1971: Genocide of the Non Bengalis by the Indians and the Awami League

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Aasef Chauhdry

The two greatest secrets of the history have been revealed by a leading Indian newspaper the Times of India during last few years; first that the record of the 1971 India-Pakistan war was destroyed and it will never be fully written. When the researchers rushed to know and dig out that when this tragedy happened, the second secret gave them a jolt. The record was destroyed soon after 1971 war. The destroyed files include those on the creation of the Mukti Bahini — the Bangladesh freedom fighters — all appreciation and assessments made by the army during the war period, the orders issued to fighting formations, and other sensitive operational details. Authoritative army sources said all records of the period, held at the Eastern Command in Kolkata, were destroyed immediately after the 1971 war. However, this has remained secret until now.

The TOI’s exclusive report about destruction of 1971 war records stored at the eastern command headquarters in Kolkata had outraged political parties across ideological divides with leaders demanding a full-fledged inquiry into the affair. While a section of the Congress, which prides itself on the 1971 victory against Pakistan and was in power when the secret leaked came up with a laboured explanation, the BJP; in opposition at that time said that the matter was serious and demanded an inquiry. The CPI wondered whether destruction of war records could be an attempt to alter history. According to the BJP spokesperson, “Victory in the Bangladesh war was India’s first conclusive success over Pakistan. The success of Indian arms in defeating the Pakistani army of occupation in Bangladesh is a golden chapter in India’s history. India’s diplomatic and wartime strategy was a milestone in the history of our nation”. CPI’s D Raja said, “History is history. How can destroying war records help deny India’s role in the creation of Bangladesh?’’ however, the then defense minister A K Antony supported the army’s view that some of the revelations could be “demoralising’’, suggesting that the wars could show up shortcomings of the armed forces too.

Senior Indian army officials, serving and retired, are not surprised that official records of the 1971 war have been destroyed, particularly those on Mukti Bahini (the Bangladeshi freedom fighters). The records, they believe, would have revealed the involvement of the Indian Army in the then, East Pakistan much before the war had been officially declared in December 1971. “It’s an open secret that the Indian Army had gone into Bangladesh much before the war had started officially. There is no reason for the army to preserve such records,” said a retired lieutenant general who has held a senior staff position in the Eastern Command headquarters. A retired colonel of the artillery agreed. “I was inside Bangladesh much before the war had started,” he admitted. So this all shows that who waged the war and who was victim.

Every year, as 16 December approaches, misperceptions through propaganda stories, about dismemberment of East Pakistan starts appearing in media and on social sites. A number of veterans who participated in the operations in East Pakistan and witnessed the episode have given their perspective on three accounts, number of Bengalis killed and who killed them, number of POWs and what led to dismemberment. Many veterans of 1971 are of the view that after elections in 1970, delay in the transfer of power was internal matter and it provided no reason for India to attack and dismember Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi proudly confessed her role in doing so. It’s an open secret now that India committed a naked aggression against Pakistan. Indian Parliament approved the support for Bengali insurgents and India was actively involved in training of Mukti Bahini. Indian military, RAW, BSF, all initially took part in training and then actively supported Mukti Bahini actions against Pakistan Army much before start of war on 3 Dec, 1971.

Its known to all and sundries that Awami League led by Mujib ur Rehman was part of greater conspiracy. Much before Army’s action on 25 March 1971, Awami League workers had started violent activities. They occupied government buildings, hoisted flag of Bangladesh and targeted pro-Pakistan population. Awami League declared 23 March as Black Day instead of Pakistan Day. Government of Pakistan and Army were left with little options than to tackle these anti state activities with forces. For the most part, the war of 1971 has been viewed and analysed subjectively looking only at the subjugation of Bengalis by the state and its forces. This is but one side of the story. Nevertheless there have been other sides of the stories too.

The first exaggeration is the number of Bengalis killed in the conflict. India puts the number of Bengalis killed in 1971 at three million and some say one million, even though some Indian officials have been using the figures of 300,000 as well. Pakistan puts it as 26,000 based on the daily summaries submitted by units deployed in the field at the time. The famous Hamood ur Rehman Commission Report considers even 26,000 as an exaggerated figure. Even Sarmila Bose argues in her 2011 book, Dead Reckoning expresses reservation about numbers.

The so-called Biharis and the West Pakistanis were killed, maimed, humiliated and looted by Mukti Bahini who were supported by, India. There were a large number of West Pakistanis, especially Punjabis, Pathans and Kashmiris, living in East Pakistan. Between March 1 and March 25, thousands of West Pakistanis and Biharis were killed. There were thousands of civil servants, businessmen and their employees. When war broke out, it hit the unarmed West Pakistani community, including women and children, the most. Most people, even in Pakistan, know that the war had perhaps started with the commencement of Operation Searchlight on March 26, 1971. As a matter of fact, Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman and his lieutenants had already made a ‘rational’ choice for armed movement, and the early hours of Friday morning, March 26, 1971 were fixed for the armed uprising. Dhaka University had become one of the training centers for Mukti Bahini. Bengali sources admitted to have killed 30,000 to 40,000 West Pakistanis during the conflict. International sources gave the estimates between 20,000 and 200,000. The US Consul estimated that up to 66,000 non-Bengalis were killed.

Some 15,000 West Pakistanis had been killed in Bogra alone, with 10,000-12,000 in Chittagong in late March, almost 5,000 in Jessore on March 29 and March 30, 5,000 in Dinajpur between March 28 and April 1, and 5,000 in Mymensingh in April. According to some accounts, the strength of Pakistani soldiers in East Pakistan was initially about 20,000, which grew to 34,000 by December. So question arises if total number of troops was 34000 then how come the much-publicised figure of 93,000 prisoners is true.

Even if the entire Army and paramilitary forces numbering 12000 on 25 March 1971, later increased to 45000 had only one objective in mind of raping any female coming their way day in and day out, even at the cost of sleep and other essential daily rituals, it was still impossible to reach anywhere near the stated figure. It can now be safely concluded that the rapes committed by Awami League (AL) urchins in March-April 1971, and again in November- December 1971, as well as by Indian staff supervising refugee camps from March 1971 till February 1972 were all lumped in the account of Pak Army. Indian Army soldiers and officers had also indulged in daily sex for the entire period of their stay in Bangladesh after 16 December 1971.

Roman Catholic Relief Agency put the figure of rapes to as low as 4000. (New York Times, January 30, 1972). In fact, only ten cases of rapes had been reported till August 31, 1971, and the culprits tried and punished. These few cases were swollen to the exasperating figure of 300,000. The falsity of Sheikh Mujib’s repeated allegation of rape of 300,000 Bengali women was exposed when the abortion team he had commissioned from United Kingdom in early 1972 found that there were no more than a hundred or so pregnancy cases they could deal with throughout their stay in Bangladesh. (Bangladesh Papers, Vanguard, Lahore, page 287). The AL government opened many centers in Bangladesh and gave wide calls to the rape victims named as ‘heroines’ to come forward and register their names so that they could be rehabilitated. Not more than one hundred or so who reported to the centers were given into marriages and perforce the centers had to be closed down. These cases were also in all probability the victims of rapists in Indian refugee camps.

So the question arises that when the number of people killed in case of Pakistanis and non Bengalis is more than the Bengalis, when the number of women raped by West Pakistanis or soldiers, as propagated is far less than the number of ladies brutally raped in the Mukti Bahini camps and Indian centers then who is to be blamed for this ‘genocide’ and who is the victim. The irony is that we have in house collaborators and conspirators in the shape of journalists and human right workers like Asma Jehangir, Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi, Marvi Sarmad and many more. Though they are always shown their ugly faces by the honest and bold Indian writers and researchers like Sharmila Bose and Dr. Anjana Chatterjee, who in their books; “The Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War” and “Towards 1971: The Enemy Within”, respectively, have exposed the nefarious planning and inhuman activities carried out by Mukti Bahini under the supervision of the Indian army, however these shameless traitors remains indifferent to the national interest.

India will soon reap what it sow in East Pakistan during 1971. The internal disturbances are at rise and the dismemberment of India is writing on the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

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