THE TALE OF A LONE SURVIVOR
Muktasree Chakma Sathi
Eyewitness account of Delwar, the only one to survive the brutality of December 14
Delwar had survived the horror of the night of December 14, 1971, a night that saw numerous intellectuals of the country massacred at Rayerbazar of Katasur in the capital. Out of panic he had started running, ready to embrace a death by bullets rather than being hacked by bayonets. Eventually, he was able to escape. All the people had been bayoneted at Rayerbazar field that night, Delwar told the tribunal.
The accounts of this lone survivor from the Rayerbazar mass killing field had finally found their purpose as the International Crimes Tribunal on November 3 last year convicted al-Badr leaders Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan and sentenced them to death.
Now 70, Delwar, who used to work as the chief accountant of Green Mercantile Company in 1971, broke into tears several times and trembled when recollecting the horror of that night. The courtroom was completely silent when Delwar was telling his experience of the mass killing.
“I witnessed the killings [at Rayerbazar] from the beginning to the end. Ashraf and Mueen led the killings. None of the persons confined at Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute and those taken to the killing field survived. I am the only survivor,” Delwar told the tribunal.
He particularly mentioned the names of Prof Munier Chowdhury and Prof Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury of Dhaka University and journalist Selina Parvin as the victims of the massacre by al-Badr, which assisted the occupation Pakistan force in its atrocities in 1971.
Delwar had been picked up from his home on December 14, 1971 by al-Badr men led by Mueen-Ashraf. He was taken to the physical training centre by a microbus painted in black and blue. Three or four people had already been inside the vehicle on its way to the centre which was used as a torture cell of al-Badr. The microbus stopped a few more times to pick up more people.
Delwar pointed out that not all the victims had been intellectuals – there had been several laymen, too. He mentioned a youth named Tarek, a class VIII student, who had untied his hands at the centre.
“I saw tortured people lying on the floor – some of their eyes gouged out. The floor was full of blood. I took off my shirt, soaked it in blood and blindfolded myself in a way so that I could still see,” Delwar said.
Munier Chowdhury and Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury were brought to the centre that evening.
“Around 8pm or 8:30pm, a few people armed with iron rods led by two youths came to the room. They were carrying lanterns because of the blackout. They approached Munier Chowdhury and they told him: ‘You have preached your students a lot, now we will preach you.’
“They also asked Munier Sir: ‘How many books have you written on Rabindranath?’ Munier Sir shook his head. Then they asked Mofazzal Sir the same question and he said he had written books on Rabindranath Tagore. They told each other that they did not have much time. ‘These persons need to be killed. They are Indian spies.’”
Then they started hitting Prof Munier and Prof Mofazzal with iron rods. “Munier Sir was forced to put his head between his legs while sitting on the floor. He was hit on his back. He bled profusely through his mouth from the beating.”
Delwar said he had also heard a woman screaming out of pain. “I guess she was tortured either on the roof or in any other room in the building.”
After midnight all of them were taken to Katasur in Mohammadpur area by 20-22 buses. Delwar said he had heard a woman’s voice requesting: “Please, spare me. Do not kill me. I have a little child. If you kill me, he will die. You also have sisters. Please consider me as a sister.”
Delwar said: “Those who were taking her away asked her name. She answered: ‘Selina Parvin, I am a journalist.’ She told them if they spared her life, she would never write again and would not come back to Dhaka. But those people killed her with bayonets.”
Delwar said they had been kept waiting beside a pond. Each time 20-25 people tied with one piece of rope were taken to the bank of a beel nearby. There were brick fields too. Then they were bayoneted to death.
DECEMBER 14, 2014