The year 1971, a year that is firmly entrenched in everyone's mind as being a momentous time in history. Those were tumultuous times, insecure times, distressing, perturbing, worrying times.
Forty-eight years is a long time to remember any episode of one's life; yet the memories of that morning of August 30, 1971 remain so vivid, etched forever in my heart and mind.
We all know that 10 million people—one-seventh of the population in 1971—fled to India during our War of Independence in 1971. While there has been some work
Yasmin Saikia, in her book Women, War and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971, argues that the "forgotten, hidden memories belong to women who were terrorized, brutally sexualized, and marginalized in the war" and that though they were not directly involved in battle, they "became the site on which violence and power were inscribed".
Besides taking up arms to directly fight in the war in 1971, many women also joined the war effort as nurses and doctors to provide medical care for injured freedom fighters. The following are the experiences of two such women who participated in the war as nurses, Sultana Kamal, lawyer and activist, and Minu Haque, dancer and choreographer.
In 1971, it was indeed a proud day for many a Bangladeshi when independence was announced. Everyone seemed to welcome the beginning of the Liberation War.
We first met Sheela Devi [a pseudonym] on May 11, 1997. It was not easy to persuade her to tell us about her experiences in 1971.
Freedom fighter Shirin Banu Mitil passed away on July 21, 2016. A year before her death, she had spoken to The Daily Star's Naznin Tithi, sharing her memories of her participation in the Liberation War, disguised as a boy. The interview was originally published in The Daily Star's Independence Day Special Supplement in 2015.