Fri, 05 Jul 2013 19:22:44 GMT

Bangladesh freedom fighters to look for fellow-soldiers' graves in Tripura



Agartala, July 5 (IANS) Freedom fighters from Bangladesh will visit the Indian state of Tripura to locate graveyards in the northeastern state where soldiers of the 1971 Liberation War were buried, officials of the two countries announced here Friday.

"Bangladesh sought India's help to identify the graveyards in Indian territory where slain soldiers of Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War were buried. We have so far identified two such locations on the outskirts of Agartala city," West Tripura District Magistrate Kiran Gitte told reporters.

Accompanied by Bangladesh's Brahmanbaria district's Deputy Commissioner Nur Mohammad Majumder, Gitte said: "Through the union home and external affairs ministries, we have received several hundred names of Bangladeshi soldiers buried during the Liberation War in villages along the border."

A two-day meeting of officials of Bangladesh and India, held here Wednesday and Thursday, discussed, among other issues, the identification of the burial spots of the 1971 Liberation War, after which Bangladesh was created from the former East Pakistan.

Gitte led the Indian side at the meeting, while the Bangladesh team was headed by Nur Mohammad Majumder.

Both the officials, while briefing the media about the outcome of the meeting, said a team of freedom fighters from Bangladesh would soon visit Tripura to identify locations where the soldiers were buried.

The Bangladesh government is likely to either take the remains of the slain soldiers back, or protect the graveyards with the help of India.

In December 2007, Bangladesh had taken back the remains of Liberation War hero Hamidur Rahman from northern Tripura's Kamalpur area and reburied them in Dhaka with full state honours.

Hamidur Rahman, one of the seven top war heroes, died aged 18 during the Liberation War against Pakistan.

Gitte said that so far two burial spots have been identified at Ramnagar and Golchakkar on the outskirts of the state capital.

"An in-depth study with the people associated with the Liberation War is required to identify other such places," he said.

According to historian and writer Bikach Chowdhury, Tripura had six to seven camps in four sectors from where the 'muktijoddhas' (freedom fighters) fought the Pakistani forces in the nine-month-long war in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

"Over 1,600,000 Bangladeshis - a number larger than Tripura's then total population of 1,500,000 - had taken shelter in the state," he said.

During the Bangladesh Liberation War, over 10 million men, women and children from then East Pakistan took shelter in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.

The Liberation War, as it is called in Bangladesh, later turned into a full-scale India-Pakistan war, leading to surrender of thousands of Pakistani soldiers in December 1971, and the largest number of prisoners of war since World War II.

India was the first country to recognise Bangladesh.

©Indo-Asian News Service

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