The Salanga Massacre of 1922: History needs to be preserved | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 29, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:24 AM, January 29, 2021

The Salanga Massacre of 1922: History needs to be preserved

It was January 27, 1922. Several thousand people including peasants, traders and buyers from different northern districts came to 'Salanga Haat', then one of the biggest rural markets in the northern region for shopping for the whole week, but the British colonial police suddenly opened fire on the unarmed people for boycotting foreign products in line with non-cooperation movement against the British rule.

Salanga Haat, now one of the least developed parts of Sirajganj's Raiganj upazila, was a part of Pabna district. It was one of the biggest rural markets in early 19th century where people from different areas used to come for weekly shopping. Foreign products especially foreign-made liquour were available in this market.

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According to the history, Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish, a young revolutionist, was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He began non-cooperation movement calling the people to Solanga Haat to boycott foreign products. He tried to mobilise the people against the British colonial oppression and the local Zaminder for exorbitant tax collection. The movement was progressing in a non-violent manner in line with Gandhi's non-violent movement.

Following an intelligence report that revolutionists, led by Tarkabagish, were regrouping, the then superintendent of police (SP) in Pabna, led by the district administration, rushed to Salanga Haat and arrested Tarkabagish sparking a storm of protest. Suddenly, a cattle trader hit the SP, triggering police retaliation. The police personnel opened fire on the armed mob in the busy cattle market of Salanga killing hundreds of them.

"Seven people died in front of me; I can recollect the names of three of them. They are Chand Ullah, Aroj Ullah and Raj Ali. But many people received bullets and died in different areas but their names cannot be known. In British government's inquiry, the number of causalities was 4,500," Tarkabagish said in his column 'Swadhinota Sanggramer Rokto Shiri Salanga (Salanga: The Blood Stained-Step to the Struggle for Independence).

Several hundred people were left to die in different areas, many died after going to their homes but the family members of the victims never came forward fearing the harassment of British police, so the actual figure of causalities is yet to be confirmed, Tarkabagish said in the column.

Salanga revolution was one of the milestones of revolution against the British colony that expedited the movement against the British raj, he added.

Although Solanga revolution is called as the 'Stairs of Blood' of the anti-British movement, now little can be known about the historic significance of the place visiting the spot.

"I have been running business in Salanga Haat over the last three decades, I never knew about the historical significance of the place. There is no structure in the Haat that gives remembrance to the historic movement," said Md Abdus Salam, a cloth trader of the Haat.

Hiton Khandokar, a resident of Salanga Haat, and also lecturer of a college, said the young generation is unaware about the real history due to the lack of historical research.

"We have heard something from our seniors about Salanga revolution and Tarkabagish but there has been no extensive research to preserve the history," Hiton said.

Dr Md Sabed Ali, a historical researcher, said "When I went for the historical research of movements a decade ago for my PHD, I repeatedly visited Solanga and talked with many people but I didn't get anybody who was directly involved with the movement. Some old people were found who had heard of the incident from their forefathers."

Md Jillur Rahman, chairman of Ghurka union parishad in Raiganj upazila, said the local government has taken some steps to preserve the memory of the movement.

"We have submitted a plan for setting monument and museum here in Salanga for preserving the memory of the Solanga revolution for the future generation," the chairman said.

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