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RU killing field: A witness to the '71 war Pak brutality

A CORRESPONDENT | June 11, 2024 00:00:00

A view of the 1971 Liberation War killing ground on the eastern side of the Rajshahi University campus — FE Photo

RAJSHAHI UNIVERSITY, June 10: Rajshahi University (RU) killing field (Boddhobhumi), located on the eastern side of the university, is a witness to the brutal torture unleashed on the Bengalis by the Pakistani occupation forces during the 1971 Liberation War.

The monument built on the killing ground is reminiscent of the screams of the large number of innocent people, including teachers, students as well as employees of the university, who were subjected to gruesome torture by the Pakistani invaders during the nine-month-long war.

To the north of the main campus of the university is located the age-old three-story Shaheed Shamsuzzoha Hall and about half a kilometre east of the hall is the killing field's monument, surrounded by thousands of flowering trees.

In this killing field are buried mortal remains of unnumbered Bengalis who received martyrdom being persecuted by the Pakistani soldiers and their collaborators during the Liberation War.

Near the mass grave is the RU Martyrs Memorial Museum.

RU Shaheed Shamsuzzoha Hall was used by the Pakistani occupation forces as their camp during the liberation war. Innocent Bengalis were brought from various areas to the hall and were subjected to inhuman torture. None were spared be they women or children.

In the morning, some were found lying dead or half-dead in the corridor of the hall. Upon being confirmed dead, they were buried in the field, even sometimes piling one body up on another. In 1998, RU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Abdul Khalek placed a demand to the government to construct a monument there.

Later on December 21, 2002, in response to his demand, the then State Minister for Liberation War Redwan Ahmed laid the foundation stone of the monument.

On December 9, 2004, the then State Minister for Liberation War Prof Md Rezaul Karim inaugurated the killing field monument.

The 42 feet high monument is surrounded by a circular concrete altar, and there is a big well in the centre of the altar. The well is compared to 'the well of death'.

The dark black print on the face of the monument is used to symbolise the dried blood spots of the martyrs who contributed to the country's freedom.

Some parts of the monument are broken and damaged, as if the bricks are falling. The broken bricks of the monument as if represent the wounds of the freedom fighters. The monument stands like a fearless sentinel under the open sky.

Although the monument stands at a small place, its construction cost around Tk25 million (Tk 2.5 crore).

It is believed that 3,000 to 4,000 innocent people who were brutally killed by the Pakistani occupation forces were buried in the killing field.

After the independence of the country, numerous human skulls and skeletons were spotted in this burial pit.

According to the director of the RU Martyrs Memorial Museum, the Bangladesh government marked and preserved the country's mass graves after the independence.

Eight large mass graves were identified across the country. The RU mass grave is among them.

Tanvir Khan Tarun, a second-year student of the university, said, "We often go to the killing field with friends. Seeing the memorial plaque on the red pillar there, I think how brutally the Pakistani invaders killed the Bengalis. Many people do not know about their sacrifice; the university administration should be more proactive in this regard."

RU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Md Sultan-Ul-Islam said, "We all need to know about Rajshahi University killing field's history and the memories it bears. Thousands of innocent people from different areas of Rajshahi were arrested and brutally killed by the Pakistani soldiers in this field."

"To get a clear understanding of the spirit of the great Liberation War, all classes of people must know about this slaughter ground. I request all media people to publicise this. Besides, we will also hang up a signboard narrating the history of the slaughterhouse there," he added.

When asked, he said, "We did a renovation work there a few days ago. Later, if there is any problem or if there is any damage, we will repair it very quickly, "he said.

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