Today is the tragic massacre day for the people of Hatia union under Ulipur upazila of Kurigram district. On November 13, 1971, the Pakistani army killed 697 people in the union.
Because the area was a safe haven for freedom fighters, rajakars burned and looted hundreds of homes after committing a massacre, on a tip off from the members of the Al-Badr and Al-Shams.
Dagarkuti, Ramkhana, Baksi, Vabesh and Noyadara villages of Hatia union are located on the side of the Brahmaputra River. The freedom fighters had taken shelter in these remote villages to continue their resistance against the Pakistani army in 1971.
They had set up a camp there. Local people assisted the freedom fighters with food and shelter. The freedom fighters launched attacks on army posts in Ulipur, Chilmari and Durgapur Railway Station areas from these villages.
The Pakistani army attacked the villages to eliminate the freedom fighters from the region and massacred the local populace from dawn to dusk on November 13.
Kamal Uddin, who received gunshot wounds during the massacre, can still remember the horrific day. He broke into tears when looking back into the memories.
He said it was a Saturday of the holy month of Ramadan. Most of the people of the five villages went back to sleep after having sehri. During the Fazr prayer, the whole area trembled by the sound of mortar shells and guns of the Pakistani army.
The massacre, looting and burning continued for more than 12 hours. Hundreds of people were murdered on the banks of Brahmaputra.
The villages were lost in the erosion of the river, but people of Kurigram still remember the darkest day of their history. A monument was built in Dagarkuti, which also got lost in the river. It was later rebuilt at the Anantapur Bazar.
Every year the day is commemorated by the Ulipur Muktijoddha Sangshad, upazila administration and other organisations.
Shyamol Bhowmik, the convener of Kurigram Sammilita Sangskritik Jote said, "If the government recognises the victims of the Hatia Massacre as freedom fighters, their family members will get government incentives. It will be very helpful to them."
Meanwhile, Abul Hossen, chairman of Hatia union parishad said, "Many women lost their children and husbands on that day. They have been struggling to make ends meet ever since. The government should launch a special initiative for them."