A government job holder in his professional life, the real passion of Md Al Amin Rahaman is not in carrying out his repetitive day time work. “In my mind, I’m a researcher and a writer,” Rahaman says. He regularly contributes to journals, periodicals and enjoys writing poetry. But the subject that engulfs all of his writing experiences is Bangladesh’s Liberation War, more specifically, about Nilphamari District, where he is from.
“There is a book by a writer named Ahamed Sharif. But not much has been done in documenting the mass graves and martyrs of 1971 from this area,” Rahaman said. Nilphamari 1971: Gonohotta O Nirjaton
by Ahmed Sharif mainly details the instances of torture during the war. But ground level work for documentation of history, particularly documenting the names of the civilians and freedom fighters killed by the Pakistani military and its local collaborators, has been scarce.
Rahaman wrote a book, published by the Muktijoddha Sangsad in 2011, titled Ekattorey Domar
, documenting the onslaught of the Pakistani army in the Domar Upazila. One of the main reasons for writing that book was the fact that he was born in Chikonmati, which is in Domar.
Even though the war in all its ugliness and barbarity was a traumatising event in and of itself, it has been even more traumatising for Rahaman, whose own father Mohammad Abdul Bari was captured, tortured and killed by the military. A member of the Ansar force, Rahaman’s father took part in the resistance against the military and eventually was captured in April. He was detained for 15 days and tortured brutally before he was killed. “The elders who were there as captives tell me how horrible it was. Even though they say that it is better for me to not know about it at all,” Rahaman said.
But Rahaman does know about it. His father Bari was tortured by being thrown from the second floor of the detention building. He was also cut and salt was rubbed on his wounds to intensify his agony. “But my father never gave them any information,” Rahaman said, who was seven years old in 1971. It was clearly one of the main motivations that drives him to carry out time consuming research work on the ground.
Deeply affected by the blood curdling brutalities of 1971, Rahaman took it upon himself to start an even bigger history writing project than the book he previously wrote. Two and half a years ago, he started to gather data and witness accounts from a number of other upazilas in Nilphamari.
Currently working to finish what he hopes will be a book, Rahaman’s ongoing work gathered lists of people killed in six upazilas, information on the mass graves, reports on the monuments built to preserve war history, information about the organisation of freedom fighters and other aspects of the liberation struggle.
When asked what he needs to work on to finish his book, Md Al Amin Rahaman said “I want to collect more information on the mass graves”. Determined to not get his day time job come in the way of the demanding field work required for his writing, the independent researcher and writer hopes to finish the draft for his book soon.
Stories from Dimla
The Dimla upazila was liberated on December 5, after the freedom fighters fiercely fought off the Pakistani military. Many freedom fighters, whose identity remains unknown, died in that fight. MP Abdur Rahman Chowdhury, Nur-e-Kutub Alam Chowdhury, Abdur Rahman Chokha, Abu, Lebu, leader of the Te-Bhaga movement Jamshed Ali Chatiya worked tirelessly to organise and carry out the liberation struggle. Former senior minister Mashiur Rahman Jadu Mia worked for the liberation struggle but he came to be disliked by the freedom fighters for his controversial activities later.
The Pakistani military had a powerful three layered defense surrounding the old ‘thana’ of Dimla to Tunirhat, Bhangarhat and Balapara. They used to carry out hit operations targeting freedom fighters from these bases. The freedom fighters had a stronghold in Moddho Chatnai, also known as ‘Member Para’. A part of them used to hide during the day at Abdur Rahman Chokha’s father Abdul Gani’s house in Dohalpara and carry out hit and run guerrilla mission during the night. In retaliation, the Pakistani military burned down villages and shot innocent people en masse.