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Chuknagar Genocide: Remembering the massacre of 10,000 unarmed people

  • Published at 05:40 pm May 20th, 2020
The Chuknagar Memorial, which was built in memory of victims of Chuknagar massacres in Dumuria of Khulna Dhaka Tribune

This year, ‘Chuknagar Smrity Rakkha Parisad’ has suspended all programs to commemorate the day due to coronavirus situation and cyclone Amphan

The Chuknagar massacre took place on May 20 when a Pakistan army contingent and their local cohorts – paramilitary razakars - unleashed an unbelievable terror on a sleepy rural hamlet in Khulna’s Dhumuria upazila.

On the day in 1971, not least than 10,000 people including men, women and children mostly belonging to Hindu community were slain by the Pakistani military and their collaborators. The forces sprayed bullets on them in broad daylight from light machine guns and semi-automatic rifles killing them on the spot within hours. The victims of the massacre hailed from Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Jessore and Gopalganj districts. They had assembled at Chuknagar, a small frontier business town under Dumuria upazila of Khulna district to flee to India through any available border route.

An eyewitness to the massacre ABM Shafiqul Islam, currently the president of ‘Gonohatya ’71 Smrity Raksha Parishad’ and former Principal of Chuknagar College said “There were bodies over bodies, numerous bodies. I did not get any room to step out evading the blood-stained bodies.  

That must be the biggest genocide in world history as Pakistani military and their collaborators killed thousands in a few minutes on that day.”

Abdul Haque, who was a student at that time, said: “I was looking for my father at Dibya Rural Secondary School beside the Bhadra River just after the massacre.”

He said there were bodies everywhere and the tide of blood was falling into the river.

 “I briefly halted at one place when I saw a female baby was trying to have milk from her deceased mother’s breast. I was shouting and crying. I would not forget this seen in my life,” he said with tearful eyes.

There was no official statistics about how many people were killed in Chuknagar but most witnesses said the figure would be over 10,000 as 1971 veteran and freedom fighters’ commander SM Babar Ali gave an account of the incident in his “Swadhinatar Durjoy Abhijan”.

Professor Muntasir Mamun in his research on the massacre and edited a book—Chuknagar Gonohatya ’71 (Genocide at Chuknagar in 1971) said, “At around 10am two trucks carrying Pakistani troops arrived at Kautala then known as Patkhola. The Pakistani troops were not many in number, most possibly a platoon or so. As soon as the trucks stopped, the Pakistani troops alighted carrying light machine guns (LMGs) and semi-automatic rifles and opened fire on the public. Within a few minutes, a lively town turned into a city of death.

Prof Muntasir Mamun mentioned this genocide as the biggest genocide in the country during the liberation war. 

Major (retd) Rafiqul Islam (Bir Uttam) wrote a book over Chuknagar genocide named ‘Muktir Sopantale.’

The day’s program begins with placing wreaths at the memorial where a discussion is held on Chuknagar College premises among freedom fighters, different party leaders and relatives of martyrs.

This year, ‘Chuknagar Smrity Rakkha Parisad’ has suspended all programs to commemorate the day due to coronavirus situation and cyclone Amphan.

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