Category Archives: Eyewitness accounts

War Crimes File – A Documentary BY Twenty Twenty Television

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin’s role in Bangladesh Genocide:

In March 1971, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a journalist at the Daily Purbodesh, was an active member of the Islami Chaatra Sangha (ICS) – the student wing of the Jammat-I-Islami which actively opposed Bangladesh liberation war and aided the Pakistani military.

In August 1971, the Jamaat-e-Islami, according to its own newspaper the Daily Sangram, set up the Al-Badr Squad comprising members of the ICS to violently combat the forces supporting Bangladesh’s liberation. Mueen-Uddin became a member of the Al-Badr.

Newspaper reports immediately after the intellectual killings in December 14, 1971 naming Mueen-Uddin as the prime suspect based on confessions by captured Al-Badr leaders.


In 1995, in a Channel 4 documentary, researchers presented a series of evidence and eyewitnesses that directly implicated Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin as the leader of the gang in at least two disappearances and killings, and one attempted disappearance. A documentary titled War Crimes File, directed by Howard Bradburn and produced by Gita Sehgal for Twenty Twenty Television broadcast as part of the Dispatches Series by Channel 4 was aired on 3 May 1995—recording eye witness accounts of Mueen-Uddin’s involvement in disappearances of journalists and other intellectuals in December 1971. David Bergman was the main researcher and reporter. [Webmaster’s note: The information was corrected as per an online news-portal’s  report]

The Video:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

From TORMENTING SEVENTY ONE, An account of Pakistan army’s atrocities during Bangladesh liberation war of 1971:

It (the documentary War Crimes File) created much sensation in London after it was showed in Channel Four of BBC. Elaborating the target of making the documentary, one of its makers and chief researcher David Bergman said the conscious world, including the European community raised their voice against the mass killings and war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia’s Bosnia. A strong demand was raised that the war
criminals have to be punished. At that time he came to know that three war criminals of Bangladesh are residing in London in disguise. They also became leaders of the Bengalee community there. They are involved with various fundamentalist and communal groups. They made the film to unmask the war criminals and bring them to book.

The British government took steps for investigation into the three war criminals after the Bangalee community in UK as well as the human rights organisations there raised their voice for punishment of the trio. The British government also sought cooperation from the Bangladesh government. The then BNP government didn’t take any step in this regard. However, the Awami League government assured the UK of
cooperating with them. The government on its own also filed an allegation with Ramna police station in Dhaka (case no 115, date 24.9.1997).
We came to know it was buried after some interrogation and brief investigation. Fiona Mckay, a lawyer who runs a human rights organisation in London, said she thought though the British government is very enthusiastic, Bangladesh government is not so keen. She informed that senior officials of Scotland Yard Rees, Detective Chief Superintendent and Walton, Detective Inspector were appointed to investigate it.

Despite the interest of the British government and its people about the trial of Bangladesh’s war criminal, reluctance of Bangladesh government is a great shame for the nation.

Rape of Bengal: Humanity’s Darkest Hour

Photo: Potrait of Ahmed Makhdoon, a staunch Sindiyat nationalist, written on his mind, inscribed in his heart and injected into his soul

Photo: Potrait of Ahmed Makhdoon, a staunch Sindiyat nationalist, written on his mind, inscribed in his heart and injected into his soul


ساٸين سسداٸين ڪرين مٿي سنڌ سڪار؍ دوست مٺا دلدار؍ عالم سڀ آباد ڪزين شاھ

ON 16TH December 1971 one of the most horrifying and horrendous, shameful and scandalous, disgraceful and dishonourable, ignominious and infamous act of cowardice and inhumanity came to an end after nine month long saga of chaos, genocide, arson and rape. It is on this day that the barbaric, savage and brutal Pakistan army – about 96,000 animals in uniform – surrendered in Dhaka to the Indian army. The preceding nine months of horror, tyranny and terror will go down in the history of mankind, without any doubt as its darkest hour.

And, I saw with my sinful eyes the rape of the daughters of Bengal and the massacre of the millions of innocent sons of Bengal take place right in my own front yard. And, I lived to tell the world what I saw!

Saturday, 7th November 2009, I was in London, where I attended a gathering – organised by Liberation Group at Irish Cultural Centre – gathering of the tortured, troubled, truncated, tormented and terrorised nations of the world–being brutally bludgeoned by the tyrants of the day. As a humble son of Jeejal Sindhrree, I was there, together with my evergreen warrior sister, Suraiya, and a young, proud dedicated Sindhi with a Sindhi cap, Saaeen Aachar Bozdar.

There were Palestinians, Iraqis, Kurds from Iraq and Turkey, Polisario from Morocco and Bengalees from Bangladesh. We were thoroughly entertained by a remarkable group of Turkish Kurds – with their traditional music and songs. There were speeches too by various nations screaming, sacrificing, striving, struggling g for freedom and human rights.

I, too, had an opportunity to present the case of my brutalised motherland, and fatherland, Sindh, savaged by the vultures, wolves and werewolves of the erstwhile, godless, gutless, senseless country known as Pakistan.

Although not much of a singer, I was so much impressed and inspired by an Irish gentleman and a young Kurdish girl and the lilting melodies of Turkish music band, that I had to come on the floor and dance and sing too in my course voice – I sang a song of Sindh, in sweet language of my motherland, “Peirein pawandee saan, chawandee saan, rahee vancju raat Bhambhore mein.”

پيرين پوندي سان؍ چوندي سان؍ رھي وڃ رات ڀنڀور ۾؍

This prompted a middle-aged handsome Bengalee brother to come forward and embrace and hug me. He told me about Bangladesh and asked me where I was at the time Bengalees got their independence. Here is what I told him……

1964 – I joined Juldia Maritime Academy, Chittagong, on a two-year Maritime Studies Course. We were three Sindhis at that time – from 2nd and 3rd Batches of the Academy: Saaeen Altaf Shaikh, who later became a Chief Engineer and a well-known Sindhi travelogue writer, Saaeen Bashir Vistro, my ggothaaee ڳوٺاٸي (from nearby village in Sindh, where I spent my childhood), who later on became a Master Mariner and a senior officer in the Shipping Company in Karachi, and myself.

We had Bengali friends who used to regularly take us to their homes in Dacca, Chittagong, and elsewhere in the then East Pakistan and introduce us to their folks. We had a special relationship with these cultured, artistic-minded, literate, highly sober, astute and loveable Bengalis. In return, we Sindhis were adored, respected and pampered with love and gifts and treated as members of their families.

One of my best friend was a Bengali from Dacca, Nurul Amin. They were seven brothers and had a little sister whom they used to call “Champa,” a sweet, cherubic, angel-faced girl of twelve, with pony tails and a flower in her hair. What a talented little angel she was! She used to play piano – a must item in almost every Bengali’s home – and used to sing with such a sweet and graceful voice that we used to sit transfixed and mesmerised as we heard her play the rhythmic tones of piano and sing.

There was one particular song that I loved to listen over and over again, and she used to always oblige me and my constant demands (farmaaish) and requests. The song was:

“Shaat bhaaee champa, jago rei jago rei; ghuum ghuum thaakei na ghuumei ree ghorei…..”
شات ڀاٸي چمپا جاگو ري؍ جاگو ري؍ گھوم گھوم ٿاڪي نا گھومي ري ھوري؍

This song was about seven brothers and their little sister (just like her own family). Till this day I have not forgotten that cherubic pony-tailed face, and that golden voice and the sweet melodies of her song, “Shaat bahee champa….”

1971 – I was a young Navigating Officer on board a ship and we were in Chittagong, the premier port of the then East Pakistan, loading Jute for Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Suddenly, we heard the guns screaming all over the ship. My wonderful friend, a Bengali, Second Officer, and the Bengali crew were massacred by the brutal, cowards and animals in uniform of the Pakistani Punjabi Army. I survived as I hid myself for four days – without any food, without any water – in the Fore Peak store of the ship.

Bangladesh was born as I came out of my sanctuary. My Bengalee brethren helped me, fed me, took care of me and showered love, affections and kindness over me. They paid for my Air Passage to Singapore, where I was to start a new life, a new beginning, a new chapter in the not-so-long history of my life, far, far away from my motherland, my fatherland, Sindh.

Singapore became my homeland for over forty years since then – and my friends the Bengalees constructed a beautiful home, cottages, palaces in my heart, mind and soul, which I would cherish for as long as I live.

Back to 1971 – what I saw in Chittagong had left deep wounds on my heart and soul – wounds inflicted by the rapists, murderers, barbarian Pakistani soldiers, as I saw streets reddened by the blood of innocent Bengalees, young girls raped and brutally cut into pieces, infants snatched from the arms of their mothers and banged viciously in cold blood against the walls and tree trunks till only the tiny feet were left in the pitiless, merciless. Filthy hands of the barbarians and savages in uniform. The young mothers were than brutally gang-raped and subsequently dismembered, tortured and bludgeoned to death. What I saw was much, much and much more – even the animals will not do the same to their pray – I do not have any words to describe the way children, men and women were lynched by these barbarous, sadistic savages as they shouted, “Allah-o-Akbar.”

I went to Dacca to meet my dear friend, Nurul Amin, and his family and especially to hear the song of Shaat Bhaaee Champa. What I heard and saw made me to scream at my Creator, “Why, Oh Lord, Why?” My dear friend was savagely murdered by the coward Pakistan Army and my sweet dear little twelve-year Champa was gang-raped by these animals, and was grabbed by these barbarians from her tiny legs and continuously hit on the walls of the house, till there were nothing but pieces of her flash and bones and blood all over.

Bengalees were now free – freedom that came at a great expense and tremendous sacrifices – free to take destiny in their own hands. JOEI BANGLA – amee tomakei bhalo bhashee.

جوٸي بنگلا؍ امي توماڪي ڀالو ڀاشي؍

I love you my brave, valiant brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Bangladesh!. We Sindhis had loved you and will always love you, my dear Bengalees. Long Live Bangladesh! Long Live Sindh!

And, Murshid Saaeen Bhittai says:

جي مون گھر اچين سپرين٫ ھوڏَ ڇڏي ھيڏي٫ ڳالھيون ڳجھ اندر جيون٫ تنِ گھريون تو ڏي٫ جي وھين گڏ گوڏي٫ تَ دونر سڻاياٸن دل جا ………(سر بروو ۱؍۱۸)

Jei muun ghari acheen supreen, hodda chhaddei heiddei, Ggaalhiyuun ggujha andara jyuun, tani ghuriyuun to ddei, Jei wiheen gaddu goddei, ta donra sunnaayaeen dil jaa. (Barwo:1/18) Supposing, Beloved! Thou cometh hither, Leaving Thy Vanity far, far away yonder; Fabulous anecdotes aplenty hidden within, Lifting the veil surely with Thee whisper; Supposing, Beloved! Thou knelth together, Carols within heart, chant for Thine pleasure.

……… Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom

First published in Ahmed Makhdoom’s Facebook, December 17, 2009

Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom, Professor, Oceanographic Sciences and Maritime Studies, Singapore, Malaysia

Via: Bangladesh Watchdog

A Tribute to My Father – Dr. Peter D’Costa, B.H.

By Jerome D’Costa

Photo Courtesy: Studio ‘H’ (Nawabpur, Dhaka)

My father, Dr. Peter D’Costa, B.H. (Bachelor of Homeopathy), also known as ‘P. D’Costa Sir’ to the students of St. Gregory’s High School in Dhaka, was born at Rangamatia Village of the then Dhaka District (now Gazipur District) on January 5, 1904.

After passing Class (Grade) 3 from Kaliganj Pilot School, Dt. Dhaka, he was semt to study at St. Anthony’s High School in Calcutta. After the Entrance Examinations, he taught at the same school and studied Homeopathy at night at the Dunham College of Homeopathy, Calcutta. After four years, he received his B.H. degree and was awarded the ‘Ratimanjari Dassi Memorial Medal’ for scholastic achievement.

After one year of independence of Pakistan, he returned to his village and practised homeopathy medicines. As the financial condition of the newly-independent country was not strong, he could not do well financially in his practice. In 1951, he left for Dhaka and joined St. Gregory’s High School (English Medium) as a teacher in the primary section. In 1968, he retired from teaching after suffering a stroke.

He was spending his retired life in the village when on November 26, 1971, the West Pakistani armed forces attacked the village and killed 14 persons including him and burnt down about 90% of the houses.

When we received the news that the military started wading thigh-deep water in the beel (marsh) to come to attack the village, men sent their womenfolk and children away to another village on the other side of the small canal. We did the same with my mother Agnes D’Costa, a teacher of Rangamatia Catholic Primary School, and my adopted sister.

In the weekend I had come from work with the Pratibeshi weekly in Dhaka and could not return due to military and mukti bahini (freedom forces) confrontations in different places, including Kaliganj). So on this Friday, November 26, with fright, my father and I were watching the fires at the far end of the village in the west as well as hearing wheezing bullet sounds over the trees. I tried to coax my father, who could walk with some difficulty with the help of a cane, to go with me as far away as possible, but he refused and said: “If they see me old and sick and still kill me, let them do so. I would rather die at home than in the fields and jungles.”

When the bullet sounds became louder, I asked my father to go away with me and again he refused. Then I said that “I have to leave because if they find a young person, they would capture or kill him instantly.” He told me to leave immediately. I touched his hand for the last time and left home and ran towards the other village in the north. As I neared the canal, one bullet wheezed past a few inches by me and struck one of the bamboo trees and divided it in the middle. It scared the hell out of me and I shouted: “Jesus, save me!” and jumped over a cane bush and fell into the canal. I waded knee-deep water and climbed over the side of the canal and reached the other side.

Behind the houses in the field I find about three hundred villagers — men, women and children — huddled on the ground. My future wife and members of her family were also there. A few minutes later, we see two muktijuddas (freedom fighters) running past us away to the east. I shouted and asked them whether they had fired at the soldiers. When they said “yes”, my common sense told me that the soldiers would definitely come to the other side of the canal and search for the freedom fighters.

I told my future father-in-law, Joachim Costa, a teacher of St. Joseph’s High School in Dhaka, that the army would definitely come and, if they find us, would finish us all. He told me to take my engaged finance, her mother and others and walk further up towards the east. As we started to move, others also followed us. We first went to the villages of Deolia and Baktarpur and then finally, just before evening, reached Kapashia village, about three miles north-east. It was a Muslim village where we never set foot in our life. They received us with such care and empathy that we immediately felt at home. They immediately began to offer us water and muri (puffed rice) followed by emptying of some of their rooms for our stay! We will never forget this sacrificing hospitality.

Those who did not move from near the canal, that we left earlier, were ultimately killed by the army.

Please read the rest of the article here.

Pakistani Army Desecrated Churches in 1971

They even desecrated the church

They even desecrated the church

Jerome D’Costa

I had written the above report in early 1972 narrating the attack of the West Pakistani soldiers in late November of 1971 on our Rangamatia Village in the then Dhaka District (now Gazipur District). Fourteen persons, including my father Dr. Peter D’Costa, B.H., were killed on that day and about 90% of the houses of the village were set on fire and burnt down by the enemy.

Later they also returned and entered the Rangamatia Catholic church compound and desecrated and looted the Sacred Heart Church and pillaged the adjoining parish priest’s house and the nuns’ convent after breaking their locks.

During the deadly crackdown of March 25, 1971 night, the West Pakistani forces also fired indiscriminately in old Dhaka hitting St. Thomas Anglican Church’s belfry with a canon shell. The shell and bullet marks on the front wall were visible for sometime after that infamous day.

West Pakistani soldiers also had forcibly occupied a Protestant church at Akhaura in Brahmanbaria District and turned it into a war prison where captured Bangalis were tortured. Indian photojournalist Robin Sengupta, who covered the war between India and East Pakistan in December, 1971, gave a photo of that church in his April 2000 book (page 57) in Bengali Chitra-Shangbadiker Cameraye Muktijuddha (The Liberation War Through the Lens of a Photojournalist).

The Original Report on Attack on Rangamatia Village

Since the double-clicking of the above image does not give good enough enlarged version of the report for easy reading, I am reproducing below the report that had appeared in The Nation, the first English daily from the free soil of Bangladesh, dated February 4, 1972 (I took the liberty to add some commas, add meanings or explanations in the first bracket for easy understanding of present-day readers, and break a few longer paragraphs into shorter ones):

They Even Desecrated the Church
By Jerome D’Costa

It was black Friday, November 26, 1971. On that fateful day, the blood-thirsty army men of General Yahya had let loose a reign of terror in the village of Rangamatia, three miles north-west of Kaliganj in the district of Dacca [now written as ‘Dhaka’].

The killers of the Bengalees [Bangalis] reached Doripara, which was between Arikhola and Pubail railway stations, where earlier the railway line was destroyed by the Mukti Bahini [freedom fighters] in cooperation with the villagers, and began to barrage the village of Rangamatia with rifle and submachine gun shots in order to make further advance.

When the army men began to wade the beel [marsh] through knee-deep water, a few Mukti Bahini boys, who were guarding the village, fired at them and wounded three invaders. As the fighting young men were outnumbered by the invaders, they could not defend the village as was expected earlier. The hordes of Yahya entered the village with all the fury and set fire to the whole Christian village and machine-gunned fourteen villagers of all ages.

Rev. Father Houser, C.S.C., an American priest residing in the Mission, along with the Sisters from the convent had to take refuge in a paddy field in order to save themselves from the gruesome barbarity of the Pak forces.

Later the aggressors pitched a camp near the damaged railway bridge [half-a-mile away]. When the priest used to go to visit his people in the far-flung villages, where they had fled earlier, the army men would come to the church compound and loot the valuables. They broke open the priest’s house and took away everything worthwhile and made a mess of the church records and files. For safety’s sake earlier, many Christians had kept their valuables in the priest’s house. All of them had been stolen.

They forcibly opened the church door and broke the tabernacle on the altar, which is considered most holy by the Christians, and took away all the holy articles used in the religious ceremonies. One large statue of Christ, which was kept above the altar, was thrown down from there and broken into pieces. They also looted the nuns’ convent.

This way, the homiciders gave vent to their anger which was caused by the heroic Mukti Bahini, when a few days ago, they had killed 30 Pakistani soldiers and gained control of and flew Bangladesh flag on Kaliganj. The army tried in various ways to recapture this vital place but failed. They even used a tank to crush our valiant young men but could not succeed. As a last resort, they airraided Kaliganj, heinously attacked Rangamatia and regained control of the area after much effort.

The brave and ever hopeful people, who lost their houses and some members of their families, did not despair at all. Their will power had hardened like steel and they were ready to make any sacrifice for the independence of Bangladesh which came into reality a few days later [on December 16, 1971].

An eye witness to surrender – Mazher Saeed, Pakistani naval officer

Mazher saeed, a Pakistani naval officer on merchant ship “Karnaphuli” expressed his feelings and accounts on 71 war:

“I am an honorary naval officer recruited in the mid of august by an scheme of navy to recruit the officers and seamans. Because most of the naval crew left the merchant and naval vessels due to being Bengalis as it was an operation going on in East Pakistan.

After the training me and some of my batch mates signed on the merchant ship “Karnaphuli” whose main task is to supply arms and ammunition to East Pakistan forces from West Pakistan. We were determined to perform our duties against the rebels who were fighting against Pakistan sovereignty. As it was commonly being said on those days that Bengalis are gaddars etc. etc.

In mid of October our ship was ready to sail across the Indian ocean for the supply of ammunition and food for army. And we were successful in doing that and return to Karachi with out any difficulties. In a period of a month we are given another task to again supply the arms from west to East Pakistan but this time it was really a hard job for us to sail safely across Indian ocean. There was rumors and news all around that hostilities with India is about to commence. So we were given strict orders to sail as far as from Indian coast to avoid detection. Our ship safely reached the Chittagong port on 9 December and unloaded the ammunition quickly and in a carefull manner but due to intense air raids from Indian air force we failed to unload some assets. Then we went back to sea to avoid attack from air. This thing continued till 12 Dec when our ship was again back to port to unload our cargo suddenly two IAF planes approached from the heights of sky and fired two missiles on our ship. One of those missiles exploded in our engine room entering from the top deck and in a few minutes our captain gave us the orders to quit the ship and ran for the safety of there lives.

After the sinking of “Karnaphuli” the whole crew of the ship decided to fight along with the army to save motherland from Indian aggression. We got some ammunition and our orders was to join the company fighting outside the city. When we enter in the city it was shocking for all of us. We didn’t believe on our eyes that what has suddenly happened to all the city. A total destruction of humanity and Islamic values were going on. Our army was busy in fighting with the common people. The mentally of soldiers and there morale was completely destroyed. The company major told us that its all happened by the orders of our “great leaders” we did not get a chance to fight with Indians but we got a chance to see the destruction in East Pakistan.”

Afterwards Eastern Command surrendered and we all become POWs. In the Jail i asked the question of That mass killings of people we saw in the cities and villages to the army officers and soldiers and then they told us that by the orders of some Generals the authority was given to officers to shoot any one they sight and do any thing they want to suppress these Benglais. And those officers who are present in the city and villages were responsible for these whole picture.

We also witnessed that the soldiers and officers who should prefer suicide then doing all these things in the end surrendering to Indian army. After 2 years of imprisonment we were finally released from Indian jails and reached our homes. We were all completely mentally disturbed and ashamed for what we see in this ruthless and brutal war against our brothers and sisters.

After some days news were came that about 3 million peoples were killed and 200,000 women were raped by the army in the Eastern Theater. In the end I just want to say to my Bengali brothers that mass killings and raping of women were surly done by some officers and soldiers from the orders of their superiors to do what ever they want to suppress the uprising “but not in such numbers”.

Islam teaches us that the sin to kill one human is equal to kill thousand and also the sin to rape a women also regarded in such manner and such people should be killed in front of a people by crushing their evil heads. But we should also not forget that some officers and soldiers did not perform these ruthless things and they would prefer suicide instead to perform such things and to face surrender. Allah will surely not forgive those who did these unislamic things whether it was Pakistan army or the freedom fighters.”

Retrieved from here

উত্তাপ থেকে বেরিয়ে আসা সত্যবক্তা

এন্থনি মাসকারেনহাস
দি টাইমস, ১৩ই জুন, ১৯৭১(?)

অনুবাদ: ফাহমিদুল হক

এন্থনি মাসকারেনহাসকে গ্রানাডা টেলিভিশন (পত্রিকাগুলো এনামেই ডাকে) গত সপ্তাহে সাহসী সাংবাদিকতার জন্য বিশেষ পুরস্কার প্রদান করেছে। করাচির একটি পত্রিকার সহকারী সম্পাদক এবং সানডে টাইমসের প্রতিনিধি মাসকারেনহাস পাকিস্তানের গৃহযুদ্ধ সম্পর্কে রিপোর্ট লিখেছেন। তিনি জানতেন তিনি যা দেখেছিলেন তা তার দেশে ছাপানোর অনুমতি পাওয়া যাবে না। তিনি ইংল্যান্ড থেকে পালিয়ে আসেন এবং সানডে টাইমসে যে রিপোর্ট লেখেন, তা পূর্ব পাকস্তানে কী হচ্ছে সে-সম্পর্কে বিশ্ববাসীর ধারণা পাল্টে দেয়।

স্থান: কুমিল্লা সার্কিট হাউস, পূর্ব পাকিস্তান।
তারিখ: এপ্রিল ১৯, ১৯৭১।
সময়: সন্ধ্যা ৬.১৮।

এটা হলো সেই মুহূর্ত যা আমার জীবন পরিবর্তন করে দিল। কারফিউ ছয়টার সময়ে শেষ হয়েছে। কয়েক মিনিট আগে আমি সেবাস্টিয়ান এবং তার চারজন সহযোগীকে রাস্তা দিয়ে স্থানীয় সামরিক আইন প্রশাসক পাকিস্তানী সেনাবাহিনীর মেজর আগার অফিসে আসতে দেখলাম। পুলিশের একজন সাব-ইন্সপেক্টরের পেছনে তারা আসলো, তাদের হাত ও পা একটি দড়িতে আলগা করে বাঁধা। তাদের পরনে যে-ইউনিফর্ম পরা ছিল তা নতুন বলেই মনে হলো।

আমি সেই সাব-ইন্সপেক্টরকে স্মরণ করতে পারি। সে-সকালে মেজর আগার অফিসে নারিকেলের দুধ খেতে খেতে তিনি লক-আপে আটকে রাখা বন্দিদের তালিকা দেখালেন। তিনি তার গ্লাস পাশে সরিয়ে রাখলেন। এরপর চারটি নামের পাশে টিক চিহ্ন দিলেন। তিনি বললেন, “এই চারজনকে নিকেশ করার জন্য আনেন”। এরপর তিনি আবার তার তালিকার দিকে তাকালেন। আবার পেন্সিল দিয়ে খোঁচা দিলেন। “এবং এই চোরকে তাদের সঙ্গে আনেন”। আমাকে জানানো হলো ‘চোর’টি হলো সেবাস্টিয়ান নামের একজন যে তার হিন্দু বন্ধুর জিনিসপত্র নিজের বাড়িতে নিয়ে যাবার সময় ধরা পড়ে। এখন কারিফউয়ের পরে আমাকে জানতে হলো নিকেশ করার অর্থ কী। হঠাৎ আমি মারধরের শব্দ শুনলাম এবং এরপর চিৎকার শুনলাম। আরও জোর-আঘাতের শব্দ এবং আরও বিকট চিৎকার শুনলাম। আমি ব্যালকনির শেষ প্রান্তে ছুটে গেলাম কী হচ্ছে তা দেখার জন্য। যখন আপনি দেখবেন মানুষ মৃত্যুর কোলে ঢলে পড়ছে, সেই দৃশ্য এবং সেই শব্দ আপনি আপনার স্মৃতি থেকে কোনোদিনই মুছতে পারবেন না।

আমি হতবাক হয়ে গিয়েছিলাম। আমি চিৎকার করতে চাইলাম কিন্তু কোনো শব্দ মুখ থেকে বেরুলো না। তার পরিবর্তে আমি আমার মাথা ও বুকে বিরাট ভার অনুভব করলাম। অসহায়ভাবে আমি চারিদিকে তাকালাম সাহায্যের জন্য। পূর্ব পাকিস্তানে পাকিস্তানী সেনাবাহিনী যে-গণহত্যা চালাচ্ছে, তার মুখোমুখি আমি এই প্রথম হলাম, তা নয়। কিন্তু এই প্রথম আমি এতো নিষ্ঠুর কিছু দেখলাম। আমি জানালার পাশের একটি নিচু চেয়ারে বসে পড়লাম এবং মানুষগুলোর চিৎকারের দৃশ্য আর দেখতে চাচ্ছিলাম না। এরপর বিষণ্ণভাবে দেখলাম লেক পার হয়ে অনেকগুলো বাদুড় আমার জানালার দিকে আসছে। তাদের দেখতে ভ্যাম্পায়ারের মতো লাগছিল, কিন্তু তারা আসলে খাদ্যসন্ধানী ‘উড়ন্ত শৃগাল’। মনে পড়ে, আমি নিজেকে বললাম, “সত্যিকারের ভ্যাম্পায়াররা তো নিচের তলায়”।

আমি হিটলার সম্পর্কে যা কিছু পড়েছি, তার চাইতে ভয়াবহ কিছু প্রত্যক্ষ করলাম― এবং আমাদের নিজেদের মধ্যেই এসব ঘটছিল। আমি তখনই সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছিলাম আমার ভাগ্যে যাই ঘটুক না কেন, এই সত্য আমি সবাইকে জানাবো। কিন্তু আমি যা দেখলাম তা হলো, অন্য সৈন্যরা বন্দুক হাতে পুরো ঘটনাবলী দেখছিল এবং অন্যরা নিরবে রাতের খাবার তৈরি করছিল। আমি জানতাম কোনো আশাই কোথাও নেই। আমি হতাশ হয়ে ঘুরে দাঁড়ালাম এবং খালি ব্যালকনির অপর প্রান্তে আমার রুমে ফিরে আসলাম। আমি আমার জীবনের দীর্ঘতম রাতে জেগে জেগে ঠিক করালাম পরের দিন থেকে ঠাণ্ডা মাথায় কাজ করতে হবে, যতটুকু সম্ভব দেখতে ও শুনতে হবে এবং বিস্তারিতভাবে আমার নিজস্ব সাঁটলিপি পদ্ধতিতে লিখে রাখতে হবে যাতে কেউ তা বুঝতে না পারে। এভাবে আমি হাজীগঞ্জের হত্যা ও পোড়ানোর দৃশ্য ও কোনো মানুষকে খুঁজে না পাওয়া, অফিসার্স মেসে ‘টপ স্কোর’-এর প্রতিযোগিতা, এবং ১৬ ডিভিশন হেডকোয়ার্টারে লক্ষ্যের প্রকারভেদ সম্পর্কে আমাকে দেয়া সংজ্ঞা প্রভৃতি জিনিস লিপিবিদ্ধ করি।

আমি করাচিতে ২৫ এপ্রিল এসব নোট নিয়ে ফিরে যাই এবং বাড়ি পৌঁছি ভোর সাড়ে তিনটায়। সেদিন ছিল আমার স্ত্রীর জন্মদিন। সে তার কানের দুলের জন্য গোলাপী মুক্তো চেয়েছিল, কিন্তু আমি তার জন্য সে-উপহার না নিয়ে একটি সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়ে ফিরলাম যা ছিল আমার পরিবারের জন্য বিরাট পরিবর্তনের একটা ব্যাপার। যতক্ষণ না পাচকটি এসে ব্রেকফাস্ট তৈরি করল, স্ত্রী ইভন ও বড়ো দুই ছেলে অ্যালান ও কিথের সঙ্গে আলোচনা করলাম। আমি তাদের বললাম আমি কী দেখেছি এবং কী করার সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছি। ইভন হতবিহ্বল হয়ে পড়লো। এই সিদ্ধান্তের ফল কী হবে তা তার চাইতে আর কেইবা ভালো বুঝবে। এর ফলে আমাদের সবকিছু পরিত্যাগ করতে হবে, কারণ সামরিক শাসনের পরিস্থিতিতে আমরা কোনো সুযোগই পাবো না। এর অর্থ আমাদের মাথার ওপরের ছাদ, আয়, অর্জিত সম্পদ, সঞ্চয় দ্বারা ক্রয়কৃত বাড়ি করার জন্য জমি― কিছুই থাকবে না। একসময় কিথ বলল, “অবশ্যই আমরা তোমার সঙ্গে যাবো। তুমি অবশ্যই সবকিছু লিখবে”।

তারা সবাই আমার দিকে তাকালো, সম্ভবত প্রথমবারের মতো আমার চোখে গভীর একাকীত্ব তারা দেখতে পেল। আমরা একসঙ্গে কেঁদে উঠলাম, পরস্পরকে শক্ত করে জড়িয়ে ধরলাম। এটা ছিল সামনের ভয়াবহ দিনগুলোর ও পরবর্তী মাসগুলোতে লন্ডনে নতুন জীবন শুরু করার পারস্পরিক আশ্বাস। আমাদের গোপন সিদ্ধান্তের কথা অন্য কেউ জানতো না। আমরা আমাদের আত্মীয় বা বন্ধুবান্ধব কাউকেই এর মধ্যে জড়াতে চাইনি, বলা যায়, এভাবে বিপদকে এড়াতেই চেয়েছি। আমি লন্ডনে যাবার সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছিলাম এটা দেখতে যে সানডে টাইমস সংবাদটি ছাপে কি না। অভিজ্ঞ সাংবাদিক হিসেবে আমার বিশ্বাস ছিল যে, একজন পৃথিবীর সেরা সংবাদকাহিনী নিয়ে ফ্লিট-স্ট্রিটের ভবনগুলোতে ঘুরে বেড়াচ্ছে কিন্তু ছাপানোর জন্য কাউকে খুঁজে পাচ্ছে না, তা হতে পারে না। এরপর আমি পত্রিকার জন্য লেখা শুরু করলাম।

সানডে টাইমসের আমার কথা শুনল, সবকিছু গ্রহণ করল এবং আমি থমসন হাউসে প্রবেশ করার চল্লিশ মিনিটের মধ্যেই আমি পাকিস্তানে গিয়ে স্ত্রী ও সন্তানদের নিয়ে আসার জন্য প্রস্তুত হলাম। সংবাদকাহিনীটি খুব অল্প সময়ের মধ্যেই গৃহীত হয় এবং সেখানে সাংবাদিকসুলভ সেই প্রবৃত্তি ও সততার পরিচয় পেয়ে এখন পর্যন্ত মুগ্ধ হয়ে রয়েছি।

পাকিস্তান থেকে বের হয়ে আসাটাই তখন বড়ো সমস্যা হয়ে দাঁড়াল। বহিরাগমণের অনুমতি নিতে হবে। যত নিরবে পারলাম, গুছিয়ে নিলাম। কারণ গোপনীয়তা রক্ষা করতেই হবে। সৌভাগ্যক্রমে আমি লন্ডন থেকে হোটেলের কিছু কাগজপত্র নিয়ে এসেছিলাম। আমি সেটা ব্যবহার করে তার ওপরে মিলান-প্রবাসী আমার স্ত্রীর একমাত্র ভাইয়ের (যিনি একজন বিখ্যাত ফ্যাশনডিজাইনার) পক্ষ থেকে তার বিয়েতে সপরিবারে যাবার আমন্ত্রণপত্র লিখলাম, তাতে তার ভাইয়ের সইও দিলাম। পুরো পরিবারের জন্য প্রয়োজনীয় ভ্রমণবিষয়ক কাগজপত্র সেই চিঠির মাধ্যমে পাওয়া গেল। বাইরে থেকে এইমাত্র ঘুরে আসার কারণে আমি সেই ‘বিবাহঅনুষ্ঠান’-এ যেতে অস্বীকৃতি জানালাম।

এরপর আমি সানডে টাইমসে একটি টেলিগ্রাম পাঠালাম: “রফতানির প্রক্রিয়া সমাপ্ত। সোমবারে শিপমেন্ট শুরু হচ্ছে”। সেমতে ৭ জুন, সোমবারে আমি আমার পরিবারকে রোমগামী প্যান-আমেরিকান ফ্লাইটে তুলে দিলাম এবং নিজে লাহোর ও রাওয়ালাপিন্ডিগামী অভ্যন্তরীণ ফ্লাইটে রওয়ানা দিলাম। আমি সেখান থেকে আফগানিস্তানের পেশওয়ার বা কাবুলগামী বিমান ধরার জন্য এই রুটের আশ্রয় নিলাম কারণ উভয় দেশের ঐ দু’টি করে স্থানে পাকিস্তানি ও আফগানদের জন্য যাওয়া-আসা উম্মুক্ত ছিল। এটা একটা দুঃস্বপ্নের যাত্রা ছিল। বিমানে তথ্য মন্ত্রণালয়ের দু’জন ঊর্ধ্বতন কর্মকর্তা ছিলেন যারা আমাকে ভালোভাবে চিনতেন। তারা যদি সামন্যতম সন্দেহও করতেন তবে আমি গ্রেফতার হতাম। আমি কোনোক্রমে তাদের সঙ্গে আলাপ করে গেলাম এবং প্রতিশ্র“তি দিলাম তাদের সঙ্গে পরের দিন লাঞ্চ করব। রাওয়ালাপিন্ডিতে গিয়ে দেখলাম পেশওয়ারের ফ্লাইট পুরোপুরি বুকড্ হয়ে গেছে। সে-পর্যায়ে আমি যদি ধরা পড়তাম তবে সব ভেস্তে যেত। ফিরে আসার কোনো উপায় ছিল না।

সুতরাং আমি ঠিক করেছিলাম আমাকে বলিষ্ঠভাবে চলাফেরা করতে হবে এবং সেখানে একজন আকর্ষণীয় পাঞ্জাবী তরুণী সাহায্য করেছিল। সে প্যাসেঞ্জার লাউঞ্জে বসে ছিল এবং আমাকে দেখছিল। একজন বিমান কর্মকর্তার হাতে একশ’ রুপির একটি নোট গুঁজে দিয়ে মেয়েটির দিকে ইশারা করে চোখ টিপে গোপনভঙ্গীতে বললাম, “আমার একটি সিট দরকার। আমি মেয়েটিকে সঙ্গে নিয়ে কিছু মজা করার জন্য কাবুলে যাচ্ছি।” এধরনের কাজ করা থেকে পৃথিবীর কেউই আমাকে আটকে রাখতে পারত না। আমি নিশ্চিত আর কোনো কায়দাই কাজে আসতো না। কর্মকর্তাটি আরেকজন লোককে চোরাচালানের সন্দেহে আটকে দিল এবং আমার জন্য একটি সিট যোগাড় করে দিল। আমার উষ্ণভাবে করমর্দন করলাম এবং পেশওয়ার ও কাবুল হয়ে সানডে টাইমসে আমার দেয়া সময় রক্ষা করতে রওয়ানা হলাম। যে-অচেনা মেয়েটি আমার জীবন রক্ষা করল তাকে ধন্যবাদ দেবার কোনো সুযোগ আমি পাই নি। সে আরেকজন মহিলার সঙ্গে সামনের দিকে বসেছিল। কিন্তু যখন আমরা আফগানিস্তানের উদ্দেশ্যে পাকিস্তানের সীমান্ত অতিক্রম করলাম তখন তার উদ্দেশ্যে মনে মনে শ্যাম্পেন দিয়ে উইশ করলাম।

Mass Graves of Intellectuals: An Eyewitness Account

Hamida Rahman, in her article “Katasurer Baddhabhumi” (The Mass Grave at Katasur), describes her visit to Rayer Bazar:

I soon came upon two huge bodies­­ the noses had been cut off, the ears too. It seemed as if someone had torn away pieces of flesh from near their mouths. Their hands and feet were tied. The corpses had lain there for two days because they hadn’t been identified. I cannot forget the distorted, mutilated faces of those two tall, fair men. Afterwards the people of that area buried the bodies where they lay.

A few steps ahead, at the foot of a mound of earth, lay a woman’s corpse. The woman’s eyes had been tied. The gamchha (towel) with which her eyes had been tied was still lying there. She was wearing a black Dhakai sari. On one foot she had on a sock. There was nothing left of her face. It seemed as if someone had torn and cut away the flesh so that she would not be recognized. The woman was fair and slightly plump. One breast had been cut off. The corpse was lying on its back. I could not stand the sight of that horrible, featureless face for very long. I could not recognize her. Afterwards she was identified as Selina Parveen, Editor of Shilalipi. When her relatives heard the news, they came in the evening and took her body away.

Proceeding a little farther, I came upon a skeleton with a little flesh still clinging to its legs and to its rib cage. Perhaps crows and vultures had eaten the flesh. The long hair attached to the skull, matted with dirt and mud, bore silent witness that this corpse had once been a woman.

Ahead of me l saw a group of people standing on a raised portion of land, looking down at something. As I reached them, one of them reached out a hand and pulled me up beside them. Looking down at the swamp in front, I saw a horrible sight. There weren’t just one or two corpses there; there were twelve or thirteen bodies of what had once been twelve or thirteen healthy, strapping men. They were lying there, one after the other. Next to this group of bodies lay the corpses of two men; the heart had been torn out from one of the bodies. This body was that of Dr. Rabbi.

On a nearby stack were the bodies of Yakub Ali, chairman of the Ramna Union, and Sirajuddin Hossain of the Ittefaq. Someone next to me said that Munier Chowdhury’s body had also been found here. Kabir Chowdhury had come in the morning and identified the body.

I was there for about an hour. I could not come away. One by one people kept on coming. Dr. Rabbi’s corpse seemed still fresh. His killers had torn away his heart. They knew that he was a cardiologist, that is why they had torn out his heart. His eyes had been tied, and he had fallen down. It seemed as if someone had pushed him into the ditch. The legs still seemed to belong to a living man. His face had been scratched and torn by the nails of his killers.

An eye doctor of the caliber of Dr. Aleem Chowdhury will not be produced in one day; a journalist and writer of the calibre of Shahidullah Kaiser will not be created in one day either. That such a brutal killing would be committed on the very day that we got our independence was something no one would ever have believed.

Field after field, mound after mound, marsh after marsh yielded corpse after corpse, silent witnesses to the countless numbers who had been brought here to be killed.