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When will the killing fields be identified?

  • Published at 01:08 am December 14th, 2019
intellectual martyrs graveyard
A mass grave from 1971 that has been occupied and turned into a family graveyard at Shialbari in Mirpur Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Among the victims of their brutality, only a few had been identified while many bodies were too decomposed to be traced for identification

The nine-month-long bloody war in 1971, saw the Pakistani occupation army and its local collaborators - al-Badr, al-Shams and razakars abducting intellectuals and killing them in many places across Bangladesh.

During the Liberation War, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan and their fellows played the central role behind the killing of intellectuals of the country, mainly the teachers, doctors, journalists and writers with an intention to cripple the nation intellectually.

The mass grave behind the Government Bangla College at Mirpur 1 remains unprotected where a number of skeletons and dresses were found. The spot was used for dumping bodies by Razakars after killings back then | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka TribuneAmong the victims of their brutality, only a few had been identified while many bodies were too decomposed to be traced for identification.

Over the years, the state could not yet take enough measures to protect and preserve most of the killing fields and mass graves, where the bodies of the martyrs were dumped by the Pakistani forces and their collaborators in 1971.

Most of those places, witness to untold horrors, remain uncared, unprotected, and unmarked to date.

A fraction of a six decimal mass killing field at New C Block in Mirpur 1 near Rainkhola appears to be a rickshaw garage where a badminton court has recently been set up | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

War researchers says these places are now hard to find as the government has failed to take up any initiative except projects to care for those spots and because of this, locals of the areas are also unaware of the importance and historical significance of the places where they reside.

War Crimes Facts Finding Committee puts the number of mass killing fields at graveyards at over 5,000, however Liberation War Museum puts it at 446 and Ministry of Liberation War Affairs puts it at 204.

A gymnasium built on the killing site of Mohammadpur Physical College spot, then used as a torture cell during 1971 Liberation War | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune</strong>Among the identified spots, only a handful of places have monuments, like Kurmitola inside Dhaka Cantonment, Rajarbagh Police Lines, and the Rayerbazar mass killing grounds; the Martyred Intellectual Memorial at Mirpur; and a museum by Liberation War Museum in Mirpur-10 are the only places in the capital maintained properly.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs in fiscal year 2018-19 sanctioned Tk461 crore to preserve the 204 mass killing grounds that it identified.