By Mamun Islam ---
RANGPUR, March 28, 2015 (BSS) - The heroic people of Rangpur started the War of Liberation decisively from March 28 in 1971 only three days after Pakistani crackdowns on the innocent Bangalees under the heinous operation 'Search Light.'
The people of Rangpur factually started becoming mobilised after their three heroic sons Sangku Samajhder, Abul Kalam Azad and Omar Ali were killed by the Beharis on March 3 when thousands of Bangalees brought out procession here breaking curfew.
As per the call of Bangabandhu in his historic March 7 speech, the people of Rangpur under leadership of the then Awami League (AL) and student leaders decided to launch stiff resistance against the Pakistani army with a decisive struggle for independence.
And thus, March 28 became a red letter day when hundreds of Bangalees, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion, showed unprecedented heroism embracing martyrdoms while gheraoing Rangpur Cantonment igniting the War of Liberation in 1971.
On that day in 1971, thousands of Bangalee Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Oraon, Santal and other aboriginal communities equipped with indigenous and lethal weapons, spears, sharp weapons, arrows, bows, clubs decided to capture Rangpur cantonment.
According to the books 'Juddhe Juddhe Swadhinota' written by Major Nasir Uddin and 'Mukitjuddhe Rangpur' written by Mukul Mostafizur Rahman, thousands of Bangalees had been assembling at Nisbetganj to capture Rangpur cantonment at any costs.
The 23rd Brigade Headquarters of Pakistan Army was then stationed at Rangpur and the Third Bengal, 26th FF Regiment at Syedpur, 23rd Cavalry Regiment and its associate forces and 29th Tank Bahini were under its command.
Pakistani Brigadier General Abdullah Malik was the then Brigade Commander of the 23rd Brigade Headquarters and the Cantonment was equipped with huge Pakistani forces, modern automatic heavy arms, artillery, tanks and ammunition.
The common Bangalee people, thousands in number, continued advancing towards the cantonment from the south and southwestern directions in the afternoon when the Pakistani occupation forces had been preparing to commit genocide.
Some 10 military jeeps with browning machine-guns started taking positions, and at one stage, started showering automatic gunfire towards the Bangalees that continued for about five minutes killing over 600 Bangalees and injuring hundreds more.
The massacre was committed by the Pakistani army led by war criminals Brigadier General Abdullah Malik, Colonel Sagir and other Pakistani Army Officers and their collaborator non-Bengali Behari soldiers and officers.
Later, Colonel Sagir, who always maintained links with the local Beharis, told his under commands that he had taught proper lessons to the Bangalees by killing at least 600 as 'they crossed all limits' and ordered his soldiers to collect the bodies.
While collecting the dead bodies, the non-Bengali Behari and Punjabi officers and soldiers had been charging bayonets repeatedly on hundreds of injured Bangalees to stop their breathing for the last that raised the number of martyrs much more.
At one stage, a Behari captain discovered an aged Bangalee escaping under the nearby Ghaghot Bridge, caught and took him in front of the Bangalee Officers and killed him by showering eight rounds bullets from his pistol with smiles of satisfaction in his face.
Under the commands of Colonel Sagir and as per suggestions of Captain Shajed Mahmud, most of the bodies of martyred Bangalees were collected, burnt by putting petrol and some bodies buried at Nisbetganj mass grave.
After the March 28 genocide at Nisbetganj, the heroic people of Rangpur, Bangalee Army Officers, members of EPR, students, farmers, teachers, youths, lawyers, socio-cultural activists and everybody never looked back and vowed to liberate the nation.
The message reached faster to all other areas of Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Nilphamari, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Panchagarh and adjoining areas when hundreds of students, youths, police and Ansar started fleeing homes to join the Mukti Bahini.
The then political and student leaders played vital roles in Rangpur and other adjoining northern districts in organising the War of Liberation and launching fierce resistances against the Pakistani Occupation forces everywhere in the region.
And thus, the secular Bangalees showed unprecedented heroism on March 28 in 1971 while gheraoing Rangpur cantonment and started fighting decisively onwards till freeing the nation from the occupation forces on December 16.