Golaghat massacre

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Golahat massacre
গোলাহাট হত্যাকান্ড
Golaghat massacre is located in Bangladesh
Golaghat massacre
Location Golahat,Saidpur District,Rangpur Division, Bangladesh
Coordinates 25°48′21″N 88°52′58″E / 25.80583°N 88.88278°E / 25.80583; 88.88278Coordinates: 25°48′21″N 88°52′58″E / 25.80583°N 88.88278°E / 25.80583; 88.88278
Date 13 June 1971
10 A.M. (UTC+6:00)
Target Bengali Hindus, Marwaris
Attack type
Mass murder, Massacre
Weapons Ramdaos, Bayonets
Deaths 437
Perpetrators Bihari Muslims, Pakistani Army

Golahat massacre (Bengali: গোলাহাট হত্যাকান্ড) was a massacre of the emigrating Marwaris and Hindus of Saidpur on the 13 June 1971, by the Urdu-speaking people of the area who had collaborated with the Pakistani occupation army.[1][not in citation given][2][3][4][not in citation given]

Background[edit]

Saidpur is a railway town and a commercial hub situated in the Nilaphamari district of Rangpur division of Bangladesh. It is situated near Parbatipur, which was an important rail junction in undivided India, connecting the North East to the rest of the country. The Marwaris, attracted by the prospect of trade and commerce had settled in the town of Saidpur, long before the Partition of India. The Marwaris became a part of the local population and contributed to the society. In 1911, Tulsiram Agarwal had founded the Tulsiram Girls High School. Some of them had earned a respected position in the society because of their social work.[3] After the Partition, the Marwaris chose to stay back in East Pakistan, instead of emigrating to India. Thousands of Urdu-speaking Muslims from Bihar and the United Provinces settled in Saidpur.[4] In 1971, the Urdu speaking Muslims constituted 75% of the population of city.[5]

During the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Urdu-speaking Muslims openly collaborated with the Pakistanis. Saidpur became a strong support base for the Pakistani occupation army.[4] On 12 April, the Pakistani occupation army killed eminent Marwari citizens Tulsiram Agarwal, Yamuna Prasad Kedia and Rameshwar Lal Agarwal at Nisbetganj, near the Rangpur cantonment. The killings created a panic in the Marwari community. Their homes were looted by the Urdu-speaking Bihari Muslims.[3]

Events[edit]

On 1 June, the Pakistani occupation army took hostage 185 Marwari men to the Saidpur cantonment. The Pakistanis were led by local Bihari leaders. Major Gul of the Pakistani occupation army employed them in renovation of the Saidpur airbase and digging trenches for military purposes. A few days later, Major Gul stated that he would send them to India though the border outpost at Haldibari. Meanwhile, on 5 June, the Pakistani occupation army announced that the Hindus of Saidpur would be provided a safe passage to India through the Chilahati border into the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.[3]

On the morning of 13 June, at about 6 A.M., the 185 prisoners were brought to the Saidpur railway station in four military trucks. They were assured a safe passage to India and asked to bring their family and relatives. They rushed to their houses in the joy of freedom and soon returned with their families. The Pakistani soldiers and the Bihari Muslims segregated the crowd into men and women. A special train had arrived at the Saidpur railway station at 8 A.M. They were boarded into separate compartments, two each for the men and the women. The doors and the windows were locked from inside. While boarding no less 20 married and unmarried women were detained by the Pakistani soldiers and later taken to the Saidpur cantonment.[3]

At about 10 A.M. the special train commenced its journey towards India. Soon after the journey had commenced, the train abruptly came to a halt over a railway culvert in Golaghat, a locality in the outskirts of the Saidpur town, two kilometres of the Saidpur railway station. The doors of the compartments were opened and Bihari Muslims, armed with shining ramdaos entered the compartments. The entire area was surrounded by the Pakistani military, armed with automatic weapons. The Bihari Muslims abused the Hindus, calling them malaun and stated that their lives were not even worthy of a bullet.[3] The men, women and children were dragged out one by one. The Pakistani occupation army and their non-Bengali Muslim collaborators bayoneted and butchered them to death. The children who were crying out of fear were either smashed on the railway tracks or flung into the air and then caught with bayonets.[2]

There is some confusion regarding the number of people killed in the Golaghat massacre. According to the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha and Prothom Alo 437 Hindus were killed in the massacre.[2][3] However, Sarmila Bose mentioned a figure of 338, quoting from an account of Dwarka Prasad Singhania, Marwari businessman of Saidpur.[6] Only ten from those who boarded the train could escape. They ran towards Dinajpur and finally took shelter in India.

Memorial[edit]

In 2010, Prajanma 71 and Saidpur Smaranika Parishad commemorated the martyrdom of the victims through puja and anjali at the mass killing site at Golaghat.[3] No memorial has been erected even after 40 years of the Liberation War.[4] The relics of the massacre are being lost. Local land sharks have encroached upon the site of mass killing and started cultivation.[4] Sumit Agarwala, the president of Saidpur Smaranika Parishad demanded a national memorial at the mass killing site.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Uddin, Jasim (June 13, 2011). "সৈয়দপুরে আজ গোলাহাট গণহত্যা দিবস". bdreport24.com. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Islam, Mamun (December 5, 2011). গোলাহাটের নৃশংসতম গণহত্যা : যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিচারের আশায় ৪৩৭ শহীদের স্বজনরা [Golahat genocide: the hope that the war crimes trial of 437 relatives of martyrs]. Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alam, M. R. (June 15, 2010). অপারেশন খরচাখাতা [Operation Kharacakhata]. Prothom Alo. Archived from the original on June 18, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Lutu, Tofazzal Hossain. "অবহেলায় হারিয়ে যাচ্ছে সৈয়দপুরের গোলাহাট বধ্যভূমির স্মৃতিচিহ্ন". Dainik Karatoa. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to Saidpur". saidpurbd.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ Bose, Sarmila (June 2010). Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War. Columbia University Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-231-70164-8. Retrieved February 4, 2012.