non-Bengalis. It was a horrible scene. Four of the gunmen took for their loot two young non-Bengali women and raped them inside the empty bus. After they had ravished the girls, the killers shot them and half a dozen other women and children. Some shops, owned by non-Bengalis in Narayanganj, were looted by riotous mobs on that day”.
Nasima Khatoon, 25, lived in a rented house in the Pancho Boti locality in Narayanganj. Her husband, Mohammed Qamrul Hasan, was employed in a Vegetable Oil manufacturing factory. Repatriated to Karachi in January 1974, along with her 4 year old orphaned daughter, from a Red Cross Camp in Dacca, Nasima gave this hair-raising account of her travail in 1971:
“Since March 3, there was tension in Narayanganj. The Awami Leaguers were inciting the Bengali labourers to kill the non Bengalis. In the night of March 25, a Bengali mob, led by Awami League militants, tried to loot the houses of non-Bengalis in our locality but the cowards melted away when the news of the Army’s action against the rebels reached them...........
“On December 16, when the surrender decision of the Pakistan Army in Dacca to the Indian Army was announced, violent crowds of Bengali militants went on the rampage against the non-Bengalis in Narayanganj. A killer gang attacked my house and stole all my ornaments, my clothes, crockery and the furniture. The thugs did not spare even the kitchenware and house hold linen. My husband was away in Dacca when the killer gang came to my house.............
“At gun-point, our captors made us leave our house and marched us to an open square where more than 500 non-Bengali old men, women and children were detained. Some 30 Bengali gunmen led us through swampy ground towards a deserted school building. On the way, the 3-year-old child of a hapless captive Woman died in her arms. She asked her captors to allow her to dig a small grave and bury the child. The tough man in the lead snorted a sharp ‘No’, snatched the body of the dead child from her wailing mother and tossed it into a river along whose bank we dragged our feet in physical exhaustion. The killers pushed all their captives into the school building. I wanted water to slake my parched throat; the gunman, who headed our group, slapped me, struck me in the arm with his rifle-butt and pushed me inside the jam-packed hall..........
“For a week, we lived in what was virtually a hell. Every night, we heard threats and abuses from our captors. One of the captive women feigned acute stomach ache and begged her captors to let her go to a hospital in Dacca for treatment. She was old and looked a saintly woman. The Bengali captors allowed her to go to Dacca. A very intelligent woman, she raced to Mohammedpur where she told the Red Cross Officials about the plight of the 500 Bihari captive women and children. Two teams of officials of the International Red Cross came to our rescue and took us to their Camp in Mirpur. Twice our Camp was attacked by the Mukti Bahini gunmen, and some of the inmates, including two ailing young women, were killed by gunfire. By April, 1972, there was some improvement in the situation and the nocturnal kidnapping of its Bihari inmates by the Bengali marauders lessened. The Red Cross Officials tried their best to trace out my missing husband but he was not found. Like many thousands of other non-Bengalis, he was, it is presumed, done to death by rampaging killer gangs, inebriated with the victory of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini”.
“I saw the rebels burning dozens of jute godowns in Narayanganj and throwing the dead bodies of murdered non-Bengalis into the flames",
said 52-year-old Allah Rakha, who worked as a jute broker in Narayanganj. He lived in a rented house in the Patuatoly locality of Dacca. Repatriated to Karachi in March 1974, he said:
“After the mid-1960’s, most of the non-Bengali traders in Narayanganj and Dacca were apprehensive that some day it would become difficult for them to do business in East Pakistan. The Awami League leaders were spreading poison against West Pakistanis in the minds of the simple Bengali common folks of East Pakistan...........
“After March 3, 1971, I found that the Awami League’s campaign to foster hatred for non-Bengalis amongst the Bengalis had made its impact and many of my Bengali friends in the jute trade were critical of us…….
“On March 17, the volcano erupted, and a large killer gang, led by the Awami League militants, went on the rampage in the premises of the Ispahani Jute Company. They slaughtered many hundreds of non-Bengalis, including women and children, living in the Ispahani Colony, and flung the dead bodies into the Sitalakhya River. I was saved because I went into hiding inside a closed office building to which I had access..........”