Chuknagar Massacre: A of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide



Pradip Kumar Dutta
File Photo: Collected.

File Photo: Collected.

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The pogrom initiated by Pakistanis began on March 25, 1971, with Operation Searchlight, marking the onset of widespread genocide.

Bangabandhu proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of March 26, and the country entered into a protracted War of Liberation, known as the Muktijuddho. Throughout the nine months of this war, the Pakistani army and their collaborators committed genocidal offenses on a daily and hourly basis.

During this time, countless people were forced to flee their homes and businesses to save their lives, properties, and dignity. Many ended up in refugee camps in India or became internally displaced, living with relatives in remote villages. Tragically, many were robbed, tortured, and tormented by Pakistani collaborators as they sought safety. Some were killed, while others died from hunger and exhaustion.

Chuknagar, a remote village bazar in Dumuria, Khulna district, became a crucial transit point for refugees heading to India. Located near the Indian border on the banks of the Bhodra River, it offered an escape route for people from southwestern Bangladesh (Khulna, Bagerhat, Jashore, Barishal, and Faridpur districts) who arrived by boat, on foot, and in bullock carts. After resting and eating in Chuknagar, they continued their journey. On the night of May 19, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 men, women, and children took refuge in schools, temples, mosques, and villagers' homes in and around Chuknagar. Many spent the night in paddy fields and open spaces, preparing a simple meal before resuming their journey.

By 10 am on May 20, three truckloads of Pakistani soldiers, accompanied by Bihari and Bengali collaborators, arrived at Chuknagar bazar. Armed with light machine guns and automatic rifles, they began firing in all directions at the refugees. The first victim, a local farmer named Chikan Ali Morol, was killed when he tried to protest. The soldiers continued their killing spree unimpeded, targeting anyone in their path. The carnage lasted for about five hours, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 refugees killed.

The massacre left bodies scattered across paddy fields, village yards, schools, mosques, temples, and the Bhodra River. Survivors had no chance to escape, as soldiers chased and shot them. Many boatloads of refugees were also attacked, and those who tried to swim to safety were killed by snipers. The water of the Bhodra River turned red with blood, and corpses floated in the river.

After the massacre, local people came out to help, but there was little they could do as almost everyone had been killed. Over the next few days, the locals buried some bodies in mass graves while others were dumped in the river. The Chuknagar refugee trail was mainly followed by the poorer sections of southwestern Bangladesh, whose relatives either died or could not return to Chuknagar after the war.

Slowly, this tragic massacre faded into oblivion, remembered only by a few patriotic Bangladeshis led by Prof. Shafiqul Islam of a local college. They tried to keep the memory alive and draw attention to the largest mass killing in the shortest time in human history. Their efforts eventually led to some recognition, but the world has largely ignored the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, which is the biggest Genocide after the Holocaust and other Genocides during WW2.

The atrocities committed by the Pakistani forces are documented in various sources, including newspapers, the Blood Telegrams, Senator Kennedy's report, Oxfam's "Testimony of Sixty," and the International Union of Jurists' inquiry.

However, the world has yet to officially recognise the genocide, contradicting the global pledge of "Never Again" to genocides.

Recognising and punishing the genocide is crucial to preventing future atrocities and ensuring justice for the victims.

While remembering the victims of the Chuknagar massacre, we urge the Bangladesh Government to be more proactive in seeking international recognition of the genocide. The Foreign Minister recently mentioned plans to create a special cell to coordinate these efforts. The sooner this cell starts working, the better. We have ample evidence to prove the genocide, and organisations of genocide scholars worldwide, including IAGS, Lemkin Institute, Genocide Watch, and ICSC, have recognised it and called for international recognition.

The involvement of Bangladesh's intelligentsia, civil society, diaspora, progressive political, and student parties is essential for achieving international recognition. The responsibility lies with all of us, especially our government.

The writer is a researcher and traveler.

   

Awami League is closely associated with every achievement of the Bengalis: Prime Minister



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Bangladesh Awami League has led from the front in all movements and struggles, starting from the language movement and the Great War of Liberation. Party President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina commented that Awami League is intimately involved in every achievement of Bengalis.

She said this at the rally of the 75th founding anniversary of Bangladesh Awami League at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on Sunday (June 23) afternoon.

The head of government said that the establishment of Awami League has changed the fate of the people of Bengal, which we have proved. We have delivered electricity to people's homes.

She said, after August 15, 1975, the power has changed many times. But power has shifted either by arms or by intrigue. People did not have democratic rights; people did not have basic rights. They could not change the fate of people.

Stating that there will be no more poor people in Bangladesh, the Prime Minister said, Awami League is working with the goal of ensuring food security.

Sheikh Hasina said, repeated attempts have been made to wipe out Awami League. But Awami League has contributed to every achievement of the country. She said, Awami League is determined to give Smart Sonar Bangla to the people of the country by 2041.

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Prime Minister sent fruits and sweets to the war-wound & martyred freedom fighters



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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On the occasion of the 75th founding anniversary of Bangladesh Awami League, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sent gifts to the family members of the martyred and war wounded freedom fighters.

On Sunday (June 23) afternoon, fruits and sweets were sent to the family members of the war wounded freedom fighters and martyred freedom fighters at the War Wounded Freedom Fighters Rehabilitation Center (Mukti Joddha Tower-1) on Ghaznavi Road, Mohammadpur of the capital.

Protocol Officer-2 of the Prime Minister Abu Zafar Raju and Prime Minister's Assistant Press Secretary ABM Sarwar-e-Alam Sarkar delivered these gifts to the war-victims on behalf of the Prime Minister.

The family members of the war wound freedom fighters and martyred freedom fighters expressed their gratitude to the Prime Minister for remembering them on every national day and festival such as Independence Day, Victory Day, Holy Eid and Bengali New Year.

In their speech, the present war casualties and valiant freedom fighters remembered the self-sacrifice and visionary leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in establishing the independent state of Bangladesh with great respect. They highlighted the role of Bangladesh Awami League and Chhatra League in various stages of the Bengali liberation struggle starting from the movement for Bengali language. They describe their indomitable bravery, experiences as refugees, training and practical experience in operations with weapons and explosives during the liberation war. Commemorates the comrades lost on the battlefield and prays for the forgiveness of their departed souls.

They pointed out that the vast masses of the country got the direction of the freedom struggle through the historic March 7 speech of the Father of the Nation and took up arms with the slogan of 'Joy Bangla' and jumped into battle with the determination to free the country from the hands of the Pakistanis. Murderer Mushtaq-Zia marred the glorious history of independence after brutally killing the Father of the Nation and his family on 15 August 1975. Independence put the opposition in power. They banned the Father of the Nation's March 7 speech and 'Joy Bangla' slogans.

The freedom fighters expressed unwavering faith in the visionary leadership of the father of the nation's eldest daughter. Expressed confidence in Sheikh Hasina's leadership to present the correct history of independence to the new generation and rehabilitate them with honor and dignity. He expressed satisfaction with the overwhelming development progress of the country. They specifically mentioned that if the government under the leadership of Awami League, which believes in the spirit of the great liberation war, is in power, the welfare of the marginal people of the country will be good and the freedom fighters and their families will live well. They expressed their gratitude to the Prime Minister for providing increased allowances, medical care and accommodation to the freedom fighters.

The freedom fighters think that under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh will one day stand tall in the world as a 'Golden Bangladesh' i.e. 'Smart Bangladesh', a hunger-free, poverty-free, developed, rich and modern technology-dependent and self-respecting country.

The family members of the martyred and war wounded freedom fighters and everyone present wished the prime minister good health and long life. 

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Prime Minister's tribute to Bangabandhu's portrait on Awami League's founding anniversary



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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Party President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tribute to the portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the 75th founding anniversary of Awami League.

On Sunday (June 23) at 7 o'clock in the morning, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Bangabandhu's portrait at Road No. 32, Dhanmondi.

At that time, Sheikh Hasina, first as the Prime Minister and later as the President of Awami League, along with the top leaders of the party, paid tribute to Bangabandhu's portrait.

Earlier, the national flag and party flag were hoisted at the party's central office and countrywide party office at sunrise on Awami League's platinum jubilee.

At 10:30 am, a delegation from the Awami League Central Executive will pay respects at the grave of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is lying in eternal sleep in Tungipara, Gopalganj.

Members of the delegation are members of the presidium of Awami League Lt. Colonel (Retd.) Muhammad Farooq Khan, Central Committee Member Abul Hasnat Abdullah, Presidium Member Shajahan Khan, Organizing Secretary SM Kamal Hossain, Agriculture and Cooperative Affairs Secretary Faridunnahar Laili, Education and Human Resources Affairs Secretary Begum Shamsunnahar, Health and Population Affairs Secretary Dr. Rokeya Sultana, Central Executive Member Sahabuddin Faraji and others.

A discussion meeting will also be held at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan. The program will be inaugurated at 2:15 PM by hoisting the national and party flags, playing the national anthem, and flying balloons and pigeons. After that discussion meeting and cultural program will be held at 2.30 pm. Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will preside over this meeting. Central leaders of Awami League, invited guests and party leaders and workers at all levels will participate in this meeting. 

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Geo Bag's 'Solace' Comes After Losing Everything



Kollol Roy, Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Kurigram
Photo: Barta24.com

Photo: Barta24.com

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Erosion of Teesta is going on in the vast area of Vidyananda Union of Rajarhat Upazila of Kurigram. More than 50 families were affected by the landslide last week. Some have lost their land and are destitute; some have lost their only cropland. After reducing the intensity of erosion, the activities of the Water Development Board are only 'consolation' for the affected families, the locals say. They complain why measures are not taken in the dry season before the erosion. On the contrary, the Water Development Board says that there is no allocation of long-term and permanent works. Erosion is prevented with Geo bags only on an emergency basis when erosion starts.

On Saturday (June 22) at noon, Barta24.com visited some of the damaged places in Teesta bank of Vidyananda Union. The cries of the affected people can be seen. The workers are busy repairing the house with the house owners. All the small and big trees are being cut knowing that they will be destroyed in the erosion. These trees are being sold at less than half price. Kalirhat Bazar and Kalirhat Government Primary School located in Satura village of this union are also in danger of erosion. Just a few meters away, Teesta's eyes are flashing, signaling the school's closing time. To protect the school and the market, the Water Development Board has started preparing the first Geo bags on this day. However, the locals are calling the initiative a sham.

I met Zaherul Islam, a resident of this village, in a house next to the market. Half of the house where there was a settlement a few days ago is now occupied by Teesta. He said, it was my house. It all ended a few days ago. Some trees were eaten by the river before they were cut. I went to the school next door. Now I have nowhere to go. If the government had taken measures before the collapse, then I would not have to be destitute. Today we are being consoled by bringing some Geo bags. They will not survive this current.

Namita Rani has been working since morning to move the house next door. Leaving her sick husband in the neighboring house, she is arranging the furniture of the house alone. While working, the river was far away even last Friday. I didn't expect it to break so fast. The girl drags the class. There is no place other than this place. Do I stress about my daughter's marriage or think about staying? Where will I be now with this sick husband and young girl? I saw Geo bag in the market. If they were brought a few days ago, the house could have been saved.

Saiful Islam came to his home from afar to see the news of Geo bags in the market. He said, where Geo has kept bags to throw in the river, that is my land. Here was my home. I moved to the house in the morning. Geo bag broke here last year. The bags move in the current of the river or they can be given away. They will not work during floods. It will spoil after a few days.

Director of Riverine People and Professor and Dean of Begum Rokeya University's Bengali Department, river researcher Dr. Tuhin Wadud said, Bangladesh part of Teesta has about 32 km of erosion prone area. It does not take more than Tk. 1000 crore  to solve them permanently. As a result of this it is possible to save about Tk. 1 lakh crores of wealth every year. But there is no special budget for Teesta due to the government's lack of attention towards the northern region. This is a shame of the government. Every year during the rainy season, the measures taken by the Water Development Board to prevent erosion by using sandbags are not very useful. It is nothing but comfort in dire straits.

People's complaints and measures to prevent temporary erosion were discussed with Rafsan Jani, sub-divisional engineer of Kurigram Water Development Board in charge of Teesta River in Rajahat Upazila. He said, erosion has occurred at 4-5 points in Rajarhat upazila. Kali Hat area of Vidyananda Union is most at risk. We are already preparing Geo bags there to prevent erosion. Geo bags will be thrown into the river from Sunday as much as needed will be given there.

He also said that these are emergency work. When there is trouble we go there. Authorities don't give allotments before the monsoon season. It is a temporary job. Blocking the river is our permanent work which lasts almost all seasons. A study of our own is underway in Teesta. If that is the case we will present the project. There is no permanent work in Teesta until that allocation comes.

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