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1971 war-era shells recovered from lake

Agartala, May 6: Two labourers de-silting the Kamala Sagar lake in Kasba, 35km from here, recovered two cannon shells yesterday, which date back to the 1971 war with Pakistan.

The two labourers, Sujit Das and Jalal Mia, have been digging the shallow lake for the past few days as part of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. Yesterday, both of them hit upon two metallic objects while working in the middle of the waterbody and deposited them to their supervisor.

“I immediately called BSF jawans from the nearby border outpost and police personnel from the local outpost. They examined the shells and said they had markings of Pakistan ordnance factories from 1970. The shells also had numbers marked on them but they are illegible,” said Bikash Sutradahar, the MGNREGA supervisor.

Both the shells have been taken away by the police and will be examined at the police headquarters in Agartala. Earlier on several occasions, a number of used shells fired by the Pakistan army and unused bullets and ammunitions of the Mukti Vahini, have been recovered in the state.

Kasba is also known for its towering Kamaleshwari temple, built by king Dharma Manikya-II (1714-1733), while the Kamala Sagar lake is named after his queen Kamala Devi.

After Partition and subsequent merger of the then Tripura princely state in the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, the royal domains in Comilla district and parts of present Noakhali and Sylhet districts of Bangladesh, became parts of East Pakistan. This truncation had spawned a lot of problems, which included the movement of refugees to and from India.

More than 1.5 million refugees had taken shelter in different parts of then Tripura. To the east of Kasba, a large number of camps and tents inhabited by refugees dotted the landscape. Like many other parts of the state, Kasba, which was close to the Bangladesh border, had emerged as a major front during the neighbouring country’s liberation war.

On the night of December 3, 1971, the combined forces of the Indian Army and Mukti Vahini launched an attack against the Pakistan army entrenched in bunkers and camps in Gangasagar, close to Kasba. During the battle, lance naik Alkbert Ekka had showed exemplary courage and valour in destroying a number of bunkers and capturing a Pakistan camp. Ekka finally succumbed to his injuries and conferred the Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his valour.

This quiet town has been witness to three battles between Tripura’s royal army led by Dhanya Manikya, Bijay Manikya and Dhwaja Manikya, and the Nawabs of undivided Bengal.


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