A mass grave where eight freedom fighters were buried in 1971 at Hajrahati village in Magura’s Shalikha upazila is currently under threat of erosion by the Chitra river.
On December 7, 1971, eight freedom fighters who had returned home after receiving training in India were apprehended by Razakars, who collaborated with the Pakistani occupation forces during the War of Liberation in 1971 and killed mercilessly on the bank of the Chitra river. Later, locals buried the bodies of the freedom fighters at the place of their murder.
The eight freedom fighters were Jodunath Guha, Panchanan Pal, Haripad Das, Nityandon Vadra, Monoranjan Dutta, Narugopal Ray, Suresh Kar and an unidentified man.
After entering Bangladesh crossing the Indian border in Kaliganj upazila of Jhenidah district, these freedom fighters fought bravely against the Pakistani military. They were caught and killed during the final stage of the Liberation War while.
“I still search for my brother Jodunath on the bank of the Chitra river. I go to the mass grave with his picture and cry out for my brother,” said Chobi Rani Adhikari, sister of one of the slain freedom fighters.
Chobi added that although it has been 51 years since the country became independent, the mass grave beside the Chitra river hasn’t been maintained properly.
“During monsoon, water from the river enters the grave. The grave will be washed away by the river someday if no measures are taken,” Chobi added.
Ratan Kumar Das, a local who was 13 during the Liberation War, said some seven to eight freedom fighters were going to Faridpur via Hajrahati during the final days of the war when they were apprehended and killed by Razakars of the area.
“Although we’ve requested the upazila administration time and again, no step has been taken by them to preserve the mass grave. Some officials of the administration have visited the grave multiple times and that’s all,” Ratan said.
SM Abdur Rahman, Joint Convener of Muktijoddha Sangsad’s district unit and a Deputy Commander during the Liberation War, said that family members of the slain freedom fighters gather at the grave every year and arrange events to commemorate their sacrifice.
“Bangladesh has been liberated through the sacrifice of the freedom fighters. It’s our duty to respect them. That’s why immediate steps are necessary to protect Hajrahati Mass Grave from ruin,” said Rahman.