Tag Archives: Bangladesh liberation

 Short Story: The Disclosure  

By Rashid Askari

The rusty old bus skidded to a halt with a screech of brakes. The engine stopped with an ear-splitting sound. Exhaust fumes were winding into dark clouds. It was a routine picture. There was, however, plenty of room for controversy as to whether it could be called a bus. It was little bigger than a minibus and much smaller than an ordinary one. It looked like a tin-can with a turtle neck. People would call it murir tin. This grotesque shape was made by a local carpenter-cum- bus mechanic who went by the name of Dilu Mistry. Rumour had it that he was capable of making a jet engine only out of the motor accessories. However, the proof of the pudding was never in the eating in Dilu Mistry’s case. If ever asked, clever Dilu would wear a mysterious smile on his face that left a cryptic message that his hidden worth was one of the unsolved mysteries of the locality.  Dilu Mistry’s name was so strikingly inscribed on the turtle-neck’s body that it would tickle your fancy on sight. But the optical attraction would fly out of the windows after you had squeezed into it through the narrow door. Jam-packed with passengers the motor turtle used to move so sluggishly that it would take the whole day to cover the distance of about fifty miles between Rangpur and Gaibandha suffering at least a couple of engine failures. It might have amused people to call it a buffalo-cart, but they were left with no second choice.

Haripada would travel between his home in Mithapukur and workplace in Rangpur once a week. Every Thursday he would come home in the evening, stay one day and two nights and the next Saturday go back to his workplace. He was a lecturer in English at a non-government college on the outskirts of Rangpur town. He joined the college immediately after he had completed his Master’s from Dhaka University. He could have got a much better job in Dhaka, but he missed it for no fault of his own. Dhaka on and after 25thMarch (1971) was blazing. The horrific Operation Searchlight was stalking through the city. Mujib had declared independence of Bangladesh and been taken prisoner. The marauding Pakistani armed forces had overrun the capital and unleashed a reign of terror upon the defenceless people. A mighty eagle swooped on the innocent chicks.

When the buffalo cart driver with a stubbly beard braked hard, the passengers dozing fitfully woke up with a start. But Haripada was not one of them. Nor was he wide awake. Seated by a window he was brooding over his life. How things had been out of joint over a few days! The son of Kalipada Master and the grandson of Bishnupada Master had to be Haripada Master. People would call him Professor. Lecturers of non-government colleges were professors in the eye of the common people. But Haripada was not happy with his position. He was not willing to take up his ancestral profession. He had rather a mind to serve in the civil service and had the ability too. But a violent storm from the western sky had dashed all his dreams.

“Get off the bus. You, the bloody Bengali. Get cracking.” A throaty voice boomed like a rumble of thunder. Read more

Literary Review: Migrants Refugees and the Stateless in South Asia by Partha S. Ghosh

By Govindan Nair

south-asia

Collective violence is the prime factor behind migrations in South Asia, asserts Partha Ghosh. Since the drawing of political boundaries demarcating the nation states of the region, some 50 million people have scrambled across national borders for succour, usually among co-ethnics. Remarkably, as Ghosh emphasises, South Asian countries have displayed a unique hospitality and unusual empathy towards refuge seekers. The absence of a legal regime on which to base migration policies has only meant bundling together refugees, migrants, illegal settlers and stateless persons, while otherwise being largely immaterial to trans-national movement of people.

“Nobody in India will love me for the award about the Punjab and Bengal and there will be roughly 80 million people with a grievance who will begin looking for me,” wrote Cyril Radcliffe, the draftsman of the partition of India, on the day before he fled back to England. The “grievance” he spawned severed Pakistan from India, triggering unprecedented communal violence and massive migrations that have had a lasting impact on politics and society of both countries. Post-Partition migration, mass exodus to India during and after the Bangladesh liberation struggle, effects of the Sinhala-Tamil conflict, and migration from Afghanistan to Pakistan in more recent years, which together account for the bulk of cross-border movements in South Asia, can be attributed to failures in nation-building. Open borders between India and Nepal, or virtually-open borders of India with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar, and of Pakistan with Afghanistan have also allowed significant population flows. The reasons for shifting abode may be numerous, but — to generalise — it is not governments that people flee from, but strife and competition for resources. Read more

Source: The Hindu