Where are the 1971 mass graves, killing fields in Dhaka?

A rape victim. About 400000 women were raped by the Pakistani military during the Liberation War. Bangladesh. 1971.

A rape victim. About 400000 women were raped by the Pakistani military during the Liberation War. Bangladesh. 1971.

The genocide carried out by Pakistan army and their collaborators- Razakar, al-Badr, al-Shams- in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971 ranks as one of the most brutal genocides of 20th century.

Around 3,000,000 people were brutally killed by the Pakistan forces during the nine months war, the only instance of killing so many people within such a small duration, and were left dumped and buried in hundreds of mass graves and killing fields in Dhaka and across the country, which are still there as the witnesses of the heinous brutality.

However, these mass graves and killing fields are hard to find now as they are almost lost owing to lack of efforts to preserve these sites where many martyrs were buried or thrown in the marshes, canals and rivers after being killed, or were burnt alive.

In Dhaka, there are around 50 such sites according to the War Crimes Facts Finding Committee. Unfortunately, with the exception of a handful of these, including those of Rayer Bazar, Mirpur Intellectuals’ Graveyard, Jalladkhana, Jagannath Hall, Ramna Kali Bari and Razarbag Police Lines, most of other killing fields and mass graves are taken over by structures and developer companies. Even the locals cannot identify these locations any more.

Many Bangalees were taken behind the Mirpur Bangla College and tortured to death there. The Liberation War Museum found this place full of skeletons when it explored the area.

Women’s clothes and hairs discovered here were mute evidences of torture and killing by the Pakistani army. Now the marsh land is home of the college staff.

Mohammadpur Physical College has set up a basket-ball court where, locals say, many people were tortured and shot dead in 1971. It was one of the main torture cells those were frequented by Pakistani military high commands and its auxiliaries during the Liberation War.

At Sharengbari in Mirpur-1, people have set up houses, shops and markets on the marsh land that was the torture and dumping site of abducted Bangalees in 1971.

At the New C-block of the area, a memorial was set up by locals but left uncared since its inauguration recently.

Near the Mirpur Intellectuals’ Graveyard at Harirampur, bodies of three Dhaka University teachers and a doctor were recovered after the war. Locals said the site is now part of the local graveyard.

On the other hand, Golartek Boddhobhumi now can only be found in documents.

Markets and shopping complexes now obscure the mass graveyard in Mirpur’s Muslim Bazar area.

Talking to The Daily Star, Dhaka University history professor, Abu Md Delwar Hossain urged for necessary steps to preserve these sites for our next generation, so they can get the essence of the Liberation War.


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