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1971 killing fields, mass graves still unidentified, neglected in Feni

  • Published at 08:41 pm December 1st, 2020
Feni mass grave
Picture shows the historic mass graveyard of 1971 at Bilonia, Feni in a sorry state due to a lack of maintenance and preservation by authorities concerned Dhaka Tribune

The district administration is working to preserve the killing grounds and mass graves in Feni, says the deputy commissioner

Around 3,000,000 people were brutally killed by the Pakistani forces during the nine months of the Liberation War in 1971. The killing of so many people within such a small period of time left bodies dumped and buried in hundreds of mass graves and killing fields across the country.

These mass graves and killing fields are hard to locate now as they are almost lost owing to a lack of efforts to preserve these sites. Many martyrs were buried or thrown in the marshes, canals and rivers after being killed, or were burnt alive. 

Consequently, at least 50 such sites in Feni--witnesses to the heinous brutality of the Pakistan army and its local collaborators--are either still unidentified or neglected.

According to locals, freedom fighters showed extraordinary bravery in the 1971 Liberation War against the Pakistani aggressors in Bilonia, Feni. Thirty-six heroic freedom fighters were martyred and numerous freedom fighters were injured. To commemorate their heroism, a monument to the Battle of Bilonia was erected at Saliya village on the Parashuram-Chagalnaiya road. But due to a lack of maintenance and neglect, the place has become a hangout for junkies.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Freedom Fighter Cdr Abdul Motaleb said that during the Liberation War, the Pakistani aggressors indiscriminately killed innocent Bangalis and brought them to the south-eastern corner of Feni Government College and buried their bodies there. 

“The Feni Government College honours department building now stands on a part of this mass graveyard. At the back of the building, there lie piles of garbage and septic tanks. Most of the teachers and students of Feni College do not know the story and history of the massacre on the Feni College campus,” said Abdul Motaleb.

Malipathar village of Parshuram upazila is one of the witnesses to the torture and genocide in the Liberation War. 

On November 4, 1971, after killing a large number of pro-independence men and women, the invaders dumped their bodies in the canals, rivers, ditches and deep forests of the village. 

The same morning, freedom fighters took position at Malipathar village and attacked the Pakistani camp at Shaldhar Bazar in Parshuram. 

However, after the attack, the invaders retaliated brutally and destroyed the village. Forty-seven people were killed that day and their bodies dumped in a forest in the village.

Master Nurul Islam, a witness of the horrific massacre, recalling the day with a heavy heart, said that numerous mass graves and killing fields in the upazila, including Malipathar village, have not been identified even today. “Some killing fields have been identified but remain unprotected.”

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Freedom Fighter Abul Kashem said: “The Pakistani occupation force had set up a camp next to Rajapur School and College in Rajapur Union of Daganbhuiyan upazila. There Bangali freedom fighters, youths, women and children of different ages were captured and tortured. Freedom fighter Ashraf was shot dead on the western side of  Chowdhury house. But that place has not found a place in the history of the Liberation War.” 

Freedom Fighter Shafiqur Rahman said although a memorial was erected at Jamura killing ground in Fulgazi upazila, it remains unprotected throughout the year. “Twenty-six freedom fighters, including Sharifa Khatun, Setara Begum, Abul Mansur, Johra Akter and Saiful Islam were killed indiscriminately there.”

Freedom Fighter Abu Taher said about 134 innocent villagers were massacred near Sonagazi Kutirhat Bridge area. Numerous skeletons were found under the bridge after the war. “Besides, innumerable people were slaughtered in the killing grounds at Matubhuiya Bridge and Rezumia Bridge.”

Speaking on the matter, Deputy Commissioner Md Wahiduzzaman said the district administration was working to preserve the killing grounds and mass graves in Feni. “Citizens also have a duty to protect the dignity of these historic sites to preserve the memories of the Liberation War.”

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