Memories of a massacre
12:00 AM, December 08, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:18 AM, December 08, 2017

Memories of a massacre

No recognition yet for Pabna killing field where 28 people were shot dead during 1971 war

It was the morning of August 20, 1971, when 25 to 30 Pakistan army men accompanied by their local collaborators entered the predominantly Hindu Laxmipur village of Pabna's Atghoria.

They rounded up 28 people of the village, 26 of them Hindu, and took them to the premises of Kalibari temple.

The 28 were mowed down in broad daylight and buried in a mass grave there.

It was the Pakistan army's revenge on them for siding with the freedom fighters and supporting Bangladesh's war effort.

“I saw my father being taken. He was tied with a rope along with other victims in front of Kalibari,” said Dipak Kumar, son of Anil Chandra.

“My father was killed along with the others. I survived as I had hidden myself in a pond in the village, Dipak said.

Five members of his family were not lucky as he was. They were all taken by the Pakistan army men and killed at Kalibari.

The massacre scared the Hindus of Laxmipur. Over 100 Hindu families lived there during the war but now only 10 to 15 remain.

It has been almost 46 years since Bangladesh had been liberated. And with every passing year, the number of eyewitnesses to the massacre become smaller.

Yet, the mass grave is not officially recognised. There is no memorial there.

“When villagers go past the grave, it hurts. They are disappointed by the sheer negligence of the authorities concerned,” Nani Gopal Das, 70, of the village told The Daily Star.

“It is just an abandoned piece of land now,” said the retired teacher.

“After the massacre, we did not dare to hold Puja in Kalibari for many years. The temple was later moved to another place leaving the mass grave abandoned,” said Nani Gopal.

Eyewitness Babar Karim, a senior citizen of the village, said, “I along with a few other villagers collected the names and the details of the martyrs. We don't know if the names of the martyrs had been included in any government list.”

Another witness Rejaul Karim said the villagers want a memorial there.

Atghoria upazila Muktijoddha Sangsad commander Johurul Haque said they had submitted a proposal to establish a memorial at Kalibari to the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs a few years ago but the ministry was yet to take any steps.

He said they gave details of the martyrs and detailed account of the massacre.

Asked why there was not even a signboard at the mass grave, Johurul claimed that men of ant-liberation forces dominate the area and the locals do not dare to do anything about the mass grave.


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