Liberation War

Pakistani Army brutally killed innocent devotees in Faridpur

FARIDPUR, Dec 19 (BSS feature): They were totally innocent devotees having no political affiliation or any worldly attraction, but the Pakistani Army brutally killed them.

Like other days, on the fateful evening of April 21, 1971, a group of Hindu devotees were reciting hymns of "Joy Jagadbandhu". They were the followers of the spiritual Hindu saint "Lord Jagadbandhu," whose teaching is humanism having no tilt towards any religious sect.

The fanatic Pakistani Army while making their first entry in Faridpur town invaded the temple 'Sri Angan', where the followers reside, and started firing with automatic weapons killing eight devotees on the spot. Then the army damaged the beautiful temple structure by filing bullets and setting it on fire.

The eight devotees were Kriton Brata Brahmachary, Nidan Bandhu, Andha Kanai, Bandhu Das, Khiti Bandhu, Gour Bandhu, Chira Bandhu and Rabi Bandhu.

A few devotees including the chief priest Amar Bandhu and Haripriya Brahmachary managed to escape and saw the brutality of the army from a nearby hideout.

These brutal killings created a panic and adverse impact in the locality, particularly among the peace loving but freedom aspirant people. Resistance to the occupation forces virtually began from that mass killing.

The tragic and cruel incident was a signal for this area that the extravagant army would not spare the people, particularly the Hindus, who started evacuating the town for save shelter. About 250 to 300 people from the Hindu community were killed in the district during the War of Liberation as Pakistan army in several raids killed mostly Hindus.

The memory of the devotees still reminds the people of the atrocities of Pakistan army.

Haripriya Brahmachary, the only living priest of the temple narrated the brutal incident as the chief priest Amar Bandhu died recently.

"The Pakistan Army, while proceeding directly towards the district headquarters on April 21, 1971, were suddenly stopped in front of the Sri Angan by some non-bengalis led by one Hatem Bihari. Hatem told something to the army who instantly changing their mind entered the temple and carried out the atrocities," Haripriya recalled.

According to informed sources, this Hatem was a terror during the whole occupation period but fled away on the eve of the surrender of the army on December 16 following the formal surrender of Pakistan Army in Dhaka.

The devotees were deeply involved in the prayer and totally unaware of the raid. "If they were not so much involved in the prayer, they might have saved their lives," Haripriya Brahmachary said.

After the raid, Amar Bandhu and Haripriya Brahmachary gathered courage and entered the temple at the dead of night and took away the sacred remains (bones)of "Lord Jagadbandhu" kept in a cascade and left for India.

They returned Bangladesh after liberation and rebuilt the statue of "Lord Jagadbandhu" and placed the sacred remains again where prayers are still going on.

The Jagadbandhu temple is a big and monstrous stretching on a large chunk of land in Goalchamat area, the gateway of this old district town, which is visible from a long distance. Every year a big fair takes place here in the month of Baishakh in celebration of the birth anniversary of late Jagadbandhu.

A large number of devotees, who always use single piece of cloth, still reside in the temple area permanently and lead an austere life.

The devotees arrange special prayer every year on April 21 in memory of those devotees who sacrificed their lives at the initial stage of the Liberation War.

Born in the 19th century in a Chakraborty clan (higher caste Hindu) "Lord Jagadbandhu" became a Hindu religious leader and still there are hundreds of followers of him in the Indian sub-continent.

He preached simple life and abhorred posh living style sermonising the classless and caste less society having faith on single unit of the God.

He lived and died in the Angan complex in 1328 of Bengali Year.

After the independence of Bangladesh a memorial structure was also built at the Sri Angan premises where the devotees were killed.