Subject: Memoirs of Captivity
PAF Chasma our last station in Pakistan
Syed Mohd. Saleh Uddin
Chasma was a combined stranded camp where Bengali Airmen were gathered from all previous stranded camps in Quetta, Bannu, Karachi etc places. So Far I know only few families were at that time in Karachi. There was a single airmen accommodation area and a family airmen living area i.e. accommodation what was exclusively for family members. Airmen living in the single airmen barracks were not permitted to visit family quarters. But all were taking mental preparation for repatriation though we did not know when that would be started. After fall in time we became quite idle. So, soon we became familiar with the camp. We had been searching our known persons. Cpl Kamal was my GCI. He was very rough and tough combat instructor. Among the Bengali GCI he was very well known. My other instructor was Cpl. Riaz. He was a Punjabi.He was also rough and tough. My other instructor was Sgt Azim Khan. He was soft hearted Pathan. He deemed more guardian than a combat instructor. So, I liked him very much. But in Defense forces soft hearted GCI seemed have lack of command and control. Cpl. Kamal did not have such weakness. He was tougher than the Cpl Riaz. In the camp I got him nowhere.
Toughness of the Parade ground of RTS made me a sportsman. I became a boxer what was tougher than Parade. But it was not monotonous that the same thing would do again and again like the parade ground. Cpl Kamal did not like it. Though secretly, he was working all the time to make all round best from the Bengali recruit. In my 118 entry the all round best recruit was Afsar bhai whom I knew from my student life. He was private tutor of my Ferdousy apa. So, I had a cordial relation with my Afsar bhai. Cpl Kamal was proud of him, as he was his instructor and the tough time he had given tolerated without hesitation. As a boxer I was exempted from Passing out parade. Cpl Kamal did not like that also because to a GCI Parade first not any other event. As a matter of fact the soldier good in Parade is considered a good soldier.
In PAF Chasma I did not see him. But like today at that time also I had respect towards him as my GC instructor. Not only in that camp, but also nowhere in Bangladesh in my service life I saw him. Here I got my Baki bhai, poet Ahsan, poet Hashem, Yakub bhai etc. They were also in Bannu. In the camp how many airmen were accommodated, it is not in my memory now but that was not less than 1000 that I can say. Time was passing in its way but we had to find our own ways to pass. Here also we had Cooking duty. But that was not the every day’s duty. We voluntarily took the duty of beautification of our barracks area. We got in front of our barracks beautiful gardens. The said resident of our great leader Bango Bandhu Sheikh Mojibur Rahman was made more beautiful with a garden in front of it. There were roses and other beautiful flowers. Many were bloomed. Over the flowers colorful butterflies used to hover in search of their food. Most probably few of them were available only in the desert. I am not a taxonomist, so it is my mere guessing.
However in our duty gardening fatigue was also routine one. Then our time passed with the butterfly. Beauty of the flowers were also charmed us. In the camps we got some unattended dogs, cats and white hares. Most probably French brought them from their county. But while leaving Pakistan they left those there. Without food they became only skeletons. Soon they regained their health when they got food from our mess spoils and what were left by us.
There were few creative brains in the camp. Kobi (poet) Kader collected little number of poetry from other poets and published a wall magazine Cpl Baki bhai was a lover of science and technology. He and I planned to give knowledge of science and technology to the captive airmen. We published a wall magazine named ‘Rohosher Sandhana’(in search of mysteries). Kobi Ahsan and Kobi Hashem used to write religious poetries. So, to impart religious knowledge we published another wall magazine named ‘porosh moony’ (touch stone).