Sohagpur massacre

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Sohagpur Massacre
Bidhabapalli Massacre
Part of 1971 Bangladesh genocide
Location of Sohagpur
Location of Sohagpur
Sohagpur massacre (Bangladesh)
Native nameসোহাগপুর গণহত্যা
LocationSohagpur, Nalitabari, Sherpur, Bangladesh
Coordinates25°07′22″N 90°15′37″E / 25.1228673°N 90.2602678°E / 25.1228673; 90.2602678Coordinates: 25°07′22″N 90°15′37″E / 25.1228673°N 90.2602678°E / 25.1228673; 90.2602678
Date10 Srabon, 1378 BS (25 July, 1971)
07:00 – 09:00 (UTC+6)
TargetBengali and Garo people
Attack type
Pakistan Army
No. of participants
MotiveTo eradicate the freedom fighters

The Sohagpur massacre was a mass killing of 187 civilians on 25 July 1971 in the Mymensingh District of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the Liberation War. The massacre was perpetrated by the Pakistan Army and Al-Badr, a paramilitary force opposing Bangladeshi independence. Following the massacre, Sohagpur became known as the "village of widows."[1][2]


After the outbreak of the Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan in 1971, Sherpur District became a strategically important region due to its location near the border of the Garo Hills, Meghalaya, India. Pakistan Army and Mukti Bahini wrestled for control over the region till the end of the conflict.[3]

Sohagpur is a village located 36 km from Sherpur town.[4] According to the witness statement of Arshed Ali, the son of one of the victims of the massacres in the Sherpur area, Pakistan Army killed 245 civilians in the villages of Sohagpur, Benupara and Kakorkandi on 25 July, 1971. The army was aided by local collaborators Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Chairman Fassi, Nazir Master, Doctor Kader, Bollu Boka Bura and Nasa.[5][6] Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was later convicted of multiple counts of crimes against humanity including the Sohagpur massacre, and was sentenced to death in 2013.[7][8]

According to one local account, the attack was prompted by Doctor Kader, the village doctor who became influential during the war through his collaboration with the Pakistan army. He started extorting the villagers and the refugees making their way to the border through the village. One day the hut where he kept his plunder was broken into. An infuriated Kader headed to the Pakistan army camp and convinced them that the village housed a camp for Mukti Bahini and the army must take action against it.[9]


On the morning of 25 July 1971, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman of the Al-Badr and Doctor Kader, of the Razakar, led Pakistan Army to the village. At the time of the massacre, there was no Mukti Bahini presence in the village of Sohagpur; the nearest position was in Baruajani, another village near Sohagpur, but the army was led to believe (by Kader) that Sohagpur was a stronghold of the Mukti Bahini. A 150-strong army surrounded the village from three sides at 7am (UTC+6) when most of the male villagers were busy tending to the Amon (rice) crop in the fields. The army opened fire on the villagers and by 9 am had killed more than 150 villagers. The soldiers continued their search for Mukti Bahini soldiers for another twelve hours, during which they dragged any male villager taking refuge in their homes and shot or bayonetted them to death in front of their families.[9][10][11] Two people from the village protested against the Pakistan Army and were shot dead. Among the minority Garo people, who are Indigenous in the region, three peasants working in the fields were killed. Thirteen women of the village were physically assaulted as well.[12]

The survivors of the village fled to India.[9] The survivors returned after the Pakistan Army withdrew from the village. No men survived the genocide.[10] Razakars and Al-Badr forces then declared those killed in the massacre "Kafir" (infidels) and prevented the burial of their bodies. Many of their corpses were eaten by wild animals. However, some people were able to bury the bodies of their relatives.[11] Jalal Uddin, the president of the village organization named Martyr family welfare association and the son of a victim of the massacre, was 14 years old at the time of the massacre.[13][4] Fifty years after the massacre, in an interview with the Dhaka Post, the survivor said:

সে সময়ের নির্মমতা ও ভয়াবহতার কথা বলতে গেলে আমার শরীরের লোমগুলো দাঁড়িয়ে যায়। পাকবাহিনী এলাকায় প্রবেশ করে অনবরত গুলি করতে থাকে। তারা আমাদের বাড়িতে এসে বাবা, ভাইসহ সকলকে হত্যা করে। আমি দৌড়ে ঘরের মাচার মধ্যে লুকিয়ে নিজেকে রক্ষা করি। সোহাগপুরের কোনো পুরুষ বেঁচে ছিল না, আমি ছাড়া। তাই আমাকেই লাশগুলো একত্র করে মাটি চাপা দিতে হয়েছে। জানাজা করার মতো লোক ছিল না।

Speaking of the brutality and horror of that time, it gives me a scary feeling in my body. The Pakistan Army entered the area and started firing incessantly. They came to our house and killed everyone, including my father and brother. I ran and hid in the scaffolding of the house to save myself. There was no man left in Sohagpur except me, so I had to collect the corpses and bury them. There was no one to perform the funeral.

— Jalal Uddin, in an interview with the Dhaka Post[14]


After the independence of Bangladesh, Sohagpur was renamed to Bidhbapara. Later, the name was changed to Bidhabapalli (lit.'the village of widows').[15] In 1991, Matia Chowdhury became an MP in the constituency Sherpur-2. After being elected as an MP, she told the story of the widows of the village. Five years later, the Awami League-led government began to aid the village's widows in various ways.[12] The caretaker government later ran a mushroom and agricultural project to help widows, which is currently closed.[10] Widows' allowances are paid from BRAC Bank and Trust Bank. However, Deutsche Welle reported in 2015 that the condition of the ones affected had not improved. The president of the village organization said that no one in the village could be educated.[13] According to report of Janakantha in 2021, land and houses have been given as gifts to the affected widows by the government.[12]

In 2010s, many responsible for the massacre had still not been prosecuted. In 2010,[16] the Bangladesh government had filed a case against Muhammad Kamaruzzaman at the International Criminal Tribunal, accusing him of seven counts, including the attack on the village. The court sentenced Kamaruzzaman to death on 9 May 2013; he was executed on 11 April 2015.[17] However, Kamaruzzaman's son Hassan Iqbal pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying his father was not in the village at the time of the murder and that his father had been deliberately implicated.[18] In 2012, Kamaruzzaman's brother had asked Arshed Ali to testify on behalf of him. Ali testified for the International Crimes Tribunal on 2 March 2013. He denied Kamruzzaman's accusation and said that Kamruzzaman was not responsible for the massacre. He claimed that only Chairman Fassi, Nazir Master, Kadir and Nasa Gang were responsible for the massacre.[6] Human Rights Watch called the trial of Bangladesh's International Criminal Tribunal "flawed" and said the trial was not impartial and there was no opportunity to appeal the verdict.[18]

In 2016, the government of Bangladesh recognized six widows of the village as Mukti Bahini.[19] The same year, the village was renamed to Birakanya Palli (lit.'Village of heroic daughters') by the Sector Commander Forum’s leaders at a program in the village.[20] On 19 February 2022, a memorial called Saurjaya was erected in the village to commemorate the Sohagpur massacre.[21]


  1. ^ "Bangladesh's Kamaruzzaman sentenced to death". BBC. 9 May 2013. Archived from the original on 16 May 2022. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  2. ^ Muhammad Anisur Rahman Akanda (24 December 2016). "A tale of Liberation War". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 July 2022. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  3. ^ Shahriar, Arafat (27 April 2018). "বই আলোচনা: শেরপুরের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের বীরত্বগাথা" [Book Discussion: The heroic story of the liberation war of Sherpur]. Kaler Kantho (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  4. ^ a b "রাতের আঁধারে মরদেহ মই দিয়ে টেনে গণকবর দিয়েছি" [In the darkness of the night, I dragged the body with a ladder and buried it in a mass grave]. Jago News 24 (in Bengali). 25 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 July 2022. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  5. ^ "শেরপুর এলাকার স্বাধীনতাবিরোধীদের প্রধান ছিলেন কামারুজ্জামান" [Kamaruzzaman was the head of the anti-independence movement in Sherpur area]. (in Bengali). 1 October 2012. Archived from the original on 9 July 2022. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  6. ^ a b "কামারুজ্জামানের পক্ষে সাফাই সাক্ষ্য শুরু" [Testimony began on behalf of Kamaruzzaman]. (in Bengali). 6 March 2013. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Nightmare of Sohagpur hanged". The Daily Star. 12 April 2015. Archived from the original on 14 March 2021. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  8. ^ "Kamaruzzaman: The Charges". 9 May 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Chowdhury, Afsan (28 July 2012). "ভরা শ্রাবণে মনে পড়ে সোহাগপুরের গণহত্যার কথা" [Remembering the massacre at Sohagpur in Srabon]. (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  10. ^ a b c Ahmed, Shakil (24 July 2013). "সোহাগপুর গণহত্যা দিবস" [Sohagpur Genocide Day]. (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  11. ^ a b "আজ শেরপুরের সোহাগপুর গণহত্যা দিবস" [Today is Sohagpur Genocide Day in Sherpur]. Jaijaidin. 25 July 2021. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  12. ^ a b c "শেরপুরে সোহাগপুর গণহত্যা দিবস আজ" [Today is Sohagpur Genocide Day in Sherpur]. Janakantha (in Bengali). 25 July 2021. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  13. ^ a b Harun Ur Rashid Swapan (1 May 2015). "বিধবা পল্লী: এখনো কাটেনি আঁধার" [Widow Village: The darkness is not over yet]. Deutsche Welle (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  14. ^ Jahidul Khan Sourov (25 July 2021). "এই দিনে ১৮৭ পুরুষকে একসঙ্গে হত্যা করে পাকবাহিনী" [On this day 187 men were killed together by the Pak army]. Dhaka Post (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  15. ^ Topu Sarkar Harun (31 December 2020). "স্বাধীনতার ৪৯ বছরেও মুক্তিযুদ্ধের স্মৃতিচিহ্ন গুলো অরক্ষিত" [Even in the 49 years of independence, the relics of the liberation war are unprotected]. Jaijaidin (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  16. ^ Ashif Islam Shaon (9 July 2022). "Witnesses from Sohagpur happy". Dhaka Tribune. Archived from the original on 9 July 2022. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  17. ^ "কামারুজ্জামানের ফাঁসি কার্যকর" [Kamaruzzaman's execution is done]. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 12 April 2015. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  18. ^ a b Harun Ur Rashid Swapan (10 November 2014). "কামারুজ্জামানের ছেলে 'পাগলের প্রলাপ' বকছেন: অ্যাটর্নি জেনারেল" [Kamaruzzaman's son speaks of 'crazy delirium': Attorney General]. Deutsche Welle (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  19. ^ "মুক্তিযোদ্ধার স্বীকৃতি চান সোহাগপুরের বিধবারা" [The widows of Sohagpur want recognition of freedom fighters]. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 18 December 2017. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  20. ^ "সোহাগপুর বিধবাপল্লী এখন 'বীরকন্যা পল্লী'" [Sohagpur Widow Palli is now 'Birakanya Palli']. Bangla Tribune (in Bengali). 5 February 2016. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  21. ^ "বিজয়ের ৫০ বছর পর বিধবাপল্লীতে নির্মিত হলো স্মৃতিসৌধ 'সৌরজায়া'" [50 years after the victory, a memorial 'Saurjaya' was built in the widow's village]. (in Bengali). Channel 24. 19 February 2022. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.

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