Videos of Genocide - Dr. Nurul Ula

যাযাবর ব্যাকপ্যাকার's picture
Submitted by Jajabor.Backpacker on Tue, 26/03/2013 - 2:58am
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I went to sleep early on the night of 25th March. Had read in the newspapers that very day that an understanding between Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan would follow soon. So everyone was rather relaxed. We woke up in the middle of the night at the sound of a huge explosion.

The continuous firing and mortar noises began just after a short break. We took shelter in the passage between the bedroom and washroom to save ourselves from stray bullets. I couldn’t resist my curiosity and a while later crawled near the window to peek at what was happening outside.

Back then I used to live in the four storey apartment complex provided for the accommodation of the professors of the Engineering University, which was in Fuller Road, opposite the old Assembly Hall. The Jagannath Hall male students’ dorm and its huge field were visible directly from my window. That night was pitch black. But even in that darkness I could understand that the dorm and its surrounding roads were covered with military. A little later on I saw some of the dorm rooms catch fire. And in the light of the fire I could see soldiers searching every room with flashlights. I didn't consider it safe to watch for long from my window and returned to the corridor, and we stayed up all night in that sound of continued firing.

I peeked outside again as soon as it was dawn, couldn't see a soul anywhere; only pieces of bricks and two large white sheets spread across the field. I was a bit relieved that perhaps there weren’t that many murders or casualties.

But what happened next, I never dreamt I would see in my life, and I hope no one has to ever witness such horrific scenes.

It was morning by then. From the west end of the field where the main dormitory of Jagannath Hall is located, appeared twenty or so Pakistani soldiers, and with them two injured students. The students were carried out by the soldiers with care, and placed on the sheet - it seemed as if they would be taken to the hospital. Then they removed the two sheets … and I saw, several dead bodies had been covered by them.

The injured students sat facing east; the dead bodies remained behind them. Two of the soldiers moved a little more to the East and then faced them and aimed their rifles. For a second I saw the two students begging for their lives with outstretched hands – and then there was the firing...

None of the soldiers shot more than two or three bullets. The last one was shot to ensure death on the already dead bodies that lay. They had light firearms and the noise wasn't very great.

This was the first time in my life that I had witnessed murder, and that too the murder of the injured, in cold blood. An army vehicle moved through the streets announcing the curfew and warned everyone not to look through the windows and I had to think of our safety before I could have felt the mental shock of the event completely.

But I didn't stop looking, because I was quite sure that if the windows were closed and the lights were off, nothing indoors could be visible from outside. I was only hoping that the worst was over, that I wouldn't have to see any more. But little did I realize, this was only the beginning.

Sometime later some soldiers brought along several more injured people from the Western dorms again. Just like before they were brought near the dead bodies and the soldiers aimed their weapons at them. Then the firing started, somewhat aimlessly. Some of the captives were standing, some were sitting, and they opened fire on them from close proximity. The dust rose behind the victims, as the bullets passed through their bodies and hit the ground behind them. The pile of dead bodies on the field kept rising.

Later on the foreign TV journalists had asked me what my mental condition was back then, how was it that I thought of filming this massacre.

Actually the idea of filming wasn't quite mine. After watching the cold blooded murders of injured, unarmed people twice, I realized there would be more; there would be genocide today. And I wished naively that we were armed as well. It was then that my cousin Noseem said, “Cousin, record this.”

I remembered that I had a video camera with a video cassette recorder at home. It was a first generation portable VCR that was very heavy and of Japanese make and I think the first of its kind in the country. I set up the camera as soon as possible, with a black paper set in front it that had a hole through which I had inserted the lens, and I placed it facing the window pane. Only the camera lens showed through the curtains, and I put the rather slim microphone a little outside by slightly parting the window. Meanwhile two more batches of people were shot dead. In the video is recorded the last three massacres. The last of which was the most horrific.

The captives were being brought along from the Eastern side of the field by then. They were wearing lungi, t-shirts, or didn't wear a shirt at all. I guess they were sleeping when being captured. They were brought near the dead bodies and shot over them.

Then suddenly the field was clear. Already the pile of dead bodies was high. I thought perhaps the massacre was over. But soon I saw about forty armed soldiers lining along the Northern side of the field. They were tall and fair, most probably Punjabi soldiers. These soldiers never partook directly in the killings. Those that had fired were short and darker. About ten soldiers like this appeared from the Eastern side of the field, with nearly 25-26 persons. I thought maybe they were brought to take away the corpses.

But as soon as they came near the bodies lying on the ground, the soldiers accompanying them moved a little towards the East and targeted them with their rifles. Everything was dead silent for a few moments. And I saw one of the people, someone with a beard, kneel down and plead mercy upon him. The firing began. Bullets showering the people as their bodies fell, and the dust rose all around as the bullets passed through the bodies and hit the ground.

When the firing stopped, I saw that only the bearded person was still alive. It seemed as if no one had directly aimed at him. The man started begging again. A soldier kicked his chest trying to make him lie down. But the man kept firmly kneeling. Then they shot him down. His lifeless body finally lay with those of the others.

The soldiers that stood lined along the North of the field till now, marched away then. And some of those that partook in the shooting moved around the bodies to check and ensure death with a few final shots.

After a while all the soldiers left. All around it was quiet and empty, other than the countless dead bodies in the Jagannath Hall field. A van passed on the road, with a round rotating antenna on its roof. I realized it was checking for microwave detectors or any signals in case anyone was broadcasting anything. I thought my video camera might transmit some signals, so I quickly turned the recording off. I rewinded the tape and checked if the footage was captured properly. Then I removed the tapes and parts from the camera and temporarily disabled it.

It couldn't be more than 10 A.M. by then. We feared that there could be an attack on us anytime and decided it wasn't safe for us to remain there much longer. We fled to Old Dhaka with our family and relatives in the curfew. I saw a great bulldozer digging just before we left, that was around one o'clock at noon. I cannot say what happened next. But I figured it was the grave to bury the bodies. And my guess was confirmed after the independence.

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পাদটীকা

  • 1. This is from the translation project a few of us are working on of the book 1971: Dreadful Experiences (১৯৭১: ভয়াবহ অভিজ্ঞতা). The book is a collection of witness accounts to 1971 Liberation War and the Independence of Bangladesh by the country's educationists, writers, professionals. The book is edited by Rashid Hayder and was first published on the Victory Day of 1989

    This is the personal account of genocide video-taped on the morning of 26 March, 1971 by Professor Nurul Ula, then teaching at the Engineering University ('BUET' today) and later a Professor of Electrical Engineering at King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    The following shows parts of the video footage shot by Dr. Ula shown on a NBC News report from 1 July 1972.

    Any suggestion regarding the translation will be appreciated by the translator in the comment section. And a personal request to the readers would be to share the video along with the post for the International audience.
    Thank you.


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