March 25, 1971
Breaking Bangladesh’s backbone
Published : Thursday, 22 March, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 520
Operation Searchlight was launched in Dhaka on March 25, 1971, so that the Bangladeshi people could not put up a strong resistance.
Since Dhaka University was the centre for the student and mass protests, one of the prime objectives of Pakistan army's operation was the occupation of Dhaka University campus. When Pakistanis finally attacked the Bengalis, the first victims of the genocide were the students living the halls of the university.
The 18 Punjab, 22 Baluch, 32 Punjab Regiment and some associate battalion of Pakistani army, equipped with tanks, automatic rifles, rocket launchers, heavy mortars, light machine guns, surrounded the university campus from east, south and north side of the university area.
The non-cooperation movement was originally developed by the 'Independent Bangladesh Student Movement Council' of Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall (then Iqbal Hall) of Dhaka University. So, the first target of the Operation Searchlight of the Pakistani army was this hall. According to Professor Dr. K M Munim, the Pakistani army killed more or less 200 students of this hall.
After twelve o'clock, the Pakistani army soldiers entered into the Jagannath Hall and attacked the resident students of the hall with mortar shell. They entered into the hall from the North and South Gate and carried out killing the resident students indiscriminately. At least 34 people died at the first attack.
Some of the students of Jagannath Hall were residents of Ramna Kali Bari, among them at least 5 or 6 were killed that night.
Many guests who come to stay at the hall were killed that night. Among them, the name of Helal of Bhairav College, Babul Paul of Bajitpur College, Badruddoza of Jagannath Hall, Jatin Sarkar of Netrokona, Mostak, Bachchu, and Omor could be known.
Archer K. Blood's The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh revealed that Pakistani army set fire on the female residential hall, Rokeya Hall and when the students started coming out of the hall to save themselves from the fire, the Pak army fired on them arbitrarily.
It is learned from the interaction between the Pak army control room and the Army Unit 88, that approximately 300 students were killed at that time.
At the first stage of the massacre of 25 March, at least 10 teachers of the university were killed.
The residence of the provost of Jagannath Hall was attacked and Pakistani forces killed the former Provost, popular teacher, and philosophy scholar Professor Govinda Chandra Dev, along with the husband of his Muslim adoptive daughter. After this, the Pakistani army attacked the university's official residence and killed Professor Dr. Moniruzzaman with his son and relatives.
Jagannath Hall provost Professor Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta was seriously injured by the Pakistani army and later died in hospital. Eyewitness Rajkumari Devi told that doctors of Dhaka Medical College recognized Professor Guhathakurta and buried him under a tree near Dhaka Medical College.
Professor Fazlur Rahman and his two relatives were killed at the Nilkhet Residence Building No 23. His wife survived because of her residing outside the country. At the Fuller Road residence Building No 12, Professor Abdul Muktadir of geology department was killed and his body was found in Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall. Later, his relatives buried him in Paltan.
Professor K. M. Munim of English Literature, the house tutor of Salimullah Student Hall, was injured at the Hall. Professors A R Khan Khadim and Sharafat Ali of Mathematics department were killed in Dhaka Hall. At Jagannath Hall they attacked teachers' residence and harassed Professor Mirja Huda of Economics department and Professor Mofijullah Kabir of History department.
The convoy that attacked Shahid Minar and Bangla Academy also attacked Shahidullah hall, associated teachers' houses, and the home of Madhushudhan De. At the Residence Building No 11, Md. Sadeq, a teacher of University Laboratory School, was killed.
The army left around 50 dead bodies, including some police officers who escaped from Rajarbagh Police Lines, Bengali EPR members guarding President House and general people from Nilkhet Slum on the roof of university residential building 23.
That night, staff of Philosophy department Khagen Dey, his son Motilal Dey, and university staff Shushil Chandra Dey, Bodhiram, Dakkhuram, Vimroy, Moniram, Jaharlala Rajvar, Monvaran Roy, Plumber Rajvar and Shankar Kuri were also killed.
The sound of shells bursting and guns firing, the smoke and fire, the smell of gun- powder and the stench of the burning corpses all transformed the area into a fiery hell.
Although the goal of this the worst genocide in history was to ruthlessly bulldose the dream of independence of the Bengalese. Instead, it led to a nine-month war for the independence of Bangladesh.