Gopalpur massacre

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Gopalpur Massacre was a massacre committed by Pakistan army during Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. The killing took place at Gopalpur municipality of Lalpur Upazila, Natore on 5 May 1971. The victims of the massacre were the Bengali employees of North Bengal Sugar Mill.[1]

Background[edit]

At midnight of March 25, 1971 Pakistan army launched Operation Searchlight, an ethnic cleansing scheme against Bengali people of the then East Pakistan.[2] This attack triggered Bangladesh liberation war and commenced 1971 Bangladesh atrocities that continued for nine months till the end of the war.

Elements of Pakistan army established control over Dhaka city on the night of 25 March. But they faced stubborn resistance from locally organized Bengali armed forces in other parts of the country.[3] In Pabna, The 25 Punjab regiment of Pakistan army suffered heavy causality as they tried to wrest control of the city from the locals. They called for reinforcements from the battalion headquarter in Rajshahi. Major Raja Aslam arrived in Pabna with the reinforcement but was forced to retreat toward Rajshahi. But their movement was hampered by occasional clashes with local forces. The locals also put up barricades and destroyed a bridge at Dhanaidah in Natore to stall the movement. A railway wagon barricade was put up at Gopalpur rail gate by the local station master.

On 30 March, as the army halted near the Waliar Moyna village, it was attacked by a group of Bengali fighters aided by the local Santals. In the ensuing battle (remembered as Moynar Juddho, the battle of Moyna by the locals) 40 of the Bengali fighters died. The casualty on the Pakistani side was lower, but their morale dropped significantly. In the night, the Pakistanis attempted to flee the area in small groups. The following day, several of them were captured by the locals, including the commanding officer Major Aslam.[4] The soldiers were taken to the residence of Lt.Anwarul Azim, the leader of the local Bengali force and the general manager of North Bengal Sugar Mill. After a summary trial at Lalpur SS Pilot High School ground, the Pakistan army men were shot dead.[1]

When the news reached the military high command, they ordered an operation in retaliation, Administrator Azim and 49 members of Mukhti Bahani and there sympathizers were shot down.

Massacre[edit]

In response to the Bengali resistance, the Pakistan army headquarter at Rajshahi dispatched forces by land and by air. The army quickly took control of Pabna, Ishwardi and Natore. On the 5th of May, around 10 am, the army reached Gopalpur and captured the sugar mill, a Bengali stronghold. Around 200 Bengali people, most of which were the employees of the mill, were rounded up and interrogated about the whereabouts of the freedom fighters. Monjur Iman, a non-Bengali worker of the Mill, was assisting the soldiers in identifying the Bengalis.[5] The leader of the fighters, Lt. Anwarul Azim, handed himself over to the army and requested to let the people go. The soldiers shot down Lt. Azim and his family members. Then the captives were lined up by the pond inside the Sugar Mill with 13 machine guns[5] pointed at them and were gunned down. Only 5 out of the 200 captives: Abdul Jalil Sikdar, Khorshed Alam, Abul Hossain, Emaduddin and Injil Sarkar survived the carnage.[1]

All the bodies were dumped into the pond. The soldiers searched for survivors and ensured death by charging bayonets on the bodies. One administrative officer of the mill survived the shooting. But when found alive, he was flogged to death.[5]

After the war, the pond was named Shaheed Sagar (The sea of martyrs). Gopalpur Railway Station was named Azim Nagar Station in memory of Lt. Azim.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Locals still have nightmare about supreme sacrifices of Lt. Azim, 200 others The New Nation, Internet Edition, May 8, 2009
  2. ^ Salik, Siddiq, Witness To Surrender, p63, p228-9 id = ISBN 9-840-51373-7
  3. ^ PAKISTAN: The Battle of Kushtia TIME magazine, April 19, 1971
  4. ^ A great victory yet to get any recognition The Daily Star, 30 March 2009
  5. ^ a b c বধ্যভূমি থেকে ফেরা তাঁরা চারজন (The four survivors returning from the killing fields) The Daily Prothom Alo, 15 December 2009