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  • Black Day
    Black Day Frontier
    Frontier on Monday, March 24, 2014
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    National [802]
    The morning of March 25, 1971 was tense, as reports of the break down of talks and total collapse of the administration led to the death of more than a thousand people in Syedpur, Rangpur, Khalishpur and Chittagong the day before.

    Besides, there was no news of President Yahya Khan or Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or their aides. It was rumored that they had left the city under heavy armed escorts.

    Almost everybody, who was politically aware, knew what was coming. And it did come, as dusk fell.

    Around 8 o'clock the tanks rolled out of the Dhaka cantonment. Some went towards the Dhaka University, some to Peelkhana - the EPR (now BGB) headquarters and others towards Rajarbagh Police Line - "Operation Searchlight" had begun. It killed anywhere between 25,000 people to a 100,000, that night in Dhaka alone, according to independent sources, diplomats and foreign journalist, who were in Dhaka.

    The first target in Dhaka University was the Iqbal Hall (now Sergeant Zahurul Huq Hall) where most of the Bengali nationalist activities took place. To clear their way, the Pakistani army set fire to the slums, which straddled the old Railway line that ran west of Dhaka University.

    As the fires engulfed the shanties the army opened up with automatic fire. Thousands of poor men, women and children died within a few minutes.

    The entire slum adjacent to the Iqbal Hall was burnt to ashes. The army used magnesium flares to clear the darkness of night and used tracer bullets to terrify the unarmed population.

    Slowly from Plassey point they crawled towards the student dormitory expecting tough resistance. Almost all student activists had left the place after the news that tanks had rolled out. But there still were a few, mostly unaware of the circumstances. Of the political activists, Chisty Shah Hilalur Rahman, assistant secretary of East Pakistan Students' League remained behind. Although a student leader, Chisty had taken up journalism as a profession, by then. He was working full-time as a sub-editor of the Daily Azad. Possibly, he thought his journalists' identity would give him some protection from the marauding army. But that was not to be. He was shot point-blank
    somewhere behind the dormitory's auditorium after being bayoneted
    inside the cafeteria. Another victim was Zafar Alam, a student of
    the university

    Most of those who died were security men. They were on duty.

    Besides, the Pakistan army also killed a number of teachers that night, inside their houses. Dr. Moniruzzaman, Head of the Department of Statistics was killed along with his entire family. So was Dr Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurda, Reader of English and Govindra Chandra Dev, Head of the Department of Philosophy.

    In Rajarbagh, the policemen were short-shifted. They stood little chance against the heavy weaponry.

    But in Peelkhana, the EPR resisted and the resistance continued for a few more hours before the EPR men retreated across the river to safe area.
                               
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