Thursday, April 5, 2018

Martyrs’ Memorial Girls’ High School, Doihari Village, Swarupkathi Police Station, Pirojpur District, Bangladesh

Martyrs’ Memorial Girls’ High School, Doihari Village, Swarupkathi Police Station, Pirojpur District, Bangladesh

(Shahid Smriti Madhyamik Balika Bidyaloi)

Sachi G. Dastidar

On a much-awaited visit to a remote corner of southern coastal deltaic Bangladesh, SriRamKathi village of BhimKathi area of Pirojpur District New York’s (U.S.A.) Probini Foundation delegates Executive Secretary Shuvo G. Dastidar and this writer met folks of the area to discuss a possible school construction at the Pranab Ashram. The 175 mile distance from Bangladesh capital Dhaka takes a day’s journey either by river boat or by bus crossing many river ferries, although journey by boat or steamer is certainly a pleasurable-yet-unhurried way to travel. 


In 2007 as soon as we reached the SriRamKathi Pranab Ashram it seemed celebration began. Boys and girls and their parents were already waiting for us. Welcome began by saying Namaskar or Greetings with folded hands, women ululating and others blowing conch. With announcements from the head (Hindu) monk via ashram’s loudspeakers streams of local residents started to pour in. Words of mouth spread like wild fire. We joined rest of the crowd in singing, playing, chatting, and offering Hindu prayers in a Muslim-majority land. Some in the crowd took Shuvo for a walk in the village, while others took me for walk, chat and tea. Both Shuvo and I took a look at the possible site for a new school building that the locals were pleading with Probini for help. (Probini has built the school building named Probini Bhavan [Building].) Some people imagine more powers in us than actually we possess. One distraught poor oppressed Hindu father came to us seeking justice for her daughter. His daughter, first graduate of the family, was kidnapped in midday, abused then murdered by drowning by a Muslim gang. And the local administration was reluctant to punish the killers. In desperation he thought we foreigners could be his “last straw” for justice. There were others who shared their pleasure and pain. Soon dark fell. Some headed home, others moved indoors for further briefing. In darkness entered a group of newcomers accompanied by Monk Sunil, a swami, or ordained Hindu monk. Guests took off their shoes and went straight to touch my feet to show their respect and affection. Swami introduced them as a group of people from a nearby school desperately needing help. Swami said “They need help badly. The school was wiped out after a storm a few months back. Their school has no roof. School’s dorm has been wiped out, and kids are sleeping in rooms without any roof. Older Brother, please help them. If it delays our school project, so be it. They need urgent help.” We said, “Probini doesn’t help without a firsthand report, and we have no time to visit their school.” Students and teachers started begging and crying to take us to their school. Changing our plan next morning we took a boat ride to that coastal island, one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. Some of the structures were completely gone. Headmaster Nirmal Chandra Dhali, a Hindu, who lived in the school dorm with rest of the resident girls had organized a meeting with founder of the school, Mr. Sikdar, a Hindu minority, and many other important personalities in hours notice. During Bangladesh Liberation Movement in 1971 on the school site 136 Hindus were corralled by the Army of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its Bengali Islamist allies then shot or hacked them to death, including Mr. Sikdar’s father, a headmaster. Thus he gave the name Martyr’s Memorial in memory of his father and other’s killed when he founded the school. There were several individuals killed who could not be identified as they were brought from other islands. Their Hindu families may also have been killed.

The monk at nearby SriRamKathi Pranab Ashram in his attitude of self-sacrifice said, “If you can, please help them first. We can wait. Their need is urgent and immediate” That’s what Probini did.

Over a decade mostly-minority students have done very well in nationwide exams. Now it has been upgraded to a higher level able to teach junior college-level courses.

Funds for building the dorm (hostel) came from the following: Probini Foundation Members in the U.S.; The Late Ronald E. Moehle; St. Francis College of Brooklyn; Dorothy Phelan in memory of her parents Mary & Thomas; Mrs. Baby Chowdhury; Ms. Vanitha Venugopal; in Memory of Tulshi Sengupta of New Jersey; Drs. Eloise Linger and Ernst Harsch; in memory of Ranu Banerji by daughter Mita; in Memory of Comilla-born (1908) Mrs. Jyotirmoye Sen by nephew Pratip Dasgupta; and Drs Sabyasachi Ghosh and Shefali Sengupta Dastidar.

Here are some pictures from Martyrs’ Memorial Girls’ High School.

Heading off from SriRamKathi to Doihari

Beginning of Boat Journey

Shuvo on the boat with Hosts


BhimKathi Ghat (bathing and boat landing area)

Headmaster Dhali, facing camera, leading the Boat

Going under a Footbridge Connecting two Delta Islands

Friends who Came to take the Guests to Doihari Village

Enjoying the Scenery Going by Boat from SreRamKathi to Doihari (Island)

Headmaster Dhali (right) welcoming Guests at the Doihari Boat Landing

Welcome by Students to the School

Welcome by Students

Students and Monks at one of the Surviving Structures

Roofless (blown away by Hurricane) Girl's Dorm Room

Roofless (jute-sack covered) Girl's Dorm Room

Remains of a Classroom

Saying Goodbye to Visitors returning to SriRamKathi

Building Under Construction

Building under Construction with Supervision from Headmaster Dhali (on rooftop)

Memorial with Names of Hindu Mass Murder Victim

School Students with Probini Tablet on Back

Probini Tablet with Donors' Names

Sahid Smriti (Martyrs’ Memorial) Girls’ High School

Doihari, Swarupkathi, Pirojpur

Probini Foundation (New York) School & Student Dormitory (Reconstruction)

This Concrete Building, Roofs Built by:

The Late Ronald Mohle

St. Francis College, Brooklyn, New York

In Memory of the Late Mary & Thomas Phulan by Daughter Dorothy

Srimati (Ms.) Baby Chowdhury

Srimati Vanitha Venugopal

In Memory of the Late Tulshi Sengupta of New Jersey

Srimati & Sri (Ms. & Mr.) Eloise Linger & Ernest Harsch

In Memory of the Late Ranu Mukherji by Daughter Mita

In Memory of the Late Jyotirmoyee Sen (Born: Comilla, BD) by Nephew Pratip Dasgupta

Sri & Srimati Dr. Sabyasachi Ghosh & Dr. Shefali Sengupta Dastidar

June 2009

New School Building

Martyr's Memorial

Some of the Names of Individuals Murdered by Pakistan Army and Bengali Islamists
 Mass Murder Memorial Tablet

(Ganahatya Smriti Falak)


(Swadhinata Juddhye Barbar Paak Haanadar Bahini O Tader Sthaneeyo Doshorder Hatey 1971 Khristabder 24 May, 6 No Doihari Unioner Mrityubaaran kari Sahidder Naamer Talika)

No.        Martyr Names                Name of Father/Husband                           Village  

1. Jadab Chandra Byapari

F: Basanta Byapari

Vil: Ganakpara

2. Amalya Byapari

F: Sishu Lal Byapari

Vil:: Ganakpara

3. Nakuleshwar Mandal

F: Ram Sagar Mandal

Vil:: Ganakpara

4. Krishnakanta Bepari

F: Kartik Bepari

Vil:: Ganakpara

5. Nani Gopal Mridha

F: Hari Charan Mridha

Vil:: Ganakpara

6. Kali Charan Rai

F: Raghu Nath Rai

Vil:: Ganakpara

7. Ananta Kumar Haldar

F: Durga Charan Haldar

Vil:: Ganakpara

8. Lalit Bepari

F: Kartik Bepari

Vil:: Ganakpara

9. Manindra Nath Mridha

F: Nibaran Mridha

Vil:: Ganakpara

10. Bishwabandhu Haldar

F: Balram Haldar

Vil:: Chailabuniya

11. Mahindra Nath Bepari

F: Samit Bepari

Vil:: Chailabuniya

12. Dhriren Bepari

F: Satin Beapari

Vil:: Chailabuniya

13. Laxmikanta Bepari

F: Punno Chandra Bepari

Vil:: Chailabuniya

14. Khirad Rai

F: Rashik Rai

Vil:: Chailabuniya

15. Lalit Majhi

F: Chandra Kumar Majhi

Vil: :Bashtala

16. Surendranath Bepari

F: Basanta Bepari

Vil: :Bashtala

17. Sarat Mandal

F: Ishwar Mandal


18. Lalit Mandal

F: Akhil Mandal

Vil: :Bashtala

19. Eshaan Mandal

F: Baikuntha Mandal

Vil:  Bashtala

20. Dhiren Haldar

F: Shasthi Haldar

Vil: Bashtala

21. Shasti Haldar

F: Gopal Haldar

Vil: :Bashtala

22. Ashwini Boral

F: Chandrakanta Boral

Vil: :Bashtala

23. Kanakprabha Haldar

F:Kumbha Bihari Haldar


24. Srinath Haldar

F:Madav Haldar


25. Bisheswar Haldar

F: Jageshwar Haldar


26. Nityananda Haldar

F: Ambika Haldar

Vil:: Thaliya

27. Bhagban Haldar

F:Buddhimonto Haldar

Vil:: Thaliya

28. Manada Shundori Bepari

Husb- Sarada Bepari

Vil:: Thaliya

29. Kartik Bepari

F: Kali Charan Bepari

Vil:: Thaliya

30. Ashwini Haldar

F:Kuturam Haldar

Vil:: Thaliya

31. Nirmal Haldar

F: Khirad Haldar

Vil:: Thaliya

32. Bishai Haldar

F: Agwato

Vil:: Thaliya

33. Sunil Haldar

F: Ashwini Haldar

Vil:: Thaliya

34. Nirodh Bihari Samandar

F: Kali Charan Samandar

Vil: Pareshkathi

35. Upendra Nath Mandal

F: Ambika Mandal

Vil: Pareshkathi

36. Sakhanath Edbor

F: Kali Charan Edbor

Vil: Pareshkathi

37. Kartik Chandra Shikdar

F: Nanda Kumar Shikdar

Vil: -Doihari

38. Sarat Chandra Chakraborti

F: Eshaan Chakraborti

Vil: -Doihari

39. Nani Gopal Mandal

F: Jageshwar Mandal

Vil: -Doihari

40. Krishna Pada Das

F: Rai Charan Das

Vil: -Doihari

41. Kali Charan Das

F: Rai Charan Das

Vil: -Doihari

42. Surendra Nath Das

F: Meghnath Das

Vil: -Doihari

43. Ramani Das

F: Bhakta Das

Vil: -Doihari

44. Kamal Das

F: Surendra Das

Vil: -Doihari

45. Kumar Bhunja Mali

F: Nakuleshwar Bhunja Mali

Vil: -Doihari

46. Sudeb Das

F: Surendra Das

Vil: -Doihari

47. Haridas Mazumdar

F: Bholanath Mazumdar

Vil: -Doihari

48. Gauranga Bhunja Mali

F: Nakuleshwar Bhunja Mali

Vil: -Doihari

49. Prasanna Kumar Mandal

F: Gaurchad Mandal

Vil: -Doihari

50. RajLakshmi-Hauladar

F: Madan Lal Hauladar

Vil: -Doihari

51. Bishembar Bepari

F: Chandra Kanta Bepari

Vil:  Aamtala

52. Ram Charan Bagchi

F: Rupkumar Bagchi

Vil:  Aamtala

53. Mahendra Nath Bepari

F: Ankur Bepari

Vil: Thakur Haula

54. Prafulla Goldar

F: Agwato

Vil: Chiltala

55. Chitto Rai

F: Mukundo Rai

Vil: Karfa

56. Lab Mandal

F:Ashwini Mandal

Vil: Karfa

57. Kush Mandal

F:Ashwini Mandal

Vil:: Karfa

58. Sukharanjan Banik

F:Kartik Banik


59. Rakhal Pagla

F: Unknown

Vil: Unkhown

In Courtesy of Pirojpur District Administration. 

Note: Locals believe that there were many more Hindus brought from other coastal islands were killed by Pakistan Army and its local Muslim collaborators. These victims couldn’t be identified in the middle of the genocide as families and neighbors fled for safety. Additionally, many more bodies may have been dumped into rivers, as in other areas.

(Tablet Names: Courtsey of Bikas Sikdar of Doihari Village, Bangladesh; 2021)


Entrance to the School


Some of the comments via the Internet:

Good work.
Mohsin Siddique
April 7, 2018

Thanks so much. Very moving but impressive. Pl carry on with your noble mission!
Shubho Nonboborsho
Saradindu Mukherji
April 15, 2018

Cool, and congrats!
Joyeeta Dastidar
April 15, 2018