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First Revolt in Sylhet : Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971

 

 

 


 

 


 

Bangladesh War 1971



 

Imran Chowdhury BEM



Copyright @ 2023 Imran Chowdhury BEM

 

First Edition

 

All Rights Reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic or mechanical. Photocopying. Recording or otherwise (including pm social media) – without the author's prior written permission.  Opinions expressed in this book are the author's own. The publisher is in no way responsible for these.

 

Although the publisher and the author have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book is correct, the publisher and the author assume no responsibility of errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any other inconsistencies’ herein and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.


 

 


Dedicated

To

 

All the Freedom Fighters  

Of

1971



 


Preface

 

In the spring of 1971, a spark ignited the flames of freedom in the hearts of millions of Bangladeshis. The Sylhet region, nestled in the northeastern corner of Bangladesh, was the epicentre of this fiery revolution. In the heart of Shomshernagar in Sylhet, it was here that my father, Fazlul Haque Chowdhury, took his first steps into the treacherous path of the Bangladeshi Liberation War. He revolted with his EPR company on March 27, 1971, making a new milestone in the history of the Bangladesh Liberation War.

 

The year was 1971, and Bangladesh was in turmoil. The people of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, were struggling for their independence from the oppressive regime in West Pakistan. The dire situation and the cry for freedom echoed through the land. Amid this turmoil, My family found themselves in the crosshairs of history.


I was only 11 years old at the time, caught up in the whirlwind of events that would forever change our lives. My family, like many others, had become refugees in our own country, fleeing the atrocities of the Pakistani military. We crossed the border into India and found ourselves in the confines of a refugee camp, clinging to the hope of a better tomorrow.

 

While our lives were upended, Babul,  my elder brother, made a choice that would set the tone for our family's contribution to the war of independence. He was just a teenager, but his passion for the cause and unwavering spirit to fight for our homeland were unshakable. With the resounding call for freedom, he joined the ranks of the freedom fighters.

Babul's journey was a challenging one. He trained in the dense jungles of the Tripura region, preparing to face the well-equipped Pakistani military. His courage was boundless, and his commitment was unwavering. Day by day, he transformed from a young boy to a fearless warrior, ready to lay down his life for the independence of Bangladesh.

As my brother ventured deeper into the heart of the revolution, I, too, felt the pull of this historic moment. While I couldn't wield a gun like Babul, I discovered my own way to contribute. I began as a humble newspaper distributor in the refugee camp, disseminating the latest news of the ongoing war to my fellow refugees. Every headline was a testament to our people's unyielding spirit.

My role soon expanded, and I found myself in a hospital, aiding the brave nurses and doctors who cared for the wounded freedom fighters. It was there that I witnessed the indomitable spirit of our people as they fought not only for their lives but also for the future of our nation. The hospital was a place of despair and hope, where the cries of pain were met with the whispers of encouragement.

But my journey didn't stop there. I joined a cultural team tasked with entertaining the freedom fighters in various training camps. Music and dance became a weapon of a different kind, uplifting the spirits of those who had chosen the path of sacrifice. Our songs and performances were a source of solace and strength for the brave men and women fighting for our homeland.

The years passed, and our family's contribution to the war effort continued to evolve. Babul's determination remained unwavering, and he fought valiantly on the front lines. Despite the dangers that surrounded him, he refused to back down. Tragically, his sacrifice came too soon. Babul gave his life for the cause he held dear, leaving a void in our family that could never be filled.

As the war progressed, the tide began to turn in favour of the Bangladeshi freedom fighters. The international community's support for our cause grew, and the Pakistani military's grip on our land weakened. It was a long and arduous journey, but the dream of independence was within our grasp.

In December 1971, victory was finally achieved. The Pakistani military surrendered, and Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation. The sacrifices of countless individuals, like my brother Babul, had not been in vain. Our homeland was free at last.

The 1971 Bangladeshi Liberation War left an indelible mark on our family. Babul's courage had inspired us all, and my journey from a young newspaper distributor to a member of a cultural team had been a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

 

My father's journey during the war since the revolt is a story of his valour, bravery and conviction: His patriotism for his country knows no bounds.

 

This is a chronicle of our family's contribution to the war of independence of Bangladesh—a story of sacrifice, determination, and the unbreakable bonds that tie us to our homeland. It is a reminder that even in the darkest times, the human spirit can shine brightly, illuminating the path to freedom and a better future. In the echoes of the 1971 Bangladeshi Liberation War, our family found its place in history, forever etched in the annals of a nation's struggle for independence.









 

My Father



: Revolts



Fazlul Haque Chowdhury






 

My father was Company Commander for the East Pakistan Rifles' 3 Wing (Battalion) in March 1971. His duty station was Jamia School, situated between Mir Maidan and Subid Bazar in Sylhet, now known as Blue Bird School and the Radio Station. He oversaw the reserve company at the wing headquarters. During this period, East Pakistan, including Sylhet, was in turmoil, and there was a pervasive sense of conspiracy among the military and rifle forces. Almost all the soldiers and company members were familiar to him, and they approached him with hushed conversations.

 

My father was a profoundly conscientious individual who had followed tumultuous political events since 1946. Back then, he had to flee Calcutta with his family under the cover of night during the Calcutta riots, leaving behind his education, school, and friends. Subsequently, he experienced the birth of Pakistan, attended Brahmanbaria College in 1948, witnessed the Language Movement, joined the police force, and lived through the martial law rule of Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan from 1958 onward.

 

The establishment of the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) and their secondment from the police force to the EPR revealed a stark class divide, with West Pakistanis in a position of dominance and Bengalis facing oppression. Since 1958, promises were continually broken by martial law, and the Pakistan Army gradually usurped rules and regulations, replacing EPR establishment laws and other ordinances overnight. The Bengali workforce in the EPR has been heavily reliant on Punjabis and Pashtuns, leading to systematic discrimination since 1958.

 

The situation in Sylhet was marked by turbulence and volatility due to the activities of students and the public, including processions, meetings, picketing, and strikes, which disrupted daily life. The reserve company of the EPR patrolled the city, with four platoons stationed at critical points: Bandar Bazar, in front of the Circuit House near Keen Bridge, in front of Aliya Madrasa, and the Old Medical College on Matrisadan (maternity hospital) Road. My father's duty required him to move continuously from MC College to Rong Mohol cinema.

 

On the night of March 24, the Wing Commander of the 3rd Wing EPR, Subedar Fazlul Haque Chowdhury, was summoned and instructed to prepare his company for immediate deployment to Shamshernagar Airport for Internal Security Duty (IS Duty). He was to report the following evening and awaits further orders from 2IC Captain Golam Rasool. The Wing Commander expressed concerns about potential trouble at the airport, particularly from the Hindu and Indian agents, which weighed heavily on his mind. Despite their long years of service together, the words of the Punjabi Wing Commander reflected a disdainful and prejudiced view of Bengali Hindus, emphasizing the divisions that persisted. Subedar Chowdhury conveyed his readiness and silently left to brief the platoon commanders and the company Havildar Major.

 

Before departing for IS duty, he ensured preparations, including packing bedding and suitcases, were made. He left HQ in civilian attire, taking a rickshaw from the gates of 3 Wing EPR Headquarters to the city to visit his son, who was residing in the school hostel and preparing for his secondary school examinations in April 1971. After a brief conversation and a meal at a restaurant in Bandarbazar, he left his son with some money and encouraging words to focus on his studies.

 

In the town, rumours circulated about the 31st Punjab Regiment in Khadimnagar, continuously patrolling the city. Processions and meetings were prohibited in Zindabazar, and a curfew-like atmosphere prevailed, with all shops closing by nine o'clock at night. The town seemed deserted, with Rikabibazar, Medical College, and Amberkhana appearing frozen in time. Subedar Chowdhury wandered the city for about an hour, meeting a few friends' families, before returning to HQ and retiring for the night.

 

The convoy for Shamshernagar consisted of three three-ton trucks filled with soldiers and four individuals in a Chevrolet pickup, with the driver Rafiq and my father seated in the front, ready to depart. A salute from Spring Gull signalled the start, and the 91-man convoy set off. Before departure, Naik Jhumma Khan, the Kote (armoury) NCO, hesitated to provide some weapons and ammunition, but he eventually complied, given the determined look in the company commander's eyes. They carried provisions for approximately 21 days and additional cash for 20 days, provided by the Wing Quartermaster, Havildar Taj Mohammad Bhat. Bravo Company of 3 Wing EPR departed with determination.

 

The city was enveloped in a cold drizzle as they embarked on their journey. Along the route, landmarks like the Old Medical College, the roundabout, ZindaBazar, and Court loomed in the dim light. The road was eerily empty as the convoy deliberately avoided the main route, which had many roadblocks and obstructions. Despite the shorter distance, it took about an hour to reach Mongla Bazar station. There, they halted, took a break, and shared tea. Anxiety was palpable in the eyes of the present. The stationmaster delivered unsettling news, informing them that the train line from Akhaura to Sayestaganj had been disrupted in multiple places, adding to the turbulent times.

 

 Abba asked Farhad Havildar Major how many non-Bengalis are in the company.  - He counted on his hands and said Sir, 1 JCO, 3 NCOs and six sepoys Punjabi, Pathan, Baloch and Bihari combined. Started again at 11 o'clock - removed eight or nine barricades in two hours and reached Fenchuganj.

 

As soon as the vehicles were seen, people gathered in a hurry, and the area was filled with slogans - all the farmers, old people, and young women all moved. A new city was built around a very large market and river banks. Tin made two-storied and three-storied godowns, warehouses, shops - the River ghats (Port) are crowded with many boats, arrived Rajnagar from Fenchuganj and arrived at Shamshernagar Airport at 10:30 in the morning. . The MOD soldier who opened the gate seemed to be Manipuri or Tripura.

           

             A man from the Airport came and welcomed the guests - and showed everyone their place - Havildar Major Farhad and QM Gani went to get accommodation and beds sorted. Abba learned that another Bengal regiment contingent had arrived at Dak Bungalow in the town (villages more like).


My father, to determine the number of non-Bengali individuals in the company, tasked Farhad, the Havildar Major. After counting on his fingers, he reported, "Sir, one Junior Commissioned Officer, three Non-Commissioned Officers, and six soldiers, a mix of Punjabis, Pathan, Balochis, and Biharis." We resumed our journey at 11 o'clock, successfully removing eight or nine barricades within two hours, ultimately reaching Fenchuganj.

As our vehicles appeared on the scene, a crowd quickly gathered, filling the area with slogans. Farmers, elders, and young women alike all converged. A new town had sprung up around a vast market and the riverbanks. Tin-made two- and three-story warehouses, shops, and godowns lined the river ghats, bustling with boats. We arrived at Shamshernagar Airport at 10:30 in the morning. The soldier from the Ministry of Defense who opened the gate appeared to be either Manipuri or Tripura.


An airport staff member welcomed us and directed everyone to his or her respective accommodations. Havildar Major Farhad and Quartermaster Gani went to arrange beds and sort logistics. My father learned that another contingent from a Bengal regiment had arrived at the Dak Bungalow in the town, which was more like a village.

 

I instructed my men to set up camp. Since 1958, over half of the company's soldiers and non-commissioned officers had known each other. I asked Batman Mustafa to prepare the watchtower as my bedroom. The town had come to a standstill, and shops had abruptly closed. Jamadar Safin Gull, known as Spring Gull, was an old friend who had joined the North West Frontier Province Police in 1958 to the EPR. I recalled an incident when a tall and red-faced Punjabi Major, a Wing Commander, arrived at his camp in a drunken state one night and attempted to insult him rudely. In response, Gul had arrested the Major, leading to his demotion from Subedar to Jamadar. We had a lengthy conversation, and it became clear that everyone was anxious and somewhat fearful.


I called upon my most trusted Havildar, Major Farhad, and walked along the runway while smoking a cigarette, inquiring about the latest developments. Farhad had served with me in Khulna 5 Wing, participated in the Asalong Firing at Ramgarh, and had been a Naik in my company in Latu. He had excelled in the Lathi Tila War in 1969 and, based on my recommendation in his Annual Confidential Report (ACR), had been promoted by Sector Commander Sitar e Jurat Lt. Col. Abrar Hasan Abbasi. Bengali Havildar Majors were scarce, with Punjabis occupying the most esteemed positions. Nepotism was a well-known issue within the EPR. Even after 13 years, I struggled to fully comprehend EPR politics.

Farhad informed me that the situation was quite dire. Punjabis, Balochis, and Pathans were not suitable for guard duty. He expressed concerns about the Punjabis' trustworthiness and shared that the wireless set would be operational by 18:00 hours. I instructed him to arrange for a petrol supply and station three guards at the front, with two weapons in my watchtower and my .38 revolver with 24 rounds to be handed to Batman. Tensions were running high; the soldiers were upset and harboured animosity. I repeatedly cautioned Farhad to prevent any incidents from occurring.

 

After bidding farewell to Farhad, I lit another cigarette and pondered while walking. I glanced at the clock, which read 4:10, and noted that no shops were open in the market. The distant sound of a train reached my ears, and the cries of many dogs filled the air. Subedar Mannan commanded the company in Juri, a Punjabi in Latu, and BR Chowdhury in Tamabil, with Nasibur Rahman in Sunamganj and a Pathan in Teliapara. Most of the other company commanders were Punjabis, with one or two more Bengalis I could not recall then. I was recently transferred from Dhaka and tasked with raising 16 Wing EPR. It had been unofficially announced that I would receive the Pakistan Police Medal (PPM).


Today, the black clouds dominated the sky once more. During the Second World War, local labourers constructed the main airport building as forced labour. It had previously served as an air base for the U.S. Air Force. I went straight up and asked Mustafa how long it would take to set up the wireless. He replied, "Sir, it will be ready in 20 minutes." I instructed him to reach Subedar Mannan Saab or BR Chowdhury on the airwaves, emphasizing the importance of keeping the set open at all times.


It is worth mentioning that during the Pakistan era, only the EPR had the ability to communicate across East Pakistan (from Khulna's Sundarbans to Tamabil, from Teknaf to Thakurgoan) via wireless. All EPR camps, known as Border Out Posts (BOP), had Tor a tikka telegram (Mosre Key), enabling communication with any camp across the country. I did not change my clothes further; instead, I came downstairs and called for a roll call. Everyone, except the sentries, assembled. I delivered a brief speech, reminding them that we were government employees and should conduct ourselves appropriately when going into town in the morning.


Before dismissing the roll call, Mustafa approached me and said, "Sir, the set is ready, Mr. Mannan is ready to speak." I climbed the stairs to the set and engaged in coded conversations with Mannan Bhai, using Bengali and Comilla’s colloquial languages. He, too, appeared quite apprehensive, sharing his concerns and advising me to be cautious about Captain Golam Rasool's impending visit, which seemed mysterious. I promised to stay close to the signal set and to inform him of any news. As we spoke, I heard a dog howling in the distance, with several others joining in. The train station was nearby.


I summoned Havildar Major Farhad and instructed him to come with three soldiers and one NCO, all armed, within ten minutes. The situation appeared to be escalating all around us. The market's guard had been silenced with a few loud calls. For some reason, I began reminiscing about the 1946 riots in Kolkata, with the faces of children vividly appearing in my mind's eye. Seated, I extracted a cigarette from my W.D. and H. Willis & Bristol pack, lit it, and stood on the cantilever balcony of the watchtower's turret, gazing into the distance. The illuminated bungalows of tea gardens and factory chimneys were visible against the backdrop of neon lights, resembling an English company's pleasure boat floating in the middle of the Hooghly River, radiating light during the midnight hours.


It was a mesmerizing sight, with the shadows of the Khasi Hills distinctly visible in the night's darkness. I contemplated visiting the Manipuri Basti in the morning, exploring Chatlapur and its surroundings. I was familiar with the area, having served as the company commander of EPR in this region, from Shaistaganj to Kulaura, Kamalganj to Manu, and Bhanugach. I knew all the Brahmins and leaders of Manipuri settlements well, and I contemplated visiting Nawab Sahib of Pritimpasha, a man known for his storytelling prowess and assistance during the Lathi Tila skirmishes. I had learned a great deal about the region's history from him.

 

I lost track of time while smoking my cigarette. It was only when Farhad called, "Sir, may I come up?" that I returned to the present. He informed me that, as per my instructions, three petrol parties were prepared. Hearing this, I descended the stairs and assembled the four of them. I instructed them to patrol the market in camouflage attire until daybreak. If they noticed anything suspicious, they were to dispatch two individuals immediately to the camp, staying within a one-mile radius. The rest were to remain vigilant and enter the airport from the other side after observing the situation until the last moment. I reminded them of the password and instructed them to report to me upon their return. Naik Basit Mia was the leader, and I cautioned Basit to exercise extreme care, given the dubious circumstances. I could not bring myself to trust those Pakistani Urdu-speaking individuals.


It is essential to acknowledge that Bengali soldiers were compassionate and resourceful, quickly setting up the camp upon our arrival at Shamshernagar. After unpacking my uniform and arranging everything in the bathroom adjacent to the control tower, I lay in bed to write in my diary. Following a day filled with tasks like fortifying perimeter defences, establishing guard posts, sandbagging, and bunker construction, as well as cleaning and reporting weapon status to headquarters, I had lunch with the platoon commanders. We discussed the plan for I.S. duty, the responsibilities of each airport section, and the patrol assignments for the pickup and one three-ton vehicle. It was March 25, 1971, and I went to bed and fell asleep almost instantly without realizing it.


The following morning, I awoke to the radio operator's call, informing me that Company Commander Nasib Ali Sahib of Sunamganj wished to speak with me. I rushed to the radio set, and he told me there were no Bengali operators in the Wing Headquarters; all were Punjabis. Communication with the sector, or Dhaka Pilkhana, was impossible. The Wing Headquarters operator requested a daily situation report (sitrep).


Nasib inquired about my arrival in Shamshernagar and mentioned hearing on the BBC radio about nightlong riots in Dhaka, though he could not provide further details. He advised me to keep the set open at all times. He mentioned that B.R. Chowdhury, the only company commander in his wing, would establish contact with me. I conveyed that I had spoken with the Jury company commander during the night. Nasib Ali expressed his concern about the confusing situation and revealed that he had already ordered his two platoons to move to the Company HQ. He warned that both Teliapara and Latu company commanders were Punjabis and potentially dangerous. He said he would contact me again at 12 o'clock and requested the new frequency. I instructed the operator to relay this new frequency to Tamabil and Juri, ensuring they understood that company commanders should come online at 12 o'clock.

 

The area patrol commander provided comprehensive reports, stating that the army company had no movement, no train activity, and civilians were not visible. At ten o'clock, I instructed the Havildar Major to prepare for area patrol to change the petrol. Before their departure, I emphasized that they should receive a briefing from me.

 

With a sense of urgency, I completed my daily tasks, shaved, donned my uniform, had breakfast, and descended the stairs to locate the Punjabi and other non-Bengali personnel. Farhad informed me that he had arranged an office for me. He led me to a small room furnished with a table and chairs. All the soldiers were ready, fully equipped with Field Service Marching Order (FSMO) gear, and seated. Tensions were palpable in the town as shops began to open, people set up their vegetable stalls, and others unloaded their produce. Regrettably, there was no communication from the Wing HQ despite our wireless operator's persistent attempts to establish contact. Cross-communication with other units remained elusive. Our scheduled group talk was approaching at 12:00.

 

I called for my Batman and instructed him to retrieve my radio from my trunk and bring it to me. It had completely slipped my mind until then. Meanwhile, I could hear voices outside, with slogans being chanted. I instructed Sepoy Daru Mia to discreetly investigate the situation in town while dressed in civilian attire.

Once I had the radio, I tuned in to Radio Pakistan and caught some news, indicating that everything appeared normal. However, my attempts to tune in to BBC were unsuccessful. Surprisingly, it was easier to pick up Indian radio stations than others were. Akashvani, the Indian broadcaster, cited BBC reports of sporadic firing in Dhaka, a suspected military operation, and a curfew in Dhaka.

 

While I was engrossed in listening to the radio, Mustafa informed me that all the other company commanders were waiting for me. I hurried upstairs to find them all online. I engaged in conversations with each one, and they shared troubling news. Reports from Voice of America, BBC, Indian Radio, and others indicated a massacre in Dhaka Pilkhana, with claims that the Pakistan Army was killing people in Dhaka. I verified this information as I had heard similar reports on Indian radio.

 

After concluding the conference with my fellow company commanders and promising to reconvene after midnight, I heard a commotion outside, and the area patrol had mobilized. I instructed the Havildar Major to provide me with five sepoys, one NCO, and a pickup truck to go to the town as soon as possible. Once the group was ready and I was about to board the pickup, I called Farhad over and instructed him to take Golam Rasul, Mustafa, and a few others with him to arrest those causing the commotion and detain them, disarming them. They were to be locked in a room with a guard detail of one NCO and three soldiers until my return. Farhad seemed eager to carry out this order.

As we proceeded, I first encountered a group of people outside the airport gate, chanting slogans. I stopped and engaged with them before heading to the town. The area patrol approached me, and I briefly discussed with them before proceeding to the railway station. Before visiting the Army at the Dak bungalow, I conversed with railway personnel there.

 

I met Major Khaled Musharraf, explained my situation, and mentioned that my 2IC would soon join me, likely staying with my company. I also shared the news I had heard from my colleagues. Major Khaled remained tight-lipped, deep in thought, showing no inclination to interfere with my IS duties or provide additional information about Dhaka. After some time with other junior commissioned officers of his company, I departed, contemplating a visit to Juri.

 

On the way, I noticed four or five individuals dressed as Ansar and Mujahid. I approached them, asked them to board the pickup, and proceeded to Nawab Sahib's house. During our conversation, while still holding allegiance to Pakistan, Nawab Sahib provided valuable insights into the history of Sylhet and its people, including their victory over the English in the Battle of Latu during the Indian Sepoy Mutiny. Although I had intended to visit the Manipuri Basti, I returned directly to the camp due to the sudden rain.

 

Upon my return, I found my soldiers agitated and angry, expressing a strong desire to fight back against the Pakistan Army. I consoled them, explaining our limitations and the need for clear information before taking action.

In the evening, a group marched towards our camp, seeking to speak with me. I went to the front gate and conversed with them. They provided alarming news of Dhaka being shelled throughout the night by tanks, and various political groups and students were armed and ready. I spoke with the Mujahid commander and introduced him to Havildar Major Farhad.

 

Another group approached the main gate, and I engaged with them. By then, the news about Dhaka was becoming more explicit, and the village was shocked. They informed me that the 31st Punjab Regiment had set up camps in Moulvibazar and Srimangal, patrolling the town. This information could have been more explicit as no EPR units were stationed in Moulvibazar and Srimangal, leading me to speculate about the identity of the 2IC of Three Wing EPR.

 

Back inside the camp, Havildar Farhad whispered to me about the unruly behavior of the detainees. I instructed him to silence and secure them, ensuring they could not cause further trouble. Then, I called all the NCOs to gather on the roof after dinner, except for the guard commanders.

 

 

As I retired for the night, my mind was filled with tumultuous thoughts and a deep sense of responsibility. The decision I faced was one of the most challenging in my life. I questioned if I was making the right choice, but I could not allow the oppressive forces to prevail. I owed it to my nation and was prepared to face the consequences. The following morning, I was awakened by the call to Morning Prayer (Azaan) at around 5:00 AM. I quickly got ready in full FSMO gear. The area patrol commander informed me that the army contingent had left Shamshernagar during the night.

 

We executed our ambush plan on March 27, 1971, at 08:45. Thirty-five individuals participated, strategically positioned at a cross junction leading from Shamshernagar Bazar to the airport and onward to Brahman Bazar–Shamshernagar Road. The ambush spanned over 800 yards on both sides, with participants concealed in shop alleys and open undergrowth flanking the road. An observation post (OP) watched the street from the airport's highest point. Notably, three local Mujahid and Ansar members in civilian attire were included to relay information from the OP to the ambush party as soon as the convoy was spotted. We anxiously awaited the approach of the EPR convoy, and the wait felt excruciatingly long.

 

Amid the sprawling wilderness, a lone figure emerged from the shadows, sprinting urgently towards the observation post (OP). The relentless pounding of footsteps on the uneven terrain echoed through the night as the runner closed the distance between us. Breathless and determined, he crawled up to my concealed position, his eyes wide with anticipation. I could barely make out his silhouette as he whispered urgently, "Sir, a convoy is approaching Shamshernagar."

 

Time seemed to stretch endlessly as we hunkered in the darkness, waiting expectantly. It was one of those interminable moments when every tick of the clock felt like an eternity. Glancing at my wristwatch, I noted the time; it was between 9:50 and 09:55. The seconds crawled by as I anxiously watched the hands of the watch, each tick resonating like a drumbeat in the silence. Then, finally, I saw the convoy, a menacing spectre on the horizon, steadily advancing towards the deadly trap we had set.

 

With the convoy within our grasp, I steeled myself for the impending chaos. As they entered the carefully laid ambush, I gave the order, and the night exploded into a furious storm of gunfire. It was as if pandemonium had been unleashed in mere seconds. The enemy was caught entirely off guard and trapped in a relentless barrage of bullets. Desperation drove a few to attempt an escape, but their efforts were met with swift, merciless retribution as they were cut down within the blink of an eye.

 

Amid the chaos, the convoy's vehicles screeched to a halt one by one. The once-confident enemy was now in disarray, and there was no return fire. It was a triumphant moment as we swiftly executed a search operation. Among the brave souls who had fought by my side, Sepoy Golam Rasul, a man hailing from my own village of Chandrapur-Kasba, emerged as the hero of our meticulously executed ambush. The battle had concluded, and our mission was accomplished.

 

We meticulously carried out a mop-up operation in the aftermath of the firefight. The tally was staggering – nine enemy soldiers captured alive, and a grim count of 21 lives lost. Astonishingly, there were no casualties among our own ranks. The significance of our success was marred by losing one of the enemy's high-ranking officers, Captain Golam Rasul, the Second in Command of 3 Wing East Pakistan Rifles.

 

This moment marked more than just a victory; it was the inception of the first revolt in the Sylhet region against the oppressive yoke of Pakistan. I felt a heady mix of pride and fear coursing through my veins. My hands trembled with the weight of responsibility. As the company commander of these 90 brave individuals, I had taken the audacious step of leading them into a rebellion, jeopardizing my own life and endangering the lives of every man under my command. The consequences of failure were dire – treason charges in a court martial and the spectre of hanging until death. It was an agonizing decision for a commander to make.

 

Time was a luxury we could not afford. We acted swiftly, removing the fallen bodies as the engines of the halted vehicles still roared with life. We evacuated the lifeless forms in a blur of movement and transported them to the nearby airport building. Thousands of impassioned civilians flocked to our aid, an outpouring of support that brought tears to my eyes. They hoisted us onto their shoulders, their voices thundering in unison with the chant of "Joy Bangla." In that electrifying moment, I knew that history had been made, and our stand had ignited a spark that would change our lives and the destiny of our homeland forever. (Father’s Diary Ends).

 

In a whirlwind of events, Abba, our fearless leader, made an instantaneous decision that would change the course of our mission. He realised the urgency of the situation and promptly ordered the evacuation of his company from Shamshernagar. The very thought of impending reinforcements, aerial attacks, and counterattacks swirled through his mind like a turbulent storm. Nevertheless, another pressing concern weighed heavily on his shoulders – the presence of a substantial number of prisoners of war (POWs).

 

The prisoners, both new and old, posed a significant security risk. Abba knew all too well that they could band together, staging a rebellion that could overwhelm his boys at any moment. The delicate balance of power in the immediate vicinity was teetering on a knife's edge, and Abba understood the gravity of the situation.

 

Meanwhile, the streets of Shamshernagar erupted into a frenzied celebration. A sea of people, numbering in the thousands, flooded the town, their voices raised in joyous unison. They chanted slogans and danced with unbridled enthusiasm, armed with an eclectic array of weapons: lances, machetes, Ramdas (large billhooks- The name derived from Ram of Hindu mythology), daggers, shotguns, and air guns.22-bore rifles, bows, and arrows. The town had transformed into a jubilant and spirited assembly, revelling in newfound freedom.

 

Amid this whirlwind, Abba convened a swift mini-conference with his non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and soldiers. Together, they decided to initiate an immediate withdrawal and have everyone on board the vehicles within the next 30 minutes. An unseen benefit in this tumultuous moment was the surplus of captured ammunition obtained from the party led by Captain Golam Rasul.

 

However, Abba's mind wandered back to 1970, when he had been the company commander of Teliapara. During that period, he had established a temporary Border Out Post (BOP) in Chatlapur, a long-abandoned customs and excise outpost near the international border. The location had served as a critical surveillance point during daytime operations. Now, the premises lay forgotten, hidden amidst overgrown bushes and tangled vegetation. Abba turned to his Havildar Major, seeking information about the new rendezvous point (RV).

 

As preparations for the impending movement unfolded, the guard commander brought news of leaders from Kulaura and the surrounding areas who wished to meet Abba. He invited them in with characteristic hospitality, engaging in a brief but crucial conversation. The leaders expressed their desire to join Abba's mission, and without hesitation, he extended the invitation to around 10-12 of them. Unity and solidarity were paramount in these trying times.

 

At precisely 13:00 hours, Abba's company departed from Shamshernagar, embarking on a journey defined by its length, peril, treachery, and valour. It was the commencement of a monumental odyssey, a chapter in my father's life that would forever be etched in the annals of the Liberation War.

 

The journey to Chatlapur was fraught with uncertainty and danger. The rugged terrain presented formidable challenges, and the spectre of enemy reprisals loomed large. As they pressed onward, Abba's resolve remained unshaken, his heart unwavering in its commitment to the cause of liberation.

 

The new RV in Chatlapur held the promise of safety and strategic advantage. As they reached their destination, Abba surveyed the surroundings, memories of the past intermingling with the stark reality of the present. The abandoned customs and excise outpost had become a sanctuary concealed by the relentless march of time and nature's reclamation.

 

With newfound allies and a renewed sense of purpose, Abba looked ahead: ready to face the trials and tribulations that lay in wait. The odyssey had just begun, and the road ahead was fraught with uncertainty, but the fire of liberation burned brightly in their hearts. As they moved forward, they carried with them the hopes and aspirations of a nation yearning for freedom, and they were determined to see it through to the end. The epic tale of my father's journey in the Liberation War had begun, a testament to courage, resilience, and unwavering dedication to the cause of independence.-

 

In the annals of history, tales of courage and sacrifice illuminate the human spirit. Among these, the story of a valiant man, my father, is a testament to his unwavering dedication and bravery in adversity.

 

Fazlul Haque Chowdhury’s heroic journey began in the turbulent times of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. After the ambush in Shamshernagor, he found himself at a crossroads, faced with the daunting challenge of taking on the Pakistani Army's 31 Punjab Regiment stationed in Moulvibazar. Unbeknownst to him, this fateful decision would shape the course of his life and the destiny of his homeland.

 

A dedicated and resourceful leader, Abba immediately moved his company from Shamshernagor to a hidden sanctuary in Chaltalapur. This hideout, concealed within the ruins of a 1960s customs post, held deep significance. It was once a unique border outpost (BOP) established by himself as the EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) company commander of that area. The memories of those days, the camaraderie with his fellow soldiers, and the vision of a free Bangladesh were etched into his heart.

 

From the quiet sanctuary of Chaltalapur, he received crucial intelligence that set the wheels of his mission into motion. The Pakistani Army had a formidable presence in Moulvibazar, and my father knew that the time had come to strike. With unwavering determination, he gathered his two platoon troops, their spirits aflame with patriotism and resolve.

 

Under darkness, they embarked on a perilous journey towards Moulvibazar, the heart of the enemy's stronghold. Along the way, they captured two trucks laden with supplies and gathered enough arms and ammunition to bolster their mission. In Moulvibazar, fate reunited F.H Chowdhury with an old friend, Commandant Manik Chowdhury, who had known him for a lifetime. Their meeting promised a united front against the oppressive Pakistani forces.

 

Commandant Manik Chowdhury implored Fazlul Haque Chowdhury (by then known as Shamsul Haq, he created a pseudonym for himself so that Pakistanis do not know who he really was) to seek out Major Rob and Captain C.R. Dutta during their operation. The fate of their mission hinged on the collaboration between their forces. With unyielding faith in their cause, Rafiq Ahmed Khan and Manik Chowdhury marched the whole convoy to meet the two officers.

 

In a poignant moment of allegiance, my dad asked Captain C.R. Dutta to command the troops and fight together. This symbolic gesture was a testament to the unbreakable bonds forged in the crucible of war. As a sign of their commitment, Fazlul Haque Chowdhury handed over two trucks, a jeep, and one section of his troops. With this union, their joint operations commenced, and their sights were set on the liberation of Sylhet from the oppressive grip of the Pakistan Army.

 

The battle for Sylhet was fierce and unrelenting, with his company displaying unmatched valour and resilience. However, their determination was matched only by their scarcity of ammunition. In a moment of unwavering leadership, Captain Dutta journeyed to India in search of much-needed reinforcements.

 

As the situation in Sylhet became increasingly untenable, my father then made the difficult decision to order his troops to drop their weapons and disperse. In the chaos of the retreat, a handful of soldiers from his company were arrested while attempting to escape. He issued a rallying cry, urging everyone to reconvene at the rendezvous point in Chatlapur as soon as possible.

 

Undaunted by adversity, Dad and his three loyal sepoys embarked on a daring journey into Sylhet town. They sought refuge in the house of Mr. Khaleque in Mirer Moidan and meticulously scouted the area, gathering critical intelligence about the 3 Wing EPR HQ.

 

Under cover of night, they stealthily traversed the terrain, navigating through challenging obstacles, including a treacherous nullah, before reaching the river. With a leap of faith, they crossed the river, continued their journey to Bishwanath and Kulaura, and eventually returned to Chatlapur.

 

The story of my brave father's relentless pursuit of freedom and his unwavering commitment to the cause of Bangladesh's liberation is a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Despite insurmountable odds, he demonstrated courage, sacrifice, and leadership that continue to inspire generations. His journey, marked by heroism and valour, is a timeless reminder of the power of determination and the enduring quest for freedom.

 

Amidst the tumultuous landscape of the Bangladesh Liberation War, His journey of unwavering determination and valour continued to unfold. Reunited with his troops in the quaint village of Chatlapur, May brought with it renewed hope and a sense of purpose. It was a pivotal moment that would set the stage for the next chapter of their liberation struggle.

 

In the company of his loyal comrades and guided by their shared vision of a free Bangladesh, my dad once again joined forces with Captain C.R. Dutta. Their partnership was forged in the crucible of war, and together, they embarked on a daring mission that would alter the course of history.

 

Recognising the need for a secure base of operations, Fazlul Haque strategically relocated his troops to Koilashshahar in Tripura, India. It was a move born out of necessity, driven by the imperative to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their operations. In the heart of Tripura, they established their stronghold, where they would remain until November 1971.

 

In this foreign land, far from their homeland, my father and his devoted soldiers put their training and skills to use. With the EPR-trained manpower, they established two Mukti Bahini training camps. These camps became crucibles of transformation, where ordinary individuals were forged into warriors, imbued with the spirit of freedom and the knowledge to fight for it.

 

The regular operations in Bangladesh became their lifeline, their means of striking back at the oppressors and inching closer to the dream of liberation. It was a harrowing journey marked by incredible feats of bravery. Fazlul Haque Chowdhury's company conducted a staggering 127 operations throughout their mission. Each operation was a step closer to the cherished goal of a free and independent Bangladesh.

 

However, the path to liberation was fraught with peril, and Fazlul Haque Chowdhury himself paid a heavy price for his unwavering commitment. In the heat of July 1971, during one of their operations, he was gravely injured. The wounds he sustained were a testament to his willingness to put his life on the line for his beloved homeland. Hospitalised for two long months, he showed incredible resilience in adversity.

 

Upon his return, Chowdhury assumed a critical responsibility—to safeguard a place known as Nou Mouza. A vital strategic location, vulnerable to enemy attacks, and mortar fire could target the Kailasshahar air base. With characteristic resolve, he took on the role of Sub-Sector Commander for Kailasshahar, ensuring the safety of this key area.

 

Rafiq Ahmed Khan was not alone in this endeavour. An Indian Army captain named Abdul Hamid was attached to his subsector, providing invaluable artillery support. This collaboration was essential to keeping Nou Mouza free from the clutches of the enemy. Doctor Delwar, a dedicated freedom fighter, was also by his side, tending to the wounded and ensuring the health and well-being of the troops.

 

Months rolled by, and Abba knew it was time to pass on the torch as the season shifted towards mid-November. His tireless efforts bore fruit, and he handed the charge to newly commissioned Lieutenant Wakiuzzaman. The transition was marked by a profound sense of accomplishment and a feeling that the tide of history was turning in their favour.

 

With his troops in tow, he journeyed to Karimgonj and Masimpur. These locales were significant, as the 4 Sector HQ BDF (Bangladesh Forces) was situated there. The transition represented a shift in strategy and tactics as they continued to press forward in their relentless quest for liberation.

 

The story of my father's liberation journey is a tapestry woven with threads of courage, sacrifice, and unwavering commitment. It is a testament to the indomitable human spirit, the unbreakable bonds of camaraderie, and the enduring belief in the cause of freedom.

 

As they moved into the heart of the Bangladesh Liberation War, Fazlul Haque and his comrades carried with them the hopes and dreams of a nation. Their resilience in the face of adversity, dedication to the cause, and unwavering resolve inspire generations to this day. In the annals of history, their names are etched as heroes who paved the way for a free and independent Bangladesh, and their story continues to be a beacon of light in the darkest of times.

 

Fazlul Haque Chowdhury, a resolute and determined leader, found himself at the epicentre of a pivotal moment in the tumultuous history of Bangladesh. With the remnants of his 'B' company of the 3 Wing of the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR), he embarked on a journey that would forever alter the course of his nation's struggle for independence. Alongside him were 450 new freedom fighters, guerrillas with unwavering resolve, bound together by a common cause—the liberation of Bangladesh from the oppressive yoke of Pakistan.

 

Their odyssey began as they set forth from Khailasshahar, a town pregnant with the weight of their aspirations, and made their way towards Masimpur. Their destination held the promise of a rendezvous with destiny, as they sought to unite with the formidable forces of the Bangladesh Defence Force (BDF), known as the Mukti Bahini. Within the ranks of the Mukti Bahini, Fazlul Haque and his comrades would become an integral part of the 4 sectors' main striking force, an elite cadre entrusted with the responsibility of achieving a free and sovereign Bangladesh. Their efforts would be directed under the unwavering command of the sector commander, Lieutenant Colonel C.R. Dutta, a stalwart leader who would guide them through the crucible of conflict.

 

 

This amalgamation of courage and commitment would constitute four companies in total. Two of these companies were under the command of newly minted freedom fighters, each carrying the aspirations of a nation. The remaining company bore the stewardship of Fazlul Haque himself, alongside Captain Rob, who would later rise to the rank of Major General. Together, they formed a formidable unit, a fellowship bound by duty and sacrifice.

 

As they advanced in the latter part of November, the first town to fall beneath their determined footsteps was Jakigonj. The next was Atgram.  This marked the commencement of their cross-country long march, a gruelling journey spanning a daunting fifteen miles. The route march officially commenced on December 6, with two Freedom Fighter companies leading the charge. One acted as the vanguard, cutting through the path of uncertainty, while Captain Rob's company and Fazlul Haque's company stood resolute alongside the sector commander, Lieutenant Colonel C.R. Dutta.

 

During their arduous journey, fate presented them with a peculiar opportunity. They captured a group of Razakars who had aligned themselves with the enemy. These unwilling guides were coerced into revealing the hidden positions of the adversary along the path to Dorbost. On December 7, the fort of Dorbost succumbed to their relentless pursuit of freedom, marking yet another triumph on their arduous journey.

 

A respite from the relentless march was granted to them on December 8, providing a brief moment of solace for the weary souls. However, the days ahead held even more challenges. On December 10, the four sectors of the BDF met with the Echo Force Brigade of the Indian Army under the command of Brigadier Wadeker. In a decisive moment, it was determined that Brigadier Wadeker and his troops, including the 5/5 Gurkha and BSF Battalion, would march along the main road, while the soldiers of the 4th Sector BDF would traverse the left side of the road en route to Khadimnagar.

 

December 11 emerged as a day fraught with difficulty as they grappled with the daunting task of breaching the Pakistan Army's fortifications at Lama and the Hemu tea garden. The following night bore witness to heavy losses, and the troops' morale plummeted to disheartening. However, adversity only strengthened their resolve, and they pressed on.

 

On the 13th, they engaged in battle in the Chikmagul area, pushing forward with unwavering determination. Their relentless pursuit of freedom led them to Haripur, which they cleared on December 14. Their spirits were buoyed with each victory, and they continued their relentless march towards Khadimnagar.

 

The assault on Khadimnagar was a pivotal moment in their campaign. The Mukti Bahini attacked from one side, while the Gurkha and the BSF launched a fierce assault from the other on December 15. The battle that ensued was gruelling and protracted, stretching into December 16. By this time, the surrender of the Pakistan Army had taken place in Dhaka, a momentous event in the annals of history. Yet, for Fazlul Haque and his company, along with the troops of the four sectors, their mission needed to be completed. Sylhet was captured on December 17.

 

Sector commander C.R. Dutta established his camp in Khadimnagar, a testament to their indomitable spirit. However, Fazlul Haque and his company embarked on another journey that held deep personal significance. They retraced their steps to the old 3-wing EPR HQ, the very place Fazlul Haque had been dispatched to Shamshernagar on March 24, 1971, at the dawn of the struggle for independence. Now, they returned to this hallowed ground as victorious commanders, having played an instrumental role in the liberation of Sylhet from the clutches of the Pakistan Army.

 

In the wake of their triumph, the echoes of their struggle reverberated through the pages of history. Fazlul Haque Chowdhury and his comrades had etched their names in the annals of Bangladesh's fight for freedom, a testament to the unyielding spirit of those who dare to dream of a better tomorrow and are willing to march through the darkest of nights to see that dream realised.

 

On the somber evening of December 15, 1971, as the sun dipped below the horizon and cast long shadows on the hallowed ground, my father stood amidst a minor assembly of grieving souls. In that melancholic moment, he was more than just a man; he was a beacon of strength and a fatherly figure to the brave soldiers of his EPR Company. They had gathered to bestow a final, dignified farewell upon their fallen comrades, Martyr Havlider Golam Rasul and Nayek Abdul Rafiq, who had sacrificed their lives to pursue a free and sovereign Bangladesh.

 

As the cool breeze of Sylhet rustled through the trees, my father oversaw the solemn ceremony with a heavy heart, every gesture filled with profound respect and honour. Little did he know his son, Babul, just seventeen years old, had already become a martyr in the fight for freedom. Babul's fate had been sealed on that fateful day of November 21 when the ruthless Pakistan army had captured him. They left his young, bullet-ridden body by the unforgiving banks of the river Titas in BrahminBaria, a final act of cruelty, allowing his mortal remains to merge with the very soil they had sought to liberate from the clutches of the invaders.

 

The December evening grew colder, mirroring the icy grip of despair that had taken hold of my father's heart. With each shovel of earth placed upon the graves of his fallen comrades, he could not help but wonder about the fate of his own beloved son. Babul, whose spirit had burned with unwavering determination, had become another martyr, symbolising the relentless struggle for independence. The tears that welled in my father's eyes were not just for the fallen soldiers before him but also for the son he had lost, a young warrior whose sacrifice was etched into the annals of history, alongside the valiant heroes who had gone before him.

 

On that poignant evening, beneath the fading light of December 15, 1971, my father, unknowingly, paid tribute to his own son and to all those who had given their lives so that the dream of a free and sovereign Bangladesh could become a reality. Their sacrifice would forever be remembered, and their legacy would live on in the hearts of a nation.

 

Amidst the poignant gathering on that December 15 evening in 1971, my father remained unaware of the horrifying truth. Little did he know that his beloved son, Babul, had endured unimaginable suffering in the clutches of the Pakistan army. Following his capture on the sacred night of Eid ul Fitr, a Muslim festival celebrated joyously after a month of fasting, Babul had been subjected to relentless and brutal torture that spanned a harrowing ten days.

The festival's celebratory echoes faded into the night when my brother, the young freedom fighter, had been ruthlessly seized and thrust into a nightmarish ordeal. His captors showed no mercy, inflicting unspeakable pain on his fragile frame. While my father stood by the graves of his fallen comrades, mourning their loss and honouring their sacrifice, he remained blissfully ignorant of the gruesome fate that had befallen his flesh and blood.

 

As the soil settled upon the graves of the martyrs before him, my father's thoughts were consumed by the memory of the brave souls he had laid to rest. The tragic irony of that moment lay in that his very own son, a symbol of unwavering courage and resilience, had also become a martyr, albeit in the most brutal and heart-wrenching manner.

 

In that solemn gathering, beneath the waning light of December 15, 1971, my father's unknowing tribute extended beyond the fallen comrades to encompass his beloved son, who had suffered and perished in the name of freedom. The sacrifices made by these heroes, both known and unknown, would forever be etched into the tapestry of Bangladesh's history, a testament to the indomitable spirit that had brought forth the birth of a sovereign nation.

 

In 1973, I was a teenager, brimming with youthful enthusiasm yet carrying the weight of a nation's turbulent past on my shoulders. Those years had been a transition time when Bangladesh struggled to emerge from the shadows of its harrowing war for liberation. The scars of the conflict ran deep, etching themselves into the collective memory of our people.

As I leafed through the newspapers one fateful day, my heart raced with anticipation as I scanned the Gallantry Awards for the Liberation War of 1971. The list was a testament to the valour and sacrifice of countless heroes, a symbol of our nation's resilience in the face of adversity. I scoured the pages, desperately seeking my father's name among the honoured, but it was nowhere to be found. A sinking feeling of disappointment gripped me, and I could not help but question my father that night over dinner.

 

"Abba," I whispered, my voice tinged with disappointment. "I searched all the papers, but I did not find your name. How could this be? Will there is more lists coming soon?" I longed for an explanation, for a glimmer of hope that my father's bravery would be acknowledged.

 

In response, my father's words were tinged with irony. He spoke of the paradox that had unfolded before us, where the true heroes of our struggle were seemingly overlooked. "Bangladesh," he sighed, "is slowly becoming an old wine in a new bottle yet again." His voice carried the weight of disillusionment as he delved into the statistics. It was a stark revelation that shook me to the core.

 

He recounted the numbers and the brave souls who had raised to the call of duty, yet the recognition they deserved remained elusive. "I revolted on the 27th of March '71," he said, "fought in over a hundred operations, organised training camps, and led the charge in the final assault that freed Sylhet. Yet, only a few received gallantry awards. How ironic!"

 

His words cut deep, echoing a sentiment that had begun to cast a shadow over the aspirations of an independent Bangladesh. "We have rid ourselves of Pakistan and their feudal heritage," he mused, "but have we merely replaced it with a different kind of division and hierarchy? The dream of an egalitarian society feels distant, like a bridge too far. "In those poignant moments, I realised that the struggle for recognition and justice was not limited to the battlefields of the past. It was an ongoing battle that sought to bridge the gaps and fulfill the promises of a new nation.

 

In 1973, I was a teenager, brimming with youthful enthusiasm yet carrying the weight of a nation's turbulent past on my shoulders. Those years had been a transition time when Bangladesh struggled to emerge from the shadows of its harrowing war for liberation. The scars of the conflict ran deep, etching themselves into the collective memory of our people.

 

As I leafed through the newspapers one fateful day, my heart raced with anticipation as I scanned the Gallantry Awards for the Liberation War of 1971. The list was a testament to the valour and sacrifice of countless heroes, a symbol of our nation's resilience in the face of adversity. I scoured the pages, desperately seeking my father's name among the honoured, but it was nowhere to be found. A sinking feeling of disappointment gripped me, and I could not help but question my father that night over dinner.

 

"Abba," I whispered, my voice tinged with disappointment, "I searched all the papers, but I did not find your name. How could this be? Will there is more lists coming soon?" I longed for an explanation, for a glimmer of hope that my father's bravery would be acknowledged.

 

In response, my father's words were tinged with irony. He spoke of the paradox that had unfolded before us, where the true heroes of our struggle were seemingly overlooked. "Bangladesh," he sighed, "is slowly becoming an old wine in a new bottle yet again." His voice carried the weight of disillusionment as he delved into the statistics. It was a stark revelation that shook me to the core.

 

He recounted the numbers and the brave souls raised to the call of duty, yet the recognition they deserved remained elusive. "I revolted on the 27th of March '71," he said, "fought in over a hundred operations, organized training camps, and led the charge in the final assault that freed Sylhet. Yet, only a few received gallantry awards. How ironic!"

 

As the conversation continued, my father delved deeper into the issue, shedding light on the discrimination that had festered within the ranks of the Mukti Bahini. Allegations of favouritism, biases based on ranks, services, and a sense of superiority among various segments of our liberation forces became apparent. Learning that internal divisions had tarnished the dream of a united front during the war was disheartening.

 

His words cut deep, echoing a sentiment that had begun to cast a shadow over the aspirations of an independent Bangladesh. "We have rid ourselves of Pakistan and their feudal heritage," he mused, "but have we merely replaced it with a different kind of division and hierarchy? The dream of an egalitarian society feels distant, like a bridge too far."

 

In those poignant moments, I realized that the struggle for recognition and justice was not limited to the battlefields of the past. It was an ongoing battle that sought to bridge the gaps and fulfil the promises of a new nation while also addressing the internal divisions that threatened the unity of the Mukti Bahini.

 

The legacy of coterie, class, nepotism, and favouritism hung over our nascent nation like a lingering storm cloud, obscuring the bright promise of freedom and independence that had once shone so brilliantly. It was as if we had poured rivers of blood at the very altar of our aspirations, only to find that the spectre of discrimination and privilege still haunted our collective conscience. Like a relentless undertow, this insidious presence threatened to drag down the spirits of even the most valiant freedom fighters from the ranks and files. It echoed in the disillusioned voices of those brave sons who had scaled the peaks of bravery during the Liberation War, only to find themselves standing on the precipice of disappointment and frustration. The struggle for a just and egalitarian society was far from over, as the shadows of inequality loomed large, casting a pall over our hard-won independence.


 

 

 

 







A Martyr



Babul Chowdhury


 

 

Babul, our beloved elder brother, was a figure who had endeared himself to all who had the privilege of knowing him. He stood six years my senior, a charismatic and towering presence, poised to face a pivotal moment in his life as he prepared to sit for the matriculation examination in 1971. He was a dedicated student and an ardent football player, possessing an impressive stature that measured approximately five feet ten to eleven inches.

Babul exuded an air of effortless style, a striking young man with a unique dietary preference. He abstained from consuming fish or meat, instead indulging in eggs. His days were often spent in our company, where he engaged in animated conversations and light-hearted banter. He was more than just an older sibling; he served as a role model, someone whose affection for all was deep and genuine.       

    

One of the most enduring aspects of Babul's personality was his perennially warm smile, a feature that graced his countenance regardless of the circumstances. As he embarked on his academic journey, he was set to appear for his exams at Raja G. C High School in Sylhet. Seeking a tranquil environment devoid of distractions, he relocated to our ancestral village. There, under the watchful eye of his grandmother, he would dedicate himself to rigorous exam preparation. This important decision was made on March 25, 1971, marred by turmoil and the backdrop of an ongoing war for liberation.


In this turbulent era, Babul found himself compelled to embark on a quest to locate our family, who had become separated in the chaos of war. He ventured to Brahmanbaria, hoping to reunite with us but, alas, without success. Fueled by unwavering determination, he visited the home of our father's cousin, Amena Aunty, also known as Professor Mumtaz Begum—an influential figure within the Awami League and a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Her brother, Aziz Kaka, played a pivotal role during these tumultuous times.


Apri '71 found us navigating from one village to another, akin to flotsam adrift along a river. Informed of our predicament, Aziz Kaka gave Babul crucial guidance, directing him to a youth camp in Agartala. From there, Babul was dispatched to a training camp in Sector 3, situated within the Nabinagar vicinity. By this juncture, we had crossed into India, and it had become increasingly common for youths from our area to join such camps. The camps, run by individuals such as Melaghar, Kunabon, Captain Ainuddin, and Khaled Musharraf in Sector 2, numbered several hundred strong.


Babul and his comrades began daring operations, venturing via boats into the perilous Nabinagar region. Aziz Kaka's uncle played a crucial role as an intelligence source, frequently gathering information from the forces aligned with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On one memorable occasion in October, he graced us with his presence, clothed in a distinctive ensemble comprising green trousers, a matching tunic shirt, and even a pair of green Indian Army jungle boots. Babul, significantly taller and with improved health, bore the physical marks of his arduous endeavours. His once-kept hair had become an unkempt mane, reminiscent of the legendary figure. Furthermore, he now sported a partial beard and moustache. Carrying an SLR rifle slung over his shoulder, its long barrel towering above his head, he bore an uncanny resemblance to the iconic image of Che Guevara that I had glimpsed in a magazine a couple of years prior.


Notably, Babul's height increased, possibly surpassing six feet. His visit was brief, lasting just one night, during which he regaled us with tales of his extraordinary experiences. On that unforgettable day, I was filled with immense pride as I introduced Babul to every inhabitant of our refugee camp. Strikingly, he had become more reticent, the gravity of our situation etched onto his countenance. Witnessing the plight of our family and others in the camp left him deeply sorrowful, and he inquired about our father. That night, we engaged in a spirited game involving eggs before Babul departed at dawn.


During his brief stay, Babul divulged only a few details about his activities. He was part of a ten-member team operating in the Nabinagar region, characterized by an intricate network of river canals, bustling bazaar villages, and a vigilant presence of the Pakistani Army. Their modus operandi involved hit-and-run operations, where they would seek refuge in forested or tree-lined areas along canals, hills, or rivers during the day, all while preparing their meals. They would navigate the waterways in boats at night, making stealthy movements to fulfil their mission objectives. Interactions with residents were limited, primarily focused on procuring supplies like rice and pulses when necessary. These provisions were typically sourced from nearby villages or densely populated areas, with numerous intermediaries and traders facilitating the exchange. Babul mentioned that their group had executed nine operations thus far, including an audacious attack on a Pakistan Army camp and several engagements in rivers and canals. Their presence was particularly pronounced in the Nabinagar and Bitgarh regions, areas closely scrutinized by the Pakistan Army due to the frequent movement of thousands of Mukti Bahini operatives into Dhaka via the Dhaka-Narayanganj-Manikganj-Homna-Bikrampur route, facilitated by boat travel.


After that memorable day, we tragically lost contact with Babul. As our nation finally achieved its long-awaited freedom and our family reunited in our newly liberated homeland, the rest of the freedom fighters reconnected with their families. However, concerning Babul, an ominous silence lingered in our hearts for years to come.


My father and I embarked on a relentless search through the region of Sylhet, determined to reunite with our beloved Babul. We traversed the challenging terrain in a jeep, our journey taking us through Brahmanbaria, Sarail, Comilla, Daudkandi, numerous camps in Dhaka, and eventually to Narayanganj and Tangail. Undeterred by the overwhelming odds, we scoured every conceivable location, clinging desperately to hope and false reassurances. Our journey was treacherous, marked by the absence of proper roads, limited ferry access, and the constant fear of landmines. My father and I, along with our devoted driver and father's aide, Shanaullah, spent countless nights waiting for ferries, encountering numerous Indian Army convoys among the crowds awaiting passage.


As our gruelling search continued, we uncovered a heart-wrenching truth. On November 10, Babul and his fellow freedom fighters fell into the clutches of the Pakistan Army. Razakars, who had led the Pakistan Army to their hideout, capturing all ten operatives, had betrayed them. Exhausted from a night of relentless operations and fasting during the day, they had sought refuge in the thickets near an abandoned canal behind the Bitgarh market. The Pakistan Army and Razakars encircled them, apprehending them in flagrante delicto. This marked the beginning of an agonising period of brutal torture, compounded by the fact that just three days prior, Babul's group had ambushed two Pakistan Army speedboats on the Titas River, resulting in the deaths of numerous Pakistani personnel.


Subsequently, they were transported to the headquarters of the Sixteenth Division of the Pakistan Army in Brahmanbaria. There, they endured five days of unimaginable torture in the confines of a torture cell. Following this torment, they were transferred to Brahmanbaria jail, where they shared their incarceration with individuals such as Imtiaz Bulbul, a renowned composer in his own right. According to Bulbul, the group led by Babul met their tragic end on the night of Eid-ul-Fitr, precisely on November 21, 1971. Their lives were extinguished at the confluence of the Titus River and the Anderson Canal (Kuruillah Canal), a poignant and profoundly symbolic sacrifice that would forever be engraved in the annals of Bangladesh's quest for independence. Of notable importance, Babul revealed his identity to the Pakistanis during this fateful encounter. This was a covert act of defiance, a final assertion of his Bengali heritage, which remained hidden from his tormentors.


This grim chapter in our history bears witness to the horrors of war, as innocent lives were snuffed out, and the very essence of humanity was tested. The atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army during those nine months mirror the dark pages of history that recount the Holocaust orchestrated by Hitler and the Nazis. It serves as a stark reminder of the brutality that unfolded, as brother turned against brother in the name of a twisted ideology.

Babul, alongside countless others, made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the honour of our motherland and its people. His life, dreams, and aspirations were laid on the sacrificial altar of Bangladesh's independence, where the blood of the martyrs flowed freely. Their names, etched in crimson upon the altar of freedom, shall endure for as long as the spirit of Bangladesh persists. Unlike Achilles of Greek mythology, who could choose to withdraw from the battle, these brave souls had no such luxury. Their unswerving dedication to our homeland exemplified the true essence of heroism, ensuring that the flame of freedom would forever illuminate our nation's history.


The heart-wrenching events of that fateful Eid night are a stark reminder of the brutality that marred our struggle for independence. We are left pondering the inconceivable—the savagery that could lead one Muslim to ruthlessly take the life of another, especially on such a sacred occasion as Eid. These painful questions gnaw at our collective conscience, underscoring the agony and turmoil of those turbulent times. If the West Pakistani establishment regarded us as less than it regarded equals, why did they persist in their relentless pursuit to forge a united Pakistan? What compelled them to endure their misguided quest? Like being cast from the frying pan into the fire, our nation's journey witnessed the agonising transition from the yoke of British colonialism to the tyranny of West Pakistani rule. It is particularly perplexing to contemplate how specific segments of our Bengali society perpetuated this oppression, even as they bore witness to the atrocities unfolding before them.


Babul, alongside countless others, emerged as a symbol of unwavering commitment to the cause of our motherland. He selflessly offered his life to secure our nation's freedom and honour, safeguard his siblings' future, and uphold his sisters' dignity. In doing so, he contributed to the eventual liberation of Bangladesh, offering his blood as a sacrifice on the altar of our nation's independence. The names of those who etched their legacy in blood upon that sacred altar shall forever echo in the annals of our beloved Bangladesh's history.

As we reflect upon these painful memories, we must also remember the indomitable spirit and resilience of a nation that emerged from the ashes of adversity. The sacrifice of heroes like Babul paved the way for the birth of Bangladesh, a country forged in the crucible of struggle and sacrifice. Their legacy lives on in the hearts of every Bangladeshi, a testament to the unyielding spirit of a people who refused to be subjugated.


The road to independence was fraught with unimaginable challenges, but it was also illuminated by the unwavering resolve of those who dared to dream of a free and sovereign Bangladesh. It is a story of courage, sacrifice, and resilience that inspires new generations as they carry the torch of freedom forward.


Like countless others, Babul's journey was a testament to the enduring spirit of the Bengali people. They faced insurmountable odds with unwavering determination, and their sacrifice was not in vain. The independence of Bangladesh stands as a testament to the indomitable will of a nation that refused to be oppressed.


Ultimately, the sacrifices of heroes like Babul were not in vain. They laid the foundation for a free and sovereign Bangladesh, a nation that continues to thrive and flourish today. Their legacy lives on in the hearts of every Bangladeshi, a reminder of the price that was paid for the cherished gift of independence.


As we commemorate the sacrifices of Babul and his comrades, let us also remember the countless others who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. Their memory is etched in the annals of our history, a source of inspiration for generations to come.


The story of Babul's life and sacrifice serves as a poignant reminder of the cost of freedom and the resilience of the human spirit. His unwavering commitment to the cause of Bangladesh's independence is a testament to the power of conviction and the strength of character.


Babul and his fellow freedom fighters may have been taken from us too soon, but their legacy endures. They live on in the hearts and minds of those who continue to strive for a better Bangladesh, a nation that stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of its people.

In closing, remember and honour the sacrifices of heroes like Babul. Their courage and determination inspire us to work towards a brighter and more just future for Bangladesh. As we commemorate their memory, may we also recommit ourselves to the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all?


 

 

 

 

My War

 

 


Imran Chowdhury BEM

 

 

Meanwhile, Aziz Kaka came to our camp one day after many days – and told us that he had gone to training with thirty-five leaders and had already visited all those places once or twice. He said a centre would also be opened next to this camp for us. He told me, Munna Mia, prepare yourself. Then he said that the jeep would come every two days from next week and take as many people as possible from the camp to Agartala G. B. Hospital as nurses' helpers in the "Joy  Bangla" ward - where hundreds of freedom injured fighters are being treated for injuries; there is a huge shortage of nurses - doctors - blood - helpers. So we have to take as many people as we can from the camp - the first day uncle will come himself with the driver then only the driver will come.


Kaka talked to Makku Mia –of Kasba about the programme, talked to Doctor Bisombor Babu, and talked to Ravi Babu, Mustafa Bhai and Mita Bhabhi. Everyone agreed.   Aziz Kaka was then a very powerful organizer in Agartala and the most trusted person of Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni. He worked day and night; He did not take a single day off during the liberation war. Uncle said Momtaj Aunty would arrange a short training for us after she returns from Calcutta. Then, we will continue to work in the hospital at full speed. Uncle said that he would start next Monday, and he also introduced the driver to us.

 

Everyone began to regard the room next to us as the centre of rehearsals, meetings, and scout cubs; Mustafa Dada made sten gun, L.M G out of bamboo for our next event, laid out mats, made two benches, stage for the rehearsals.  That empty barn, an unloved room, became quite a beautiful place. Next to that room is the main gate and a large slope of a red clay central avenue - like the main square. There we used to play every day. I used to keep all the play equipment in the rehearsal room. I learned all the other Scout's knots, including clovitch & all the knots. Baden Powell has become a proverbial man we have never seen before.

 

One such morning some of us were starting to play seven terracota and tennis ball in our main square when Aziz Kaka entered the camp with his Kaiser CJ 6  Six Jeep. Sitting on the front seat of the car is Sheikh Moni (we used to call Moni Mama - our cousins Litton and Chand and used to call him by that name); that day, Ronny (younger son of MP Advocate Sirajul Haque - the only brother of Bangladesh’s  Law Minister Anisul Haque MP and I were playing   - our elder brother like seniors of the camp Shamim, cousin of Farhad and Nafiz brothers)   those two brothers often used to came to our camp to be with their aunt - from there we became friends.  Just as we started playing, Both got down from the jeep and called us both - the driver dropped a sack from the back. Moni Mama took out some newspapers from that bag and said that from today, you two will distribute these papers free of charge. Here, go to all the other neighbouring refugee camps, youth camps, and Agartala; the day the car will come and take you to Agartala, on that day you two will take as many of these "Joy  Bangla" newspapers as you can - and distribute the newspapers to everyone at the Akhaura Road junction in Agartala.

 

 Go down there and give this newspaper to all the Indians and Joy Bengal people you can find. On the days when you do not go to Agartala, you will give to the neighbouring areas. He gave both of us a note of 20 rupees and said - I will get it again when it is finished, but all the newspapers have to be distributed. The sound of that huge, solemn baritone voice - a thin, small man- but the sound of the voice made both of us shiver with fear. Aziz uncle slowly said the leader is also our Siraj Bhai's son Roni - uncle knew their family very well - Siraj Sahib is our Kasba MP. - After hearing that, Moni Mama patted both of us on the back. I am always a fearless boy and said smilingly - Yes, I will deliver everything – Joy Bangla - Alas; my contribution to the freedom war - No one will ever know - How big was the freedom war in our minds!

 

The next day, we, seven people, piled up and sat on the jeep - an empty road. Agartala is only 4-5 km away from our camp; we reached it very quickly. Uncle stopped the car and dropped us both - and said that after distributing the papers, they would come to Joy Bangla Ward of G, B Hospital, where all of them would stay. All the way, Moni Mama kept smoking cigarettes in silence and seemed to be lost in his thoughts. You will find the huge hospital before you if you go straight through this road. It will take twenty minutes to walk. We started paper distribution. Everyone kept taking papers from us. That feeling was great; I started to feel like a big person. That realization was great - I instantly forgot the pain of not eating enough, my father's illness, my mother's agony, and the fear of being killed by the Pakistan Army's repeated attacks throughout the night. Ronny and I became inseparable friends from that day. Rony was a very good and polite boy. He was also a joker. After distributing all the papers, I bought some Chanachur bhaji and walked towards the hospital. It was about half past four.

 

I showed Ronny the movie theatre, where I watched the film Hathi Mera Sathi. After seeing the hospital's sign, I reached G, B Hospital. The name of this institution was written in golden letters during the war for independence of Bangladesh. We Bengalis are eternally grateful for this service. I had come here once or twice before; many of my brothers and many more relatives of our village, all of them are Multi Bahini members, got injured and received treatment in this "Joy Bangla" ward.  It was a small wood, and there should be thirty beds, but there were at least 100 Freedom Fighters - on the balcony, on the floor, in the corridor, full of injured Mukti and Mukti. This Joy Bangla Ward is a horrible place of moaning, crying, pain and suffering. It is a very difficult task to hold back the tears as here - they are all making this sacrifice for my freedom - this young man, this farmer, this student, this soldier, this teacher, this army officer, this professor are ready to give their lives.


Today, everyone is moaning in pain. All of them are on the brink of death, but is I a wretch who cannot go to war with them as a fellow passenger? An entire family depends on me, I am the eldest male of my family, I have many responsibilities to provide everything for them; But I know that I am incapable of many things, I am weak, I am angry many times and I cannot bear this pain, this discomfort. I am almost overcome, I am very sick now, it is a very difficult task for me to cut this forest and fetch wood, I am angry and very tired and weary to fetch water with a pitcher. But despite all this, I want freedom, I want freedom, I want our rights. I want to go to war even though I am scared of death, and I want to sacrifice myself in this struggle for the independence of the country.

 

In the evening, he dropped us at the camp - uncle went to Bishalgarh. Apa had cooked for our two brothers - they have also become quite independent. Aunty from Narayanganj in the next room used to take care of us. They were big businessmen - with three children, and her husband somehow got shelter here. They belong to a very famous family. They are a famous family of Narayanganj, Leaving their cars, house and money, and now today they are homeless - Shambhu Dada was their eldest son, Usha Didi was my sister's age, and their younger brother Tarun was our youngest brother, Tumpa's age. Their MLA Shamshujoha always looked for them and came to see them (the famous Osman of Narayanganj Joha Sahib, the head of the family; we all called him Nana).

 

The next day, Ronny, Samar, and Meethu I all went to other camps near our camp, walked around all the refugee camps and started distributing Joy Bangla paper, taking it as a very sacred responsibility - Suryamaninagar, Amtali, Agartala - Savrum Road. We distributed papers to all the refugee camps and people without camps in Madhuban, Madhupur, Arundhutinagar, Bikrampur, Seker Kot, and Chaumohini Bazar areas with great respect. Expressing how happy they were when they received the newspaper is impossible. In three days, two and a half sacks of paper were finished. I used to scout again till the paper came, and the day the car came, I used to go to GB hospital - I learned a lot there, too - like Dr Bisombor Babu's compounder/medicine dispenser like Arnica Twenty, Rastrax Thirty just like that in the hospital Tulu Apa became the nurse's assistant, and I was the ward boy. Kidney trays, gauze, bandages, medical drapes, syringes, saline, tourniquets, and aprons were collected in a few days. I used to talk to all the freedom fighters, and if anyone needed any help, this was my daily routine. I felt very proud; at that time, one day, a patient in


The ward came with a serious leg injury - maybe he was in bed number 29 or maybe 39. It was very painful; I used to give him water, read Bengali newspapers and listen to him. His feet were very painful, so I used to press them many times. He stayed for a few days, but one day I went and saw that he was gone - I asked many people, but no one could give a correct answer. His name was Bahar ( now he is a big leader of the Freedom Fighter's Association of Bangladesh, Popularly known as Bahar Bir Protik of Comilla) - He was an adventurous freedom fighter aged 20 - 21 years old in Comilla city - His name was Bahar - Bahar Bhai we used to call himm  - After many years our beloved freedom fighter Bahar Brother is alive. - Comilla city named Bir Mukti Joddha Bihar - currently he is Comilla Mukti Joddha Sangbad and freedom fighter leader; Talked on the phone once. I got in touch with him through one of my senior officers, Colonel Shahajahan(another freedom fighter) ; they are two cousins - through him.

 

In between, we conducted several entertainment programs with our cultural troupe at various youth camps and Mukti Training Centers, such as at Amtali Youth Camp near Gokulnagar. Our program used to start patriotic songs of Nazrul and other songs. I don't have the literary ability to express what a heart-wrenching performance we performed at such a young age.

 

Every day, hundreds of freedom fighters, without hands, feet, noses, or eyes, slowly entered our ward - Indian doctors, nurses, and ward boys were so passionate about them and treated them so I don't know any language to write how much debt we Bengalis owe to them - every day patients are leaving moving, discharged,  moving to another big hospital for better treatment, someone is recovering and returning to the battlefield - it is impossible to explain the experience without seeing it. I have no idea how, at that tender age, I coped with all of these.

 

A new batch of newspapers was delivered, our rehearsal room was filled with so many things, and it looked nice there. It was our little gossiping place, too.  We started distribution again with new enthusiasm - Roni left again, and his elder brother Senon (Anisul Haque, Law Minister of Bangladesh Government and MP of Kasba) both went. I carried on alone, and after a few days, he came, and we started distributing newspapers together . In this way, we continued working on paper and hospital till 15th December. I used to spend the day doing all these activities easily, but at night, when I spread a rug on the ground floor and cut two blankets made of cloth into a square shape, my mother sewed it and made a pillow. I was trying to wrap myself up and sleep when just then I was scared - I could hear the sound of Pakistan Army boots inside my ears - it seemed that along the path passing our camp, along the line, the rifle RL, MG pointed towards our camp. They are approaching with small steps and will brutally kill all the refugees sleeping in the  Special Camp. I used to wake up in fear, close my eyes, and try to sleep.


There was a gentle knock on the door one morning. I was still sleeping on the floor in my makeshift bed, so I jumped out of the bed and quickly opened the door. I saw Amma standing at the door; my mother looked frail, weak, and broken. Unrecognisable, she entered inside and started crying and hugged me and said how are you all? I am sorry I was away from you all for a long time.

 

She then told the story of her father’s accident, went to the hospital and returned to Koilashshor. He did not have to amputate the bones, and the injury healed in the last month; he is now back again to his base and will continue there. As he needs more rest and light duty for another month. Amma accompanied him to his camp and then came here. It was the month of August. She said the doctors and nurses at the lucknow hospital saved his life, if it was in Koilashshor then there was no way his leg could be saved.



 




 

 

The Freedom

 

 

The liberation war of Bangladesh was not only a struggle for freedom; it was also a struggle for fundamental human rights and dignity. The bravery and self-sacrifice of Bengalis in the liberation war of 1971 will be forever remembered as a shining example of resistance against tyranny. The liberation war showed that a united people’s power could defeat the most oppressive regime. The atrocities committed during the War of Independence remind us of the importance of standing up for justice and human rights. 1971 was a testament to the resilience and strength of the Bengali people, who refused to be silenced by their oppressors. This war was a turning point in the history of South Asia, the birth of a new nation and the victory of freedom against oppression.

 

The bravery of our Mukti Bahini fighters is for justice, and freedom fighters Will always be an inspiration. The independence movement proved that the power of the human spirit can prevail against the odds. The freedom struggle was a reminder that freedom is a universal struggle and the fight for justice knows no boundaries. The Liberation War of Bangladesh was a victory for the people of Bangladesh. Still, it was also a victory for all those who believed in the fundamental rights of humanity. The War of Independence of Bangladesh was a conflict between West Pakistan (now Pakistan) and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) that lasted from March 26, 1971, to December 16, 1971. Became independent as a result of the war. Bangladesh and the making of a new nation.

 

Millions of Bangladeshis fled to India to escape violence and persecution during the war. These refugees came primarily from East Pakistan, where most of the country’s population was Bengali. Among the refugees were many women and children who lost their homes, families and livelihoods.


The situation for the refugees was dire, as they lacked access to necessities such as food, water and shelter. The Indian government and the international community have responded to the crisis by setting up refugee camps and assisting those in need.

 

As the war progressed, the number of refugees increased dramatically. By the end of the conflict, an estimated 10 million Bangladeshis had fled to India. Refugees faced many challenges, including disease, malnutrition and overcrowding.

 

The international community recognized the severity of the refugee crisis and responded with humanitarian assistance. The United Nations Refugee Affairs High Commissioner (UNHCR) and other agencies provided service to the refugees in the form of food, shelter and medical care.

 

The Government of India has played an essential role in helping the refugees. The government has set up refugee camps in West Bengal, Tripura and other states to provide temporary shelter and assistance to refugees. Indian volunteers worked tirelessly to provide food, water and medical care to those in need.

 

As soon as the war ended, the refugees returned to their homes in Bangladesh. However, many faced new challenges upon their return, as their homes and communities were destroyed during the conflict.

 

Bangladesh’s war of independence and the refugee crisis significantly impacted the region and the world. The war led to the formation of Bangladesh as an independent nation. It sparked a global conversation about the importance of human rights and self-determination.

 

The refugee crisis highlights the need for international cooperation and assistance for those displaced by conflict and persecution. This emphasises the importance of providing humanitarian aid to those in need and the critical role governments, NGOs and individuals can play in responding to crises.

 

Today, Bangladesh has a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant economy-rich country. The country has made significant progress in recent years, particularly in education, healthcare and women’s rights.

 

Despite this progress, Bangladesh faces many challenges, including poverty, corruption and political instability. The country is vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and cyclones.

 

Bangladesh’s war of independence and the subsequent refugee crisis were significant events in the region’s history and the world. The war led to the formation of Bangladesh as an independent nation. It sparked meaningful conversations about human rights and self-determination. The refugee crisis highlights the need for greater international cooperation and assistance for those displaced by conflict and persecution. Today, Bangladesh is a resilient and dynamic nation. However, it still faces many challenges as it grows and develops.

 

As the war escalated, millions of Bengali civilians fled to neighbouring India to escape violence and persecution. The refugees came primarily from East Pakistan, where most of the country’s population was Bengali. Among the refugees were many women and children who lost their homes, families, and livelihoods.

 

The situation for the refugees was dire, as they lacked access to necessities such as food, water, and shelter. The Indian government and the international community have responded to the crisis by setting up refugee camps and assisting those in need. Refugees faced many challenges, including disease, malnutrition, cholera, diarrhea, and overcrowding.

 

The international community recognised the severity of the refugee crisis and responded with humanitarian assistance. The United Nations Refugee Affairs High Commissioner (UNHCR) and other organisations assisted refugees through food, shelter, and medical care.

 

The Indian government, too, played an essential role in helping refugees. The government has set up refugee camps in West Bengal, Tripura and other states to provide temporary shelter and assistance to refugees. Indian volunteers worked tirelessly to provide food, water and medical care to those in need.

 

No country, no nation can ever avoid responsibility for committing injustice against humanity till today. However, it is deplorable that almost 52 years have passed. However, today, the world has not been able to bring to justice the killers - sinners - rapists, genocidal, ethnic genocide, and the Bengali nation of 1971. The atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army in an attempt to eradicate Pakistan from the map. How does humanity know that it has stumbled to bring the perpetrators of this tyranny - this adultery, this genocide to justice, under various pretexts, to declare the flood of blood flowing in the blood of Bengalis? It must be officially declared and recognised as Genocide.



Within a month of the carnage on March 25, the Pakistan Army occupied nearly 75 per cent of the 55,000 square miles of East Pakistan. It had encamped our entire nation (a huge camp) in what the Pakistani killers would call Hitler’s infamous “Final Solution” book. Copied exactly like Hitler and Nazi forces - sadly true how all this is covered up. Ninety-three thousand soldiers did not prove the worst surrender in the history of the world in 1971: the people of Bangladesh, mothers, sisters, and the wildfire that swept over East Pakistan. ?

 

It is a matter of great regret that over the ages, the Bengali nation has been repeatedly cheated by the so-called world’s conscience from getting justice and true justice in 1757, 1790, 1857, 1943, 1947 and 1971.

 

For 52 years, I have been carrying that wound, bleeding, that emptiness, and a gentle tremor of fear in my heart. Repeatedly, I lost myself in the hole of oblivion. The year 1971 has left an indelible mark - when I look through the prism of 1971. Nowhere else should a teenager like me experience nine months like mine.

 

One piece of advice to the current generation of Pakistanis is to read the history of 1971; only through unbiased, accurate history can they uncover what happened in Bangladesh and the infamous perpetrators of the genocide. Today’s generation of the 21st century is much more sensitive and perceptive; they can understand, like broad daylight, which were the antagonists of the Bengali Genocide!



 

 




Proud Moment of My Family


 

In conclusion, the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 was not just a struggle for freedom; it was a battle for fundamental human rights and dignity. The sacrifices made by Bengalis during this war, including the bravery of our Mukti Bahini fighters, will forever be etched in the annals of history as a shining example of resistance against tyranny. The war showcased the indomitable power of a united people, proving that even the most oppressive regime could be defeated. The atrocities committed during the War of Independence served as a stark reminder of the need to stand up for justice and human rights.

 

The Liberation War of Bangladesh was a turning point in the history of South Asia, leading to the birth of a new nation and the victory of freedom over oppression. It was a testament to the resilience and strength of the Bengali people who refused to be silenced by their oppressors. Their unwavering determination and spirit showed that the human will can triumph against all odds.

 

The war had a profound impact, not just on Bangladesh but on the world at large. It led to the formation of Bangladesh as an independent nation, sparking meaningful conversations about the universal struggle for human rights and self-determination. The refugee crisis that accompanied the war underscored the necessity of international cooperation and assistance for those displaced by conflict and persecution.

 

As millions of Bengali civilians sought refuge in neighbouring India to escape violence and persecution, they faced dire circumstances, lacking even the most necessities like food, water, and shelter. The Indian government and the international community established refugee camps and provided vital aid. The United Nations Refugee Affairs High Commissioner (UNHCR) and other organizations were crucial in delivering refugees food, shelter, and medical care.


The support of India's government was instrumental in aiding the refugees. They set up refugee camps in various states, such as West Bengal and Tripura, offering temporary shelter and assistance to those in need. Indian volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure the refugees had access to essential resources.


However, even as the war came to an end, the returning refugees faced new challenges, as their homes and communities had been ravaged during the conflict. The legacy of the war and the refugee crisis continues to shape the region and the world.

It is profoundly disheartening that, even after more than half a century, justice has not been served for the atrocities committed during the war. The perpetrators of this tyranny, the killers, rapists, and those responsible for ethnic genocide, have not been held accountable. The world must officially recognize these heinous acts as genocide, acknowledging the flood of blood that stained the soil of Bangladesh.

 

The brutality inflicted by the Pakistan Army in their attempt to eradicate the Bengali people from the map remains a dark chapter in history. The occupation of nearly 75 per cent of East Pakistan within a month of the carnage on March 25 was a testament to their cruelty. This tragic episode, with chilling echoes of Hitler's "Final Solution," should never be forgotten, and the responsible parties must be held accountable.

 

Throughout history, the Bengali nation has endured repeated betrayals from 1757 to 1971, where justice and true justice remained elusive. The scars of 1971 still haunt the hearts of those who lived through it, and the wound continues to bleed, leaving a lingering emptiness and a tremor of fear. 1971 left an indelible mark on the collective memory of Bangladesh, especially for the teenagers who experienced those nine months of turmoil and hardship.

 

As we move forward, the younger generation must educate themselves about 1971. By studying unbiased and accurate historical accounts, they can uncover the truth about what transpired in Bangladesh during those tumultuous times. The 21st-century generation is more sensitive and perceptive, and they can discern the perpetrators of the Bengali Genocide with clarity.

 

In closing, the Liberation War of Bangladesh and the subsequent refugee crisis have left an enduring impact on the world. It was a war that fought not just for one nation's freedom but for all humanity's fundamental rights. The sacrifices made, the struggles endured, and the resilience displayed by the Bengali people serve as an inspiration to all those who believe in the values of justice and human rights. The lessons of 1971 must not be forgotten, and the call for justice and recognition for the Bengali Genocide must continue to resonate throughout the ages.

 

This is the epitome of an event of pride that my family has been able to partake in independence. The blood and sweat my family poured at the altar of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 will be remembered by future generations of Bengalis for centuries to come.



 

 

References

1.    Rifles and Other Forces in The Liberation War – Sukumar Biswas – 1999 –Moula Brothers.

2.    Sector 4 in Liberation War & Maj General C.R. Dutta – Tapan Kumar Dey – 2017 – Rabeya Books.

3.    The Murti  Boys  - Edited by Ishrat Ferdous, Qurratul–Ain–Tahmina, Tanim Ahmed – 2022 – University Press.

4.    1971 Resistance, Resilience & Redemption – Major General Md Sarwar Hossain – 2017 – Priyomikh Prokasan.

5.    Ebarer Songram Shadhinotar Songram – Lt Colonel Abu Osman Chowdhury – 1991 – Sheba Publishers.

6.    A Tale of Millions Bangladesh Liberation War – 1971 – Rafiqul Islam BU – 1974 – Ananya.

7.    Bangladesher Shadhinotajuddho Sector Vittik Itiahs – Sector 4 – Muktijoddho Bishoyok Montronaloy – People’s Republic of Bangladesh.





Imran Chowdhury BEM: A Remarkable Life of Resilience,

Service and Intellectual Excellence




 

Imran Chowdhury BEM is a name that resonates with the indomitable spirit of a refugee, the legacy of a heroic freedom fighter, and the enduring commitment to humanitarian causes. His remarkable journey began in the tumultuous backdrop of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, when he sought refuge in India, escaping the horrors of conflict that ravaged his homeland. Born to a valiant and gallant freedom fighter, Imran Chowdhury's life has been a testament to courage, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication to the ideals of liberty.

Imran's father was among the first to rise against the oppressive Pakistani regime in the Sylhet region of then-East Pakistan. He led the charge for independence with conviction and resolve, inspiring countless others to join the cause. Became an integral part of this struggle, serving as one of the sub-sector commanders of the Mukti Bahini, the guerilla forces fighting for Bangladesh's freedom. In the small town of Koilash Shahar in India, he took up arms, risking life and limb to secure a brighter future for his people. Tragically, it was here that his 17-year-old brother, also a freedom fighter, embraced martyrdom, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by countless families in pursuit of a free Bangladesh.

After the war's triumph, Imran Chowdhury continued to serve his nation with distinction, following his father and brother's footsteps. He joined the Bangladesh army as a regular commissioned officer, a position he held with honour and valour. His dedication to his country was unwavering, and his contributions to its defence were commendable. However, destiny had more in store for this extraordinary individual.

 

In the late 20th century, Imran migrated to the United Kingdom. Far from his homeland, he did not let distance dim the flame of his commitment to humanity. Instead, he embarked on multi-faceted philanthropy, humanitarianism, and charitable work within the UK. Imran Chowdhury became a beacon of hope for the Bangladeshi diaspora, providing them with the support and guidance they needed to thrive in their new home.


His dedication to community welfare extended beyond the confines of his own community. Imran's voice reached everywhere through his television, radio, and writing work. He delved into the realms of history, Bangladesh's rich heritage, colonial history, and geopolitics, becoming a revered intellectual in these fields. His writings, infused with deep insights and a profound understanding of the subjects, have enlightened countless minds.


In recognition of his exceptional contributions to society, Her Majesty the Queen bestowed Imran Chowdhury with the British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2020. It was a fitting acknowledgement of his tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to improving the world.

Imran Chowdhury's story is about resilience, service, and intellectual excellence. His ability to bridge cultures, inspire change, and champion the cause of humanity is a testament to the indomitable spirit of a true hero. His eloquence as an orator in Bengali and his stature as a public intellectual have solidified his place as a guiding light for future generations. Imran Chowdhury BEM is a name that will forever be synonymous with the enduring pursuit of freedom, justice, and the betterment of society.





 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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