Name: Mosammat Feroza Islam
Father’s name: Md. Ghyasuddn
Husband: Mohammad Nazrul Islam
Vill: Nanadanpur, P.O.: Puthia. P.S.: Puthia
Age in 1971: 22 yrs
Occupation in 1971: Housewife
Present Occupation: Housewife
Q. Do you remember anything about 1970?
A. Yes. That was an election year. Sh. Mujib won the elections. Even after his election victory the West Pakistanis refused to hand over power to him. Then in an address to the nation he told the gathering to get prepared with whatever weapons they had (sticks, knives etc) for independence war. ‘The struggle this time,’ he said, ‘ is the struggle for independence’.
Q. In the night of Mar 25,1971 the Pak army attacked Dhaka. Did you hear anything about it?
A. Yes I did.
Q. What did you hear?
A. Everyone said like this: The Pak army killed all the students of the students’ residences of Dhaka University. They set fire to houses and killed all the good people.
Q. Were you attacked during 1971 liberation war?
A. On 28 Nov. They burnt our house down. They burnt everything.
Q. Who did it?
A. The Razakars beat up my father and mother-in-law and burnt down the house.
Q. Who were the culprits?
A. The Razakars, they beat up my mother-in-law and then they set fire to our house.
Q. Were there Pakistani soldiers with them?
A. No. They were all Razakars. There were no Pak soldiers with them. But there were some of our own villagers; chairman and members of the local peace-committee were also with them. They burnt down our entire household. They beat up my father and mother-in-law. Then they tied one of my brothers-in-law with rope with his hands behind his back and beat him so mercilessly that his whole body was covered with blood. They broke his leg. One of my husband’s elder brothers was our next-door neighbor. He was at his home at the time. They caught hold of him and beat him mercilessly and then dug a grave with the bayonets of their rifles in the middle of the courtyard and buried him alive. He was screaming, ‘Please don’t bury me, please don’t….’. But they did it.
Q. Buried him alive?
A. Yes. He was killed brutally. Then they took away my two brothers-in-law and killed them. Till to-day we have not found their dead bodies. Some of the villagers and relatives lifted my elder brother-in-law from his grave and buried him elsewhere.Next day, Nov 29, I left home and as I was on the way some Razakars caught me near the iron bridge. I was passing that way. I had my nine day old baby girl on my waist. They snatched my baby and threw her off into the river. And then they started raping me. I begged for some water to drink. They didn’t give me water. I ran into the river and drank some muddy water from the rive. The Razakars beat me again. Then I fainted. One of our neighbors managed to rescue me. After I became somewhat better some men of the village and the peace committee chairman came to see me. The chairman’s name was Ahad Molla. When I told them my story he rebuked the fellows and then I was put on a van against my wishes and I went to my mother’s home. The enemies also raided this village.
Q. Pakistani soldiers?
A. Yes, they came but didn’t find me. My uncle locked the house from outside and helped me get away. They looked for me but didn’t find me. Then they left.
Q. Where did you go?
A. Dupghata, near Durgapur. I continued staying there. Then I returned home and soon the country became independent. I didn’t find anyone of my own, my in-laws were not there. My husband had left the village soon after the war started. He hadn’t returned since then. And I didn’t get any news about him. Then he returned. He was a freedom fighter. He joined the liberation war on June 1. During the war we hadn’t met. I only heard that my husband was alive. But during the war we never met. Only I got news about him through others.
Q. Do you know the names of the Razakars who captured you?
A. One of them was Abdur Rahman. His father’s name was Mujibar. The other fellow’s name was Mohammad Tara. He was from Tarapu village. Another fellow was named Tausi. His father’s name was Kwasiuddin. Then there was another fellow named Shafer from Gopalhati village. There was another Razakar whose name was Abdul. Nurul Islam, a peace committee chairman from Bhalukgachi, was also among them. There were more but I don’t know their names.
Q. What else the Razakars did?
A. They looted all our belongings and then set fire to our houses. They loaded three boats and took away everything we had. My bed room cot is simply a piece of charcoal. It is still in my room. I kept it as it is. They took away all our domestic animals; they even cleaned our cocoanut trees and all other fruit trees. They spared nothing.
Q. During the liberation war did you cooperate with the freedom fighters in any way?
A. The Muktis used to come to our house during operation; I used to cook for them, feed them. Often they spent the nights in our house. Sometimes they stayed even during the day and then at around 2 or 3 am they would go out for operation. They used to come frequently and I used to feed and shelter them.
Q. In your area did the Pakistan army ever carried out attack?
A. No, they didn’t. The Razakars did.
Q. What else did they do in your area?
A. When they came they first started shooting all around. They came at 4 am in the dawn and sprayed bullets all around. The bullets were dropping to the ground like fireflies. We all got out of our rooms. It was Ramzan time (Muslim month of fasting). When we were about to have our early morning meal they started shooting. Then it became dawn. None of us had any food. Men folk started leaving in any direction they thought safe. Only some remained including one of my brother-in-law. A little later he took my eldest daughter with him and left the house when one of the Razakars told him to return and promised that no harm would be done to him. He returned and entertained the Razakars with fruits and coconuts picked from our trees. And then he started preparing for cooking meals for them when they started beating him up tying him with a piece of rope.
Q. Have you seen this with your own eyes?
A. Yes, I saw it from my hideout in the garden. Then my brother-in-law begged for some water and my mother–in-law took some water in a bowl and went to him when the Razakars started beating her with the butt of the rifle. My brother-in-law then started begging not to beat her. ‘Kill me and shred every bit of my flesh into pieces but please do not beat my mother,’ he begged of them. Then the Razakars started beating him again and they took everything and left the house taking my two brothers-in-law with them. Before they left they set fire to the house. When we returned there was no place to take shelter. In the night we had to sit around in the courtyard. We had no food in the house. That is how we observed Roja (religious fasting). Our neighbors brought food for us. We had no appetite for food, no utensils of any kind, we used banana leaves instead. And then we left for Rajshahi.
Q. Who in your family became shaheed (martyr)?
A. My brother-in-law Barjahan became shaheed. The Razakars took away my brother-in-law and killed him. We do not know till to-day where he was taken and killed. My nephew Abdul Barek was also taken away by them, and so also my elder brother-in-law Abdur Rahman who was mercilessly beaten up and buried alive.
Q. Do you remember when did the Muktibahini come to your village?
A. Yes. In the month of July.
Q. What was the feeling of the people of your locality abut the Muktibahini?
A. It was very favorable. Everybody in those days supported Awami League. Everyone respected and liked the Muktibahini. They were given shelter by everyone. People cooperated with them in any way they could. When the Razakars burnt down our houses and took away our relatives, and buried my brother-in-law alive, then our hearts broke down.
Q. After the war what was the condition of roads, schools, mosques, madrashas etc in your area?
A. All the shops along the roads were burnt down. There was hardly anything to be seen. The military burnt down everything between Jhalmalia hat and Rajshahi. Many homesteads were also burnt down. A lot of people were shot and killed by the military. Comparatively more Hindu homes were burnt down and looted. The nearby Rajbari (Palace) in which there was a temple with lots of precious articles was looted completely.
Q. Who did the looting?
A. The Peace Committee fellows, the Razakars. They also tortured the Hindu women. Many of them were lined up and shot. We have seen these with our own eyes.
Interviewer: Moloy Bhowmick
Date of Interview: June 19, 1997
Translator: Dr. Faruq Aziz Khan