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The girl who lies among forgotten martyrs

Decaying 1971 mass grave needs urgent attention

If she were alive, she would have been living with the pride of our glorious Liberation War like any of us.

But on April 23, 1971, at the age of five, Kakoli was brutally killed by Pakistani military. Chest speared by a bayonet, her blood splattered on the floor. At the end, the killers threw her body down the stairs muffling her cries.

Kakoli along with her parents took refuge in her grandparents' house in Dupchanchia Chowdhurypara village after their place in Bogra was attacked by the invading army.

READ more: Killing fields of 1971 - Our grief, our strength

This heart wrenching incident took place at a suburb 20 kilometers away from Bogra town. Rajakar Abdul Majid, Majibor Rahman and their aides directly helped the West Pakistani army in pillage, rape and genocide. Rajakars, the notorious native collaborators of the Pakistani army, vandalised temples and houses. They torched the dispensary of local veteran politician Dr Anwar Hossain and many houses in the locality. Around 13 people, including nine of Kakoli’s family, were killed by the Pakistan military at Chowdhurybari with the help of Rajakars on that day, said an eyewitness Jayanta Kumar Kundu, 71, a retired headmaster of a local school.

After Pakistani army took control of Bogra on April 22, 1971, Kakoli’s grandfather Manmath Kundu and his family took shelter in his relative Khitish Chowdhury’s house. But that was not enough. The Pakistan army killed them by brushfire. Kakoli’s mother Tripti Rani was injured but pretended to be dead lying on the ground. Rani, also the daughter of Kundu, was later gang raped by the military and Rajakars.

Before leaving the spot, the military vandalised entrances of several temples and Chowdhurybari’s main gateway. They smashed the antique sculptures created by renowned sculptor Nalini Mohon Kundu, the grandfather of Jayanta Kundu.

Jogendranath Chowdhury, also known as Khitish Chowdhury, Manmath Kundu, Durga Kundu, ​Kalachand Kundu, Santosh Kundu, Kanailal Podder, Brajomahan Saha, and Kakoli and many unnamed people lost their lives in that massacre.

The Pakistani military also killed Union Parisad dafadar Tahiruddin Shah, businessman Satish Chandra Basak, Sharot Majumder, Akshay Kundu and the family members of a manager of Muslim Commercial Bank in separate places on the same day.  

For two days no one came to recover the bodies and arrange a proper funeral in fear of the military.

Bodies of around 20 people were later buried at a nearby land beside a pond locally known as Chowdhurybari’s Shyam Sarobar. Nimaisundor Chowdhury, Ananta Mohon Kundu, Birendranath Chowdhury and Jayanta Kundu came to Chowdhurybari and took part in digging the mass grave.

Rajakar Abdul Majid and Majibor Rahman, who were involved in the killings, were punished by locals led by freedom fighter ABM Shahjahan and his fellow-fighters on December 14, 1971.

Mass grave of martyrs in negligence

With the help of others, Jayanta Kundu and his father Ananta Mohon Kundu, an anti-colonial activist, Nimaisundar Chowdhury, retired teacher of a local school, marked the burial ground by building a boundary wall with bricks after the end of the Liberation War.

But over the years, the wall got destroyed in natural disasters.

In 2012, a plaque on the martyrs was placed at the graveyard by upazila administration and Muktijoddha Sangsad.

Freedom fighters who are still alive and locals demanded for a road at the graveyard for making the place accessible to visitors.

Yet to get a place in history

This mass killing in Dupchanchia is yet to get any official recognition from concerned authorities as it was not documented properly in the Liberation War history.

It has been over 46 years since independence and nothing much happened to safeguard such crucial history of the land.

The government has not given any direction yet to preserve the mass grave, said Shahed Parvez, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Dupchanchia. 

"If the government gives us direction to preserve the mass grave, we will take necessary steps in this regard," he added

Abdul Mazid, commander of upazila unit of Muktijoddha Sangsad said, “The government should take necessary steps to build a monument at the mass grave of martyrs. The list in the plaque should be corrected as names of some martyrs have been dropped and some are misspelled.”

 

Chronological list of the archives:


1971 in International Media Reports

March, 1971

April, 1971

May, 1971

June, 1971

July, 1971

August, 1971

September, 1971

October, 1971

November, 1971

December, 1971

Articles

Interviews

Autobiographies

Book Reviews

ABOUT FREEDOM IN THE AIR

Freedom in the air is a non-profit project aimed at building a rich repository for all sorts of contents on Bangladesh's Liberation War of 1971. Besides producing exclusive video interviews of war heroes and experts and a turn-by-turn daily interactive calendar of 1971, The Daily Star Online gathered very rare declassified diplomatic cables, the sensational Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report that proved genocide by Pakistan army, significant collection of rarely seen photographs and international newspaper reports. There is an exceptional collection of TV reports, video footages and documentaries which The Daily Star does not own but using with courtesy of the original owners and those who uploaded.