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HomeWorldWhen Pakistan Army abducted intellectuals, blindfolded, tortured and killed them

When Pakistan Army abducted intellectuals, blindfolded, tortured and killed them

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When Pakistan Army abducted intellectuals, blindfolded, tortured and killed them
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The 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh was raging and curfew was imposed by the Pakistan Army across Dhaka. Once the curfew was relaxed for some hours, Dr Alim Chowdhury would leave his family – his wife and two daughters, Neepa (5) and Nuzhat (3) — at home in Paltan area and carry out ‘humanitarian’ work risking his life.

Dr Chowdhury, a visionary and ophthalmologist, used to collect medicines from various pharmacies and drug companies. He then hid the medicines in the bonnet of his car and delivered them at the secret base of the freedom fighters. He visited the secret hospital, which was there to treat the wounded freedom fighters. Dr Chowdhury would give treatment to the injured. Many freedom fighters recovered and returned to the “battlefield”.

Nuzhat Chowdhury Shampa’s eyes overflow with love for her father as she speaks about him. She can’t recollect much of the time she spent with him. When her father was martyred, she was only three. She says, “Pakistanis’ friends — Razakars, Albadars, some of the Alshams forces — took my father from our house in Paltan on December 15 around 4.30pm in front of our eyes. Three days later, on December 18, our family members found the mutilated body of my father and some others in the slaughterhouse of Rayer Bazar. My father’s chest was found pierced with many bullets. There were marks of torture all over his body; deep bayonet wounds on the left side of forehead and abdomen. My father’s eyes were gouged out by the beasts. The main executioner was Ashrafuzzaman Khan. My father’s only fault was offering treatment to the freedom fighters.”

As the war was at its fag end, Pakistan’s invading forces systematically started killing noted Bengali personalities. Many were abducted from their homes; while some were brutally murdered right in front of their family. The list of the martyrs is endless. There were 991 academicians, 13 journalists, 49 doctors, 42 lawyers and artists and 16 engineers among them. In all, 1, 111 such people were murdered.

A fresh curfew was clamped in Dhaka from December 4, 1971. On December 10, plan to massacre intellectuals and key personalities began. The nefarious plan was executed on December 14. Prominent people were picked by the Pakistan Army and their henchmen. About 200 intellectuals were abducted from their homes that day. They were blindfolded and taken to torture centres located in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Rajar Bagh and many other places. After being tortured, they were brutally killed in Rayer Bazar and Mirpur slaughterhouses. Even after the surrender and official end of the war, there were allegations of firing by the Pakistani Army and its allies. In one such incident, renowned film-maker Zahir Raihan lost his life on January 30, 1972.

The most heinous crimes were committed by the Pakistani occupation forces and their local allies Al Shams, Al Badar and Razakars. These were planned, calculated and cold-blooded killings aimed at breaking the backbone of a nation struggling to liberate itself from the clutches of Pakistani troops. The perpetrators targeted the best Bengali minds and talent, including literary giants, philosophers, scientists, painters, teachers, researchers, journalists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, sculptors, government and private employees, politicians, philanthropists, culture lovers, artists associated with film, drama and music, who were contributing significantly to the development of Bangladesh. After killing them, their bodies were dumped in the swamps of Rayer Bazar and Mirpur. Later, mutilated bodies of the martyrs were recovered from these swamps.

Similar atrocities were committed in other places outside Dhaka. All these martyrs represented the main driving force of the nation and acted as a beacon for the exploited people. They were ardent patriots who believed that one day the nation would become independent.

Major General Rao Farman Ali was the main planner of these killings, who acted on the orders of the Pakistan Army. And the infamous Al Badr Army, originally formed by Jamaat-e-Islami, helped prepare the hit list and the execution of the murders. The main perpetrators were Chowdhury Moinuddin (Operation In-Charge) and Ashrafuzzaman Khan (Chief Executioner) of Badar Army. After December 16, 1971, a personal diary of Ashrafuzzaman Khan was recovered from his house in Nakhalpara residence, two pages of which had names of about 20 intellectuals and their residential address.

According to the testimony given by his car driver Mofizuddin, the charred bodies of several intellectuals, whom he shot with his own hands, were found in swamps of Rayer Bazar and Sialbari slaughterhouses in Mirpur. Chowdhury Moinuddin was a member of the central committee of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971. He used to convey the names and addresses of the intellectuals to General Rao Farman Ali and Brigadier Bashir Ahmed from the ‘Daily Observer’ building. Besides, there were ABM Khalek Majumdar (killer of Shahidullah Qaiser), Maulana Abdul Mannan (killer of Dr Alim Chowdhury), Abdul Quader Molla (killer of poet Mehrunnesa) and others. The main killers in Chittagong were Fazlul Quader Chowdhury and his two sons Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Gias Quader Chowdhury.

Renowned writer and researcher Mohiuddin Ahmed says it is not sure how they planned it. However, from the night of March 25 to December 14, 1971, intellectuals, including teachers, journalists and artists, were killed in towns and villages across the country. But the sad truth is that it has not been delved into properly and there are many unanswered questions. Historian Muntasir Mamun said that the killing of intellectuals started before Jamaat-e-Islami’s student union was completely transformed into Al-Badar. However, after the formation of Al-Badar Army, the responsibility of killing intellectuals was specifically given to them. Al-Badar force (Bahini) picked many from their homes and killed them in micro housing in Dhaka.

Historians say the names of many dead and missing intellectuals were written in Rao Farman Ali’s diary, which was found in the then Governor’s House (now Banga Bhaban) in Dhaka. Mamun and Mohiuddin Ahmed jointly visited Pakistan and interviewed Rao Farman Ali in 1989. It is published in the book titled ‘Sey Sab Pakistani’.

Mamun says that Rao Farman Ali was involved in the murder of intellectuals directly or indirectly, which was subsequently proved in some documents. However, the entire military junta was involved. Mamun also believes that the then military commander of East Pakistan, Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, also had the blueprint.

He says that Niazi had instructed not to place any Bengali official in any post. All the top officials of the Pakistani Army were involved in the planning of killing of intellectuals.

The noted intellectuals killed include Prof Munir Chowdhury, Dr Alim Chowdhury, Professor Muniruzzaman, Dr Fazle Rabbi, Siraj Uddin Hossain, Shahidullah Kaiser, Prof GC Dev, Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurta, Prof Santosh Bhattacharya, Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, Prof Ghiyas Uddin, Prof Anwar Pasha, Prof Rashidul Hasan, Dr Abul Khair, Dr Murtaza, journalist Khandaker Abu Taher, Nizamuddin Ahmed, SA Mannan (Ladu Bhai), ANM Ghulam Mostafa, Syed Nazmul Haque, Selina Parveen.

Reporter: Sahidul Hasan Khokon

Edited by: Tirtho Banerjee

Interactive Producer: Raka Mukherjee

Interactive Developer: Vishal Rathour

Cover illustration: Vani Gupta

Photos: Sahidul Hasan Khokon,India Today Archives



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“I am an architect, animator and teacher working in architecture and design at __india__. This site is a great resource for anyone looking to get more updates from their home. Fill your home (heart) with more trending accessories from choosing the best colors for your mind room. NewsSalava.com will rob your heart .... Cool

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