Cinematographer: Naeem Mohaiemen
Duration: 00:59:26; Aspect Ratio: 1.364:1; Hue: 17.639; Saturation: 0.162; Lightness: 0.420; Volume: 0.226; Cuts per Minute: 1.094; Words per Minute: 25.942
Summary: Shambhu Pal was a student at the time of the pre-1971 movement, but by the time the war broke out he crossed the front and joined the guerrilla army.
Now it is not even that!
Now the political parties do not clearly state what they want during voting campaigns.
They influence people with various negative things to get their votes.
Then there was not so much of...
Then also people have 'sealed'.
Then the unrest that has grown within people, was due to the brutality of the Pakistan army.
Due to this torture we were eagerly awaiting the independence of our country
In the villages this torture was tremendous.
And the people who lived here have suffered tremendously due to this.
Those who left as refugees to India did not have to go through all that...
The ones who stayed back here...
Say in a village someone lived as a Pakistani
If they thought that in this village, this particular person (audio indecipherable)
At that moment
I remember that bit clearly.
Election was there, Basic Democracy
Basic Democracy is
Basic Democracy system is
(Interviewer) Okay, you did not witness this Basic Democracy?
(Interviewer) This you are saying from what you have read in books
I did witness Basic Democracy.
There is a confusion here as to what Shambhu has himself witnessed and what was from books. During the interview he keeps going to famous incidents, and I keep trying to clarify if he was an eyewitness.
(Interviewer) The election?
Yes, the election.
In sixties, when I gave my Matriculation exam in '68
This would probably around 1966 or so
During then the Awami League's...
Leadership was not from this part of Bengal
It was from Pakistan.
Then there was a sister of Mohd. Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah.
She was the one who was leading Awami League.
I remember, that time, in Chittagong
Now I am based out of Chittagong
From Chittagong there were two
A gentleman named Manik Chowdhury
And Bidhan Sen
Now Bidhan Sen does -----
Manik Chowdhury has passed away.
Both of them were in Awami Leauge
Yes (to off-screen)
Then, I don't remeber very clearly
In Awami League of Chittagong, there was...
He was known as 'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez
'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez
He had dark complexion.
Then there were two Ajeez
One 'Gora' (fair) Ajeez and another 'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez.
Both were politicians.
'Gora' (fair) Ajeez was in Muslim League
'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez was in Awami League
Yes, 'Gora' (fair) Ajeez had fair complexion.
Then I was probably in class 7 or 8.
One thing that has not changed in the 40 years since is the marker of skin tone as a way of identifying especially famous (or infamous) "mahalla" people. "Kala Jahangir" was a famous character from our time. In the 1960s, Shambhu obviously had other ones as well.
That day we friends has gone out, the school was closed
Then near that 'Laldighi' there was a brawl.
While going that way, we saw a long rally.
Why the rally?
That 'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez has been captured somewhere.
So he was locked and everyone was going in a rally to get him out
So we ran and joined the rally.
Ran in the sense, we were couple of friends, we joined in.
Then there wasn't much...
Because 'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez was against Muslim League
(Interviewer) Then you were in Intermediate?
This is even before the Matriculation...
(Interviewer) So the rally you joined, was there an intention?
No! A fad! Came out and saw the ralley
I was not really keen to go
I had few friends who were very eager
Due to them, I joined in.
I was not really keen, as I was afraid that if I join the rally, I might get beaten up.
I was not going out of that fear.
But as they were going and we have come out together, I also joined in.
At a certain point, there was indeed an attack on the rally.
In that attack, as we were young, we managed to survive
We got scattered and managed to hide, and later stealthily returned back.
And whether they managed to rescue 'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez, or whether at all he was captured or not, we did not get to know.
So this was the incident before my Matriculation exam.
Then the Basic Democracy election took place.
After the Basic Democracy election, when there was reelection.
From then the preparation of the '69 movement had started.
(Interviewer) By then were you already in Dhaka?
No, I was in Chittagong
I came to Dhaka much later.
(Interviewer) So you have done your Intermediate in Chittagong?
I have done my Intermediate in Chittagong, and also my Bachelors Degree
But after my Intermediate, post '71, the situation of Dhaka was stable
Then I used to travel to and fro regularly.
(Interviewer) Intermediate and then in '68 - '69, you are studying in Chittagong?
(Interviewer) Then the movement was on
Movement was on and we are getting to know that what is happening in Chittagong
Going to the schools and colleges, there in Chittagong.
(Interviewer) Is there any incident that you have witnessed during those times of unrest?
(Interviewer) You had mentioned this incident during the unrest, related to Agartala conspiracy case
(Interviewer) Related to 'Kalo' (dark) Ajeez
(Interviewer) Apart from this you have not noticed any incident?
Social or political?
There are some incidents, I will relate one of them.
As I am telling you, by then that discriminating feeling between Pakistanis and Bengalis have already become prevalent.
Because there were many Pakistanis here at that time.
I myself have seen how much the Pakistanis hated the Bengalis
Hated in the sense, they did not consider us as human beings.
The reason is...
Then at times I used to come to Dhaka, to my friends' houses.
Till then I have not finished my Matriculation exam.
Then the train system was...
Then we used to travel
(tells to someone off-screen) Don't do this...
Then there was inter-class
Then there were these classes in trains, third class, inter-class, first class, second class.
So the inter-class was like the economy class
We used to travel by that.
And there was also a system of reservation in the inter-class.
I remember that the ticket was very cheap, 2 or 2.50 Taka
And by paying 25 Paisa one could make a reservation.
As it was written, to seat a certain number of people, it was only for those many people
After those many people have taken their seats, they used to lock it up.
So when it was not full, somehow in the nights trains, one could get a seat and sleep
In that train, either below or above, in the bunk.
Then I used to see, the non-Bengalis had already captured the good seats
And after they slept off, we Bengalis used to manage somehow.
In all these there was their remarks, tantrums.
One such remark I distinctly remember
One sweet-vendor was boarding the train to sell sweets.
Due to the non-Bengalis, Bengalis could not speak much
Then one non-Bengali started teasing the sweet-vendor, "Hey, what are you selling?"
"Mishti, mishti" and bothering the vendor by saying such things
And they used to laugh.
We had to sit quietly.
So these things, then...
There was a riot-like situation in Chittagong, which was a remarkable incident
Between the Non-Bengalis and Bengalis.
That is, in Chittagong, an affair happened between a Non-Bengali girl and and a Bengali boy.
Then that boy married the girl
After the marriage...
The Non-Bengalis, who lived here then, were quite rich and influential.
The ones who lived in the camps were mostly the refugees who came from India.
So then they got the boy
He had eloped with the girl
Then the Bengalis of Chittagong, revolted.
There was almost a riot-like situation on the streets
They started beating the Non-Bengalis on the streets.
(Interviewer) For that Bengali boy?
For this incident!
Because that boy was...
Means, things that happen
Maybe he was not from a rich family and the Non-Bengalis were very influential.
They were the ones who were the Judges and the Police
They arrested the boy and charged him with kidnapping
He was put behind the bars.
And even the walls of the jail was broken down.
There was a considerable...
When Non-Bengalis were seen on the streets, they were beaten
Their cars were broken down
I clearly remember this incident.
(Interviewer) You had witnessed this?
Yes, I have seen.
(Interviewer) Specifically, what was done?
(Interviewer) Do you remember any particular incident?
I had gone out during that unrest.
I had gone out to get an air ticket
My brother-in-law was returning to Dhaka so I had gone to get an air ticket.
In CT terminal I saw many Non-Bengalis, wounded.
They were beaten up on the streets, in buses
Many cars were broken down
And the Bengalis who were picketing on the streets, got hold of me.
Then I was young and my complexion was fair, like them.
They thought that I was also a Non-Bengali.
They asked me to speak in proper Bengali
I spoke in Bengali, I was not a Non-Bengali, I was a Bengali.
I spoke in the dialect of Chittagong
They told me to speak properly
Then I spoke, they confirmed and let go of me.
Then In CT terminal I saw many wounded people.
The police had cordoned off CT terminal.
Many Non-Bengalis have taken shelter there.
Even jails were broken down, to bring that boy out.
This incident was quite distinct
And this was not an isolated incident.
This comes from that...
They hated the Bengalis.
The girl had confessed in the court that she is pregnant.
And bearing his child
Then too the court was so biased
That the girl was sent back to her father's house and the boy was imprisoned with false allegations.
(Interviewer) Were they married?
Yes, they were married.
They had a court marriage.
The girl had confessed in the court that she is bearing his child.
And they hated the Bengalis so much that no Non-Bengali kept contact with the Bengalis.
After that when we went to college...
(Interviewer) Finally what happened to the girl?
We did not get to know what happened to the girl
It was heard that she was taken back to Pakistan.
Because for them Bangladesh was not their permanant shelter
Their main shelter was Pakistan.
They all had houses in Pakistan, in Karachi and did their businesses here.
They lived here and returned back to Pakistan during their festivities
Mainly the affluent Non-Bengalis, who lived here.
And the others who lived in Mohammadpur, were the refugees who came from India.
In the offices...
I will not be able to talk about the offices so much
But these general things...
Like on trains how the Non-Bengalis behaved.
Then when I went to college, I saw...
I studied in Chittagong College
That the Non-Bengali students, who came to Chittagong College, were rich.
All of them came in their cars
(Interviewer) How rare was this during that time
Was this in Chittagong city?
Yes, in Chittagong.