Name: Tapan Kumer Chakravorty
Father’s Name: Shaheed Sudhir Kumer Chakravorty
Age in 1971 24 yrs, Educational Qualification, M.Sc., Law Student
Profession in 1971, Law Student. Current Profession; Lawyer
Q. What have you heard about the attack by the Pak Army Janta on Mar 26, 1971? What was your feeling then?
A. It was about 12 mid-night. My father came home and said that the Pak Army had launched an attack in Dhaka with tanks and other armored vehicles. They were killing men, women and children indiscriminately. When I heard this my immediate reaction was that the liberation war had already begun. From then till the country would be liberated the war will keep on continuing.
Q. Were you at your village home then?
A. I was in our home in the town. On April 26 the Pak troops landed in Barisal (town} for the first time. A few days before this happened we moved to our village home. Most probably towards the end of July I left for India. My father who was a lawyer remained in the village. Some selfish people gave wrong information to my father that if he had returned to the town no harm will be done to him. So he returned to Barisal town on August 12 in the day time and in the night my farther was captured by the Pakistani army and most likely he was killed in the same night.
Q. When did the Pak army attack your village? How did they launch the attack?
A. The Pak Army attacked Barisal town on April 26, 1971. They killed many people and many were taken prisoner. The name of our village is Shyampur, the army attacked this village. There was a Muktibahini camp in Shyampur. The village school, shops, godown etc were burnt down. The Pak bahini maintained control over Barisal town from April 26 to Dec 8, 1971. During this period they killed innumerable people. I cannot remember their names at this moment. Among the shaheeds were, Mujibur Rahman Kanchan, Advocate Jitendra Lal Dutta, my father Advcate Sudhir Kumer Chakravorty, Anwar Hossain, Fazlul Kabir Selim, Bibuhuti Chattopadhya who was post master of Barisal, Professor Rafiqul Islam, Professor Sunil Baran Chakravorty, Professor Abdul Halim Khan, Advocate Lalit Kumer and many others. Those who became shaheed in frontal fight with the Pak army included Thomas, Ashish Bepari, Mir Moshtaq Hossain Sentu and others. As soon as the Pak army landed in Barisal some of their henchmen instigated them to go on a rampage of looting. Wherever the Pak bahini had gone in the district of Barisal they looted and burnt down the homes belonging to the minority community, Awami League leaders and supporters. On top of that they carried out torture and abused women indiscriminately. I remember when the Barisal town was liberated we went to what was once the cantonment and found many girls and rescued them. Wherever the Pak bahini had gone, they tortured and raped women.
Q. Has any one from your family become Shaheed? And how did it happen?
A. Yes, my father Sudhir Kumer Chakravorty who was a well-known advocate of Barisal bar became shaheed. My father was a very famous lawyer of Barisal. He was 63 years old then. On Aug 12, 1971, the army arrested my father from our Barisal town residence and in the same night he was taken to a river bank and killed. In the same night a Hindu boy, aged about 20/22 years whose name was Gaurango was captured along with a Muslim Advocate by the name Abdus Sattar Howlader. Abdus Sattar was taken to the cantonment and tortured. My father and Gaurango were taken to a river bank and were made to stand close to each other so that they could be killed with one bullet. Immediately before they fired Gaurango jumped into the river and swam across the river and he saved his life. My father received the bullet and died on the spot. Later on I came to know about this episode from Gaurango.
Q. When did the Muktibahini operations start in your area and what was the feeling of the common people about them?
A. Quite naturally the common people accepted the Muktibahini as their saviors and liberators. They had strong feeling of affection for the Muktijoddhas. Every body gave them food, had taken care of them, whatever was possible the villagers did for them. In the Barisal town the operations of the muktibahini practically started in the month of June. About the same time the Muktibahini also spread itself over the Bakerganj thana (police station) and excepting for the area adjacent to the thana itself nowhere else the Pak bahini had their control. It was rather natural for them to have control over the Barisal town. Even then the Muktibaihini continued their clandestine attacks on many areas of the town at different times on different targets. Even they launched an attack on a procession in favour of Pakistan some time towards the end of November in broad day light in the Barisal town. In addition there were some very important incidents. One of them was a daring attack on an oil tanker which was anchored at the Barisal river port. The guerrillas displaying devilish courage advanced from the other bank of the river and mined the tanker and destroyed the vessel. Most likely it happened towards the end of October. There were many such acts of courage that our Muktibahini displayed.
Q. Who were the Rajakars in your village or the area around it? Who were the “Peace Committee” members?
A. Before I say anything about the village I would like to speak something about the situation in the Barisal town. The Pakistans had set up “Peace Committee” in the Barisal distict and the town. Most likely Mr. Abdur Rab, an advocate was the chairman of the committee. He was a terror. Later on during the presidency of Ziaur Rahman, Mr Rob was elected an M.P from his party. Some years later he died of natural causes. Another person named Shahjahan Chowdhury was secretary of the committee and former president (of Bangladesh) Abdur Rahman Biswas was vice-president of the committee. The chairman of our Shyampur village was Hashem of Bakherganj area. He is till alive. There were many others who were members of the committee. I remember there was a fellow behind our village home whose name was looter Ghafoor. He was a dagi (confirmed) criminal. We had allegations against him. But he got a (clearance) certificate from an Awami League leader and went under his protection. Who knows how he managed it. In the same way many Razakars and big leaders of “Peace Committee” went unpunished. Later on after Aug 15, 1975 killing of Bangabandhu, these dalals(agents) and Razakars through off their masks and came out openly and started a hate campaign against him. And yet these people were saved from death by some Awami League leaders and freedom fighters. Later on these infamous people openly joined a powerful political party and established themselves socially and politically.
Q. What did you see when you returned to your village after the war? What was the condition of homesteads, schools, colleges, madrashas, mosques, temples, bridges etc?
A. All that was left of our town house was only the structure. Everything was looted. Nothing was left. The Pakistanis did not destroy the schools of the Barisal town because they used these as camps. The mosques and temples were completely destroyed. The bridges in Barisal town were not harmed. But outside the town the mukti bahini in some places destroyed the bridges. It was a strategic necessity to fight the war. In our own village I found the main school and the entire market place were totally burnt down.
Q. What did you do with your weapons after the war?
A. When I returned to my village there was an immediate call to surrender them. In other words we couldn’t keep them any longer. So I surrendered my arms and returned with a certificate from the mukti bahini.
Q. Which are the areas where widespread killing, arson and looting took place?
A. There are many areas in Barisal district where widespread killing took place. One of them is the Kalashkati village of Bakherganj. This Klashkati village is mainly inhabited by Hindu families and the people are quite well to do. In the month of May after the Pak troops captured Barisal they attacked Kalashkati. About 3 hundred people were killed. Women were subjected to all kinds of torture, humiliation and rape. No less than 50 homesteads were burnt down. The market place was totally burnt down. In addition to this in the same month they carried out another attack. This time the target was a Namasudra (low caste Hindu) village on the other side of the police station. In this attack the Pak troops used gunboats. Here also no less than 300 people died. Women were tortured and abused. Everything was looted. In several areas of Nolchiti police station the Pak troops carried out ruthless military operation. In Kushangal village they killed 50 people and tortured and abused women. Besides whenever Pakistani troops landed in any place they indiscriminately killed anyone they found in front of them. They conducted a bigger operation in Shyampur village. Besides these, I have seen the Pak troops attacking a village on the eastern bank of the river Paera. We were at the west side of the village and I watched the operation from the other bank of the river. At that point the Paera river is about two miles in width. They attacked with gun boats. I saw houses after houses were in blaze. Then there was another operation in the guava grove of Shwarupkati. Hundreds of Hindu men, women and children were massacred in the Atghar Kuriana village. Very naturally they violated women, and looted whatever they could find. In Gaurnadi the Mukti Bahhini had already taken position and were active and they offered resistance. And in Barisal town the Pakis took away men from their homes and next day they would disappear. There were innumerable such cases.
Q.Who were the ones killed in armed confrontation?
A. Professor Mir Moshtaq Hossain Shentu became Shaheed (died in operation). Most likely he died on 8th or 9th December in the battle to liberate Bakherganj police station. Then Shaheed Anwar Hossain, a sepoy of the Bengal Regiment became a martyr. He took part in the military operation against the Pakis in Bata-jore on Aug 16. He was captured by the enemy and killed. Shaheed Fazlul Karim Selim, a lance-naik of East Pakistan Rifles died in the operation in Baufal just one month before the country was liberated. There were others like Thomas, Ashik Bepari who died on Nov 19 in the Shyampur operation and became Shaheed.
Q What did you do after the war was over?
A. I was a student of Law College. I completed my Law degree and started my career as a lawyer as a member of the Barisal Bar and since then I have been practicing law.
Interviewer; Niranjan Dasgupta Anu
Date; 11 July 1996
Translator: Faruq Aziz Khan