Upon entering the premises of Drik Gallery, one is met with 63 photographs of the Liberation War of Bangladesh. The photos captured the harsh reality of conflict and the beautiful moments after the country was liberated. These photographs were taken by Late Amiya Tarafdar, a reputed sports journalist from India.
Amiya was born in what is now Bangladesh in 1935. His ancestral home was on the banks of the Padma River. His family moved to India during the Partition.
Amiya had made a name for himself as a sports photojournalist – he had covered major sporting events including the Olympic Games, Fifa World Cup and others. But he always felt a strong connection with his ancestral home, and Amiya returned to the country from Kolkata after the war broke out.
His camera was his weapon, he migrated back to reveal to the world the oppression and injustice committed by the Pakistani regime.
Amiya gained international recognition for his work during this time; his photographs were published in Newsweek, Time Magazine and many leading international publications.
Risking his life and limb, and enduring tremendous hardship, he managed to send out undeveloped films back to India from the warzone so the world could witness the horrors.
"We can see pictures taken by many photographers during the Liberation War, but Amiya Tarafdar's photos have not been archived very well and are not so easy to come by. These photos were given to us by his younger brother Sekhar Tarafdar," said ASM Reazaur Rahman, curator of the show.
Drik organised this solo exhibition, titled 'The Long Journey Home', to celebrate their 33rd anniversary.
"The work of photographers, the primary witness of our nation's painful birth, has largely been lost. Their accounts are forgotten. Their sacrifices are unrecorded. Amiya Tarafdar, a freedom fighter with a lens, has left behind a treasure trove of memories, at once painful and joyous. A gift we are happy to share," said Shahidul Alam, founder of Drik.
Amiya's captures are primarily from Dinajpur and the northern districts of the country. His pictures show refugee camps, wounded people in hospitals, freedom fighters being trained, various ruins from war, and Razakars. He continued his documentation even after the war ended and captured beautiful moments of celebration, leaders weeping from joy, etc.
Amiya Tarafdar breathed his last in 2006.
"Sekhar said his brother took on this endeavour because of his love for his ancestral home," said ASM Rezanur Rahman.
The Long Journey Home was inaugurated on 4 September and is open for all until Friday, 16 September.
TBS Picks: A selection of photographs from the show with a description from the curator
This was captured after the country became independent. You can see freedom fighters celebrating their victory.
Human Saline Stand
A patient is being administered saline. As there is no stand, someone has to keep holding the container. The photograph reveals the terrible impact on health during the time of war.
A leader laments
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to Bangladesh on 10 January 1971, after the liberation. This photo was taken a day later when he burst into tears during a speech.
Razakar were supporters of the Pakistani regime during the Liberation War. This is a photo of a group of Razakars, taken in Dinajpur in April 1971.
Planning for an attack
This photo was taken at a Mukti Bahini camp in Hili, Dinajpur, on 5 May 1971. You can see freedom fighters holding the map of Rajshahi and strategising for war.