By Mamun Islam
RANGPUR, Mar 2, 2016 (BSS) - Waves of mass protests had shook entire East Pakistan instantly after the then junta ruler Yahya Khan on March 1, 1971 scrapped the schedule for the maiden parliament session in Dhaka while this northwestern town saw the first casualty of the uprising on March 3, witnesses and veterans said.
"Twelve year-old Shanku Samajhder of Rangpur was the first martyr of the March uprising . . . a bullet pierced through his body as he enthusiastically joined a protest march in the town on that day," district unit commander of Muktijoddha Sangsad Mosaddek Hossain Bablu told BSS.
One Urdu-speaking Behari had fired gunshots from his house in Alamnagar as the procession reached the area parading the town's thoroughfares defying curfew, the veteran said, adding that he also believed Shanku was the first martyr of the March uprising across the country.
"We know several people were killed across the country on that day but Shanku was the first casualty who was killed early in the morning while the rests died on later hours . . . Even Bangabandhu in his historic March 7 address acknowledged his sacrifice," Bablu said.
Several other elderly people and freedom fighters supplemented Bablu saying mainly youths and student leaders organized the procession that began from the Kachari Bazar area and it rapidly grew in size drawing more and more spontaneous protestors while parading the streets.
They said roaring slogans in the voice of several thousand protestors prompted the young boy to come out without even taking breakfasts along with his elder brother Kumaresh Samajhder Babu, a student of class 8, as the street march reached near their Guptapara residence.
The proceeded with slogans like 'Tomar Amar Thikana- Padma Meghna Jamuna', 'Tomar Neta, Amar Neta- Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib', 'Yahiyar Mukhe lathi Maro- Bangladesh Swadhin Karo'.
The witnesses and participants of the stree march recalled Urdu-speaking Sarfaraj Khan opened fires from his gun as the precisionists were crossing his house at Alamnagar area, some two kilometers off the rented house of Shanku's family.
Bablu recalled Shanku succumbed to his wounds he was being rushed to the nearby government hospital.
The veterans and participants of the rally recalled that the incident sparked ignited further the fury of protestors who tried to raid Khan's house but authorities immediately called out the then para-military East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) troops who built up a security circle around the area to protect him from peoples' wrath.
Shanku's mother Dipali Samajhder, now 78, said she felt proud to be the mother of the brave son as he shed his blood for liberating the country.