After a long wait, 1971 victims’ kin find closure

DHAKA (TIP): A framed black and white photograph of bodies lying in what looks like a swamp hangs in the living room of Shyamali Nasreen Choudhury’s single-storied house at Dhaka’s upscale Dhanmondi. It has been 44 years since that photograph was taken in December 1971. But every time Shyamali looks at it, her eyes grow moist and her voice breaks. One of the bodies is that of her husband, Abdul Alim Choudhury, a prominent ophthalmologist. Notorious Al-Badr militia had picked up the doctor on December 15, 1971, a day before Pakistani forces surrendered.

The abduction was part of a systematic attempt to cripple the new nation (Bangladesh) even in its birth by killing Bengali intellectuals — lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors etc. The doctor was one of the estimated 200 intellectuals of Dhaka picked up on December 14 and 15 before being tortured and killed. Their bodies were dumped in the swamps of the city’s Rayerbazar area, where a memorial stands today.

Like Shyamali, families of an estimated three million people killed, 25,000 women and girls raped, many of them held as sex slaves and the more tortured and maimed by Pakistani forces and their Bengali collaborators (Razakars), have waited for a long time for justice. (TNN)

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