Column
No end to conspiracy

14 Mar 2017

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Pakistan persistently continues to deny the unprecedented genocide its army had committed in the erstwhile East Pakistan to thwart the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country. The latest instance of its shameless denial is a book published and distributed recently at the behest of its intelligence agency ISI.

A book titled “Creation of Bangladesh: Myths Exploded” written by Junaid Ahmad has been recently sent to Bangladesh High Commission in Pakistan. What is special about the book is that it contains fabricated information about genocide, number of persons killed and sexual assault on Bengali women by the Pakistani forces. Under pictures of genocide in the book, there are captions saying the freedom fighters massacred the Urdu-speaking Biharis.

 

Pakistan persistently continues to deny the unprecedented genocide its army had committed in the erstwhile East Pakistan to thwart the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country. The latest instance of its shameless denial is a book published and distributed recently at the behest of its intelligence agency ISI.
The book, which is replete with falsehood, has sought to misguide the readers by stating that accusations of massacre of three million Bengalis and rape of over three hundred thousand women by the Pak Army in East Pakistan in 1971 are baseless and a lie. It rubbished the fact that Operation Searchlight was launched by Pakistan Army in March 1971 to crush the Bengalis, saying it was the ‘Awami League and its hooligans’ who were ordered by Sheikh Mujib to destroy power houses, bridges and communication system and loot and plunder ration depots that compelled the Pak Army to launch military operation to restore peace.

 

The Bengalis, according to the book, killed thousands of Urdu-speaking Biharis throughout the Independence war. The book launch in Karachi came on December 16, the Victory Day, which is the darkest day in the history of Pakistan as on this day in 1971 the country broke up and Bangladesh emerged.

 

Notwithstanding Pakistan’s vehement denial of its involvement in genocide and rape, it is universally acknowledged that the country’s occupation forces committed genocide and rape in erstwhile East Pakistan to thwart the liberation war. International media reports reveal that the Pakistani forces cracked down on Dhaka with the launch of Operation Searchlight on the night of March 25, 1971. The University of Dhaka was attacked and a large number of students were killed. Pak soldiers roamed the streets   killing some 7,000 people in a single night, says a report filed by noted British journalist Simon Dring. It was only the beginning. Within a week, half the population of Dhaka had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed in Dhaka, says Simon Dring’s report.

 

In fact, the first report on genocide was published by well-known journalist Anthony Mascarenhas in the Sunday Times, London on June 13, 1971 titled “Genocide”. He wrote “I saw Hindus hunted from village to village and door to door, shot off-hand after a cursory ‘short arm inspection’ showed they were un-circumcised. I have heard the screams of men bludgeoned to death in the compound of the Circuit House in Comilla. I have seen truckloads of other human targets and those who had the humanity to try to help them hauled off for disposal under the cover of darkness and curfew”.

 

Internationally renowned Time magazine dubbed General Tikka Khan, “the Butcher of Bengal” for his role in Operation Searchlight which was designed to perpetrate genocide. Targets of the operation included Jagannath Hall which was a dormitory of the Hindu students of Dhaka University, Rajarbagh Police Lines, Peelkhana which was the headquarters of East Pakistan Rifles. 34 students of Jagannath Hall were killed on the day. Neighbourhoods of Old Dhaka which had majority Hindu population were also attacked. Seven thousand had been killed and three thousand arrested to crush the Bengali nationalist movement on the first day of Operation Searchlight, Time reported.

 

On August 2, 1971Time magazine correspondent sent a dispatch that provided a detailed description of the destruction in East Pakistan. The dispatch wrote “in Dhaka where soldiers set sections of the old city ablaze with flamethrowers and machine-gunned thousands as they tried to escape the cordon of fire, nearly 25 blocks have been bulldozed clear, leaving open areas set incongruously amid jam packed slums”. It quoted a senior US official as saying “it is the most incredible, calculated thing since the days of the Nazis in Poland”.

 

Narrating the atrocities in Dhaka University, US Consulate in Dhaka on March 31, 1971 reported that naked female bodies in Rokeya Hall of Dhaka University were found “hanging from ceiling fans with bits of rope,” after apparently being “raped, shot, and hung by heels” from the fans.

 

“Here in Dacca (now spelt Dhaka) we are mute and horrified,” wrote Archer Blood, the then American Consular General in Dhaka and a witness to the reign of terror let loose against the Bengalis by the Pakistani military with the help of some local collaborators. In a telegram to different American consulate offices and embassies around the world on March 27, 1971, Blood said, “Evidence continues to mount that the Martial Law authorities of Pakistan have list of Awami League workers and supporters whom they are systematically eliminating by seeking them out of their homes and shooting them down” with the help of their local collaborators.

 

Facing inevitable defeat, the Pakistani occupation forces in collusion with Razakar and Al-Badr militias formed by the Jamaat, designed a sinister scheme to intellectually cripple the country soon to be born. They decided to liquidate the intelligentsia and in the last few days of the war they unleashed the most systematic execution of Bengali intellectuals. Teachers, doctors, artists, writers and other important figures of Bengali society were summarily arrested, tortured and slaughtered en masse in killing fields, most notably at Rayerbazar and Mirpur. The tyranny and torture unleashed by the Pakistani occupying forces shook the very foundation of conscience and human rights.

 

Time magazine dispatch further reported that young Bengali women were taken from one camp to another and from one place to another to be used as comfort girls. The brutalities inflicted on them included severing of breasts and mutilation of their private parts by inserting bayonet or barrel of gun. Such horrendous cruelty and abuses were unparalleled in history. Many were kept hanging from tree upside down till death. Killing of innocent civilians were so rampant that Pakistani forces had to employ professional cleaners and sweepers to dispose of the corpses.

Pakistani occupation forces had indiscriminately killed Bengali people and raped Bengali women during the nine-month long liberation war. It was not just the number of victims but the scale of brutality and indescribable torture and humiliation they were made to suffer by the occupation forces that had surpassed all known records of contemporary history. Despite demands of the Bangladesh government, freedom fighters and citizens of Bangladesh to at least say sorry for what Pakistan must be made accountable for its brutalities and killings in 1971, Pakistan remains stiff in its stance not to bow head.

 

Dr Geoffrey Davis, a physician who worked in Bangladesh following the liberation war on request of World Health Organization (WHO) said that he heard of numerous suicides by rape victims and infanticides during the course of his work and estimated that around 5000 rape victims had performed self induced abortions. A doctor at the rehabilitation center in Dhaka reported 1, 70,000 abortion of pregnancies caused by rape and birth of around 40,000 war babies. Many of the rape victims suffered from sexual infections and almost all shared feelings of intense shame and humiliation. A large number of them were ostracized by their families and society forcing them to commit suicide. Bengali women were treated as ‘war-booty’.

 

Time magazine reported on the girls who had been kidnapped and kept in military camps turned in to brothels:

 

“One of the more horrible revelations concern 563 Bengali women, some only 18, who have been held captive in Dacca’s dingy military cantonment since the first day of the fighting. Seized from Dacca University and private homes and forced into military brothels, the girls are all three to five months pregnant. The Army is reported to have enlisted gynecologists to abort the girls held at military camps.  But for those at Dacca cantonment it was too late for abortion. The military has started freeing the girls, few at a time, carrying the new born babies”.

 

Pakistani occupation forces had indiscriminately killed Bengali people and raped Bengali women during the nine-month long liberation war. It was not just the number of victims but the scale of brutality and indescribable torture and humiliation they were made to suffer by the occupation forces that had surpassed all known records of contemporary history. Despite demands of the Bangladesh government, freedom fighters and citizens of Bangladesh to at least say sorry for what Pakistan must be made accountable for its brutalities and killings in 1971, Pakistan remains stiff in its stance not to bow head.

 

The closest any Pakistani leader came to issuing an apology to Bangladesh was former Pakistani military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf. On an official visit to Dhaka in 2002 he visited the war memorial at Savar and very cleverly wrote in the Visitor’s Book “your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events in 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regretted”. But this expression of regret was rejected by the people who demanded a full and unqualified apology.

 

While expressing ‘concern and anguish’ over the execution of two well-known Bangladeshi war criminals Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujiahid in Dhaka, Pakistan reiterated its denial of war atrocities committed during the liberation war. Similar denial was also issued after execution of two other prominent war criminals Abdul Quader Molla and Mohammad Kamruzzaman in 2013.

 

Last month Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came down hard on Pakistan for spreading false and fabricated information regarding the genocide carried out by the Pakistani forces. Terming publication of the book ‘Creation of Bangladesh: Myths Exploded’ another conspiracy, the Prime Minister has reiterated her vow to declare March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’ in the country and pursue to make the same internationally as Pakistani occupation Army on that day in 1971 carried out one of the worst genocides in the history against the unarmed people of Bangladesh.




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