What happened on Sunday, July 25, 1971
On this day in 1971, the Shadhin Bangla football team, representing an independent Bangladesh, faced the Nadia XI to campaign for awareness and raise money for the war of liberation. The team was captained by Zakaria Pintu and co-captained by Pratap Shankar Hazra. Despite not being an independent country, the national flag of Bangladesh was hoisted at Krishnanagar grounds, in the Nadia district of West Bengal, on that day and the national anthem of Bangladesh was played. The players then circled the field with the national flag. The match, which was very well received locally, was drawn 2-2.
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At around 7 am, the head of the Razakar in Nalitabari and Sherpur area, the Jamaat leader Kamaruzzaman gave out directions to the local Razakar sub-leaders Ballu Baka Bura, Nasa and Qadir Doctor. Accordingly, they entered Nalitabari village in Sherpur with Pakistani troops. The cruel festivities of arson, looting, rape and murder soon started. Innocent residents of the two villages Ramen Russell, Chatpathang and Mirish Gabriel, Montaz Ali, Shahid Ali, Abul Bashar and Hashem Ali, Safiuddin, Kitab Ali, Monnas Ali, Mohammad Ali, Momin Mia, Kutumuddin, Razat Ali, Iman Ali and 245 others were killed. In Sohagpur village alone, 187 people were killed and 170 women were raped and tortured. (From that day onwards, the village of Sohagpur with 59 mass graves has been known as ‘Bidhabapalli’ or ‘Village of widows’).
In Mymensingh freedom fighters led by Major Afsar Uddin Ahmed launched a surprise attack on the Mallikbari base of the Pak army. The attack killed 16 Pak soldiers and wounded several others. At the end of the attack, the freedom fighters returned to their bases safely.
At the behest of Captain Ainuddin of Comilla, a commando company of the Mukti Bahini launched a surprise attack on a Razakar camp near Chatura, killing 16 Razakars and injuring six others. Terrified, the Razakars in the area surrendered to the freedom fighters and promised to aid the Mukti Bahini.
Lt. Harun’s ambush team ambushed six pro-Pak army collaborators near Narsingha in Comilla, and the team captured them and brought them back to the base. The freedom fighters seized 14 pounds of explosives and three grenades from the Pak collaborators.
The guerrillas of the Mukti Bahini launched a surprise attack on a small gathering of a Peace Committee that was being led by Abul Mia, president of the Dayerpara Peace Committee in Sylhet, and Momtaz Mia of the Mujitpur Union.
Mukti Bahini forces snatched six rifles from Methikanda station and killed five Razakars in Belabo Bazar.
The guerrillas of the Mukti Bahini blew up a Pak army train near Pubail. Three rail cars, including the engine, were derailed and the fire destroyed the engine. 30/35 Pakistani policemen aboard the train were killed.
Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner Justice Abdus Sattar arrived in Dhaka from Islamabad.
‘B’ Region Martial Law Administrator and Governor Lt. General Tikka Khan said in Comilla, “We want peace but India has kept the tension in the border area alive.” He said that Peace Committees and Razakar forces have been formed to maintain peace and cooperate with the people in eradicating the miscreants (Mukti Bahini).
A nine-member delegation of Jamiatul Mordarresin and Jamiatur Mashayekh led by Maulana Mannan and Sharshina Pir Abu Jafar Saleh visited West Pakistan. They reassured the concerned West Pakistanis that, “All our followers will thwart all the conspiracies of the insurgents, to defend the unity of Pakistan.”
The collaborators of the Islampur Union Peace Committee met under the leadership of Mubarak Hossain. They decided to form a Razakar force with 25 members from each unit.
The editorial of ‘Muktiyuddha’ (মুক্তিযুদ্ধ) said, ”Thousands of students and youths of Bangladesh have come forward to join the Mukti Bahini. Their training facilities need to be further enhanced and expanded and no one there can be discriminated against for political or ideological reasons.”
Peter Gill of the Sunday Telegraph in London reported on the crisis in East Bengal under the headline ‘Still no end to Bengal flight’. “After two months with the Bengalis, you become pretty good at sorting out the refugees from the rest, without so much as winding down the car window to the warm monsoon rain, you can tell who’s who and quite a bit besides. Sheer numbers are a guide, of course, as a Time magazine correspondent and I drove the 12 miles from Bangaon near Calcutta, over the East Bengal border to Bogra last Wednesday, an endless sodden column tramped silently past the steamy windows. They will still be marching during the British Sunday breakfast, the British Sunday lunch and the Sunday evening snack in front of the television feature film. Hindus and Moslems mingled, their only sin being that they were Bengali Hindus and Bengali Moslems. Moslem men wear lungi, a strip of cloth that is wound around the waist and falls free to the calf. Hindus are more likely to wear the dhoti complicated Gandhian garment that also falls loose and free to the ground. There were both Hindu and Moslem men on the tramp for survival that day.”
The New York Times’ expelled correspondent from Pakistan, Sidney Seanberg, said in a report that guerrilla resistance seemed to be becoming more widespread and effective.
In another report, the BBC’s Mark Tully said that “The Pakistani army is not in a position to deploy manpower at strategically important bridges and in areas that could be strongholds of the freedom fighters. The army has suffered heavy casualties and damage, and they are feeling the severity of their wounds. Recent history has shown that the military, no matter how powerful, can never oppress the people. The torch of independence is burning in Bangladesh. The brutality of the West Pakistani army has soured the hearts of the people of East Bengal.”
Translated by Mohammad Towhidul Islam
Editorial contribution by Arghya Raihan
Researched, compiled & Edited by Sagar Lohani
Other days of Roaring 1971: