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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Bengali Hindu woman recounts partition horror during her time in present-day Bangladesh

Bengali Hindus, as a community, have been one of the biggest victims of Islamist violence in the past century. While the country had to suffer the horrors of partition just once, Bengali Hindus faced it twice during two partitions spread across two decades. The Noakhali genocide and Direct action day of 1946 have been muted in our history textbooks, and the Islamist wrath faced by the Bengali Hindus during the Bangladesh liberation in 1971 has been completely erased as well.

Unfortunately, the otherwise “intellectual” community has done little to pass the saga of their struggle to the next generations; Bengali Hindus essentially turned communist and became secular, if not entirely anti-Dharma, after finding a safe refuge in Bharat. The fresh crop of Bengali Hindus, unaware and uninformed of the violence their ancestors endured during the 1971 war.

 A video shared by BJP Bengal on their official Twitter handle in August this year ago features one such woman who had witnessed the barbarity of Islamists during her time spent in present-day Bangladesh and shares her ordeal with us.

Speaking in Bangladeshi dialect, the woman, who appears to be from an economically challenged background, talks about a brother who had limited mobility and couldn’t walk. He was lying in his residence when the Islamists attacked the area. The other family members tried to escape the Islamists, but this ailing man couldn’t. The Islamists poured kerosene and burned him alive.

When his children returned, they saw their father was already killed. The sons couldn’t perform the last rites and take Habissi for their father as they had to run around to hide from the Islamists looking to kill them. 

She also shares the story of Lakshman Das. Many Bengalis who are aware of what happened to Bengali Hindus during 1971 know the story of Lakshman Das. But such Hindus are very limited in number; most have chosen to stay oblivious to their plight.

Das was born in the greater Barisal district and was a renowned wrestler and weightlifter. He was also known for performing tricks and magic. He had worked in a circus during his childhood, and in 1948, Lakshman Das formed his circus, which was called the Royal Pakistan Circus. The woman in the video recounts how the Pakistani army slaughtered him.

The Pakistani military had long targeted Das as it was alleged that he was training the rebels to fight against the Pakistanis in the guise of running his circus. Dreading military raids, Das fled with his family, leaving behind his circus camp, equipment, and trained animals. The Pakistani military raided the camp and killed all the animals, including the star performer elephant named Madhubala. The woman in the video says that the Pakistanis fired over a hundred bullets to kill the elephant.

Lakshman started to live in a boat near Kodaldhowa village with his family. One day, the Pakistani soldiers raided Kodaldhowa and attacked his family in the boat. All the family members jumped into the water to escape the firing by the Islamists. While both his sons successfully swam across to safety, Das and his wife were killed by the Pakistani raiders. They also looted the gold and jewellery left in the boat.

The woman says she also had undergone such times when they would store food in a boat and hide behind bushes or jute plants all day. 

These were just a few countless stories of bloodshed Bengali Hindus have witnessed but have already forgotten. As a Bengali user rightly pointed out, “we didn’t do a good job of passing on the civilizational memory to our next generation”.

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