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Snap Shots of Ruined Villages

January 22, 2014

 When Gonojagoron Mancha, platform of Shahbag protesters, announced that it would start a Road March towards Thakurgaon, from January 17 to January 19, in the second leg of its journey to stand beside the victims of recent attacks against the Hindus, I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a first-hand experience of what happened to those areas. I did not have any idea about what was awaiting ahead of us. Throughout our journey, crowds received us well. Everything went fine until we reached Bogra.

Burnt Holy Books, Palash Bari, Gaibandha

Burnt Holy Books, Palash Bari, Gaibandha

Palash Bari, Gaibandha

Palash Bari, Gaibandha

Palash Bari, Gaibandha

Palash Bari, Gaibandha

Column of buses moved towards the north-eastern districts without trouble during the day. As soon as the night fell, things started to change dramatically. We got worried by the sight of scores of Police taking position on both sides of the road as we passed through a Jamaat-Shibir infested area. Somewhere in Bogra, we saw a flash of light behind the bus and then few cocktails, locally made bombs, went off. Stones and brick pieces were being pelted at our buses. My bus received some on its windshield. We squatted down for half an hour on the narrow walkway inside the bus. The lights were put out. Sounds of exploding cocktails got our adrenalin flowing. A crackling walkie-talkie passed a message: one bus was hit by a cocktail, leaving 5 injured. Later, our column was also attacked near Dinajpur where one bus was struck by petrol bomb; luckily, it did not catch any fire.

Sumi Bewa, Karnai, Dinajpur

Sumi Bewa, Karnai, Dinajpur


Karnai, Dinajpur

Karnai, Dinajpur


Karnai, Dinajpur

Karnai, Dinajpur


Karnai, Dinajpur

Karnai, Dinajpur


Karnai, Dinajpur

Karnai, Dinajpur

When we came to Palash bari, Gaibandha, I first saw the tell-tale signs of Jamaat-Shibir barbarism. We went to a house of a local youth leader of Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal(JSD). It was first looted and then set ablaze. Holy books were burnt. A neighbor told us the family survived by fleeing through the kitchen window. A stone throw-away, a JSD leader’s house was also attacked. Burnt clothes and furniture scattered in the house.

More harrowing pictures of Jamaat-shibir atrocities were found in Karnai, Dinajpur. The road, flanked by dry and fallow paddy fields, that connects the village Karnai to the main highway is too narrow to provide enough space for the participants. They—conspicuously wearing T-shirts that read “Boycott Pakistan Product/ Road March for Preventing Communal Terrorism”—– were everywhere: on their feet, on micro-pick-up trucks and on three-wheel vans.

The moment I stepped into the village, I was struck by the sight of a torn tin-walled house. Few meters away, village shops, owned by the Hindus, were looted and gutted down. Some are still bearing the communal scratches on their façades. After attacking the shops, the marauders wrecked havoc on the adjacent houses. As we walked towards a house, sexagenarian Sumi Bewa broke into tears. Showing her ear, she reproached,”They snatched away my ear rings, tearing my ear lobes .”She continued,”They came in herds, started beating us and said, ‘WE WILL WIPE YOU OUT. LEAVE THIS COUNTRY.’”

A half-burnt nose-down Nasimon, an indigenous multipurpose carrier, was lying before a vandalized house. Inside the house I saw burnt school books and clothes. An overpowering smell of burnt-objects was still hanging inside the room.

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon


Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon


A Barber Shop, Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

A Barber Shop, Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Unharmed BNP Stalwart Shop, Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon

Unharmed BNP Stalwart Shop, Dewani Bazaar, Goreya, Thakurgaon


Goreya, Thakurgaon

Goreya, Thakurgaon

Like the villagers of Karnai, only fault of villagers of Goreya, a remote village in Thakurgaon, was to cast vote on January 5 election. As I strolled down the roads of dewani bazaar, it seemed a savage beast scratched on the corrugated iron sheets of the village shops. A closer look on the market revealed that the attack was discriminatory. Few shops owned by BNP leaders are still there—unharmed and unscratched.

At one corner of the market, a desecrated temple is another evidence of BNP-Jamaat mayhem. Inside the temple, the head of the decapitated Goddess was reinstalled. A headless God was lying on the ground with a made-up straw head. The fragmented parts of the deities still remain On the floor. A villager took us to a village eatery where everything was plundered. Inside the toilet, the looters even looted the torso of a tube well. Even a barber shop, which does not have too many valuable things, was not spared. Broken mirror and empty packets of shaving cream were lying right and left on the floor.

One villager told me that the plunderers hoarded the looted wealth at a local go-down, owned by a BNP stalwart. Local law-enforcement agencies later seized it and sealed the go-down. While riding back on a motor rickshaw, I was amazed by the serenity and beauty of the village,where the Muslims and the Hindus have been getting on well since 1971. No doubt the recent attack against the Hindus left a blot on its reputation.

I barely missed my bus, already started rolling down the muddy road that meandered through the village landscape. Our buses headed towards our final resting place, leaving Goreya into a cloud of dust.  

Soon incidents of Karnai and Gorea will fall into oblivion. Another incident will occur, we will start lamenting  it and the very fabric of our inter-religious harmony will continue to erode.

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