Name: Rabeya Khatun
Father’s Name: Late Mohammad Shamsuddin
Vill: Rani Bazar, Rajshahi City Corp.
Educational Qualification: Read up to class VII
Age in 1971: 14 yrs.
Occupation in 1971: Student
Present Occupation: Housewife.
Q. Do you remember anything about 1971?
A. Yes. That year we fought our liberation war. We were attacked by the Pakistani Army. The Pakistani Army entered our house and shot my two brothers and two brothers- in-law.
Q. Do you remember the date of this attack?
A. Yes, I do. It was April 14, 1971. First, a group of Pakistani soldiers cam to our house at about 8. a.m. They entered our house, took away my elder brother’s wrist watch, radio, cash money and looted many other articles of value. Then around 10 a.m. another contingent of Pak army came and shot four of us. Three of them died on the spot and one of was gravely wounded. He has been crippled forever.
Q. Did the Pakistan army open fire as soon as they entered?
A. First, they dragged all of us out of the room and asked, where are the ‘indur(rats)’? We said there are no ‘indurs’ here.
Q. What did they mean by ‘indur’?
A. By ‘indur’ they meant Hindus, meaning where are the Hindus?. The Pakistanis perhaps thought everyone in Bangladesh was a Hindu. None of us was Muslim. At the time everyone of our family was present in the house.
Q. Your father?
A. My father was not alive then. He died several years ago.
Q. Where exactly in Rani Bazar your house was located? Will you describe the incident in detail?
A. Our village home, I mean my father’s house, was situated just in front of the house of Badrul Amin. Now I live in my husband’s house. The second contingent of the Pak army asked, where are the indurs? We replied that there were no ‘indurs’ here, we are all Muslims. That day my two brothers and my two brothers-in law were present in the house. I have already told you about my bhabi (sisterin-law)..My mother who was standing in the middle of the courtyard told the army that these two are my sons-in-law and these two are my sons. The khansenas (Pak army men) told my mother and my sister-in-law to get into the room. My mother had already sensed danger and she grabbed the hands of the soldiers and pleaded, baba, these two are my sons and these two are my sons-in-law, I have no one else on this earth. Then the soldiers pushed me, my mother and my bhabies (sisters-in-law) into the room and instantly shot the men outside. Through the window of the room we saw them lying down on the courtyard in a pool of blood. My wailing mother ran out of the room to the spot and took a glass of water and recited ‘lailahaillallah’ and sprinkled water on their faces and wailed and sobbed, ‘(Oh my God) I have lost all my dear ones.’ I also rushed out of the room with a glass of water.
Q. Had the Pak army already left by then?
A. They were there. Then they said, these people are Muslims. One of my brothers-in-law was still alive and twisting in terrible pain. Then one of the soldiers said, shoot him, one of the other said, no, don’t shoot him. And then they left our house. One of my brothers was 30 yrs old and the other about 32/33. One brother-in-law was 35 and the other was about 40 yrs old. The Pakistanis fired two shots at each of them. One of the bullets smashed my elder brothers leg and the other bullet hit his stomach and made a gaping hole, the younger brother received one bullet in the head and another in the stomach.
My two brothers-in-law were visiting us at the time. One received grievous wound and died on the spot, the other was operated upon and survived but he lost his left arm.
Q. Did these Pakistani soldiers do any other terror acts such as looting, arson and the like?
A. No. They did not do anything like that. Another Pakistani group came earlier and looted our house. Those who came later on did the killing, as I have described to you.
Q. Did such a terrible act happen with your family only or you know about other families in your locality suffering similar disaster?
A. At that time there were very few people in the village. We had Hindu neighbors The Pakistanis did not attack them, not on the same day But they returned next day April 15, and killed all the members of two Hindu families.
Q. What did you do with the dead bodies of your family members?
A. For two days the dead bodies were left unattended. No one came to see us. We came to know later that the Pakistani army men issued threat that anyone visiting us will meet the same fate as we had. Then my mother said, I gave birth to my sons, I raised them I cannot let the jackals and dogs devour their dead bodies. I myself will bury them. Then my mother, my sister- in-law and I dug a big grave in the middle of the court yard and buried all three of them.
Q. Was there no one to help you?
A. No, there was no one to help us. The dead bodies could not be left unattended for too long. The corpses had swollen by then. They would have blown up if we had waited for a day longer. So my mother started digging a grave in our courtyard and we helped her and buried them. That grave is still there. I was a student of class X then and I could understand what we were going through. I still remember the terrible incident and cannot forget the tragedy that fell upon us.
We were not involved with any political party, or activity. We did not understand politics at all. My brothers were harmless men. Even then the Pak troops killed them. And then my mother had to bury her own sons with her own hands. The Park army came to our house for no reason and then killed my two brothers and a brother-in-law. We are Bengalis, that must have been our sin. My brothers were not associated with any political party; my elder brother always told my younger brother to stay away from politics. He used to say, we are business men, we should not be with any political party. We had a shop in Shahebbazar. My brother always used to request the customers not to discuss politics in the shop. Both my brothers took care of the shop.
Q. Where was your shop located?
A. At Shahebbazar, beside Moonlight. It was a sweetmeat shop.
Q. What happened to the shop(after all these happened)?
A. The military burnt the shop on Apr 14 (the same day of the tragic incident). We got nothing out of it. Only the land was left. The Pak soldiers burnt all the shops of the bazaar. I heard that the Pakistani soldiers used to shoot if they found a shop closed. Before that they used to spray some kind of a white powder and then they would shoot. This caused the fire.
Q. After the killing did you stay in your house or you had left for some other place?
A. My eldest brother-in-law came on April 20 and took us to Bosepara where he used to live with his family.
Q. Did you stay there for the rest of the liberation war period?
A. Yes. We stayed at Bosepara till the end of the war. We couldn’t go anywhere else.
Q. Were your two dead brothers married?
A. My elder brother was married. He was married on Aug 14, 1970. My sister-in-law was pregnant when my brother was gunned down. After three months my sister-in-law gave birth to a baby son. She never married again. She stayed with us. She is now living with my elder sister. Her son passed the B.A. examination a few months back. For my other brother a bride was selected. Because of the war his marriage ceremony could not be held, and then he was killed. He was my second brother.
Interviewed by: Maloy Bhaumick.
Date of Interview: June 14, 1997
Translator: Faruq Aziz Khan.