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Keep up to date with the latest news, insights and research from CPPP by reading Chief Executive, Imran Chowdhury’s blog.

How a Martyr’s sibling becomes Interfaith Campaigner

It is almost half a century ago my country - Bangladesh;  was liberated as an Independent State. My family was displaced during the war and had to seek refuge to India. On the tumultuous day of the 16th December 1971 we heard from Akashbani Radio announced the surrender of Pakistan Army to the Indian Army; The bloody war ended. Next morning we packed up our bags; there was hardly anything to pack as refugee from the refugee camps in Agartala. We bid farewell to India; with huge gratitude and homage for the People and Government of India for giving us shelter and saving our from the onslaught of the heinous, barbaric Pakistan army and its Junta. Had India not given us the refuge perhaps I would not lived to tell you my story.

My father was a freedom fighter who was operating in different sectors bordering Karimgang  in Assam - Koilashshahor in Tripura  and we seek shelter in Agartala. Our eldest  brother decided to join as a Freedom Fighter ; he was only 17 years old in the month of June 1971. After 3 weeks of training in Hapania-Tripura;  Joy Bangla freedom fighters  training camp he was send along with his group of 15 fighters inside the then East Pakistan ( present Bangladesh). To carry out guerrilla warfare to dislodge the Pakistan Army’s line of communication and  disrupt their supply routes. They were operating deep inside the enemy lines from June to November. Carried out patrolling, ambushes, raids, explosions for the next 5 months. No food supply, no medical supply, no clothing, no boots, no tent to sleep, no communication with the base — operating on their own devices, with full of patriotism and highest magnitude of determination. My brave  brother who was a laid back Secondary School Examination candidate at the time. First week of April 1971 his examinations were scheduled to be held but all hell broke loose on the calamitous day of 25th March 1971. The Operation Searchlight of the Pakistan Army started for no apparent reasons to warrant such kind of an aggressive attack on poor, unarmed, unsuspecting innocent people , on the fateful night of 24th/25th night. One night they killed more than 7000 unarmed people in  their sleep  in the capital city of Dacca( Dhaka). 

A pre meditated, well orchestrated, minutely planned a copy cat emulation of Hitler’s Holocaust began in the riverine sleepy landscape of  Golden Bengal. It was a genocide, a racial annihilation, an ethnic cleansing that the Pakistan army perpetuated from that day in the name of quelling our demand for a democratic power sharing. 

The Bengalis rose to the pinnacle of resisting their humiliation, they rose to restore the sanctity  & the prestige of their mothers and sisters from derogatory brutal rapes and sexual harassment inter alia the killings of innocent Hindus, Christian along with fellow Muslims. When the Muslim Pakistan Army was killing the Bengali Muslims, Hindus and Christians ; the Bengali muslims pourer into the shores of India ( predominantly and Hindu majority country), The people of India embraced the refugees with open arms. The humanity triumphed over religions. The world turned a kind of blind eye but not India. India was the god send messiah to save us from that crucial juncture. We the Joy Bangla generation and the Bangladesh as a whole ought to remain ever so grateful to India for all their help. 

The war was reaching its climax and a month before the end of the war my brother and his troops of Freedom Fighters were captured alive from their day time hide out hidden deep in mangrove in the middle of a confluences of three rivers . A rattan bush ; a no go area for any locals was their secret sleeping area during the day sleeping on the decks of the country boats and go out for missions after the dusk. The whole area was waterlogged like an ocean during late infamous monsoon of Bengal.  Allegedly tipped off by the Bengali collaborators about their secret rendezvous. On the fateful day of 11 November my poor brother along with his section of freedom fighters were arrested as prisoners of war. They were taken to the nearest Divisional HQ of 14th Infantry division in Brahmin Baria - Bangladesh ( the then East Pakistan) Eye witness who survived to tell the tale told us that, they were inhumanly tortured, eyes were peeled, poured with hot water on their faces, day and night continuous torture by shift of torturers continued for 10 days under the open sky. The interrogation was never ending-For a regular army like Pakistan Army paying no heed to the Geneva Convention of Prisoners of War. 

Its very significant and important to tell the world that a  country which was established for muslims and the 70 million muslims of East Bengal joined their concocted theme of establishing a country fell miserably short to show any mercy to fellow muslims during the holy month.  As it was the month of Ramadan and on the day of the Eid ul Fitr   those 15 Valiant sons of my mother Bengal including my dear brother, my best friend were taken away 200 yards from the HQ and were shot dead on the bank of River Titas in Brahmin Baria. They were shot dead on the 21st November 1971 only 18 days later the town of his captivity was liberated by 57th Mountain Division of Indian Army along with Bangladeshi Freedom Fighters. Only if he could last for more than 18 days. 

Those bodies of those golden sons were left to rot. One day slowly and gradually their remains were amalgamated with the soil of the land that wanted to liberate from the aggressors, the brutal, the barbaric, the heinous Pakistan Army. 

We came back to an independent Bangladesh from India the very next day to the same town and waited and waited and waited for my brother to return as scores of Freedom Fighters were coming back home to meet their nearest and dearest one but no news of my Brother. 

Three weeks of frantic searching for him  no trace , we by then had a haunch about his fate; finally an eye witness who was released from  the captivity by the Indian Army who knew our brother came and told us the whole story. 

I was an 11 year old adolescent and he was best friend too as well as my mentor and my source of inspiration. A calm, a vegetarian, a brilliant footballer and an orator and an  young man whose dream was to become a Doctor and I always looked up to him to emulate his footsteps.

Loads time has elapsed since but the pain still reverberates in the innermost recesses of my  heart  all the time. Furthermore that, the Neo Nazis; The Killers got scot free. How ironic ! Where is the Justice ? Where is the atonement ? Where is the moral reparation?

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