Ketnar Bil massacre

Coordinates: 22°58′N 90°09′E / 22.97°N 90.15°E / 22.97; 90.15
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Ketnar Bil massacre
কেতনার বিল গণহত্যা
Ketnar Bil massacre is located in Bangladesh
Ketnar Bil massacre
LocationKetnar Bil, Barisal, East Pakistan
DateMay 15, 1971; 52 years ago (1971-05-15) (UTC+6:00)
TargetBengali Hindus
Attack type
WeaponsLight machine guns
DeathsMore than 500
PerpetratorsPakistani army

Ketnar Bil massacre (Bengali: কেতনার বিল গণহত্যা) refers to the massacre of unarmed Bengali Hindus in Ketnar Bil region of Barisal District by the Pakistan Army on 15 May 1971.[1]


Ketnar Bil is an open land in Barisal District where paddy and jute are cultivated. In Bengali, a bil is a stagnant water body formed out of river movement, usually a horse shoe lake. Bils accumulate sediments over the years and are gradually converted into arable land. In 1971, Ketnar Bil fell under the Gaurnadi police station of the then Sadar sub-division of the undivided Barisal district.[1] Now the area falls under Agailjhara Upazila of Barisal District.[2] The bil is located to the north of Rangta village under Rajahir Union in between the Hindu inhabited villages of Bakal and Kodaldhowa. The village of Bakal was originally known as Bakai, however due to illegibility of the dot of 'i', the Pakistani Army pronounced and subsequently spelt it as Bakal.[1]

On 25 April, the Pakistani Army arrived in Gournadi through the Dhaka - Barisal Highway. In Gournadi, eight Pakistani soldiers were killed by the freedom fighters. The enraged Pakistani army contingent, who began to fire indiscriminately. More than 200 villagers were killed.[2] They set fire to the harbour and hundreds of houses adjacent to it. In early May, the Pakistani army set up permanent camp at the Gaurnadi College.[2] Around 250 soldiers and 50 local collaborators began to stay at the camp. They set up bunkers at the bridges in Batajor, Bhurghata, Mahilara, Ashokkathi and Kasba in Gaurnadi police station area. They established control up to Bhurghata in the north, Shikarpur (Wazirpur police station) in the south, Paisarhat (Agailajhara police station) in the west and Muladi to the east. The local collaborators and Peace Committee member acted at accomplices to the acts of killing, loot and rape by the Pakistani army.[2]


On 14 May, locals under the leadership of one Chitta Ballabh, attacked an army patrol from the front with spears and shields killing four soldiers in Donarkandi.[2] Enraged by this attack, the next day at around 10 am, a contingent of around 100 Pakistani soldiers, proceeded towards the west past Kasba and Chandshi. They fired indiscriminately at everyone they met. As the news of army arrival spread, thousands of villagers from nearby seven to eight villages began to run towards the Ketnar Bil to take shelter behind the paddy and jute fields. When the army contingent arrived at Rangta, they found the villagers running towards the wasteland.[1] The Pakistani army open machine gun fire at the running crowd.[1] More than five hundred people were killed in the incident.[2] The Pakistani army then set hundreds of deserted houses on fire, killing cattle and other livestock. A twelve-day-old infant was stamped to death. Another child was bayoneted to death. The local collaborators and Peace Committee member acted at accomplice to the acts of killing.[2]

19 persons of the local Patra family were killed in the massacre. The survivors of the Patra family buried around 150 dead bodies including those of their family members in five or six mass graves within the Patra residence. The rest of the dead bodies decomposed in the Ketnar Bil and were fed upon by jackals and dogs.[2]


No memorial has been built in the area in the memory of the victims. The victims haven't been recognized as martyrs by the Bangladesh government. In 2011, Deputy Command A. R. Sarniabat of Muktijoddha Sangsad visited Ketnar Bil and designated it as the largest mass killing site in southern Bangladesh.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Basu, Tapan (21 December 2012). আগৈলঝাড়ার বধ্যভূমি কেতনার বিল ৪০ বছরেও অনাবিষ্কৃত. Dainik Destiny (in Bengali). Dhaka. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h আজো উপেক্ষিত কেতনার বিলের বধ্যভূমি. (in Bengali). 21 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  3. ^ ৪২ বছর পরও উপেক্ষিত আগৈলঝাড়ার কেতনার বিল বধ্যভূমি. (in Bengali). Abahaman Bangla Media. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
22°58′N 90°09′E / 22.97°N 90.15°E / 22.97; 90.15