1971 Liberation War: Mother of a martyr appeals for PM's help
12:00 AM, March 26, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:15 PM, March 26, 2019

Mired in misery

Mother of Shanku, martyred at 12, appeals for PM's help

The mother of a martyr fears she may have to take up begging to make ends meet.

Dipali Samajdar lost her only son during the Liberation War movement on March 3 in Rangpur town.

Dipali, who is now in her 70s, has almost become bedridden, but the pride she feels for her son shines through to this day.

Shanku was born in 1959. The middle child among his three siblings, he used to attend Koilash Ranjan School in Rangpur. 

On March 3, 1971, when Sanku was in grade six, his life was about to come to a rapid and unexpected end.

That day a hartal had been declared. Given a respite from school, Shanku stayed with his mother while she helped him with his homework.

Afterwards when his mother went to cook their meal, Shanku was left alone. Sitting idle, he saw a procession passing by his home in Guptapara area.

With the child's interest piqued, he decided to join the procession. “I am coming back soon,” he yelled to his mother.

His last words would ring untrue, for Shanku would never return.

“I tried to hold him back but I failed,” Dipali recalled, voicing a regret she had felt for the rest of her life.

The procession was heading towards Rangpur Railway Station and Shanku found himself at the forefront of it.

Suddenly, Sarfaraj Khan, a non-Bangalee, fired a pistol from inside his house around 10:00am.

Shanku collapsed on the street immediately, with the bullet lodged in his forehead.

Other members of the procession rushed Shanku to hospital, where doctors declared the boy dead.

His death is considered to be a watershed moment in the course of the liberation movement, especially in the context of Rangpur town.

As the news spread, widespread protests broke out and a curfew was imposed in the town. 

“I heard neighbours saying that my son was shot,” Dipali said.

As she recalled how she rushed to Rangpur Hospital and could not find him there, Dipali broke down, as if the hopelessness of that day had resurfaced in full force.

Shanku's body was later brought home in a police van.

“My son is the first martyr in the Liberation War,” she said.

Unfortunately, Dipali's tribulation had not ended there. Her husband Santosh Samajdar, a priest, died in 2002.

Afterwards, the family never became solvent, said Nazrul Mridha, a journalist and Dipali's neighbour.

He told this correspondent that Shanku's mother had struggled her entire life. But now, she can't take it anymore.

Her elder son Kumaresh has no job, and her daughter Jhorna and daughter-in-law Mira are the only bread winners in the family.

Jhorna provides private tuition and Mira works at a private firm. 

The government's issuance of a gazette on Shanku's martyrdom may have come as some relief for Dipali.

But she does not want to be a beggar, at this age.

“I do not want to beg... I want the sympathy of Sheikh Hasina, so she rescues my family from such a financial hardship,” she said, mentioning that she needed medicine worth Tk 40 every day.

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