Name: Shankari Chakraborty
Father’s Name: Shishir Kumer Roy
Vill: Dakra, Union: Perikhali
P.S. Rampal, Dt. Bagerhat
Educaational Qualification: Read up to class V
Age in 1971: 23yrs
Occupation in 1971: Housewife
Present Occupation: Housewife
Q. Do you remember anything about 1971?
A. Yes. There was a war in the country at that time. I was living in my
father-in-law’s home. My husband was a very well known person of this
village. He was very brave and powerful. One day we heard that Hindu homes
would be looted. Then my husband started to guard our village at night
along with some other villagers. There was quite a few with him. They did it for
about a month. But they couldn’t prevent looting. Suddenly some people start-
ed looting our village. In our house there were 3 or 4 grain storage rooms with
sacks of paddy and rice. We had a lot of furniture, crockery, pots and pans;
everything that a family needs. We had a cowshed with 30/35 cows and 2
ponds, whatever was needed for a full family. We were about 35/36 family
members. They looted every single piece of belonging we had.
Q. Do you remember the date of this incident?
A. I don’t remember the exact date. We had just finished cooking and had our
mid-day meal. And then suddenly the looting started while we were still
Q. Could you recognize the looters?
A. I was a new bride then. We never went out of the house. How could we reco-
gnize them? Some women also took part in the looting.
Q. Even women looted your house?
A. Women also looted our house: the women of the Muslim families of the vill-
age. They gleefully took away everything we had, anything they could lay
their hands on, pots, pans, cows, goats, everything. We stayed put in the
house. Looting was complete. Then we left our home. We were determined to
leave the village. As we had gone some distance we were persuaded by some
Muslim men of Banshtala village who were not known to us. There were so
many people at that time all around. Some of them had sticks, some with
bamboo cutters( Like machetes) . They had brought us back. They told us that
everything looted from our house would be brought back. They insisted on us
not to go. But we had lost everything, only the house was not burnt down.
Everything else was taken away. On their insistence we returned. They gave
us rice and len tils, but how many days a family could survive on just some
little food. We had nothing of our own. After a couple of days we went to
Thakur Bari.There was a big crowd there, like a fair of some sort. It was
summer time. Some had only towels around them, some were clad in dhoties.
The Thakur Bari had a very big compound. Some were cooking food, some
had already cooked theirs. Like us they had converged from different places.
Q. Why did they come there?
A. They had plans to leave for India all together.
Q. Why would they go?
A. At that time we were all on the same boat. Every one’s home was looted.
So they had all decided to go to India.
Q How many people had gathered there?
A. Lots of men, women and children from many villages around had gathered.
About 30/35 huge country boats loaded with household materials were ready
at the jetty and after lunch they were all to leave. It was 6 Jaishtha (Bengali
year) as far as I can remember.
Q. Where were you at the time?
A. I was near the bazar. I had my daughter on my waist. Suddenly everybody
was shouting, run, run, they are killing us, they are killing us..I ran for life
with my baby daughter. Shooting broke out, I thought men were killed as if
some one was shooting game birds. How many would be dead, how many
would escape unhurt was a game of chance. I ran for the beel(large natural
water-body) and dipped under water. I could hear clattering of rifles and
other fire arms all around. I saw right in front of me people dropping on the
ground and then they were cut into pieces. One of them was bleeding from all
over his body. My mother-in-law was with me. And my baby was clinging to
my breast. There was no one else of my family with me. Only my mother-in-
law was with me. We were trying hard to hide ourselves under water. I saw
my father in law some distance away, two three girls of our next village and
two of our own village were also there. A fire was blazing all around. I saw
three or four persons chasing a man and drove him towards a pond.
Q. Do you know the man who was driven into the pond?
A. Yes. His name was Parimal. He was chased towards the pond. We were wat-
ching from where we were. My mother-in-law was busy coating me with mud
and whispering in agony that they would catch me and wouldn’t leave me
behind. My youngest daughter was too young to talk, she could only utter
maa and paa. She was screaming maa, maa and my mother-in-law was busy
coating my face with mud. I said to my mother, let them catch me, I shall see
who would be the one to do so. I splashed water on my eyes. I had some gold
ornaments with me and some money. Before I dipped into the water I had
hidden them under a palm tree. Then I saw two men chasing Parimal into
the water and slashed him with a dagger. I don’t know if he died or was alive.
Soon some of the men came towards us with daggers in their hands stained
with blood. Then one of them screamed, give me whatever you have, give me.
Then I said, “ Baba (father) I am giving you whatever I have. I have left
them near the palm grove. I’ll give those to you right now.” Then I gave them
the ornaments I had hidden and they left.
Q. Who were these people?
A. We heard that they were Rajab Ali’s men. I also saw Rajab Ali. He killed
my husband. I’ll tell you about it. A woman said to me later on pointing
to Rajab Ali that he was the one who killed my father-in-law. Then I saw him.
Q Who was the woman who identified Rajab Ali?
A. She was a woman from Sunderpur. She knew Rajab Ali. We were completely
robbed. There was no place where we could go. Our eldest daughter was with
my husband. She was 7/8 years old. They were missing. Suddenly I saw my
daughter running past us. When I yelled at her she came to us. Then she told
my mother-in-law that her father was shot and killed. She said that a man by the name Liaquat led Rajab Ali’s men to capture my husband and then
he was killed. My daughter said that my husband begged of Liaquat to spare
his life. He told Liaquat that they were childhood friends, how often the
two of them spent time together playing football or roaming about, and begged
to Liaquat, “ Dada, kindly be merciful to me and give me my life back”, but
Liaquat snatched my daughter from my husbands hold and threw her off and
shot him. Then my daughter ran to the palm grove where we had gathered and
told her grandma that her father was killed. None of us had tears in our eyes.
We had turned into stones. My father-in-law was standing some distance
away. I called him and told him that there was no place for us to go. He came
down to us in the marsh and suddenly some men came and yelled, “ Bastard,
malaoon (a slang word invented by Bengali Muslims meaning Hindus), get
out of water and come here. Then we appealed to them and said that he was
the only male member we had, an old man, all others were already killed and
we had no place to go, so to kindly spare his life for our sake. They were un-
moved. They dragged him out of the water, shot him and killed him right in
front of our eyes. Rajab Ali was in their midst.
Q. They killed your father-in-law in front of your eyes!
A. Yes, they killed him in front of our eyes, just a few yards from me. He had
an under shirt covering his body, and a dhoti. They shot him straight into his
chest. He fell down on the ground. There was just little sun-light. We tremb-
led in shock and fear. As the sun went down, we crept up on the ground. It
was dark. We had never in our life went out of our home after sunset. We did
not know what to do. All our male members were killed, none was alive. We
had no way of giving some kind of a burial or cremation to my father-in-law.
Ten or twelve women who were around gathered together and started walking
away from the scene of pain but we did not know the way to any place and
had no notion where to go. My mother-in-law was holding my right hand, my
baby was clinging to my breast and my elder daughter was close to me. Our
clothes were wet. Never in our life we had been through such a disaster. We
were walking in darkness and then reached a village. The name of this village
was Kantakhali. We walked into the village. On the way we saw a young boy
walking towards us. We embraced him and begged of him not to kill us. He
replied, “ No no mum, I won’t kill you. Two of my brothers have been killed
by them and their bodies have been thrown away. I am going to find them”.
Then we were taken to a house. The door was locked from inside. A radio
was turned on inside the room and a lantern was kept lit. We begged for a
little shelter. We said we had little children with us and we were in grim dis-
tress. They didn’t open the door, After a lot of pleading and begging the door
opened and we entered. A bamboo mattress was laid on the floor and we sat
on it. Our clothes were still wet. The children were crying of hunger. After a
lot of begging they gave us some rice. Just a little rice, not even a little salt.
We spent the night there. As soon as it was dawn, they insisted that we leave
the place. They were afraid if the killers came to know that we had been given
shelter then they would also be killed. Soon an old woman came and asked
if there were any women among us from Dakra Thakurbari because one of
our in-laws, a lady, was given shelter in the old woman’s house. We follow-
ed her to that house. It was owned by Siddiq Mia. We knew him. When we
went there we found my mother-in-law in that house. One of my in-laws was
with her. As soon as we reached the house Siddiq Mia told the inmates to arra-
nge space for us immediately and give us some clothes (as we were all soak-
ed). He also asked them to give us some food immediately. He looked at my
mother in law and said, you are also my mother. We took shelter in Siddiq
Mia’s house. He took very good care of us. We stayed with them for almost
two and a half months.
Q. Did you face any problem there?
A. We had no problem. They gave us everything. We cooked separately. Some
women of the house at times misbehaved with us but Siddiq Mia treated us
very kindly. One of the elder brothers of my husband survived the attack
and he took shelter in Betkanta. When he heard about us he sent a man to
Siddiq Mia’s house to take us back. My mother-in-law and I went to Betkanta
Here I met my sister. Both of us were married in the same village. My sister’s
husband was also killed. While at Betkanta my aunt heard about us and she
sent a man to take us back to her village. Then we went to my aunt’s house.
Q. What did you do then?
A. Then we went to India. There we stayed in a refugee camp. We returned after
Q. What did you see on return?
A. After liberation first we went to my father’s home. From there we returned to
my husband’s village. My brother-in-law sent for us. What could we see?
We had nothing left, everything was looted. I was not sorry about that. I lost
my husband and my father-in-law. We lost many others, lost them forever.
I will never get them back.
Interviewer: Mahbubur Rahman Mohon.
Date of Interview: Mar 5, 1997
Translator: Faruq Aziz Khan