Home Country Still no memorial at ‘Morar Bhita’ killing site

Still no memorial at ‘Morar Bhita’ killing site

by Istiak Ahmed Shimul

Locals call it ‘Morar Bhita’ (house of the dead), as at least 135 civilians, mostly women and children, were slaughtered at the place by the Pakistan army in 1971. 

But after about 50 years of the massacre, no memorial was made at the site — in Nandipara of Harhar village, under Batajor union of Gournadi upazila.

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On May 15, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces, with the help of local collaborators, opened fire indiscriminately on the inhabitants, about 400, of Nandipara and killed almost one-third of them. The youngest of the victims was five months of age while the oldest was 85. 

Abdus Salam Montu, a freedom fighter from the area, said after finding out that the freedom fighters had set up camps at Ashwini Kumar Secondary School and at Adhuna village in Batajor union, a large contingent of Pakistan army attacked Adhuna village and torched Shubho Sarkar’s house.

On way back to their own camp, the troops with the help of several locals — including Khadem Sarder, Manik Rari, Adom Ali Sarder, Jabbar Sarder and Akkas Bepari — attacked Nandipara, one of the remotest places in Harhar village, said Ismat Hossain, another local freedom fighter.

After the enemies were defeated in the war, locals gathered the skeletons and remains of the victims from the spot and buried those beside a Hindu temple in Batajor market area, he added. 

Abhilash Nandi, now 53, is one of the survivors of the attack. His mother Nirmala Nandi and a sister Rama Nandi died during the gunfire. He and another of his sister, Gita Nandi, sustained severe bullet injuries. 

When infant Abhilash was rescued after the bloodbath, he was still suckling at his lifeless mother’s breast. “I was rescued from a pile of corpses,” said Abhilash.  

Paritosh Nandi witnessed the mass murder from a hideout nearby. The army would never come to the remote place in Nandipara, surrounded by bushes and jungles, unless they got directions and assistance from the local collaborators. 

They counted 92 bodies after the carnage was over, he added.  

The attack on the village started around 11:00am and lasted till around 1:30pm, said Aroti Rani Das, another eyewitness, who is now 75 years old.

She said the Pakistanis sprayed the victims — including 85-year-old Ashwini Kumar Das — with hundreds of bullets and when they left the spot, the bodies were lying there beyond recognition.   

Some of the victims locals identified were: Ashwini Kumar Das (85), Bipin Singh (60), Nirmala Rani Nandi (55), Rama Nandi (10), Anita Nandi (4), Gayn Nandi (23), Sudhir Gayen, Makham Haldar (45), Sonai Haldar (23), Malati Haldar (26), Archana Haldar (4), Jatindra Karati (32), Basna Rani Karati (24), Sumon Karati (10), Sajal Karati (6), Saraswati Haldar (36), Manoranjan Karati (35), Annada Mandal (60), Keshta Mandal (56), Jatish Karati (30), Sumati Gayen (60), Sunodi Gayen (20), Rabindra Nath Gayen (15), Dhiren Gayen (35), Radhakanta (five months), and wife and son of Kalu Raj.

Contacted, Gournadi Upazila Nirbahi Officer Bipin Chandra Bishwas said they were planning to construct a memorial at the site of the massacre. 

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