Chuknagar Massacre: A of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide



Pradip Kumar Dutta
File Photo: Collected.

File Photo: Collected.

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

The pogrom initiated by Pakistanis began on March 25, 1971, with Operation Searchlight, marking the onset of widespread genocide.

Bangabandhu proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of March 26, and the country entered into a protracted War of Liberation, known as the Muktijuddho. Throughout the nine months of this war, the Pakistani army and their collaborators committed genocidal offenses on a daily and hourly basis.

During this time, countless people were forced to flee their homes and businesses to save their lives, properties, and dignity. Many ended up in refugee camps in India or became internally displaced, living with relatives in remote villages. Tragically, many were robbed, tortured, and tormented by Pakistani collaborators as they sought safety. Some were killed, while others died from hunger and exhaustion.

Chuknagar, a remote village bazar in Dumuria, Khulna district, became a crucial transit point for refugees heading to India. Located near the Indian border on the banks of the Bhodra River, it offered an escape route for people from southwestern Bangladesh (Khulna, Bagerhat, Jashore, Barishal, and Faridpur districts) who arrived by boat, on foot, and in bullock carts. After resting and eating in Chuknagar, they continued their journey. On the night of May 19, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 men, women, and children took refuge in schools, temples, mosques, and villagers' homes in and around Chuknagar. Many spent the night in paddy fields and open spaces, preparing a simple meal before resuming their journey.

By 10 am on May 20, three truckloads of Pakistani soldiers, accompanied by Bihari and Bengali collaborators, arrived at Chuknagar bazar. Armed with light machine guns and automatic rifles, they began firing in all directions at the refugees. The first victim, a local farmer named Chikan Ali Morol, was killed when he tried to protest. The soldiers continued their killing spree unimpeded, targeting anyone in their path. The carnage lasted for about five hours, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 refugees killed.

The massacre left bodies scattered across paddy fields, village yards, schools, mosques, temples, and the Bhodra River. Survivors had no chance to escape, as soldiers chased and shot them. Many boatloads of refugees were also attacked, and those who tried to swim to safety were killed by snipers. The water of the Bhodra River turned red with blood, and corpses floated in the river.

After the massacre, local people came out to help, but there was little they could do as almost everyone had been killed. Over the next few days, the locals buried some bodies in mass graves while others were dumped in the river. The Chuknagar refugee trail was mainly followed by the poorer sections of southwestern Bangladesh, whose relatives either died or could not return to Chuknagar after the war.

Slowly, this tragic massacre faded into oblivion, remembered only by a few patriotic Bangladeshis led by Prof. Shafiqul Islam of a local college. They tried to keep the memory alive and draw attention to the largest mass killing in the shortest time in human history. Their efforts eventually led to some recognition, but the world has largely ignored the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, which is the biggest Genocide after the Holocaust and other Genocides during WW2.

The atrocities committed by the Pakistani forces are documented in various sources, including newspapers, the Blood Telegrams, Senator Kennedy's report, Oxfam's "Testimony of Sixty," and the International Union of Jurists' inquiry.

However, the world has yet to officially recognise the genocide, contradicting the global pledge of "Never Again" to genocides.

Recognising and punishing the genocide is crucial to preventing future atrocities and ensuring justice for the victims.

While remembering the victims of the Chuknagar massacre, we urge the Bangladesh Government to be more proactive in seeking international recognition of the genocide. The Foreign Minister recently mentioned plans to create a special cell to coordinate these efforts. The sooner this cell starts working, the better. We have ample evidence to prove the genocide, and organisations of genocide scholars worldwide, including IAGS, Lemkin Institute, Genocide Watch, and ICSC, have recognised it and called for international recognition.

The involvement of Bangladesh's intelligentsia, civil society, diaspora, progressive political, and student parties is essential for achieving international recognition. The responsibility lies with all of us, especially our government.

The writer is a researcher and traveler.

   

Oppostion protest against the decision to whiten black money



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

The Opposition Jatiya Party and Independent Members of Parliament have expressed their anger over the proposal to whiten black money or undeclared money by providing 15 percent tax in the budget. They said that ordinary honest tax payers would be offended and would not want to pay tax which will have an adverse effect on the country.

They said this during the general discussion of the 2024-25 budget session of the Jatiyo Sangsad(JS) on Sunday (June 23). The Speaker Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury presided over the session.

Jatiya Party Member of Parliament Masud Uddin Chowdhury said in the session that there is no new message of hope in the proposed budget. Instead regular tax payers have been discouraged by giving opportunities to whiten black money. And those who did not pay tax were encouraged.

He said, everyone pays 30-35 percent tax legally. And those who have not paid tax for a long time, that black money will be made white with 15 percent tax. So why do ordinary people pay regular taxes? It is unethical; as a result many people will take this opportunity without paying tax.

He said that this black money is of two types, it is earned illegally, it is not even shown for that. Another type of income is earning, they also did not pay tax. He strongly opposed the legalization of most of them black money, illegally earned money and demanded their punishment. He also spoke about the problems of common people due to inflation.

He said, remittance is a major driving force of our economy. About 1 crore people send thousands of crores money of remittances every year. Among them, there is a lot of writing about Malaysia; they send Tk. 4 thousand crores per month, Tk. 51 thousand crores annually. Many people think that there is a conspiracy about why so much money will come. There is also a syndicate with this. As a result they are also having problems sending remittances, creating instability there. Therefore, he demanded to facilitate remittance warriors and stop corruption, money laundering, bank robberies etc. in the banking sector.

AKM Mostafizur Rahman, another Member of Parliament of the Jatiya Party, said that the budget has kept the privileges of the upper classes. And the middle class will be under pressure. Various policies of the budget did not go in favor of the poor.

He said that the government's income will decrease as the price of cigarettes is not increased. It is the government's responsibility to ensure health care, but there is corruption everywhere, even though thousands of crores of rupees are allocated annually, people are not receiving medical care.

He said that the health system should be reformed to restore order in the health sector. Mega project loans are being taken, a large part of which is being taken up by outside contractor engineers. The young society in our country should be skilled in this regard.

Criticizing the decision taken to whiten black money, he said that as a result common taxpayers will not want to pay tax. So you have to move away from that expectation.

Independent Member of Parliament Abul Kalam Azad demanded that the money of the country has been diverted abroad, they should be identified and the money should be returned and they should be brought under punishment.

He criticized how the sovereign allows the parliament to launder black money. He demanded the identification and punishment of those involved in money laundering, corruption, and non-payment of loans from banks.

Another Independent Member of Parliament Sohrab Uddin said that the list of distressed banks has been prepared recently, and Bangladesh Bank has decided to merge these distressed banks with solvent banks. But because no effective measures were taken, these distressed banks suffered, with customers withdrawing all their money. He condemned the hot decision of Bangladesh Bank for this.

Sohrab Uddin said that the Finance Minister said to whiten the 15 percent tax to give an opportunity to show undisclosed money in the budget. That will not serve the purpose. No one will show this undisclosed amount with 15 percent tax, 10 percent in the past also did not get much response.

He said if it can be taxed at 5 percent then it will show the huge amount of undisclosed money in the country, the objective of the Finance Minister will be achieved. So I will request the Finance Minister to levy 5 percent tax to launder huge amount of money.

He said that development in the country is going at a fast pace, but the problem is corruption. Corruption has increased if it is not curbed then the speed of development will slow down. Today there is no place where there is no corruption. A lot of money is being lost in the bank, corruption has increased, the officials and the chairmen of the bank are immersed in corruption today. There was no trial for them.

;

Azim's daughter Doreen demanded Mintu's expulsion



District Correspondent, Barta24.com, Jhenaidah
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Jhenaidah-4 (Kaliganj) Constituency MP Anwarul Azim's daughter Doreen said, "I came to know through newspapers and magazines that Jhenaidah District Awami League general secretary Saidul Karim Mintu was the main planner of my father's murder." There is no place for a murderer in Awami League. He should be expelled from the team immediately. Along with this, the followers of Mintu in Kaliganj involved in the murder of the father should also be brought under the law.

She said these things in the rally organized to protest the killing of MP Azim and the 75th anniversary of Awami League organized at Kaliganj bus terminal on Sunday (June 23) afternoon.

Doreen burst into tears on stage in the presence of thousands of people.

She said, "Father did not give much time to the family. He used to run for the welfare of the people of the area all day long. He used to go to funerals of dead people. After the murder of my father, I can understand how popular he was by seeing your presence in this protest meeting today. Because of your love, father became MP three times in this constituency. Today, he was to be killed as a victim of political revenge. I demand exemplary punishment by finding the murderers of my father.

Former President of Kaliganj Upazila Awami League and former Upazila Chairman Jahangir Siddiqui also addressed the rally - Upazila Awami League Joint General Secretary UP Chairman Ohiduzzaman Odu, Upazila Jubo League President and Upazila Parishad Chairman Shibli Nomani, Kaliganj Pourashava Mayor Ashraful Islam Ashraf, Upazila Vice Chairman Shafikuzzaman Russell, General Secretary of Upazila Jubo League Jahangir Hossain Sohel and others spoke in the rally.

;

It may be embarrassing to comment before 24 hours: Dr. Zahid



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

After 24 hours, BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia's personal physician Dr. AZM Zahid Hossain told that it may be embarrassing to comment on the physical condition of the BNP Chief before 24 hours.

He gave this information to reporters at the gate of Evercare Hospital in the capital on Sunday (June 23) night.

Zahid Hossain said Begum Khaleda Zia's latest condition is that, today, a temporary pacemaker has been set first and then a permanent pacemaker will be set. Today, she is currently under close observation in the Critical Care Unit(CCU) under the supervision of doctors. If the next 24 hours are not gone, it may become embarrassing to make any kind of statements and comments about her physical condition. Therefore, I wish prayers to the countrymen on behalf of her family, party and Acting Chairman Tariq Rahman.

He said, 'She was transferred to Evercare Hospital on the advice of his medical board doctors in a very critical condition last Friday. Later (till now) she is under treatment in CCU. By consensus of the doctors, her heart function had reached a point where she had three blocks - you know. I kept saying that anything can happen at any time. That incident was going to happen last Friday night. In that situation, the members of the medical board quickly brought her to the hospital. They started her treatment accordingly.

;

‘I will always be committed to the needs of the country and people’: Army Chief



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

General Waqar-uz-Zaman took charge as the Chief of Bangladesh Army. After taking charge, he told reporters in his office, "I will always be engaged in the needs of the country and the people." I will fulfill the responsibility given by the government to help the civil administration in various fields including disaster management. Army will also work for world peace.

Regarding the Myanmar border situation, he said, "We are always ready without doing anything provocative."

Outgoing Army Chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed handed over responsibility to the new Army Chief Waqar-uz-Zaman in his office on Sunday (June 23) noon. Then in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina General Waqar-uz-Zaman was given the badge of promotion as General by Chief of Navy Admiral M Nazmul Hasan and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Hasan Mahmood Khan.

In the afternoon he hold a courtesy meeting with President Md. Sahabuddin at Bangabhaban. On the same day, various farewell ceremonies of the outgoing army chief were completed.

Earlier, General Shafiuddin laid wreath at Shikha Anirban in the morning. He was given a farewell guard of honor at Senakunja. He planted saplings there. Both took part in a photo session after the handover ceremony at the headquarters.

Then, as per custom, the outgoing army chief climbs into an open jeep decorated with flowers. Army officers dragged him with a rope. At this time, officials from both sides of the road started giving flowers. He took them very passionately.

Waqar-uz-Zaman, the new army chief told the journalists, "First of all, I am grateful to Almighty Allah." It is a serious responsibility. Everyone will pray so that I can fulfill that responsibility beautifully.

Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said, 'I have worked with her. My working experience with her is very good. Whenever I asked that decision; She made that decision very quickly. Bangabandhu gave us an independent country. Thank you also to Bangabandhu. Thank you to all the martyrs. My gratitude to the freedom fighters. Because, they dedicated their golden days for us.

He said, 'Army works with the help of civil power. When the government gives us the responsibility to deal with disaster, we will fulfill that responsibility. We are working for world peace. I will always be engaged in the needs of the country and people.

He said, 'I will work to keep the army disciplined at all times. We are doing training all the time. I will see that the training continues. The Army is performing challenging duties in UN peacekeeping missions. Whenever we are tasked with building the country and nation; only then will we fulfill that responsibility.

Regarding the border situation in Myanmar, the new army chief said, 'We are engaged with all countries. We are also engaged with Myanmar. Our Defense Attaché is in the country. They (Myanmar) are in a civil war in their own country. I don't think they will do anything aggressive at this point. However, the army is always ready. Navy has increased patrols. The border guard is also ready.

He also said, "We have no unresolved issues with Myanmar except the Rohingya." We want them to take back the Rohingyas. Besides, I don't see any hatred or any other kind of problem towards them. We are continuing to try to solve the Rohingya issue in a peaceful way. We are never disappointed.'

;