Name: Shovarani Mandol
Father’s Name: Suresh Chandra Mandol
Village: Ganopatikati p.o. Jalakati
Union: Jalabari, p.s. Shwarupkat
Age in1971 19 yrs
Educational qualification in 1971 SSC examinee
Profession in 1971- Student. Current occupation- Service
Q. When did the Pakistan military come to your area?
A. The Pakistan military came to our area on Baishakh 17. My husband was at home at the time. He was told that he would be given military training and taken to the bank of a canal and along with 16 other men brutally shot and killed. On the other side of the canal a village named Norerkati is situated. From the killing ground his body was taken to my father’s house in Norerkati and buried there. My husbands name was Rajendranath Biswas.
Q. You have said that Pakistani troops came to your village on Baishakh 17. On that day where were the other people of the village and what did they do when the military came?
A. People were as usual busy with household and other routine work. They didn’t think that the Pakistan army would come to this remote place. But some agents of the Muslim League showed them the way and brought them in. They pointed out the members of the Hindu community to the army. They were taken away and shot and killed.
Q. You have said that some agents of the Muslim League brought the army
to your village. At this moment do you remember the names of some of them?
A. I can remember only one man. Akkas Khan of village Gaba. To my knowledge he was the Muslim League leader of that area. He had identified my husband. He himself would have been killed but his son who was in the EPR (East Pakistan Rifles, the border force) and had defected and joined the liberation forces. That’s what saved the life of Akkas Khan. Like my husband many more people were taken to the canal bank and killed. Groups of 4, 5, 7 were killed. In this way they killed a large number of people. After my husband was killed I became mentally deranged. When I somewhat recovered from the shock I joined the Liberation War.
Q. How did you join the Liberation War?
A. In our area a man named Shiraj Shikdar was the commander of the local Mukti Bahini. He gave me training on use of fire arms. He taught me how to fight the enemies. He used to live next door to us. Here he used to give training to the boys and girls and send them on operation to different places.
Q. You have said that Shiraj Shikdar used to give training in a house close to yours. Where is this house located? Do you remember the name of the house?
A. This house is located in the village Ata. It is situated in the middle of a guava plantation. Most likely the name of the house is Mistri Bari.
Q. How many of you took training in this place?
A. Twenty two all together.
Q. Do you remember the names of any others ?
A. One was Monika. I remember the names of 4/5 others but they are all dead. One was Sunil of village Ata. I am unable to recall the names of others.
Q. Of the 22 how many were girls?
A. Four of them were girls and the rest 18 were boys.
Q. After your training how did you take part in the war?
A. After our training when we heard the news that pak army was coming we used to take position in bushes, groves, behind trees and all sorts of cover and then when the enemy was within close range we used to attack them.
Q. What are the places where you took part in armed confrontation and what were the results?
A. First we attacked a speed boat in a low lying area carrying four pak soldiers who came to arrest a girl. When they were returning I hurled hand grenades at the boat and the boat sank. There were some others with me. They captured the Pakistanis and they were bayoneted to death and the dead bodies were thrown into the river.
Q. You killed four enemies here. Where else you did fight?
A. After this I took part in another launch attack in Garangal. Some Pakistani soldiers were coming in a small launch. We hurled grenades and as three gun-boats were following the launch closely we withdrew quickly. But we saw blood dripping from the launch. We did not know how many died.
Q. Those who died, were all of them Pakistani soldiers?
A. Yes, they were all Pak bahini men.
Q. Where did you take shelter after you withdrew?
A. We took shelter in the house of a member (union council}. He was the brother-in-law of Panna Mia. This man however informed the police later on and we were arrested.
Q. Who was the leader of this operation?
A. Our leader was freedom fighter Feroze Kabir, youngest brother of Mr. Humayun Kabir (Humayun Kabir was an eminent scholar. He held a high position in Jawharlal Nehru’s cabinet in India}
Q. Where else did you take part in operation?
A. After this Sichka. Some Pak army men, about 7/8 of them entered a house. At night we surrounded the house. They had entered the house at night and therefore they were not able to come out. They had made a fire to give them some light to guard themselves. We succeeded in killing all of them. After we made this operation Pak army came in big strength and burnt down many houses of the village. Later on we left Saichka and went to Dashmahal. Returning to Baldia from Saichka we launched an attack on a Pak army unit in a river, the name of which I do not remember to-day. We managed to capture two of the Pak army men. We killed the rest. We never spared any one we could catch. When we returned to Garangal from Dashmahal, Panna Mia’s brother-in- law got us arrested by the police. Feroze Kabir was with us and there was one student of the Dhaka University whose name I don’t remember to-day. There was another person by the name Majibar Rahman of Jhalakati. These three were killed by the Pak army. Monika and I were sent to Barisal Jail. We were kept in a cell. We spent 17 days in this cell. After 17 days when we told them we were SSC examinees they believed us and telephoned principal Mr. Enayet Karim We heard that Mr. Karim said that there were three thousand pupils he knew and so he couldn’t recall which Shova they were talking about but surely I was his student. He told them to send us to him. At that time there was a DSB man who was somewhat crazy. Every one called him a madman. In fact he was not mad. We were sent to Chakhar with him. We spent two days in Shankar Guha’s house. After two days Shankar Guha took me to Chamda in the lodging house of his school. From there my mother and my brother took me back to my village.
Q. What did Shankar Guha do in Chamda?
A. He was a teacher of Chamda School. Most likely he was the Head Master. I don’t remember exactly. It happened a long time ago. From there I again retuned to Mukti Juddho. This time our leader was Benilal Dasgupta.
Q. How did you join Benilal Dasgupta’s group?
A. They thought since I was captured by police I was a pak spy. So they surrounded our house at night and captured me. When they came to know my real identity they took me in their group from my village Ganapatikathi. After I worked in this group for some time, Capt Omar also became suspicious of me. After this happened I was kept in the house of Kamala Thauran in the village of Alta. When they found out that no one visited me and I was not doing any spying they were convinced that I was not a spy. And they gave me arms and ammunition. Then I worked with them.
Q. After you joined the group of Benilal or Capt. Omar, where were the areas you worked with this Muktijoddha group?
A. After I came here Banripara police station was attacked. In the first attack the Muktijoddhas lost. After this a large contingent of Pak army came and burnt down almost the entire village. After this the Sharshina operation took place. In this operation one of our brothers was killed. His name of Moti Kazi. He was blindfolded and killed. The enemy could capture only Moti bhai. Every one else could manage to retreat.
Q. How did the fighting start between Pak army and Muktibahini start at Sarshina?
A. Muktijoddhas attacked them. Some Pak soldiers were stationed there. They were attacked and some of them were killed. I do not know the exact number of Pak casualty because many of them could escape only one of them couldn’t. Second and third took place over entire Banripara police station. Ten or fifteen days after this attack, Bangladesh became independent.
Q. You said that Pak bahini were stationed in Sarshina. Was there a Pakistani camp there?
A. These people were Razakars. I donot know if Pak bahini had any camp in Sarshina. But pak soldiers used visit Sarshina regularly. The Razakars had a training camp in Sarshina.
Q. In your area or else where do you know of any Razakar training camp?
A. Within my knowledge there were camps in Sarshina, Kaukhali and Perojpur.
Q. Were there any Razakar camp, permanent or temporary, in Banaripara or was there any fixed place where they would get together?
A. There was in Baanripara but I do not know where exactly it was.
Q. In your area, Swarupkati, was there any?
A. As far as I know they used to come to Swarupkathi from Sarshina where they received training. The distance between the two places is only half a mile or so. The Razakars used to cover many places from Sarshina.
Q. Where were the Muktijoddha camps in your area?
A. There were many places where Muktijoddha camps were set up. There was not even one village where a camp with 10, 15 or twenty joddhas did not exist.
Q. You have mentioned that your home was near a guava plantation. Did the pak army carry out any operations in that area?
A. The guava plantation was cut down by the pak army. Besides, it is not in the Swarupkati area, it is in Jhalakati area. The Pak bahini used the Muslim public of the area to cut down the guava plantation. Many of them used to work for the pakbahini. Almost all the Hindus had left the area. Those who were muktijoddhas, they took training in India and came back much later. Those who did not belong to the mukti bahini did not return from India. Almost all the Hindus, around 75% had left for India.
Q. What was the condition of their houses?
A. There were hardly any homes left. All of them were burnt down. If there were 7 or 8 houses, I was like an empty village. They were all empty. One or two people who might have stayed back used to spend the days hiding in the jungles and coming out in the darkness of night just for taking a nap. During the later days even this was not possible. Some times even they spent the nights in the jungle for fear of the pak army coming in. The Pak agents used to employ the Razakars to keep vigil over the movement of these people. They used to provide information to the pak army on the whereabouts of the Muktijoddhas, the villagers and everything else. The Razakars used to collect these information. But if we could lay our hands on Razakars we never spared them.
Q. Were you ever attacked by Pakbahini, Razakars or their agents?
A. I was attacked by them when I was captured by police. I am fortunate in one sense that I was not physically tortured. We were taken to the jail and we spent our time there without being disgraced.
Q. You have said earlier that some of your comrades were killed after they were captured. How were they executed?
A. We were sent to jail and they were in a room of the jail. We didn’t want to go to the jail but we were told that there was a jail super and if we didn’t go with him we might be physically tortured and we would be better off going with him. That’s how we were dispatched. After that I had not seen with my eyes what had happened to them.
Q. How did you rescue the girl in the Kuriana village? Would you please describe?
A. When the pak soldiers were going through a canal with the captured girl, it was about 3 or 3 30 in the afternoon. We had seen the pak army approaching and docking their speed boat near one of the houses of the area. They had snatch the girl from Arun Chakravorty’s house. We got ready. When we hurled 3 or 4 grenades one after the other the speed boat capsized. The girl swam to the bank. The pakis couldn’t swim They were struggling to keep afloat. They were pulled out of water by our comrades. They didn’t have any arms with them; perhaps they threw them to save their lives. They were taken to a jungle nearby and bayoneted to death by our comrades.
Q. When you fought Pak bahini were there any other girl with you or do you know of any other female freedom fighter?
A. Yes. One of them was from the village Bhimruli, her name was Shikha. There was another girl by the name Monika. She was the daughter of Sunil Gupta’s in-laws. She was with me. Monika and I were caught together.
Q. Were you together when you were released from jail?
A. Yes, both of us were together. Shankar Babu who took us to Chamda was Monika’s brother-in-law That’s why after we came to Chakhar Monika went to his house and I was sent with him to my village.
Q. When you fought what were the weapons you fought with?
A. I don’t know if I can use them now. But at that time I could fire weapons with both my hands. I have used rifles and revolvers. I always carried a revolver with me.
Q. What did you do with your weapons after the country was liberated?
A. My revolver was taken away by Capt. Omar. It was very dear to me, it had a silver chain with it. And the rifle was returned to Beni Babu.
Q. How many homesteads were burnt down in this area?
A. About 80 percent of them were set on fire. Our home was one of them.
Q. Do you remember names of the people who were anti-liberation?
A. I only knew the name of Akkas Khan. There was a lot of effort to kill him. In the beginning he was in hiding and then his son returned home and claimed that he was in the
EPR and he deserted to join liberation war. He begged for his father’s life and thus Akkas Ali’s life was saved.
Q. What is Akkas Khan doing now?
A. He is an old man now. Most likely he is at his village. His daughter and I were very friendly from our childhood. We are still friends. Her father-in-law’s home is in our village. But I had never seen Akkas Khan’s face again because he was the main agent for the killing my husband.
Q. Do you remember the names of your fellow fighters?
A. One of them was Chitta. In the beginning when I joined as a freedom fighter he was with us. Salam bhai, Reba, Monika, Shikha and then Krishna and Shandhya. I hardly remember the names of the boys. I just could remember the names of some of the girls.
Q. Why did you join the muktijuddho?
A. They killed my husband. I wanted to take revenge.
Q. When you joined later on, do you remember any of the names of your fellow freedom fighters?
A. There was one named Haider, then Mpkbul bhai, Moti bhai, Alam Molla, Saijjodi and Shwarna. There were others but I don’t remember the names.
Q. You were with two groups of muktijodhas. Who were the leaders of these two groups?
A. The last one was commanded by Benilal Dasgupta. And the first one was led by Salam bhai alias Siraj Sikdar. He was the leader. The second-in-command was Mujibul Huq and the third man was Feroze Kabir, brother of poet Humayun Kabir. I do not remember any others.
Q. You have seen many mass killings. Where have you seen the worst one?
A. I think there has not been a more terrible massacre than in Banripara and Gaba. Because the Pak-military first came to Gaba and carried out a massacre the like of which I hadn’t seen with my eyes anywhere. When they came they killed any one they saw, men, women, children, young, old; they made no discrimination whatsoever. The victims were all Hindus.
Q. How many homesteads were destroyed in Gaba?
A. Soon after Gaba massacre the country was liberated and I went to India. So I do not have an idea of the exact number. But the massacre of human lives was terrible.
Q. You said you were a student at that time. Where were you studying?
A. I was a Matric candidate at the Jhalakati palli Mangal High school.
Q. What did you do after the liberation war?
A. Soon after the war was over I went to India and lived with my maternal uncles. I returned to my country after two years and stayed with Social Welfare for some time.
Interviewer: Niranjan Dasgupta Anu,
Date: 25 August, 1996