Bicharer bani nirabe nivrite kande:
A horror story of Banskhali

By Ajoy Roy

[Minority repression continues in some form or other. Here is a horror  story that must have surpassed many horror stories of Alfred Hitchcock! In a remote village of Bangladesh  called Sadhanpur in Chittagong eleven members of a Hindu family were burnt to death. Can you imagine? Here is the story.  ~Ajoy Roy]

An Entire Minority Family Roasted Alive

Eleven members of a Hindu minority family of Tejendra Shil, a respectable family
of Shil-para of village southern Sadhanpur under Banshkhali police station,
Chittagong, were roasted alive on Wednesday, early morning of 2 a.m., November
19, 2003. It is learnt that a group of armed terrorists apparently in the
disguise of dacoits attacked Shil-para. They had chosen as a first target the
house of Tejendra Shil, a two-storied earthen-clay made house.

Bashkhali, Chittagong, Nov 19: - Eleven members of same family, roasted alive
We have read in history that barabaric soldiers of Taimur Lane, or Monogolian
murderous soldiers of Chengiz Khan or Halaku Khan, or atrocious sepoys of
Persian King Nadir Shah or barbarous tribal people of Germany attacked village
after village or ransacked cities after cities killing innocent inhabitants,
demolished buildings after buildings, destroyed all kinds of institutions-
educational, religious and cultural with limitless
cruelty-barbarity-ferociousness. Those are the stories recorded in history. But,
we cannot think of such mediaeval barbarism could take place in Bangladesh, even
in dream. We get shocked more so, when our madam Prime Minister Khaleda Begum
repeatedly uttering that Bangladesh is a ‘moderate Muslim state’, it is a state
where there is no ‘Majority or Minority’ – “We are all Bangladeshi”, Bangladesh
is a country of peace and tranquility- in here an exemplary atmosphere of
communal peace and harmony exist, since she took over as Chief Executive of
Khaleda-Nizami government of Bangladesh in October 2001.

No minorities, ethnic-religious-cultural, were ever tortured or killed; no
opposition leaders or workers ever punished-harassed from political motivation;
no women whether belonging to majority or minority community ever sexually
tortured-molested-gang raped- these sorts of speeches, statements, advices
repeatedly being uttered by ministers, government officials, party leaders –
petty or big, BNP-Jamat branded intellectuals, and militant student leaders.
Killing of Principal Muhuri, or Jnanjyoti, Purohit of Khagrachhari Vaisnav
temple, Sri Kanta Rakshit, Dr. S K Mukherjee, and prominent political leaders
and workers (not only of opposition) and common people, raping of Purnima, Rita,
Rafuza, Purohit-Kanya- Shilpi, Biva ..... and many others, harassment of
Journalists (local and foreigner), politicians, intellectuals in the name of
saving the so called image of Bangladesh, abduction of Industrialists, torture
of tribal families in northern districts, terrible unprecedented atrocious
events in Mahalchhari- where not less than 400 families were affected, killing,
injury and harassment of political elements and innocent people, eviction of
families after families and business establishment in the name of curbing
activities of well known ‘enlisted terrorists’ under joint operation ‘Clean
Heart’, activities of militant Islamic organizations including Al Quida,
Har-katul , Taleban, Harkat i Islam al Jihad, killing of Ahmediya community
leader Shah Alam of Raghunathpur, Jhikargachha (Jessore), and torture and
harassment of 14 Ahmediya families in Uttar Bhabanipur (Veramara, Kustia) ....
all these terrible events never happened in Khaleda-Nizami governed Bangladesh.
Just a month before 4-party alliance celebrated success of their two-year reign.
Starting from petty worker of BNP-Jamat to President and PM of Bangladesh
government gave statements after statements on different functions that country
was floating in a sea of honey of peace, progress and tranquility. There is no
terrorism, no law and order problem, no mention of abolishment of industries
after industries and turning lakhs of laborers to beggars, no mention of
complete control of every public institution, private or government,---
educational, cultural, police and other law enforcing agencies, even judiciary
and anti-corruption bodies,.... . Not a single Institution could work now as
independent organization. Even then we are termed as number one corrupted
country- .. . This is our greatest achievement.

In the eye of the government, whatever minor incidents occurring are propaganda
of opposition parties, exaggeration of motivated journalists and imaginary
stories fabricated by the information-terrorists-intellectuals, who were out to
tarnish the great shining image of our prime minister and the country.

The story of Banshkhali

Where is Banshkhali ? It is a small police station located southernmost region
of Chittagong district, about 40 km from Chittagong city. The village is about 2
km west from Banskhali town from the main road. It is learnt from the police
source and the eye witness that on 19th November shortly after zero hour. The
village Sadhanpur with area of roughly 4 sq km is a minority-dominated locality.
Here live apart from Shil families, families of other castes too. The so called
dacoits numbering not less than twenty, first entered the adjacent mahalla
(ward) called Banik-para. There three guards of Banik-para intercepted them. But
they were overpowered by the bandits- the bandits tied them up onto betel-nut
trees. Then they entered Shil-para and surround the entire mahalla posting one
or two armed man in front of each Shil house. The bandits then storm entered
breaking the door of the ground floor of the two storied house and ransacked and
indulged themselves in damaging the house. But sensing trouble, all inmates
including the head of the family Babu Tejendra Shil (70) and his wife Bakul Shil
(60) took shelter on the roof of the two storied establishment with wooden
ladder lifted as the bandits approaching their residence. There was permanent
staircase to go to upstairs or roof. The armed miscreants ordered the inmates to
drop down the ladder, but they refused. This infuriated the miscreants. The
gangsters sprinkled gun powder profusely on the ground floor and all sides of
the house followed by spraying of inflammable petroleum. Then they set fire.
Instantly the entire house blazed to lusty fire. The bandits made it sure that
no one dare to come near the house for rescue of the trapped poor victims. They
kept on aimless firing gun shots to drive whoever trying to come near the house
of Tejendra Shil.

All members of the family were barbequed and roasted alive. What a painful death
they embraced including a 4-day old child, Kartik. Even after this barbarous and
shocking we keep on believing Gracious – ever Merciful God or Parameswar or
Allah. If Allah exists it exists for the bandits, for the dacoits, for the
irreligious terrorists- not for poor and oppressed.

As many as eleven members met painful death- they are: Tejendra Shil (70), Bakul
Shil (60), wife of Tejendra, Devendra Shil (80), Tejendra’s sister in law’s
husband, Anil Shil (42), Smritirekha Shil (30), wife of Anil, Rumi Shil (10),
grand daughter of Tejendra, Sonia Shil (7), another grand daughter of Tejendra,
Kartik Shil (4-day old), grand son of Tejendra, Beauty Shil (22), Prasadi Shil
(17), and Anni Shil (14) – all of them were daughters of Tejendra Shil’s brother
Sachindra Shil.

No one survived except one. Only miraculous survivor of the incident is second
son of Tejendra, Bimal Shil, a village doctor who escaped certain death by
jumping out through a window from the first floor as fire approached him. He
hide himself in a nearby paddy field. His hands and legs were however fractured.
He narrated to a correspondent of ’Bhorer Kagoj’, a national daily that even
after being threatened they did not drop the ladder, but he did never think that
bandits would try to burn them alive. It was beyond imagination. He further said
that the fire was so intense that even from a distance he felt its blazing heat
and smell of patrol and burning flesh. The entire dead night was full of cry-
crying for save, but alas no one could come to the rescue of these dying men and

After completing the task, bandits left the place after an hour or so. The
neighbors immediately rushed to the house of Shil family and tried to extinguish
blazing fire with water and other means. In the morning when fire completely
extinguished, eleven charred skeletons were recovered, beyond recognition.

We read the deadly story of Sutti, which Rammohan, the greatest humanist of
Bengal stopped this inhuman custom of the Hindus with the help of Lord Bentik
through legal acts. The girls tested how terrible were experience of Sutti
widows. In this incident Bakaul Devi, Smritirekha died with their living
husbands. If they were not granted heaven (Golokdham of the Hindus) then who
would be ! In mediaeval India another custom was in vogue called ‘Jahar brata’.
According to this custom, in order save the honor and chastity, a girl throws
herself into a fire-pit (Agni-kunda), specially made for this purpose. This
custom became very popular during Muslim invasion of India, especially in
Rajputna. Rumi, Sonia, Beauty, Prasadi, and Anni must were the girls who did
Jahar brata of in moderate Muslim State, we proudly call ‘Bangladesh’. Is it our
Bangladesh- does it belong to us, or it belongs to terrorists, their patrons and
corrupted few politicians or ministers who are at present governing the country.
Who would answer my question, who, who ?

What is the motive of this cruelty? Looting and grabbing of properties, lust for
beautiful young girls of the family ? Shear revenge- lunatics ? No, I don’t know
the answer. A blind communalism ?
Villagers don’t believe that this is a simple case of dacoity. No looting took
place- all valuables remained untouched. They were simply shocked, bewildered
and naturally panicked. Any time, any family may meet same fate. Government
cannot provide any protection to its people who had elected them a couple of

Even police do not know the answer. Bimal Shil surviving member of the family
has filed a case. As usual police has yet to make any arrest. Bangladesh
observer notes “It was the worst case of arson in the known history in this part
of the country. Most of the villagers lost voice even to comment on the tragic

Prime Minister Begum Zia and AL Chief Sheikh Hasina aggrieved

Our PM, now visiting Mecca, has expressed her shock and grief, and as usual
issued directives to the proper persons including home minister and IGP to find
the culprits. She also prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul.

Madam PM, if you were sincere and hard from the beginning against your terrorist
and armed cadres and professional goondas, it would have not necessary to
express your grief for the poor family of Tejendra Shil who wanted a peaceful
life from your government, nothing else. But you failed to provide it ! You are
so powerful, but yet so powerless. Pity, madam prime minister.

AL chief Sheikh Hasina, expressing her shock and sincere grief narrated the
incident as primitive and an expression inhuman ugliness. “I have no language to
express my indignation and protest against crime committed against humanity”,
continued Hasina. She prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul and
expressed sympathy for the victim family. In this connection she alleged that
this government since taking over state power had released not less than 70
thousand branded accused from jail and cases against them were abandoned. This
acts of government has encouraged the terrorists and made Bangladesh a heaven
for them, observed Hasina. The terrorists let loose by the occupant of the state
power have made civic life unsafe, civilians are captive of those bandits,
alleged AL chief.

As per directives of PM, our home minister Mr. Altaf Hosain Choudhury,
accompanied by Mr. Zafrul Islam Choudhury, State minister for environment and
forest, Mr. Shamsul Haq, IGP, Abul Bashar, DIG, Mr. Shafiqul Islam, DC,
Chittagong, and Mr. Mahbubur Rahman, SP, Chittagong rushed to the place
yesterday by copter. The minister as usual directed the local police
administration to round up the so called dacoits. He gave a sum of Tk. 50
thousand to the surviving family members, whereas the state minister Mr. Zafrul
Islam Choudhury gave Tk. 30 thousand on behalf of the PM. Altaf Hosen held a
local meeting addressing the villagers in which he uttered, as usual empty
assurance that dacoits would be rounded up at any cost. He also ordered shoot at
site. May we ask our home minister how many times you have uttered such empty
solaces to the aggrieved families? Do you have any office to keep record of
these assurances and monitor its progress ? I really wonder.
Thursday Nov 20, 2003.

[Mukto-mona News update: The article of Prof. Ajoy Roy was published in Mukto-mona on 20th November, just after the horrific incident took place. Meanwhile, police arrested four more people-Babul (20), Nazir Ahmed (26), Shoaib Bahar Tipu (32) and Ajimuddin (32) of Banshkhali-in connection with the incident, raising the arrest figure to six. Odhikar, a human rights organization, on Nov 23, 2003, demanded of judicial inquiry into the death of 11 members of a Hindu family at Banshkhali in Chittagong on November 18 last. According to their report, local people of Banshkhali and relatives of the victims think that police investigating the incident were treating it as 'a case of robbery.' Bangladesh Hindu Boudda Christian Oikya Parishad has termed the Banshkhali carnage a planned bloodbath carried out as part of the continued repression on the minority people.

Ten victims in the Banshkhali tragedy were cremated at a local crematory on last Friday (Nov 22, 2003).]


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