There was no Hindu slum in Dhaka called Palpara which was torched by the Pakistan army on the night of March 25, 1971: Dhaka City Corporation
According to the DCC, that there was a Hindu-majority slum by the Mymensingh Road in 1971 is not true. But it’s true that a few low-caste Shudra Hindus lived in the low-lying swampy areas adjacent to the Begunbari khal. The Pakistan army torched their homes on the night of March 25. Deaths were also reported. But those who are saying that they have seen familiar faces and strangers alike, meaning those who had died that night in the fire are being informed that no such slums existed then, nor does any now. The authorities have no opinion on any other issues concerning this area.
When the soldiers arrived to torch the slum, the residents screamed and shouted in fear. But the sound of raw flames drowned their cries. Families ran away holding their children towards Maghbazar. Some of them burnt to death. Haran pagla was too stoned to have run. His body was all charred, so that there was no need to formally burn him on a funeral pyre later.
One of the khadems of the Dilu Road mazar informed that the din coming from Palpara where people were killed in 1971 did not let him sleep. So he filled a tea cup with water and asked them to dive in. They did so and swam around playing in the water floating in the cup. The khadem slept well after that. At night people would hear tinkling sounds coming from inside his room
As there were far too many residents in Palpara, Pakistani army brought in a special Shalwar-wearing contingent of soldiers from Lahore. But the soldiers refused to kill dead Hindus as they had received no training on this.
As domestic helps were not easily available in Dilu Road, many came down to Palpara in the hope of finding them. Those who were still hanging around in the area between the drain and the swamp would go and work in the homes for the same wages as they had received before 1971. They would eat nothing, drink nothing; they just smoked a little ganza if they felt like.
Also read: http://www.dhakatribune.com/magazine/arts-letters/2017/04/06/mythical-place-called-bangla-motors/
Maran Chandra Das was bitten by a rabid dog when he was 12 years old. He was supposed to take 14 injections in the abdomen but he took 13 of them and left for his village home before completing the full course. After he returned to Dilu Road, he had to start taking the injections all over again, completing the full course of 14. Since then he stopped going back to his village. Later he forgot the address of his village home. He would knock on the door of the house he worked before 1971 as a cleaner and ask them for his home address but they couldn’t help him with it. The kindly house owner hired a large micro bus so that everyone could visit places in the sky but Maran Chandra Das never went with them.
Dilu Road mazar
One of the khadems
of the Dilu Road mazar
informed that the din coming from Palpara where people were killed in 1971 did not let him sleep. So he filled a tea cup with water and asked them to dive in. They did so and swam around playing in the water floating in the cup. The khadem
slept well after that. At night people would hear tinkling sounds coming from inside his room.
The boy was being chased away from the Maghbazar side and he tried to escape through Dilu Road. He met Maran Chandra Das and said, “How can I escape?” Maran said, “You can stay with Haran pagla, nobody ever finds him. He stays in the swamp the whole day and comes out at night to eat raw cotton from dead trees. You can visit the sky, too, but that opportunity comes once a month on a special micro bus service. I hear the food is good there. A lot of people come and go but I don’t. I have forgotten the name of my village. That’s why.”
Afsan Chowdhury is a multi-media journalist, historian and litterateur. He has begun writing fiction after a gap of almost two decades using experimental forms and mixing facts and fiction. This story was originally written in Bangla, and published in the daily Bonikbarta.