The largest genocide: Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971


Chuknagar: The largest genocide during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971


Genocide Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.




Chuknagar is a small business town located in the Dumuria Thana of Khulna district and very close to the India Bangladesh border. The communication today, between Khulna and Chuknagar, is also quite easy. But it was not as easy in 1971. Chuknagar being a low land most of the area was quite swampy. But despite such an unfriendly terrain, there was a route, along Satkhira road, which the refugees and people fleeing from the onslaught of Paki troop could take to go to Kolkata to take political shelter. In 71 thousands of refugees gathered in Chuknagar to go to Kolkata.





The Pakistani army started killing Bangalees from the dark night of the 25th March, 1970. The formation of Razakar and Peace Committee turned the massacre into a systematic genocide. Local collaborators and the Behari immigrants escorted the Paki occupation army to the remote areas of Bangladesh and killed virtually anybody supporting the liberation war.

There was no specific factor that could account for such a large gathering of people in Chuknagar on that fatal day (Thursday, 20th May, 1971). But it is possible to gather some facts from the accounts of some 200 eyewitnesses and interviewees of the oral history and liberation war at grassroots' level projects carried out by Profs Salauddin Ahmed and Muntasir Mamoon. Thousands of Hindu Bangalees refugees, victims of rape, murder and arsons of the local peace committee members, razakars, Al Badrs and Al Sams forces began in early April, gathered at Chuknagar to cross the border. The killing spree by the pro Chinese Communist party in the name of so-called class struggle (those marauders never killed any army or police officers) made the situation worse. Victims of leftist extremists also gathered at Chuknagar from the local areas, Batiaghata, Dakopa, and Sathkhira to cross the border. People started to gather at Chuknagar since mid-April. The first lots crossed the border while the later ones waited there for their turn. By the 15th May big crowds from the nearby localities flocked to Chuknagar as the rumor of approaching Paki troops spread like fire. According to a conservative account around ten thousand people were in Chuknagar waiting to cross the border.

Some of the interviewees believed that some Behari Khan was the man behind the genocide. Behari Khan had heated arguments with some of the refugees on the fair for crossing the Bhadra river. Khan threatened them that he would get the Pakis to whack the refugees refused to pay the excessive fair he was demanding. The local collaborators (razakars, peace committee members) of Paki army also instigated the situation. They had dual motive: to kick out the malauns (heathens) from the Pak (holy) land by sending them to hell; to mug their money and jewelry.

In the early morning of May 10, the fatal day, the refugees were packing up for the journey towards the border. Most of the families planned to start after having their morning meal at around 10-11. But around 10am two trucks carrying Paki troops arrived at Kautala (then known as Patkhola). The Pakis were not many in number, most possibly a platoon or so. As soon as the Paki trucks stopped, the Pakis alighted from the truck carrying light machine guns (LMGs) and semi automatic rifles and opened fire on the public. Within a few minutes a lively town turned into a city of death.

The accounts of the two hundred interviewees were same. They differed only in details. "There were piled up dead bodies. Wrote Fazlul Bari, an emotionally overwhelmed reporter from Janakantha: Dead Kids' on dead mum's laps. Wives hugging their beloved husbands to protect them from killer bullets. Dads' hugging their daughters to shield them. Within a flash they all were just dead bodies. Blood streamed into the Bhadra river, it became a river of corps. A few hours later when the Paki bastards ran out of bullets, they killed the rest of the people with bayonet.

It was not possible to figure out the exact number of people killed in Chuknagar genocide. But as per a conservative account about 10,000 people were killed on that fatal day. In the midst of the killing spree the Pakis raped the young women and took the others to the nearby military camp. When the Pakis left, the locals came out clear the dead bodies. Most of the dead bodies were thrown into the Bhadra river. Some were buried.

Credit: Muntassir Mamun, The Archive of Liberation War

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