As March is a month of independence, we wanted to tell you a story about our liberation war. So we thought, why don’t we try to listen to a story from a freedom fighter? To cover features of the liberation war, we met two freedom fighters. We took their interview. They shared their feelings with us. How do they feel then & what do they feel now. What motivated them to go to war.
Md Mizanur Rahman Khan, a freedom fighter who fought in Sector 8, tells his stories of training and war days during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. He is a retired conductor in occupation.
Another freedom fighter we met Dr. Nani Gopal Dasgupta, a doctor. During the war, he took training from India & made weapons for the freedom fighters.
During the liberation war, how old were you? Were you a student, or have you already completed your studies?
Md Mizanur Rahman said he had just passed HSC in 1971.
Dr. Nani Gopal said, – “In 1971, he was a student of HSC 1st year. He said, “I was only 16years old. I just passed my first year of college.”
What were the circumstances of the country at that time? For example, did you celebrate 21st February that year?
Both of them saidwe celebrated 21st February as usual. The circumstances of Bangladesh were very tense. We realised something would happen. So, we were preparing ourselves—schools & colleges shut down due to the country’s circumstances. We were waiting for the declaration from the government.
Md Mizanur quoted that, on 7th March, Bangabandhu called for the independence of freedom. According to him, Bangabandhu said, “Our country will be independent. We will free our country from the enemies.”
While asking this question, Nani Gopal added that from 1969 there were many conflicts between East & West Pakistan. Students who were doing politics at that time wanted an independent country. Some students were martyred on 29th December 1969. Shahid Asad was one of the martyrs who sacrificed his life in 1969.
What motivated you to go for a liberation war at that age, as you were too young at that time.
They answered we could not tolerate the torture anymore. We wanted a free country. But, day by day, we were lagging economically, culturally & in many other ways. This subordination made us motivated to go for a war.
When did you go to war? How did you join? Can you remember the date?
Md Mizanur said, on 25th March 1971 at midnight my neighbour called me & said he got news from some sources that shots were being fired in Dhaka. He said, “as I was mentally ready, I started a small packing. I took two lungs, one towel & two shirts. The next day my mother wanted to cook my favourite coral fish.
But I left the house before the sun came up. As a result, my mother could not cook the fish the following day. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to return home. My mother was concerned. I was feeling the same way. I did not, however, cry in front of my mother.
Dr Nani Gopal said, I wanted to join, but my mother did not want to. So, in April, I consulted with my father. He was also a doctor. He told me, “I can let you go, but promise me, and you won’t return home without the independence of our country.
Can you please explain the days in the Liberation War in 1971?
We didn’t have a sound sleep at night, as we starved for many days. Most of the fighters were students. Even sometimes, we did not have proper water to drink. We don’t have toilets. Sometimes we had to stay a long time without taking a bath.
In where did you participate in the war?
Md Mizanur: Sector 8
Dr Nani Gopal: I was not in any specific sector. I made weapons for the fighters & supplied them in different places where needed.
How many young men fought with you against the Pakistani Army?
Md Mizanur: We were about 33 young people in our team.
Dr Nani Gopal: We had 11 persons in our group.
Did you take part in Face-to-face war?
Md Mizanur: yes. My first face to face war was in proper. Then in the Satkhira area.
Dr Nani Gopal: No, I did not participate in any face-to-face battle. But in November, when I went to supply some weapons to the freedom fighters in Narsingdi, somehow the Pak army realised that & they were shooting at us. We were lucky enough that the shot crossed beside my ear & I was completely fine.
Which is your most remarkable memory during the war?
Md Mizanur: We crossed the river while going to India for training. Pak army got the news. They started shooting at us. To save our lives, we jumped into the river water. We stayed three for 36hours. As the river’s water was salty, the epidermis part of our skin got destroyed. So we can’t feel that part.
Dr Nani Gopal: It was early in the morning when we crossed the river to Narsingdi to supply more bullets and weapons. Suddenly, two fighter planes attacked us. We all were unprepared. They were bombing us randomly. So we started firing our LMG gun, and then they went away.
What were the sufferings of the local people back then?
Md Mizanur & Dr Nani Gopal both said Pak army and Razakar raped many women. Also, the Pakistani Army and local Rajakars burned our houses to ashes. Nobody came to help
What happened to your family? Did they join in battle?
Md Mizanur: my family had to escape from one place to another as my brother & I went to the war. But my mother was too worried if I returned home & could not find them.
Dr Nani Gopal: My family was safe. As my father was a doctor, he served the freedom fighters injured in that area.
When did you realise that Bangladesh won the battle? Did we become free from the Pak army?
Md Mizanur: At that time, we did not have many telephones. Or our communication was not good enough. On 20th December, we learned that the Pak army had already surrendered. I returned home on 23rd December. My brother returned on 21st December. My mother hugged me for more than one hour & cried. On 24th December my mother cooked my favourite coral fish.
For one week, my mother didn’t let us go outside. So we just went outside to take a bath & toilet.
Dr Nani Gopal: On 17th December, we realised that we had won. I returned home on 18th December.
This year Bangladesh Celebrates 50years of victory. How do you feel? Did you get Bangladesh as you wanted?
Though we did not get what we wanted, we are happy that we got an independent country. The government is trying to improve a lot. Hopefully, we will be able to improve in the next ten years.
Any Message for the young generation?
Md Mizanur: Try to speak in Bangla properly. We had to struggle a lot for this country & language. These young generations cannot correctly speak in Bangla for even two minutes, which is shameful.
Dr Nani Gopal: The younger generation is forgetting our culture. Try to celebrate our own culture.
Last but not least they gave their good wishes to our Cinebuzz times Magazine team. They appreciated us a lot to take such initiatives. They are very hopeful for our magazine.