The Pakistani military gained control of the Nilphamari district by March 3, 1971. The district was liberated on December 13, three days before the official victory of Bangladesh in the war of liberation against Pakistan. Freedom fighters fought the Pakistani army in Dimla, Domar, Jaldhaka, Kishoreganj, Saidpur and in a number of different areas in Nilphamari Sadar.
The district Liberation War commander Fazlul Haque said, “Approximately two thousand people from the district fought in the war, among whom 71 were martyred.”
He also said that there are more than 25 killing fields within the district. These places were identified after the war, but the ones that had been preserved, are not being maintained.
On April 27, 1971 the Pakistani military, aided by the local collaborators the Razakar and Al-Badr, massacred approximately 350 people in Kaliganj in the upazila of Jaldhaka in Nilphamari district. The slaughtered people were buried on the spot in a mass grave.
The place has since been known as the ‘Kaliganj Boddhobhumi’. Monuments commemorating the martyred were built at the spot. While the monuments serve the purpose of preserving the tragic history, the area surrounding them is in disarray from a lack of maintenance. The area is littered with rubbish and it has become a field for cattle grazing. It gets a face lift every year in the month of December.
The Kaliganj mass grave is 30 kilometres away from the Nilphamari township. The monuments at the mass grave were built with funding from the Jaldhaka Upazila Parishad and under the direction of the Muktijoddha Sangsad.
The upazila commander of freedom fighters Hamidul Islam said, “I still shudder whenever I recall those days. You can’t forget the brutality that the Pakistani military carried out with the help of the local collaborators.” Islam called upon the right people to take measures to preserve the history of the Liberation War, so that it reaches the younger generations.
Nine kilometres away from Jaldhaka upazila, there is a small bazaar that has recently been renamed as ‘Bangabandhu Haat’. During the war, approximately 350 people were massacred here. The people that were killed came from Kathali, Balagram and Jaldhaka.
Saidpur Muktijuddho commander Ekramul Haque was arrested by the military in Saidpur. “They said the new airport will be built and we will have to work for its construction. We were taken there. After working there the whole day, when we got back home, they came with us and looted our houses. The Pakistani collaborators Hashemi and Kayum took everything we owned,” Haque recalled of the horrifying event.
Four days after that, Ekramul Haque and other people were put into a train compartment crammed with captured people. “When the train came up to the Golahat field, people were taken out in the field, where they were massacred by shooting and by bayonet,” said Haque. This event took place on June 13. “Nothing has been done to preserve the memory of this event,” Haque added.
Prior to that on April 15 and 16, over a hundred people were massacred inside and outside of the Saidpur Railway Factory. This place is still being neglected and has not undergone any preservation. The local freedom fighters have demanded the preservation of these sites.
Originally published by Bangla Tribune