Bangla College: A Witness to the 1971 Genocide

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Though the country was liberated on December 16, 1971, Mirpur was freed much later — on January 31, 1972. As the area was pre-dominantly inhabited by Biharis, the intensity of killing of Bangalees here was grave. Mirpur was also the last battlefield of the Liberation War.

The memory of the war brings to mind the name of Bangla College in Mirpur. Established in 1962 by Language Movement hero principal Abul Kashem in Bakshi Bazar, it was shifted to its present location in 1968.

It is because college is a key witness to the cruelty unleashed by the Pakistan occupation forces and their local collaborators on the unarmed Bangalees throughout the nine-month bloody war.

Like in many other places, the Pakistan army and their local collaborators set up a camp on the college campus and killed numerous Bangalees and raped many women.

Anwara Begum, who witnessed firsthand the killings of Bangalees on the campus.

When the war broke out, Anwara Begum was a 22-year-old widow. A member of the college staff, she used to live on the campus. Her mother, son and an adopted daughter were dependent on her. She loved the serene campus. After work hours, she used to plant different fruit saplings on the campus. She spent most of her leisure time on taking care of the garden. She was having a good time.

But everything changed as soon as the war broke. Everyone left the campus for safety. But Anwara had nowhere to go, so she stayed back and witnessed firsthand the killings on the campus.

In 1971, there was a pond inside the compound between the main gate and the current Shaheed Minar. Most of the bodies of the Bangalees were dumped here. When the pond got filled, the occupation forces and their collaborators dug three wells. These too were filled by the time the war ended.

The Pakistan army’s favourite killing ground was inside the mango orchard of the college. The victims were forced to lay the above-the-ground roots of the mango trees and then slaughtered. Some bodies used to be thrown in the pond or the wells, while others were left to be strewn on the ground.