November - December 1971 a walking in the streets of Agartala - Amtoli - Suriyamaninaggor - Gokulnagor - Akhura Road - GP Hospital - Joy Bangla office distributing these news papers to the Joy Bangla people and spreading the news of the forthcoming victory looming in the horizon. Shouting at the top of our voices to attract attention to get people to ask for a copy of the news paper published by Joy Bangla govt to do propaganda and rally the whole refugee and freedom fighting exiles of Joy Bangla living in Tripura at the time.
It all began on ; One chilli mid morning when we were playing a ball game( SATH CHARA) at the entrance gate of the Surzomoninagar special refugee camp in Suriyamaninaggor near Amtali outskirts of Agartala ; the capital of Indian state of Tripura. A jeep cj 6 kaiser enters into the gates of the camp - i knew the jeep and i knew who was driving it but could not see the passenger sitting on the right left hand side of the driver; Still that same jeep is parked in front of the Kasba Thana complex rotting itself away which I saw in 1988 last. ( it should have been preserved as a relics of our great war in some museum)
Samar Majumder, Anisur Haque, Prodip, Pappu and couple of others whose names are gone missing from my memory and I were playing the tennis ball game where you set up some clay broken slates pile and hit the ball to brake the pile and run then the bowler hits you with the ball and you replace the bowler and chase the rest of the gang to shoot your victim who would replace you from the misery.
The jeep stopped to a stand still and I went running - it was my uncle Azizur Rahman of BLF younger brother of Momtaz Begum MLA of Awami League from Kasba ; their house is the first house one will have seen if YOU were coming form the Indian side(KAMALA SAGAR ; where Major Khaled Mussharaf was injured) of the border towards kasba crossing via the level crossing - as you look to the left the first old colonial style brick house you see is theirs.
A towering figure in the area during the war, an excellent benevolent man and calm, composed - soft spoken gentleman he was; who have been very caring to look after us and my family during the war week in week out.
He asked me ‘’munna’’, can you call all of them please , so, accordingly, I called and marched them all in near the jeep; a tall man with a massive moustache’ and a big smile with an aura of a great personality came out of the jeep and said hello to us; as soon as he came out there were a few other men walked out from the jeep with all indian Jali Jali SMG on their shoulder wearing bottle green uniform and looking very cool with their long hairs rolling down their neck line covering the shoulder. I have met the gentleman in question many a times when I used to go to my aunt Mumtaz Begum’s house in Bishalghor to spent time with her and her two sons liton & kajal. We used to call her Amena fupi (her nick name; my father’s cousin).
My kaka introduced the towering figure to all of us and said. He is sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni bhai - he wants to give you boys some order and responsibilities - will u do it for the joy bangla ? we all shouted back ‘’Ji’’ ...(feels though as if it all happened the other day )
Sheikh Moni asked one of his guys to bring the bundles out from the floor of the jeep and he showed us these news papers ( above picture) and said to us I will send you these bundles of news papers every week and your job will be to go out to the nearest camps and youth camps and Joy Bangla office in Agartala and GP Hospital and I will send some money with the paper for you guys to have some snacks and fare for bus and other means to get from one place to other. But, Make sure you guys give it to all the people religiously.
He paired us in 4’s Samar da( who happens to be elder brother of my army course mate Major Ashish Majumder), Prodip( from the houses of B.Baria’s top Hindu family related to Bijoy Pal ; a philanthropist of excellence ), Anisul Haque ( roni) ( our present incumbent law minister of Bangladesh - son of our MP ( my area Kasba ) Mr Sirajul Haque - who was actually at that time visiting his aunt /staying with her in our camp ( English news reader in BTV - Mr Shameem Ahmad and Mr Nafiz Ahmad & Forhad Ahmad were his cousins).
The terraces of rooms lines after lines from the entrances both sides were the camp - my (our) room was in the 1st row near the fence and on the left hand side of the entrance gate - which was very close to the main road and there were a few empty rooms in the terrace that’s why I was given the duty to receive the delivery and keep them safe and distribute them in the designate places/areas/camps and shops and places of gathering of Joy Bangla people.
Not a single questions asked nor any arguments we just got on with the job from the same day. Gone are the days of playing,slouching, mocking fights in the jungles, loitering in groups to do nothing all day,bumming around like a bunch of fools - no school - no studies apart from line for rations, standing in line for medicine from Oxfam ( the greatest of all charities in the world), cutting branches of trees and trees and collect dry leaves from the jungles for usage as fire wood the paper distribution became our primary task.
Walking along the Shillong- Agartola - Sabrum road and whilst walking counting the convoys of Indian army moving towards the border with blazing guns and tallest of all field artillery guns with the longest of barrels that I have ever seen and funny thing was the Indian army troops were friendlier not arrogant and vicious and dangerous like the Pakistani army. The intensity of the concentration of the Indian army and it’s movements along that road and temporary camp sites and laying of cables, fixing poles to take cables and repairing roads for tanks and piling of storage with massive guarded areas full of ammunition crates - bailey bridge sections and boats, speed boats, tanks , cranes, tents and mountains of Gerry cans after Gerry cans were awesome preparation since early to late October to up to the end of the war was mesmerising for my(our) eyes.
In those days in the morning fog and winter we used to go out almost every day to go and distribute those news papers and many a times it became our responsibilities to read all the head lines to the public sitting and sipping a cup of tea near a road side tea stalls or heat seeking ( gun pohano) from a road side fire made of papers and dust and leaves as the winter clothing were in dire shortage of supply.
Going to the GP Hospital in Kunjaban via akhaura road and enter the joy bangla ward and see all those young ff’s lying down in their beds some of them has no legs or leg, some of them are blinded in one eye, some has bullet entered from front of the stomach and came out from the back ; bandaged all over, hardly can talk, looking at the ceiling with hopes of life shattered. The agony of their sacrifices for our independence was painfully disturbing.
The unity and the camaraderie of Bengaliness was at its optimum was the most significant signature of 1971. A towering pinnacle of Fellow feelings and well wishes.
Used to return home after long gruelling day finishing the paper run was an eternal pleasure for me and us ; thinking at those tender age ; least we could also give our sweat for the Independence of our beloved mother land ; that we so fondly call ‘’ BANGLADESH - ‘’Joy Bangla’’ was the epitome of our identity.