Baromile Massacre during the Liberation War of Bangladesh
Baromile massacre was one of the brutal mass killings by the Pakistan Army at the onset of the liberation war of Bangladesh. On May 26, 1971, 17 (seventeen) innocent inhabitants of the two villages, Bidirpur and Sekherpara were brutally killed by the Pakistan Army without any reason. On that day, the air of the villages Bidirpur and Sekherpara became so heavy that it was very difficult to take the normal breath by the villagers. My 16 years old able-bodied and handsome elder brother ‘Bablu’ was one of the victims of the massacre. Their fault was only becoming ‘bangali’. This Bangladesh is the outcome of my brother’s red colored blood.
This is one of my pathetic memories related to the liberation war of Bangladesh, 1971. It is one of the unrevealed massacres during the liberation war of Bangladesh before of 46 years. 46 years are not few days; it is almost 5 decades. On that very day, I have lost my elder brother, my uncle and 15 close neighbors. Here I would like to narrate the tragic incident of that day. My father has passed almost five decades carrying the memory of the tragic death of his beloved eldest son. He was the silent witness to the incident.
We are so selfish that nobody remembers them; nobody recognized the contribution of those 17 families in that liberation war being the victim of a brutal massacre. Many of the innocent citizens of erstwhile East Pakistan have sacrificed their lives and we are enjoying the fruit. When we hear about people’s contribution in the liberation war, we become speechless. The water of Padma River has become colored with the red blood of those 17 people. I do not know how many lives were required or how many buckets of blood was required to become a true patriot.
Today there are lots of controversies, who was ‘freedom fighter’, who was ‘rajakar’ but nobody talks about our sacrifice who lost their near and dears to the occupying army. Freedom fighters are definitely the greatest sons of the soil, but the persons who lost their lives to the Pakistani Army were also the heroes of our motherland. Without their bloodiest sacrifice, this land would not be independent. So, their dedications must have been recognized. Those families must have been recognized truly as ‘Shaheed Family’ and they must be honored accordingly.
The last sentence uttered by my brother “dad, you have already gone without taking me with you” just driving our family for last 46 years. This was the sentence uttered by my elder brother (as per statement of the witness) after being arrested by the Pakistani Army and before his departure for the eternity. It is also driving my 90 years old father who could not save his dearest eldest son from the claws of the Pakistani barbarian.
In this article, I would like to narrate the fact of the brutal killing of 17 innocent villagers, torching about 100 houses and a number of rape cases by the Pakistani Military at the time of Bidirpur massacre during the liberation war of Bangladesh on May 26, 1971. I would like to write the incident from my own memory as an eye-witness and the information collected through the statements of the eye-witnesses of the day. This incident was never brought out in the limelight by anybody like many other incidents during the liberation war.
Location of the Massacre
Baromile is the place of the massacre narrated in this article. It is situated at the junction point of two villages Bidirpur and Shekherpara. The affected bridge was commonly known as ‘Baromile Bridge’. The inhabitants of both the villages were affected by the massacre. The mentioned villages are situated under Godagari upozila, and the district of Rajshahi. The place is at about 12 miles (18 kilometers) away from Rajshahi city at the western side and on the Rajshahi-Chapai Nawabgonj road. It takes about 1 hour to reach the place by bus from Rajshahi city and about 7 hours from Dhaka. At that time the village was attached to the main road which traveled from Rajshahi to Chapai Nawabgonj. Now it is a little bit away from the main road due to the construction of a bypass road. The villages are situated beside the river, Padma. Originally, the bridge was constructed in the year 1965; but it was a heavy bridge. (Here, we can see the bridge in the picture which has been reconstructed a few years back.)
The Pakistani Army marched up to Chapai Nawabganj through the village only a few days before the massacre on May 26, 2017. After that, they would frequently travel through that road as per their routine work. Since it was the beginning of the liberation war, the people did not understand any things regarding the torture of the brutal Pakistani Army.
Background of the Massacre
It was about 3 am of the night of May 26, 1971. There was a monstrous sound and all of us were awaken from the sleep. It was an unusual sound nobody ever heard any sound like that. So everybody was fearful, awkward and amazed at the sound. Initially, people thought that the Pakistani Army might have attacked the village and they made the sound by firing their heavy weapons.
But after some time, everybody could understand that it was a different scenario. The freedom fighters detonated few bombs near the Baromile bridge beside our home with an intention to destroy the bridge to stop the movement of the Pakistani Army from Rajshahi to Chapai Nawabgonj. But they could not destroy the bridge successfully rather the bridge was damaged to some extent.
Different Occurrences on the Day of Massacre
Within few minutes of the sound, many people could come to know the reason behind the sound. Since it was just the time of inception of the liberation war, the freedom fighters were not that much efficient in their guerilla operation. As such they could not destroy the bridge rather it was merely damaged. Only the side walls of the bridge were fallen apart, but nothing happened with the main structure of the bridge including the road running over it. So the communication was not disrupted totally.
In the morning of the May 26, 1971 many curious people were gathered beside the damaged bridge. All of them were very much anxious about the situation. They were thinking about the prospective reaction of the Pakistani military as a result of the incident. Since the bridge was not destroyed fully and communication was not disrupted, so the people thought that nothing would happen to them. The village leaders decided to place a signboard writing ‘Damaged Bridge’ beside the bridge as a cautionary measure. They were so innocent that they decided to report the incident to the Pakistani Military. The matter was informed to the nearest Militia Camp at Mohishalbari at a distance of 7km from the place of the incident.
Within an hour, at about 9 am, one van of Militia (irregular Pakistani force) arrived at the spot. After coming to the scene, they arrested about 100 people of that area and gathered them beside the damaged bridge. They set fire to an abandoned house near the bridge as nobody was in the house. At around 10 am, another group of Pakistani regular Army arrived at the scene from Rajshahi city. They ordered the arrested people to stand in a queue with an intention to shot them to death. My father, my elder brother and my uncle were also in the queue along with other neighbors. It was really a pathetic scene. The people were in the queue, the gun was ready and pointed towards them and the soldiers were waiting for the last word of command from their officer. We can imagine the mental conditions of the people standing in the queue and waiting for their last breath. Everybody in the queue was calling the name of the almighty thinking that it was the last moment in their life. One of the village leader (he knew Urdu a little bit) was trying to conveyance the military forces not to open fire on the innocent people. At that time, the Chairman of the Union Council also tried to conveyance the military soldiers not to kill the innocent inhabitants. But they did not listen to anybody’s request.
However, what happened only the almighty knows. Within few minutes, a senior army officer arrived at the spot, listened to the words of the innocent people and ordered the soldiers not to open fire on them. He forgave the people for that time with a commitment to watch the bridge every day and night so that the freedom fighter could not damage/destroy it anymore. He also ordered the people to bring spade and basket for repairing the damaged bridge. All of them were forced to be engaged in the repair work. After completion of the repair work, they released most of the people; took 06 (six) inhabitants of the area with them who were arrested in the morning for an unknown reason. All of the released people left the place thinking that nothing more would happen.
When one group of soldiers were busy with handling the people beside the bridge, other hundreds of soldiers were busy in torching the houses of the poor villagers in that area, looting the properties of the villagers and raping the innocent ladies of the villages. They were targeting the young ladies and raped them indiscriminately. One eyewitness said that two soldiers were running behind to arrest him. Suddenly, they stopped running seeing two ladies hiding in a cave beside a bush. They approached the ladies and raped them. In another incident, a lady was caught by the barbarians while coming out from her home. The lady was taken inside the home and raped by a Pakistani Army. Afterwards, she was found crying in a torn dress. On that day many rape cases were reported through different sources, but the actual number could not be ascertained as most of the ladies victim did not tell it to anybody due to shame. They military torched about 100 houses to ashes.
Meanwhile, they also killed a sick person named Md Abdul Khaleque of the village Sekherpara on the spot. He was injured a few days back while climbing a tree. His hip joint was broken; so he could not move anywhere. The Pakistani Armies were so cruel that they just killed him by the stabs of the bayonet of their rifles (as per statement of the eyewitness). They suspected him a member of ‘freedom fighter’ and alleged that he was involved in the bridge destruction operation along with the freedom fighters and thereby got hurt. During my long military career, whenever I have touched the bayonet of the rifle, the face of Mr. Khaleque would come in front of me, and I would become nostalgic.
Being released from the custody of Pakistani Army after completion of the repair work of the bridge, the villagers went away towards their home. All houses of the village were burning at that time. My father and brother after coming back from the bridge area saw that our house was burning. All items of the house were burning into ashes but they had nothing to do other than lamenting as the fire was spread throughout whole premises of the house. We had a big store full of paddy, which was burning at that time. My father told my brother to bring water from the tube well and to throw it over the fire.
My young and energetic brother entered the burning house and brought out one chair and one small table. Those two pieces of furniture were the only assets we inherited from our old home of the erstwhile East Pakistani. Our all other assets were burnt into ashes. My mother along with my brothers and sisters could come out of the house in a single cloth in the morning. They had no communication with my father and brother. My father also did not know where the family members were. They could realize that they had run away from the place.
Meanwhile, my father observed that our two cows were running here and there as they were free. My father along with my brother caught the cows and tried to tie them with a bamboo. Then my father heard a sound of arriving a military van nearby and observed that a Pakistani soldier was rushing towards them. My father became frightened and ran away from the place. My father informed Bablu hurriedly about the presence of the soldier on the spot and told to run away. But my brother could not listen and follow it. The soldier caught my brother all on a sudden. At that time my brother felt disheartened and shouted: ” dad, you have already gone without taking me with you.” And that was the last tragic sentence heard from my brother’s voice. A lady heard the sound from a hiding place and narrated in front of us later on as an eyewitness.
At that time 10 inhabitants of the village were arrested and taken to a place of unknown. In the morning they arrested 6 people and took them along with them. So total 16 people were arrested from the two villages and taken to their camp at Godagai (thana headquarters). The names, ages, profession, and addresses of the victims are as follows:
Md. Gias Uddin Ahmed (40) – School teacher-Bidirpur
Md. Nasim Uddin (58) – Retired- Bidirpur
Md. Ustor Ali (60) – Businessman- Bidirpur
Md. Abdul Jalil Mondol (45) – Farmer – Bidirpur
Md. Moslem Uddin (40) – Farmer – Bidirpur
Md. Nokim Uddin (45) – Farmer – Bidirpur
Md. Abdul Jalil (35) – Farmer – Sekherpara
Md. Hamez Uddin (45) – Farmer – Sekherpara
Md. Abdul Khaleque (40) – Farmer – Sekherpara (killed on the spot)
Md. Murshed Ali (18) – Student – Bidirpur
Md. Amirul Islam Bablu (16)– Student – Sekherpara
Md. Khalilur Rahman (35) – Farmer – Bidirpur
Md. Jashim Uddin (40) – Farmer – Sekherpara
Md. Nurul Huda (30) – Farmer – Sekherpara
Md. San Mohammad (35) – Farmer – Sekherpara
Md. Ersad Ali (25) – Farmer – Sekherpara
Md. Monsur Ali (25) – Farmer – Bidirpur
Price of our sacrifice
A monument has been constructed in front of the Bidirpur Primary School in the names of the martyrs of the Baromile massacre but that is not maintained properly. The local youths have tried to establish a library named “Shaheed Smriti Pathagar” in the memory of the martyrs of Baromile massacre but it has not yet come to reality. There is lack of initiative and effort. The government can provide adequate funds to establish a proper library in the name of those shaheeds. Some of the families of the martyrs of the Baromile massacre have been passing a hard time in absence of the head of the family. The government should recognize the families of the martyrs as ‘Shaheed family’ and provide necessary assistance for their unique sacrifice for the liberation of Bangladesh.
There are many controversies regarding the death tolls of innocent people of Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) during the nine months of liberation war. We are so ill fate people that we never valued those greatest sons of the soil who sacrificed their lives for the independence of this holy land. Even we have no real statistics of those people who lost their lives during the liberation war.
But it is not a difficult task if the intention is honest. Like the ‘freedom fighters’, there should be a database in the country who sacrificed their lives and who all were raped by the Pakistani military. These families should also be valued for their extraordinary contribution to the liberation war.
Baromile massacre is one of the examples of the brutality of the Pakistani Military during the liberation war of Bangladesh. The freedom fighters were engaged in fighting against them in the different fronts in Bangladesh. But many people had to sacrifice their lives and many women had to lose their sanctity to the occupied Pakistani Army. All these personnel and their families had a great contribution to the liberation war of Bangladesh.
During Baromile massacre, 17 (seventeen) ill-fated innocent people were killed brutally by the Pakistani Army without any reason. Their identity as Bangali was their only fault. Many women were reported to be raped. About 100 houses were burnt into ashes and later on bull-dozed by them.
Let us have a real statistics about the people who lost their lives during the nine month’s bloody liberation war. We should also value those families as ‘Shaheed Family’ to recognize their contribution to the liberation war. Only then those souls can remain in peace.
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