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Holocaust at Karpara Chowdhury house—The Hindu Karbala

The holocaust commenced on the 10th October, the Lakshmi Puja day. The rainy season was far advanced. Khals were overflowing with water. The rice fields were flooded. The District Board road was breached owing to heavy rains. Smaller roads were under water. The shankos (bamboo bridges) were all guarded by the hooligans. Rai Saheb Rajendralal Chowdhury of Chowdhury badi, Karpara, President of the Noakhali Bar Association, had made himself an eyesore to the local Fuehrer by organizing defence against the growing lawlessness. There used to be in his badi in those days a sadhu of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Tryambakanand by name. He had been trying to revive the institution of Sitala Puja in Hindu badis with some success. A rumour went round that the Sadhu had bragged that on the forthcoming occasion he would perform the Puja with the blood of the Muslims instead of the usual goat’s blood.

A short run from Karpara was Shampur, the headquarters of Ghulam Sarwar, the Fuehrer. On hearing the news, he turned berserk and threatened that he would have the heads of the sadhu and Rai Saheb Rajendralal Chowdhury cut off.

“I WANT THE HEADS OF RAI SAHEB AND SANNYASI”— GHULAM SARWAR

On the morning of the 10th October, he sent a chowkidar with a letter summoning the two to meet him in Shahpur bazar. The Rai Saheb suspecting foul play, refused to go. The Fuehrer became excited. At 8 a.m. he addressed a gathering of several thousand in Shahpur bazar when, it was alleged, he demanded the heads of Rajendralal and the sadhu and incited the the mob to arson and loot. A thana officer of Ramganj, a Muslim, was present on the scene. He was ordered by the Fuehrer to return with his men to the boat that was moored in the khal below and wait there. He sheepishly obeyed. The mob then set fire to the Kali temple in the bazar and cut the sacred banyan tree (Kali gach) under the very eyes of the thana officer. All Hindu shops in the bazar were looted and burnt.

VALIENT BUT FUTILE RESISTANCE BY SURENDRANATH BOSE, ZAMINDAR OF NARAYANPUR —THE FIRST VICTIM

After finishing Shahpur bazar, the mob divided itself into three sections. One section proceeded in the direction of Ramganj bazar, to the north-west. The other looted Hindu shops in Dasgharia bazar and burnt the Thakur Mandir (temple) there. The third attacked the katchery of Suren Bose, the zamindar of Narayanpur. Suren Bose had been warned of the coming danger by a friendly police officer that very morning and advised to flee. But he refused saying, “I do no want to leave my brethren behind….I must….face death with them.” When the attack came he opened fire. He was set upon by the mob and killed, the katchery set on fire and the dead body thrown upon the flames. Five other occupants of the house were killed likewise.

HEROIC RESISTANCE AT CHOWDHURY HOUSE : RAJENDRALAL CHOWDHURY WAS BEHEADED AND HIS HEAD WAS PRESENTED TO GHULAM SARWAR

On the morning of the 11th October, at about 8 a.m., Chowdhury badi itself was attacked : first by a small batch of 30 to 40 rioters shouting “Allah-Hoo-Akbar”, “Hindur Rakta Chai” (we demand the blood of Hindus) etc. Rajendralal Chowdhury and his son with some young men met them some distance from the main building. Three of the attackers were killed. The mob then fell back and returned after about three hours with reinforcements, not less than ten thousand strong. In the meantime the members of Rajendralal’s family and a number of men and women and children from adjacent badis had taken refuge on the roof of the Rai Saheb’s house and barricaded themselves. From there one Kali Prasanna Raut, by a skillfully directed fire from his muzzzle-loader, kept the rioters at bay of several hours, till his ammunition was exhausted. He then broke the gun across his knee and threw it into the building. Thirty to forty of the attackers, it was said, were killed and several hundred wounded.

When the firing ceased, the rioters returned and piling up wood, bamboo and pieces of fencing etc. against the building, set fire to it with the help of petrol and kerosene. “Fire breaking out immediately, women, children and the aged began to scream desperately in terror.” Some rioters from below let fly among them. One person was killed. Those who had escaped injury tried to save themselves by lying down on the roof but were subjected to a fierce fusillade of brickbats, bottles etc from below. A part of the building consumed by fire then collapsed and crushed to death a number of those who had taken shelter below and some on the roof. When the blaze became too fierce, those on the roof piteously begged the mob below to rescue them. The Fuehrer stood watching at a distance. At his orders a ladder was ingeniously improvised by felling a coconut tree against the wall of the building and all male members from the burning building were brought down one by one, stripped naked, roped to trees and butchered with daos in the presence of their womenfolk. Rai Saheb Rajendralal Chowdhury was led off separately from the rest to a log of wood and beheaded. The severed head was carried in procession to be presented to the Fuehrer—“the mad crowd shouting and yelling in a terrible manner.”

Source: Pyarelal Mahatma Gahdhi–The Last Phase

Book: 1946 : THE GREAT CALCUTTA KILLINGS
AND NOAKHALI GENOCIDE
DINESH CHANDRA SINHA : ASHOK DASGUPTA

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