KHULNA, May 20, 2018 (BSS) - The ultimate victory of December 16, 1971 was the outcome of nine months long Liberation War, but the period was marked by a series of genocides and the Chuknagar Massacre is believed to be the worst one as it witnessed the slaying of at least 10,000 people in hours.
The carnage took place at the small frontier business town of Chuknagar at Dumuria of Khulna.
The victims, mostly minority Hindus, were fleeing their homes to take makeshift refuge in neighbouring India as they believed it to be a safe passage.
They left their homes as late Moulana Yousuf, a notorious Jamaat-e-Islami leader formed 'Razakar Bahini' on May 5 in 1971.
The 'Razakar Bahini' started torturing and killing people at their concentration camps in Khulna City and District including their main camp at the City's Tootpara area locally known as 'Bhooter Bari."
On May 20 in 1971, thousands of people took shelter at Chuknagar Bazar, Patkhola ground under Maltia village and at the banks of River Bhadra.
Suddenly, the Pakistani troops reached there from Satkhira. They first killed a farmer Chikan Ali while he was cultivating his paddy field.
The Pakistani troops were not many in number, most possibly a platoon or so. Within a few minutes a lively town turned into a city of death," witnesses said.
"Numerous bodies were lying on the ground. I did not get any room to step out evading the blood stained bodies," elderly Anser Ali, a witness to the massacre, said as he recalled the memories in choked voice while tears rolled down his cheeks.
Professor Muntasir Mamun in his research on the massacre said, people started to gather at Chuknagar since mid-April to cross the border in groups.
By May 15, big crowds from the nearby localities flocked to Chuknagar as the rumor of approaching Pakistani troops spread like fire.
According to a conservative account around ten thousand people were in Chuknagar waiting to cross the border, at the scene of the mass killing on May 20 of 1971.
Another witness to the massacre ABM Shafiqul Islam, currently the principal of Chuknagar College said the invading Pakistani troops took positions on two sides of the local bazaar and started spraying bullets indiscriminately.
"Many of those who succeeded in evading the bullets, lost their lives in the stampede of the fleeing crowd," he told BSS.
Haque who was a student at that time said bodies were lying everywhere as "I was looking for my father at Dubya Rural Secondary School beside the River Bhadra soon after the massacre". "The tide of blood was meeting the river--- I briefly halted at one place when I saw a baby girl sucking her deceased mother's breast. I was shouting and crying. I will never forget the scene in my life time," he said in tearful eyes.
Local people rescued the baby and called her 'Sundary Dasi.
Anser Ali said as he was visiting the scene someone lying in the pool of blood wanted water in a feeble voice but, "When I returned to the scene soaking my gamcha to drop some water on his mouth, he was no more," Ali recalled.
He said the residents started counting the bodies in groups but the frustration and emotion barred them from collecting the statistics after some 4,400 bodies.
As the indiscriminate firing began many fled the scene without waiting for brothers, sisters, wives or parents, most of whom they lost forever.
One of them, Purnima Rani swam the river Bhadra and luckily escaped the killing spree while she was only 15 years of age.
"I get terrified whenever I remember the scenes of killings...as I recall the horrible memory, my body starts trembling with fear ... only God has saved my life." Rani, mother of three children told BSS recently.
There was no official statistics about how many people were killed in Chuknagar but most witnesses said the figure would be over 10,000 as 1971 veteran and local commander of the freedom fighters SM Babar Ali, gave an account of the incidents in his Swadhinatar Durjoy Abhijan".
"Yet the massacre was not recorded in the history. It has not been referred anywhere in the state-published 15-volume Documents on the Liberation War, Shafiqul Islam said with regret and agony.
Shafiqul also demanded to build a Museum, Library, Complex and tourism zone at the Chuknagar martyrdom area and to announce May 20 a Public Holiday.
To mark the Day, different organizations including 'Chuknagar Ganohottya-71 Sritirakkha Parisad have chalked out various programmes.
The programme includes holding rally, commemoration meeting and placing of wreaths at the memorial.