Thursday 26 May 2022
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Sri Angan Massacre, 1971, Remembered

On 21 April 1971, as some Pakistani soldiers were passing by Sri Angan Ashram, they heard a kirtan hailing 'Jagatbandhu' and took it for a prayer for Bangabandhu

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Narad
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The Faridpur campaign of the Pakistan Army’s genocide of Hindus in 1971 started with the Sri Angan Ashram. Located in the Golchamot locality of Faridpur town, in present-day Bangladesh, the Sridham Sri Angan Ashram was set up by Prabhu Jagadbandhu Sundar, a Hindu Vaishnava saint of the Mahanam sampradaya, in 1899.

Prabhu Jagatbandhu Sundar's idol at Faridpur. Courtesy - mahanam.org

Pakistan Army entered Faridpur on 21 April 1971 and kept it under siege for 9nine months till the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War. During the period, Pakistani soldiers, along with the Urdu-speaking co-conspirators and razakars, had already been guilty of several massacres. Around the evening while marching through the Golchamot locality, the Pakistani soldiers stopped by the Sri Angan Ashram as the music of a kirtan reached their ears.

The soldiers surrounded the premises and entered the ashrama by brute force. Some of the monks who lived there fled the ashrama on seeing the soldiers, but nine of them refused to leave. They were singing kirtan at the prayer hall of the temple.

The japanaam sankirtana was “Jai Jagatbandhu Hari! Jai Jai Jagatbandhu Hari!” The soldiers mistook the chants as “Jai Bangabandhu” and were convinced that the monks were praying for the of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was fondly referred to by the epithet Bangabandhu. 

The soldiers stormed inside the hall and dragged the monks outside to the elephant apple tree adjacent to the temple. One of the monks, Nabakumar Brahmachari, escaped and hid in the nearby vegetation behind the mountain rose flower trees.

The remaining eight were queued in front of the soldiers. According to Nabakumar Brahmachari, 12 shots were fired at the monks who chanted “Jai Jagatbandhu Hari” as they fell down.

The soldiers and the razakars looted everything valuable they could find in the ashrama. The next morning, the corpses were taken away in a municipality truck.

On 26 April, the Pakistan Army destroyed the shikhara of the temple with dynamite. Some of the monks, including Nabakumar Brahmachari, returned just after the killing and the loot and recovered the holy remains of Prabhu Jagatbandhu and carried them in a basket, escorting them through the enemy lines to India. It was first brought to Mahauddharan Math, Kolkata, followed by Mahendrabandhu Angan at Ghurni, Krishnanagar.

The eight monks who were killed by the Pakistani soldiers were

  • Kirtanbrata Brahmachari
  • Nidan Bandhu Brahmachari
  • Andhakanai Brahmachari
  • Bandhudas Brahmachari
  • Kshitibandhu Brahmachari
  • Gaurabandhu Brahmachari
  • Chirabandhu Brahmachari
  • Rabidas Brahmachari

According to Rabindranath Trivedi, who was a retired additional secretary and former press secretary to the president of the ‘People’s Republic of Bangladesh’, Captain Jamshed who had commanded the massacre and the subsequent desecration of the temple, committed in front of the altar of Lord Jagatbandhu Sundar a few days before the surrender of Pakistan Army on 16 December 1971. 

The testimony of freedom fighter Prabodh Kumar Sarkar held that Capt Jamshed had turned a lunatic before his in front of Prabhu Jagatbandhu. The monks returned after the liberation of Bangladesh, restoring the holy relic and rebuilding the damaged temple.

In 1996, eight plaques were raised for as many victims in the compound of Sri Angan by the Ashram authorities. Every year on 21 April, these plaques are garlanded with flowers by local Hindus and resident monks, and their sacrifices to protect the relic of Prabhu Jagatbandhu in the face of sure death are remembered.

Despite the monks being the first victims in the Faridpur campaign of the genocide by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan, the Bangladesh government has not made any memorial for the martyred monks.

The black plaques constructed for the slain monks. Courtesy - kopotakkhonews24.com

Reproduced from Stories of Bengali Hindus at the request of the original content creator

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