Khallamma, Nimmi and Bappi make a daring escape                                                        

After the defection of Calcutta mission it was not safe for the family of Mr. R. I. Chaudhury to stay at Dhaka or any where in East Pakistan.

Bappi and the family came to know about the defection of Calcutta Mission from the radio, his father Mr. R.I. Choudhury also defected with others. It is not safe anymore to stay at Lalbagh. The authorities definitely will now look for the family. They have to go into hiding. Khallamma, Bappi, and Nimmi left Lalbagh and took shelter in one of their aunt’s house. It was considered unsafe to stay at one place for long. So they were moving from one house to another. They were at Anu mama’s house, Sheheed mama’s father in law’s house and finally at Peru mama’s house. In that house an unfortunate incident took place. One day a man from intelligence came to Peru mama for some business. Peru mama was a bank manager. There by chance he saw Khallamma. He recognized Mrs. Choudhury. He informed Intelligence headquarters. The next day Peru mama’s house and Lalbagh were raided. But Khallamma and others by then had already moved to another house just after the gentleman had left, as Khallamma did not want to take any chance. Thus they got saved. From this incident it became clear that the authorities are out to get them in retaliation to Mr. Choudhury’s audacious defection. As it became too risky to live in Bangladesh they decided to cross the border. Meanwhile Shapan, Badi, Shacho, Badal, Alam, Chullu, Fathe Ali, Ulfat, Kazi, Rumi, Jewel, Meoa, Tyyab Ali and other friends of Bappi had already joined the Mukti Bahini.

Bappi wanted to go along with them. But Khallamma did not allow. She said, "You want to join the war, that is definitely a matter of pride for me, but before that, it is your responsibility to take us across to your father. This is the duty you must fulfill before going to war". Her logic was strong. Other then Bappi no one else could be trusted to take them across particularly Nimmi being a young girl. So Bappi had agreed to take this responsibility. Bappi started planning the escape. It was decided to go to Nabinagar and then to Rasullahbad their maternal grandfather’s place at first. From there at an opportune moment they would cross the Koshba sector in Comilla and reach Agartla. How and from where the border will be crossed that will be decided after reaching Rassullahbad. One night Anu mama, Altu nana, Khallamma, Bappi Shaheed mama and Nimmi left Dhaka for Nabinagar and from there to Rasullahbad. They came by car up to Narshingdee. Then took launch to reach Rasullahbad Via Nabinagar. Pak army till then did not come up to Rasullahbad. But even then most of the Hindu population were leaving the area in groups selling off their properties and belongings for India to seek a safe heaven. Khan family was well known in the area and was well off. Bappi’s grand and great grand fathers were very powerful and influential Zamindars having control over the whole area. His grandfather was honoured with a title by the Raj. The ancestral mansion was huge and grand. There were two big ponds in front of the mansion. The family was very happy to be in a much fresh and freer atmosphere of Rasullahbad. Anu mama and Shaheed mama returned to Dhaka after having two three days rest. They had to be back as the rest of the families were in Dhaka. Every one in the family was greatly relieved as Khallamma and all could manage to sneak out from Dhaka. Soon they forgot the ordeal of Dhaka life. The dreadful experience of 25-26th night, running around as fugitive from house to house for life, the bitterness of the experience of the 27th morning, all these were now only history. Sanatan Da was one of the oldest employee of the family. Well respected and one of the most trusted person. He and his fore fathers had been looking after the Zamindari for the Khan’s for generations.

He took the responsibility to arrange for the border crossing. Overall responsibilities were with beloved Choto Nani, Mrs. Amir Ali Khan, an intelligent, sharp and able lady who was the centre of power in the family. A typical Zamindarni. She is the mother of Mr. Akber Ali Khan, a brilliant young csp officer who had by then already revolted and joined the struggle. His younger brother Kabir was very helpful being a local Mukti Bahini commander. On 26th March Akber Ali Khan was the SDO (Sub divisional officer) at Hobiganj. After the crackdown he revolted with entire administration and joined the resistance movement. It was decided that Momen, a courageous student and close friend of Bappi and Kabir will escort Bappi and others as guide. Shanatan Da will arrange every thing else. Momen had already escorted few groups of refugees across the border and had reached them all up to Agartala. Intelligent and responsible Momen could be trusted as the guide opined the elders. All the secret routes were on his finger tips. Every time he hoodwinked the patrolling army soldiers very tactfully. That made him a very confident man in the game. It was decided to take a boat along Meghna, Titash and ferocious Gomti rivers upto GT road on Comilla-Brahmanbaria sector then from there they will start their march crossing the fields and the hills of Tipara. They will cross the border at Koshba and reach a small village bazar on the other side of the border. From there they will take some public transport to Agartala. A big boat was arranged to carry the party. Nani and Shantan Da selected the best and most trusted boatmen. One stormy night in the darkness they sailed taking the name of Allah. Momen and Altunana were accompanying the escaping party. It was a journey for unknown. The rivers were rough. Bappi and Nimmi both were not very good swimmers. The rivers were furious with current and big waves as the storm raised. The boat was moving forward negotiating the unruly waves. The boatmen were steering the boat with all their experiences and skills. Khallamma and the rest all remained silent in their prayers. The boat sailed the whole night and at dawn it anchored at some unknown place. All were asked to disembark. This was the place from where the march will start. They were passing through the paddy fields, jute fields full of water and mud, sometime through the hills and jungle bear footed. All were dressed like ordinary villagers. They reached GT road before noon. Bappi and Momen went ahead for reconnaissance and the rest remained hidden in the jute field. They returned after a short while. The road is clear. They have to cross the road and get into the jungle of the hills before any army patrol arrives. If they are detected then all of them would be shot. All virtually ran to cross the road and get into the forest on the hills across the road. As they reached the road. Suddenly Momen ordered,

"lay down! army patrol approaching."

Everybody dashed to the muddy water of the jute field and lay breathless. There were hills and jungles on the far side of the road and paddy and jute fields all around. No sign of human habitat. All were sheet scared. What will happen if the army spotted them? Nimmi was crying helplessly. Khallamma consoled her quietly. One army truck passed by. They were not detected. God was kind. They crossed the road and ran into the forest on the hills. They were relatively safe now. Khallamma sat down. She needs some rest. A few days ago she fractured her right leg slipping on the floor of the University. The troubled leg had swollen due to over strain. She was suffering from agonizing pain. But Khallamma is a lady with tremendous will power. She bore all the pain and never uttered a word. Bappi and Nimmi looking at her leg could understand that she was in pain and was in a very bad shape. But nothing could be done at that crucial juncture. They have to move on. Bappi although was worried but just to cheer her up he said,

"Maa, how come you with your broken leg moving faster then us? Are you ok?"

Khallamma did not reply but stood up. The march resumed. Around late evening they reached to the bazar. The bazar was crowded with fleeing refugees. Many trucks loaded with rice bags were standing on the roadside.

Momen said,

"Finally we have reached. All these rice is being smuggled to India from Bangladesh."

At a distance they found line of trucks loaded with Jute. These are also being smuggled out from Bangladesh. They were all very tired due to whole day stranuous walk. They took some bites and hot cups of tea from a road side tea stall. After the refreshment and a short rest they got into a jeep that was suppose to carry them to Agartala. The jeep started off carrying the party. There were about 12 passengers crammed in that small second world war vintage. Agartala was 35 miles away. The road was winding. It was really very taxing for the old machine to bear the load of 12 / 14 people on the hilly road. The driver had to stop the vehicle couple of times in between to pour water in the radiator to cool down the old machine. The jeep finally reached Agartala town centre. Bappi’s uncle Mr. Akber Ali Khan and few other senior bureaucrats who had defected had also crossed over and were staying at a old palace some where 5/6 miles off from the city centre. Momen knew the location. They took a local bus and reached that place and found out Akber Ali Khan. Khosru Mama (Akber Ali Khan) was surprised to see Khallamma and others.

"Hena Bujee! what a pleasant surprise!" He burst into excitement.

"Yes, we finally managed to escape". Khallamma replied.