Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

1971: Rape and its consequences

 Bina D'Costa

How an Australian doctor tried to help rape victims of Bangladesh

“I was trying to save of what have survived of the children born during the time that the West Pakistani army had Bengali women incarcerated in their commissariats.”– Dr. Geoffrey Davis

Raped and made pregnant by a Pakistani soldier, this teenage girl was leaving her newborn child for adoption at Mother Teresa’s Home.
Raped and made pregnant by a Pakistani soldier, this teenage girl was leaving her newborn child for adoption at Mother Teresa’s Home.

Dr. Bina D’Costa of Australian National University fulfilled a historic task by interviewing Dr. Geoffrey Davis of Australia on his tasks performed in 1972 in helping rape victims through abortions. The interview was conducted in 2002 and Dr. Davis died in 2008. This is a great service done because Dr. Davis performed a unique task and remains one of the most authentic witnesses of 1971 war’s brutality.

Remembering Sriramshi and Raniganj Bazar massacres

31 August 1971

It was Tuesday. About 20 to 30 members of Pakistan Army on 8 to 9 boats came to the Srairamshi bazar of Jagannathpur thana at about 10 AM. They asked the villagers of Sriramshi and the adjacent ones to gather at the just attached Sriramshi High School building immediately for joining a discussion to form peace committee. Some of the local collaborators also made an announcement. They also said, the measure had been taken to avoid any untoward incident and for ensuring peace in the remote villages. Otherwise, there would be a mass killing, they warned. Accordingly, the villagers about 200 in number with a sincere belief, reached the school ground. A Rajaker leader from the nearby Hobibpur-Ahmed Ali Khan whispered an army man something, resulting in an action by some others with Sten gun and other weapons.

Skewing the history of rape in 1971 A prescription for reconciliation?

Nayanika Mookherjee runs a critical eye over Sarmila Bose's controversial analysis of the violence committed during the Liberation War

This is a discussion of Sarmila Bose's article: "Anatomy of Violence: Analysis of Civil War in East Pakistan in 1971" (EPW, Oct 8, 2005). A version of this paper was first presented by Dr Bose at a two-day conference, on June 28-29, 2005, organized by the historian branch of the United States Department of State titled "South Asia in Crisis: United States Policy, 1961-1972." This was arranged to mark the release of declassified US records relating to the theme of the conference.

As an Indian working in Bangladesh for nearly a decade on the public memories of sexual violence during the Bangladesh war of 1971, I was particularly struck by the author's use of the phrase "civil war" to refer to the Bangladesh war. Most Bangladeshis denounce the use of the term "civil war" to refer to the Bangladesh war as it deflects attention from its genocidal connotations.Instead, they semantically and politically distinguish the Bangladesh war as either muktijuddho (liberation war) or shadhinotar juddho(independence war).

It is also important to note that occurring at the juncture of Cold War politics, with the United States government supporting Pakistan during 1971, and the Indian government assisting the East Pakistani guerrilla fighters, the genocidal connotations of the Bangladesh war remains unacknowledged, till date. The use of the phrase "civil war" in the title of the article suggests that the author was in agreement with the Pakistani and US government's version of events of 1971. Yet the paper was claiming to provide "an impartial account." I was intrigued.

Through what Bose refers to as "case studies," she tries to highlight how violence was inflicted by both sides -- the Pakistani army and the East Pakistani liberation fighters -- during the 1971 war. She also refers to the lack of incidents of rape during the Bangladesh war in her "cases" in a small paragraph found at the end of her long article. She suggests a prescription for reconciliation through an acknowledgement of violence inflicted by all parties involved.

Soon after the Washington conference, the points made in her paper were promptly picked up by the Pakistani newspapers: The Daily Times (Hasan, June 30,2005; Editorial, July 2, 2005) and Dawn (Iqbal, July 7, 2005). Both refer to the violence inflicted by both sides, and the absence of rape during the Bangladesh war. The entry on Sarmila Bose in Wikipedia, the popular internet encyclopedia, reiterates only the brief paragraph on rape.

In a response to Uttorshuri, a Bangladeshi web mail group, on July 2, 2005, Bose said: "The heading given to the Daily Times, Pakistan, report is incorrect and not the finding of my study." Her work unleashed a barrage of criticism in Bangladesh and her research methods have been attacked as being shoddy and biased.
Collingwood (1945) has shown that historical "facts" are the reconstitution of the past in the historian's minds, involving the selection and interpretation of the past, as history is the choice of a particular expository style that is itself determined historically.

My discussion of Bose's article here, nearly ten months after the publication of her article in EPW, is an attempt to show the various responses to Bose's work, her response to these feedbacks and to highlight Bose's expository style which is appropriated by varied configurations.

In this discussion, I critically address Bose's exposition about: a) violence being inflicted on both sides, b) the lack of instances of rape in her "cases," and c) interrogate her formulation of reconciliation and highlight its implications on sub-continental politics.

Violence inflicted on both sides
All parties involved are shown to "commit acts of brutality outside accepted norms of warfare, and all had their share of humanity …with Bengalis, Biharis and West Pakistanis helping one another in the midst of mayhem," in Bose's article. This is evidenced by the Pakistan army targeting adult males while sparing women and children. However, local Bengali "loyalists"/collaborators, and not the Pakistani army, are involved in inflicting violence on their fellow Bengalis and the killing of intellectuals.

According to these accounts the Pakistani army did not inflict all the violence. This decontextualized account of Bengali collaborators does not recognize the triggers and advantages that the presence of, and collaboration with, the Pakistani army created. It misses the analytical point that in all wars local collaborators become the indispensable foot-soldiers of the institutionalized military paraphernalia.

The Pakistani army is portrayed as kind, but violent when provoked, whereas the Bengalis inflict violence "for unfathomable reasons." The situation in Bangladesh during 1971 is described through phrases like: "widespread lawlessness during March," "encouraged to break the law," "urban terrorism," and "rebels."
The treatment of the Pakistani army namely: "refusal of Bengalis to sell them food and fuel, being jeered and spat at … and the widespread disregard of curfew orders, murder of army personnel," are not considered to be examples of resistance and opposition, but are cited as instances of the suffering of the Pakistani army and an exhibition of "extraordinary restraint of the army under provocation."

The "rule of law" remains with the Pakistani army as they "secure" and "gain control" over territories. Army reaction is cited as "overwhelming" while the rebels are "disorganised and amateurish" who for "unfathomable reasons … take pot-shots at the advancing units in the bazaar which triggered an overwhelming reaction from the army."

There is no commentary on the contestations that exist in Bangladesh in relation to the varied national narratives of 1971. As a result, the observation by the former liberation fighter Iqbal: "This must be the only country in the world where there are two views on the independence of the country," remains unanalysed.
As in-depth reading of various critical literature on war and violence (Butalia 1998; Das 1995; Nordstrom 2004) would show liberation and independence of countries are not homogenous narratives, and contain within their folds multiple contesting interrogations of wars through which countries become free. This is more so the case in Bangladesh (Hitchens 2001), given its fractured histories of partitions and independence.
Also, Nixon's reference to Bangladesh as the "god-damn place" remains uncommented upon. This article, which was first presented in a conference hosted by the US department of State, is particularly conspicuous in the absence of any critical examination of the US support for Pakistan's role in the Bangladesh war of 1971, in the context of Cold War calculations.

The article is helpful in addressing the ethnicization of the army as "Punjabis," and in bringing out some of the nuances of the Pakistani army. That wars and conflicts are rife with instances of violence, kindness, cowardice, complicity, contradictions by the same individuals is not anything new and has been highlighted by various feminists, critical researchers and filmmakers within Bangladesh (Akhtar et al. 2001; Choudhury 2001; Kabir 2003; Masud 1999, 2000).

They show the multiple, contradictory, subjectivities of the Bangladesh war experience, and the violence inflicted upon the poor, women, Biharis, and adivasis. In my own work, I have encountered similar complicities and contradictions. Rather than citing these experiences as ahistorical and apolitical "facts," they need to be located at the crossroads of local and national politics and histories.

The earlier mentioned formulation by Collingwood is significant here. In her other writings, Bose has attempted to go beyond Indo-Pakistani enmities. She highlights the various symbolic roles of a flag, and the possible repercussions of possessing a Pakistani flag in India (Bose 2003). In the Christian Science Monitor she argues (Bose and Milam 2005) in support of the sale of F-16s to Pakistan as a stabilizing factor within world and sub-continental geo-politics. In the EPW article, the nature of her expository style and presentation of "facts" make her "cases" representative of war-time experiences of all in Bangladesh.

Skewing the history of rape
The small paragraph, located in the last page of the article, relating to the absence of rape in the "cases" has been highlighted as evidence that the Pakistani army did not rape. In her response to Uttorshuri, Bose says: "The issue of rape amounted to about 100 words out of a nearly 6,500 word paper on the subject of patterns of violence in 1971." An issue as contentious as the "patterns" of violence of rape can be claimed to be absent, through only 100 words! Bose explicates: "As I pointed out in the discussion that followed, there is evidence elsewhere that rape certainly occurred in 1971. But it seems -- from this study and other works -- that it may not have occurred in all the instances it is alleged to have occurred."

Bose's comment that rapes did occur elsewhere in 1971 is absent in her EPW article. In it she emphasizes the need to distinguish between the instances where rape occurred and where it did not. Throughout, it shows that the Bengalis raped Biharis while the Pakistani army did not rape anyone during the war. Also, it is not very clear which "cases" are being referred to in the statement: the rapes "may not have occurred in all the instances they are alleged to have occurred." Rather than this generalized statement, it would have been more transparent scholarship to cite the specific "cases" where the rapes were alleged which the research instead finds, is absent.

Bose shows, in the case of "mutinies" by "rebels," that "there was assault and abduction" of women. The Pakistani army however, "always" targeted adult males while sparing women and children. The Hamdoodur Rahman Commission (2000) established by the Pakistani government, while referring to the attack and rape of pro-Pakistani elements by Bengalis, also cites various instances of rape.

Eyewitness accounts can also be found in the eighth volume of the Dolil (Rahman 1982-85: 106, 192, 385). There is literature from the 1970s (Greer 1972; Brownmiller 1975) and recent scholarship and films based on oral history from within Bangladesh (Akhtar 2001; Choudhury 2001; Guhathakurta 1996; Ibrahim 1994, 1995; Kabir 2003; Masud 2000) which shows that the Pakistani army committed rapes and highlights the complexities of these violent encounters. Bose makes no reference to any of these documentations.

Recently, in Bangladesh, various women from different socio-economic backgrounds have narrated their violent experiences of rape by the Pakistani army and local collaborators. The well-known sculptor, Ferdousy Priyobhashini, has been vocal about her war-time experiences and the role of Pakistani army and Bengalis. My own work with various women who were raped during the war shows the contradictions of the war-time experiences while highlighting their violent encounters. All these documentations emerge as important counter-narratives to the various prevalent Bangladeshi nationalist accounts of the war. Emphasizing these war-time contradictions is not tantamount to a denial of the incidents of rape perpetrated by Pakistani army and their local collaborators.

A prescription for reconciliation?
Reconciliation, according to Bose, is possible through an acknowledgement of violence inflicted by all parties involved. However, for her, this is hinged on an unequal reliance on literally accepting the various viewpoints of the Pakistani army and administration, drawn from secondary sources (only one interview with General Niazi is briefly quoted).

While referring to the innumerable publications on 1971 as a "cottage industry," Bose seems to negate the emotive expressions of her informants as "the cultivation of an unhealthy victim culture" and a "ghoulish competition with six million Jews in order to gain international attention." This highlights a lack of empathy with her informants, and insensitivity to their comprehension of violence.

Primo Levi's work on Auschwitz shows that individuals who have encountered and survived violence make various complicated, competitive and contradictory negotiations to inhabit their survival and "victimhood." Here, Bangladeshi testimonials are ironically the means through which war-time narratives are negated.

The various individual accounts of violence, in turn, become muted with the prescription of "reconciliation." Significantly, for many Bangladeshis, "reconciliation" has a jarring resonance, as it is perceived to be the objective of various war-time collaborators, who are currently rehabilitated in the Bangladeshi political landscape.

Seen only as a "god-damn place" (Nixon), a "basket case" (Kissinger), Bangladesh is stereotypically viewed internationally, and in South Asia, as a country ravaged only by poverty, floods, cyclones and, hence, in need of the saviour, interventionist, developmental paradigms.

Here, Bangladeshi histories and politics are again delegitimized as a result of sub-continental dynamics, as there is no engagement with the wider picture in Bangladesh.

The expositions in this article itself stand in the way of reconciliation between Bangladesh and Pakistan, and cannot provide a prescription to resolve these hostilities. War-time contradictions, complicities, nuances can be highlighted without negating the foundational violence of the history of rape of the Bangladesh war perpetrated by the Pakistani army and the local collaborators.

While the Bangladesh war might be a "civil war," or Indo-Pakistan war for India and Pakistan, for most Bangladeshis it is the war of liberation and independence, even though that liberation might be interrogated in post-colonial Bangladesh. Only by recentring the issues which concern Bangladesh, along with highlighting the contradictions of wartime experiences, rather than proffering an argument which caters to Indo-Pakistan geo-political concerns, could one help the cause of reconciliation between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

This piece is adapted from "Bangladesh War of 1971: A Prescription for Reconciliation?" EPW, Vol. 41 No 36: 3901-3903. We have reprinted it here by special arrangement with EPW due to the intense interest within Bangladesh generated by the original Bose article that Dr Mookherjee discusses.

Dr Nayanika Mookherjee is a Lecturer in the Sociology Department in Lancaster University and a Research Fellow for the Society of South Asian Studies, British Academy.


Akhtar, Shaheen, Suraiya Begum, Hameeda Hossain, Sultana Kamal, and Meghna Guhathakurta, eds. 2001. Narir Ekattor O Juddhoporoborti Koththo Kahini (Oral History Accounts of Women's Experiences During 1971 and After the War). Dhaka: Ain-O-Shalish-Kendro (ASK).

Bose, Sarmila. 2005. "Anatomy of Violence: Analysis of Civil War in East Pakistan in 1971," Economic and Political Weekly, October 8, 2005.

Bose, Sarmila and WB Milam. 2005. "The Right Stuff: F-16s to Pakistan is Wise Decision." Christian Science Monitor, April 11, 2005.

Bose, Sarmila. 2003. "What's in a Flag?" The Daily Times (Pakistan), September 23, 2003.

Brownmiller, Susan. 1975. Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, pp. 78-86. London: Secker & Warburg.

Butalia, Urvashi. 1998. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India. New Delhi: Viking Penguin India.

Collingwood, RG. 1945. The Idea of History. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Das, Veena. 1995. Critical Events, pp. 55-83. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Greer, Germaine. 1972. "The Rape of the Bengali Women." Sunday Times, April 9, 1972.

Hamdoodur Rahman Commission of Enquiry. 1971. Published in August 2000. Pakistan Government.

Guhathakurta, Meghna. 1996. "Dhorshon Ekti Juddhaporadh" (Rape is a War Crime). Dhaka: Bulletin of Ain-O-Shalish Kendra (ASK), February 6-8.

Hasan, K. 2005. "Army Not Involved in 1971 Rapes." June 30, 2005.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2001. The Trial of Henry Kissinger. London: Verso.

Ibrahim, Nilima. 1994-5. Ami Birangona Bolchi (This is the "War-Heroine" Speaking), 2 Volumes. Dhaka: Jagriti.

Iqbal, Anwar. 2005. "Sheikh Mujib Wanted a Confederation: US Papers." July 7, 2005.

Levi, Primo. 1996. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity. Translated from the Italian by Stuart Wolf. New York: Touchstone Books.
Mookherjee, Nayanika. (forthcoming). Specters and Utopias: Sexual Violence, Public Memories and the Bangladesh War of 1971. Durham: Duke University Press.

Mookherjee, Nayanika. 2006. "Remembering to Forget: Public Secrecy and Memory of Sexual Violence in Bangladesh." Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI), 12 (2), June 2006: pp. 433-450.

Mookherjee, Nayanika. 2004. "My Man (Honour) is Lost but I Still Gave my Iman (Principle): Sexual Violence and Articulations of Masculinity." South Asian Masculinities. R Chopra, C Osella and F Osella, eds. New Delhi: Kali for Women: pp. 131-159.

Nordstrom, Carolyn. 2004. Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century. California Series in Public Anthropology, University of California Press.

Rahman, Hasan H, ed. (1982-1985). Bangladesher Shadhinota Juddho Dolilpotro (Documents of the Bangladesh Independence War). Sixteen Volumes. Dhaka: People's Republic of Bangladesh, Information Ministry.


Choudhury, Afsan. 2001. Tahader Juddho (Their War).

Kabir, Yasmin. 2003. Shadhinota (A Certain Freedom).

Masud, Tareque and Catherine Masud. 1999. Muktir Katha. (Words of Freedom). Dhaka: Audiovision.

Masud, Tareque and Catherine Masud. 2000. Women and War. Dhaka: Ain-O-Shalish-Kendra (ASK) and Audiovision.


Discussion Forum: Story of Pakistan


IndPride: Sarmila Bose: In Praise of Pakistan

The Daily Times (Pakistan), July 2, 2005. 2005_pg3_1

US Department of State South Asia in Crisis: United States Policy, 1961-1972 June 28-29, 2005, Loy Henderson Auditorium, Tentative Program.

Uttorshuri: "Revisionist Historian on Rapes of 1971," July 2, 2005.


Source: The Daily Star Forum

Massacre at Faiz Lake

by Rounaq Jahan

in Samuel Totten, et al.
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997
Chapter 10, pp. 291-316

This testimony is from Abdul Gofran's "Faiz Lake-Gonohataya" ("Massacreat Faiz Lake"), which first appeared in Rashid Haider (ed.), 1971: Terrible Experiences. It was translated by Sohela Nazneen.

I own a shop near Akbar Shah mosque in Pahartali. On November lOth, 1971, at 6. A.M. about forty to fifty Biharis came to my shop and forced me to accompany them. I had to comply as any form of resistance would have been useless against such a large number of people. They took me to Faiz Lake. As we passed through the gates of Faiz Lake I saw that hundreds of non-Bengalis had assembled near the Pump house and wireless colony. The Bengalis who had been brought in were tied up. They were huddled by the side of the lake which was at the north side of the Pump-house. Many of the Biharis were carrying knives, swords and other sharp instruments. The Biharis were first kicking and beating up the Bengalis brutally and then were shoving their victims towards towards those carrying weapons. These other group of armed Biharis were then jabbing their victims in the stomach and then severing their heads with the swords. I witnessed several groups of Bengalis being killed in such a manner. ...When the Biharis came for me one of them took away my sweater. I hen punched him and jumped into the lake. ...I swam to the other side and hid among the bushes. .. The Biharis came to look for me but I was fortunate and barely escaped their notice. From my hiding place I witnessed the mass murder that was taking place. Many Bengalis were killed in the manner which had been described earlier.

The massacre went on till about two o'clock in the afternoon. After they had disposed off the last Bengal victim, the Biharis brought in a group of ten to twelve Bengali men. It was evident from their gestures that they were asking the Bengalis to dig a grave for the bodies lying about. I also understood from their gestures that the Biharis were promising the group that if they completed the task they would be allowed to go free. The group complied to their wish. After the group had finished burying the bodies, they were also killed, and the Biharis went away rejoicing. There were still many dead bodies thrown around the place.

In the afternoon many Biharis and [the] Pakistani army went along that road. But the Pakistani soldiers showed no sign of remorse. They seemed rather happy and did nothing to bury the dead.

When night fell I came back to my shop but left Chittagong the next day.

Collected from Eyewitness Accounts: Genocide in Bangladesh

The Maulvi's Story

by Rounaq Jahan

in Samuel Totten, et al.
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997
Chapter 10, pp. 291-316

This testimony appears in Arnica Malik's The Year of the Vulture, pp. 102-104.

On April 19, 1971, about 35 soldiers came to our village in a launch at about 8 A.M. A couple of days earlier, I had asked the Sheikh's father and mother to leave the village, but they refused. They said. "This is our home and we shall not go away." Soon after I heard the sound of the launch, a soldier came running and said, "Here Maulvi, stop, in which house are the father and mother of the Sheikh?" So first I brought out his father. We placed a chair for him but they made him sit on the ground. Then Sheikh Sahib's amma [mother] was brought out. She took hold of my hand and I made her sit on the chair. The soldiers then held a sten-gun against the back of the Sheikh's abba [father] and a rifle against mine. "We will kill you in 10 minutes," said a soldier looking at his watch.

Then they picked up a diary from the Sheikh's house and some medicine bottles and asked me for the keys of the house. I gave them the bunch of keys but they were so rough in trying to open the locks that the keys would not turn. So they kicked open the trunks. There was nothing much inside except five teaspoons, which they took. They saw a framed photograph and asked me whose it was. When I said it was Sheikh Sahib's, they took it down. I tried to get up at this stage but they hit me with their rifle butts and I fell down against the chair. Finally, they picked up a very old suitcase and a small wooden box and made a servant carry them to the launch.

Then they dragged me up to where the Sheikh's father was sitting and repeated, "We shall shoot you in 10 minutes." Pointing to the Sheikh's father, I asked: "What's the point of shooting him? He's an old man and a government pensioner." The soldiers replied, "Is lire, keonki wohne shaitan paida kira hai" ["Because he has produced a devil."]. "Why shoot me, the imam of the mosque?" I asked. �Aap kiska imam hai? Aap vote dehtehain" ["What sort of an imam are you? You vote."], they replied. I said: "The party was not banned, we were allowed to vote for it. We are not leaders, we are janasadharan [the masses]. Why don't you ask the leaders?" The captain intervened to say that eight minutes were over and we would be shot in another two minutes. Just then a major came running from the launch and said we were to be let alone and not shot.

I immediately went towards the masjid (mosque) and saw about 50 villagers inside. Three boys had already been dragged out and shot. The soldiers asked me about a boy who, I said, was a krishak (cultivator). They looked at the mud on his legs and hands and let him go. Khan Sahib, the Sheikh's uncle, had a boy servant called Ershad. They asked me about him. I said he was a servant. But a Razakar maulvi, who had come with them from another village, said he was the Sheikh's relative, which was a lie. The boy Ershad was taken to the lineup. He asked for water but it was refused.

Another young boy had come from Dacca, where he was employed in a mill, to enquire about his father. He produced his identity card but they shot him all the same. They shot Ershad right in front of his mother. Ershad moved a little after falling down so they shot him again. Finally, the boy who had carried the boxes to the launch was shot. With the three shot earlier, a total of six innocent boys were shot by the Pakistani army without any provocation. They were all good-looking and therefore suspected to be relatives of the Sheikh.

After this, the Sheikh's father and mother were brought out of the house. Amma was almost fainting. And the house was set on fire and burnt down in front of our eyes until all that remained was the frame of the doorway which you can still see. Altonissa, the lady with the blood- stained clothes of her son, is the mother of Torab Yad Ali who was shot. They did not allow her to remove her son's body for burial, because they wanted the bodies to be exposed to public view to terrorize the villagers. They also shot Mithu, the 10-year old son of this widowed lady. She had brought him up with the greatest difficulty-they never had anything to eat except saag-bhaat (spinach and rice). They shot little Mithu because he had helped the Mukti Bahini. You can now ask the ladies about their narrow escape.

Shaheeda Sheikh, Sheikh Mujib's niece, then added that fortunately all the women were taken away to safety across the river to a neighbouring village three days before the Pakistani soldiers came. For months they had lived in constant terror of Razakars pouncing on them from bushes by the village pond. Beli Begum, Mujib's niece, a strikingly lovely woman, told me how she had fled from the village when seven months pregnant and walked 25 miles to safety. Pari, a girl cousin, escaped with a temperature of 104 degrees. Otherwise they would all have been killed.

Collected from Eyewitness Accounts: Genocide in Bangladesh

The Officer's Wife

by Rounaq Jahan

in Samuel Totten, et al.
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997
Chapter 10, pp. 291-316

This testimony is from Amita Malik's The Year of the Vulture, pp. 141-42.
Another pathetic case is that of a woman of about 25. Her husband was a government officer in a subdivision and she has three children. They first took away the husband, although she cried and pleaded with them. Then they returned him half-dead, after brutal torture. Then another lot of soldiers came in at 8 or 9 A.M. and raped her in front of her husband and children. They tied up the husband and hit the children when they cried.

Then another lot of soldiers came at 2.30 P.M. and took her away. They kept her in a bunker and used to rape her every night until she became senseless. When she returned after three months, she was pregnant. The villagers were very sympathetic about her but the husband refused to take her back. When the villagers kept on pressing him to take her back, he hanged himself. She is now in an advanced stage of pregnancy and we are doing all that we can do to help her. But she is inconsolable. She keeps on asking, "But why, why did they do it? It would have been better if we had both died."
Collected from Eyewitness Accounts: Genocide in Bangladesh

Our Mothers and Sisters

by Rounaq Jahan

in Samuel Totten, et al.
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997
Chapter 10, pp. 291-316

The following testimony is from M. Akhtaurzzaman Mondol's "Amader-Ma Bon" ("Our Mother and Sisters") which appears in Rashid Haider (Ed.) 1971: Terrible Experiences, p. 197. It was translated by Sohela Nazneen. Reprinted with permission.

We started our fight to liberate Vurungamari from the Pakistani occupation forces on November 11. 1971. We started attacking from West, North and East simultaneously. The Indian air forces bombed the Pakistani stronghold on November 11 morning. On November 13 we came near the outskirts of Vurungamari, and the Indian air force intensified their air attack. On November 14 morning the guns from the Pakistani side fell silent and we entered Vurungamari with shouts of "Joy Bangla" (victory to Bangladesh). The whole town was quiet. We captured fifty to sixty Pakistani soldiers. They had no ammunition left. We found the captain of the Pakistan forces, captain Ataullah Khan, dead in the bunker. He still had his arms around a woman-both died in the bomb attack in the bunker. The woman had marks of torture all over her body. We put her in a grave.

But I still did not anticipate the terrible scene I was going to witness and we were heading toward east of Vurungamari to take up our positions. I was informed by wireless to go to the Circle Officer's office. After we reached the office, we caught glimpses of several young women through the windows of the second floor. The doors were locked. so we had to break them down. After breaking down the door of the room, where the women were kept, we were dumbfounded. We found four naked young women, who had been physically tortured, raped, and battered by the Pakistani soldiers. We immediately came out of the room and threw in four lungis [dresses] and four bedsheets for them to cover themselves. We tried to talk to them, but all of them were still in shock. One of them was six to seven months pregnant. One was a college student from Mymensingh. They were taken to India for medical treatment in a car owned by the Indian army. We found many dead bodies and skeletons in the bushes along the road. Many of the skeletons had long hair and had on torn saris and bangles on their hands. We found sixteen other women locked up in a room at Vurungamari High School. These women were brought in for the Pakistani soldiers from nearby villages. We found evidence in the rooms of the Circle Officers office which showed that these women were tied to the windowbars and were repeatedly raped by the Pakistani soldiers. The whole floor was covered with blood, torn pieces of clothing, and strands of long hair. ...

Collected from Eyewitness Accounts: Genocide in Bangladesh

Horror Documentary

by Rounaq Jahan

in Samuel Totten, et al.
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997
Chapter 10, pp. 291-316

This testimony is from Amita Malik's The Year of the Vulture (New Delhi: Orient Longmans, 1972, pp. 79-83).

At the professors' funeral, Professor Rafiq-ul-Islam of the Bengali Department whispered to me, "At the television station you will find that there is a film record of the massacre of professors and students at Jagannath Hall. Ask them to show it to you."

This sounded so incredible that I did not really believe it. However, I wasted no time in asking Mr. Jamil Chowdhury, the station manager of TV, whether he did, indeed, have such a film with him. "Oh yes," he said, "but we have not shown it yet because it might have dreadful repercussions." He was, of course, referring to the fact that the

Pakistani army was still very much in Dacca in prisoner-of-war camps in the Cantonment, and it would have been dangerous to show them gunning down professors and students at Dacca University. The people of Dacca had shown tremendous restraint so far, but this would have been going a bit too far. However, I had it confirmed that N.B.C. VISNEWS and other international networks had already obtained and projected the film.

"But who shot the film?" I asked in wonder. "A professor at the University of Engineering, who had a video tape-recorder and whose flat overlooks the grounds of Jagannath Hall," said Mr. Chowdhury. It was therefore by kind courtesy of Dacca TV that I sat in their small projection room on January 5 and saw for the first time what must be a unique actuality film, something for the permanent archives of world history.

The film, lasting about 20 minutes, first shows small distant figures emerging from the hall carrying the corpses of what must be the students and professors massacred in Jagannath Hall. These are clearly civilian figures in lighter clothes and, at their back, seen strutting arrogantly even at that distance, are darker clad figures, the hoodlums of the Pakistan army. The bodies are laid down in neat, orderly rows by those forced to carry them at gun-point. Then the same procession troops back to the Hall. All this time, with no other sound, one hears innocent bird-song and a lazy cow is seen grazing on the university lawns. The same civilians come out again and the pile of bodies grows.

But after the third grisly trip, the action changes. After the corpses are laid on the ground, the people carrying them are lined up. One of them probably has a pathetic inkling of what is going to happen. He falls on his knees and clings to the legs of the nearest soldier, obviously pleading for mercy. But there is no mercy. One sees guns being pointed, one hears the crackle of gunfire and the lined up figures fall one by one, like the proverbial house of cards or, if you prefer, puppets in a children's film. At this stage, the bird-song suddenly stops. The lazy cow, with calf, careers wildly across the lawn and is joined by a whale herd of cows fleeing in panic.

But the last man is still clinging pathetically to the jack-boot of the soldier at the end of the row. The solider then lifts his shoulder at an angle, so that the gun points almost perpendicularly downwards to the man at his feet, and shoots him. The pleading hands unlink from the soldier's legs and another corpse joins the slumped bodies in a row, some piled on top of the very corpses they had to carry out at gunpoint, their own colleagues and friends. The soldiers prod each body with their rifles or bayonets to make sure that they are dead. A few who are still wriggling in their death agony are shot twice until they also stop wriggling.

At this stage, there is a gap, because Professor Nurul Ullah's film probably ran out and he had to load a new one. But by the time he starts filming again, nothing much has changed except that there is a fresh pile of bodies on the left. No doubt some other students and professors had been forced at gun-point to carry them out and then were executed in turn. In so far as one can count the bodies, or guess roughly at their number in what is really a continuous long-shot amateur film, there are about 50 bodies by this time. And enough, one should think.

Professor Nurul Ullah's world scoop indicated that he was a remarkable individual who through his presence of mind, the instinctive reaction of a man of science, had succeeded in shooting a film with invaluable documentary evidence regardless of the risk to his life.

I immediately arranged to trace him down and he very kindly asked me to come round to his flat. Professor Nurul Ullah is a Professor of Electricity at the University of Engineering in Dacca. I found him to be a quiet, scholarly, soft-spoken, and surprisingly young man with a charming wife. He is normally engrossed in his teaching and students. But he happened to be the proud possessor of a video tape-recorder which he bought in Japan on his way back from a year at an American university. He is perhaps the only man alive who saw the massacre on the lawns of Dacca University on the first day of the Pakistani army crack-down. He took his film at great risk to his personal life. It was fascinating to sit down in Professor Nurul Ullah's sitting room and see the film twice with him, the second time after he had shown me the bedroom window at the back of his flat which overlooked both the street along which the soldiers drove to the university and the university campus. When he realized what was happening, he slipped his microphone outside [through] the window to record the sounds of firing. The film was shot from a long distance and under impossible conditions. Professor Nurul Ullah's description of how he shot the film was as dramatic and stirring as the film itself:

"On March 25, 1971, the day of the Pakistani crack-down, although I knew nothing about it at the time, my wife and I had just had breakfast and I was looking out of my back windows in the professors' block of flats in which I and my colleagues from the Engineering University live with our families. Our back windows overlook a street across which are the grounds of Jagannath Hall, one of the most famous halls of Dacca University. I saw an unusual sight, soldiers driving past my flat and going along the street which overlooks it, towards the entrance to the University. As curfew was on, they made announcements on loudspeakers from a jeep that people coming out on the streets would be shot. After a few minutes, I saw some people carrying out what were obviously dead bodies from Jagannath Hall. I immediately took out my loaded video tape recorder and decided to shoot a film through the glass of the window. It was not an ideal way to do it, but I was not sure what it was all about, and what with the curfew and all the tension, we were all being very cautious. As I started shooting the film, the people carrying out the dead bodies laid them down on the grass under the supervision of Pakistani soldiers who are distinguishable in the film, because of their dark clothes, the weapons they are carrying and the way they are strutting about contrasted with the civilians in lighter clothes who are equally obviously drooping with fright. �As soon as firing started, I carefully opened the bedroom window wide enough for me to slip my small microphone just outside the window so that I could record the sound as well. But it was not very satisfactorily done, as it was very risky. My wife now tells me that she warned me at the time: ~re you mad, do you want to get shot too? One flash from your camera and they will kill us too.' But I don't remember her telling me, I must have been very absorbed in my shooting, and she says I took no notice of what she said.

"It so happened that a few days earlier, from the same window I had shot some footage of student demonstrators on their way to the university. I little thought it would end this way.

"Anyway, this macabre procession of students carrying out bodies and laying them down on the ground was repeated until we realized with horror that the same students were themselves being lined up to be shot. After recording this dreadful sight on my video tape-recorder, I shut it off thinking it was all over only to realize that a fresh batch of university people were again carrying out bodies from inside. By the time I got my video tape-recorder going again, I had missed this new grisly procession but you will notice in the film that the pile of bodies is higher.

"I now want to show my film all over the world, because although their faces are not identifiable from that distance in what is my amateur film, one can certainly see the difference between the soldiers and their victims, one can see the shooting and hear it, one can see on film what my wife and I actually saw with our own eyes. And that is documentary evidence of the brutality of the Pak army and their massacre of the intellectuals."

Collected from Eyewitness Accounts: Genocide in Bangladesh

Eyewitness Accounts

by Rounaq Jahan

in Samuel Totten, et al.
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997
Chapter 10, pp. 291-316

The following eyewitness accounts of the 1971 genocide depict different incidents. The first two eyewitness accounts describe the mass murders committed on March 25 night on Dhaka University campus. The first account is by a survivor of the killings in one of the student dormitories (Jagannath Hall) where Hindu students lived. The second account is by a university professor who witnessed and videotaped the massacres on Dhaka University campus. The third and fourth eyewitness testimonies describe the mass rape of women by the Pakistanis. The fifth testimony describes the killings in the village of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the nationalist movement. The last account describes the atrocities of the non-Bengali Biharis who collaborated with the Pakistan army. The testimonies are taken from two sources; one is a Bengali book entitled 1971: Terrible Experiences (Dhaka: Jatiya Shahitya Prakasheni, 1989), which was edited by Rashid Haider and is a collection of eyewitness accounts. Sohela Nazneen translated the accounts from Bengali to English. The other source, The Year of the Vulture (New Delhi: Orient Longmans, 1972), is an Indian journalist's (Arnita Malik) account of the genocide. In the Malik book Dhaka is spelled as Dacca, which was the spelling used in 1972.

Massacre at Jagannath Hall

This testimony is from Kali Ranjansheel's, "Jagannath Hall e-Chilam" ["I was at Jagannath Hall"], in Rashid Haider (ed.), 1971: Vayabaha Ovigayata [1971: Terrible Experiences] Dhaka: Jatiya Shahitya Prakasheni, 1989, p. 5. It was translated by Sohela Nazneen. Reprinted with permission.

I was a student at the Dhaka University. I used to live in room number 235 (South Block) in Jagannath Hall. On the night of 25th of March I woke up from sleep by the terrifying sound of gunfire. Sometimes the sound of gunfire would be suppressed by the sound of bomb explosions and shell-fire. I was so terrified that I could not even think of what I should do! After a while I thought about going to Shusil, assistant general secretary of the student's union. I crawled up the stairs very slowly to the third floor. I found out that some students had already taken refuge in Shusil's room, but he was not there. The students told me to go to the roof of the building where many other students had taken shelter but I decided (rather selfishly) to stay by myself I crawled to the rest rooms at the northern end of the third floor and took refuge in there. I could see the East, the South and the West from the window. I could see that the soldiers were searching for students with flashlights from room to room, were taking them near the Shahid Minar (Martyr's memorial) and then shooting them. Only the sound of gunfire and pleas of mercy filled the air. Sometimes the Pakistanis used mortars and were shelling the building. The tin sheds in front of assembly and some of the rooms in North Block were set on fire. ...

After some time about forty to fifty Pakistani soldiers came to the South Block and broke down the door of the dining room. The lights were turned on and they were firing at the students who took shelter in that room. ...When the soldiers came out they had Priyanath (the caretaker of the student dormitory) at gunpoint, and forced him to show the way through all the floors of the dormitory. During this time I was not able to see them as I left the restroom by climbing up the open window and took shelter on the sunshed of the third floor. But I could hear the cracking sounds of bullets, the students pleading for mercy and the sound of the soldiers rummaging and throwing things about in search of valuables. The soldiers did not see me on the sunshed.

...After they left I again took refuge in the washroom. I peeked through the window and saw that the other students' dormitory, Salimullah Hall, was on fire. The Northern and the Eastern parts of the city was on fire too as the North and East horizon had turned red. The whole night the Pakistani soldiers continued their massacre and destruction. ...Finally I heard the call for the morning prayer. ...

...The curfew was announced at dawn and I thought that this merciless killing would stop. But it continued. The soldiers started killing those who had escaped their notice during the night before.

...It was morning and I heard the voices of some students. I came out of the washroom, and saw that the students were carrying a body downstairs while soldiers with machine guns were accompanying them. It was the dead body of Priyanath. I was ordered to help the students and I complied. We carried bodies from the dormitory rooms and piled them up in the field outside.

There were a few of us there-students, gardeners, two sons of the gates-keeper and the rest were janitors. The janitors requested the Pakistanis to let them go since they were not Bengalis. After a while the army separated the janitors from us.

...All the time the soldiers were cursing and swearing at us. The soldiers said "We will see how you get free Bangladesh! Why don't you shout Joy Bangla (Victory to Bengal)!" The soldiers also kicked us around. After we had finished carrying the bodies, we were divided into groups. They then took my group to one of the university quarters and searched almost every room on the fourth floor and looted the valuables. Downstairs we saw dead bodies piled up, obviously victims from the night before. They also brought down the flag of Bangladesh.

...After we came back, we were again ordered to carry the dead bodies to the Shahid Minar. The soldiers had already piled up the bodies of their victims and we added others bodies to the piles. If we felt tired and slowed down, the soldiers threatened to kill us-

...As my companion and I were carrying the body of Sunil (our dormitory guard), we heard screams in female voices. We found that the women from the nearby slums were screaming as the soldiers were shooting at the janitors (the husbands of the women). I realized that our turn would come too as the Pakistanis started lining up those students who were before us, and were firing at them. My companion and I barely carried the dead body of Sunil toward a pile where I saw the dead body of Dr. Dev [Professor of Philosophy]. I cannot explain why I did what I did next. Maybe from pure fatigue or maybe from a desperate hope to survive!

I lay down beside the dead body of Dr. Dev while still holding onto the corpse of Sunil. I kept waiting for the soldiers to shoot me. I even thought that I had died. After a long time I heard women and children crying. I opened my eyes and saw that the army had left and the dead bodies were still lying about and women were crying. Some of the people were still alive but wounded. All I wanted to do was to get away from the field and survive.

I crawled towards the slums. First I went to the house of the electrician. I asked for water but when I asked for shelter, his wife started crying aloud and I then left and took refuge in a restroom. ...Suddenly I heard the voice of Idu who used to sell old books. He said,

"Don't be afraid. I heard you are alive, I shall escort you to safety." I went to old Dhaka city. Then I crossed the river. The boatman did not take any money. From there, I first went to Shimulia, then, Nawabganj and finally I reached my village in Barishal in the middle of April.
Collected from Eyewitness Accounts: Genocide in Bangladesh

April 1971: 'Recalling Massacres of Those Days in Faridpur'

April 1971: 'Recalling Massacres of Those Days in Faridpur'

By Rabindranath Trivedi

The birth of Bangladesh in 1971 was a unique phenomenon- it was the first nation state to emerge after waging a successful liberation war against a postcolonial state. The nine-month-long liberation war in Bangladesh drew world attention because of the genocide committed by Pakistan, which resulted in the killings of approximately three million people, and raping of nearly a quarter million girls and women mostly over 70 percent were Hindus. Ten million Bengalis, of whom 80% were Hindus, reportedly took refuge in India to avoid the massacre of the Pakistan army, and thirty million people were displaced within the country were poor Muslims and Hindus.

Thirty-six years passed since the occupation Pakistan army entered Faridpur on April 21, 1971 and started arson, loot, rape and atrocities in and around Faridpur town, Talma, Nagarkanda, Bhanga, Kanaipur and Ishan Gopalpur. Since the offensive began the troops have killed countless thousands of Bengalis -- foreign diplomats estimate at least 200,000 to 250,000 -- many in massacres. Although the targets were Bengali Moslems and the 10 million Hindus at first, the army was then concentrating on Hindus in what foreign observers characterize as a holy war. The justification for the annihilation of the Hindus was paraphrased by Lt.Gen.Tikka Khan, the Military Governor of East Pakistan in radio broadcast on April 18,1971, he said: 'The Muslims of East Pakistan, who had played a leading part in the creation of Pakistan, are determined to keep it alive.'

At the end of June 1971, Schanberg visited the town of Faridpur and reported on the persecution there:'The Pakistani Army has painted big yellow "H's" on the Hindu shops still standing in this town to identify the property of the minority eighth of the population that it has made special targets.... In April, as a public example, two Hindus were beheaded in a central square in Faridpur and their bodies were soaked in kerosene and burned.' Still, there is no sign of a hate-Hindu psychology among the Bengali Muslims. Many have taken grave risks to shelter and defend Hindus; others express shock and horror at what is happening to the Hindus but confess that they are too frightened to help.'

The Pakistan army and the Razakars did not stop at simply massacring Hindus. They also took to raping Bengali women. During nine months in 1971, over 200,000 Bengali women and girls were raped. Many were taken as sex slaves and raped multiple times by the Pakistani army." 'Measuring the Tragedy' the New York Times (June 7,1971) mentioned: “People have killed each other because of animosities of race, politics and religion; no community is entirely free of guilt. But the principal agent of death and hatred has been the Pakistan Army." These paramilitary units, the al-Badr and al-Shams, worked as informers and assassins to augment the military's gruesome task of killing Bengalis.

Eight Bramacharee were butchered and by Pakistan Army in Faridpur

On 21April 1971 (07 Baikh 1377 BS, Wednesday ) eight bramahcharees of Sree Angan of the Lord Jagat bandhu Sunder were butchered and tomb of the temple was demolished. All those Vaishnava Brahmacharees namely Sahid Kirtan Bandhu, Shahid Nidanbandhu,Shahid Kshitibandhu, Shahid Bandhudas , Shahid Chirabandhu, Shahid Gour Bandhu, Shahid Andha Kanai and Shahid Ravibandhu were killed by the Pakistani Occupation forces while Brahmacharees chanting kirtan, prayer, of lord Jagatbandhu Sundar,an incarnation of Vishnu,a vaishnava cult in Hinduism. This Sree Angan as commonly known to all section of people is a holy shrine and profoundly respected to all irrespective to caste, creed and religions.

Believe it or not, it was happened, a Pakistani Army Captain Jamshed who commanded the massacre in Faridpur from April to July’71 had to beg divine mercy and ultimately commit suicide before the altar of Lord Jagatbandhu’s main temple of the Sree Angan just a few days before Pakistan Forces surrendered to Joint Command of Indian Army in Dec.1971.Capt Jamshed was burried in the Sree Angan (near pond of the Shiva Temple) by the Razzakar and Bihari Muslims, Probodh Kumar Sarkar, a Freedom Fighter of Faridpur told me recently. It may be mentioned here Captain Jamshed who had torched the main temple, killed the Brahmacharees and desecrate the holy place became lunatic before his unnatural death. But why he committed suicide before the altar of the main temple of Pravu Shri Shri Jagatbandhu Sundar? Was it a dictum of destiny or maledictions of divine power?

Massacre at Ramna Kali Bari : An American Eyewitness

"On the night on 28 March 1971 all the 250 Hindu men, women and children, who lived in and around the 700-year old Ramna Kali Bari in the heart of Dacca, were massacred. The priest of the Temple held the deity and prayed to Goddess Kali and he remained like that until incendiarism of the Pak army 'cremated' him alive along with all others.

An American eyewitness said: "There are no more Hindus in Ramna Kali Bari… I went to see it. Houses were still aflame and bodies were stacked at grotesque angles." This American added, "The sight staggered foreigners allowed to see it --- among them Mr. David Gordon, head of the World Bank in Pakistan". About 100 corpses were put on display in the village on 29 March 1971.

Dr John E. Rohde of USAID noted that “on the 29th we stood at Ramna KaliBari, an ancient Hindu village of about 250 people in the center of Dacca Ramna Race Course, and witnessed the stacks of machine-gunned, burning remains of men, women and children butchered in the early morning hours of March 29,1971. I photographed the hours later.”

Mr. Gordon Allott's speech in the Senate on July 14, 1971 mentioned that the 'Ramna Kali Bari is an ancient small Hindu settlement situated in the middle of the Dacca racecourse. Even during the most violent Hindu-Muslim riots of partition, the village was able to avoid participation in communal strife …on March 29, a pile of bodies charred and machine-gunned, was on visible display in Kali Bari. The entire village was burned to the ground.'

There was something of a joker in Yahya Khan. Perhaps because of the World Bank officials’ disapproval of the destruction of the Ramna Kali Temple, the military President of Pakistan or his trusted Governor, General Tikka Khan, sanctioned Rs.20, 000 for rebuilding, the temple which had been not only razed to the ground but after the rolling of bulldozers over it not a single brick remained there.

The Ramna Kali Bari and the two villages are now an extension of the grassy racetrack of Dhaka.

When a World Bank official was shown a temple, a foolish stage show was arranged to convince him that the Hindus were freely pursuing their religious duties. A non-Bengali police constable was made to shave off his head leaving a tuft on it. He put on a dhoti and was made to sit and offer flowers as if he was doing the usual puja. When the Inspector- General of Police and others brought the World Bank official there, the fake Hindu priest seeing his boss, jumped up to stand to attention and gave a smart salute, said Mr. A B M Musa of Times, London and BBC correspondent at Dhaka.

In Bangladesh there are more than 30,000 temples and religious citadels in Bangladesh, and most of those were ransacked, demolished and desecrated.. Thousands of people-men, women and children-were killed and women raped by Pakistani army and their local stooges and collaborators of the so-called peace committees looted Hindu properties. When the burden of the killing became too much for the army, the Pakistanis enlisted and trained paramilitary units made up of non-Bengali Muslims and Bengali collaborators from right-wing religious parties.

Sydney Schanberg of The New York Times was expelled from East Pakistan:

In June 1971 Sydney Schanberg reported on the formation of these units:' Throughout East Pakistan the Army is training new paramilitary home guards or simply arming "loyal" civilians, some of whom are formed into peace committees. Besides Biharis and other non-Bengali, Urdu-speaking Moslems, the recruits include the small minority of Bengali Moslems who have long supported the army -- adherents of the right-wing religious parties such as the Moslem League and Jamaat-e-Islami.'

Collectively known as the Razakars, the paramilitary units spread terror throughout the Bengali population. With their local knowledge, the Razakars were an invaluable tool in the Pakistani Army's arsenal of genocide.'

However, In June the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sydney Schanberg filed a number of eyewitness accounts from Bangladeshi towns for The New York Times. In response, the Pakistan army expelled him from the country on June 30, 1971.

Wither Hindus In Bangladesh?

The sacrifices of the Hindu leadership were never acknowledged either officially or publicly. Does the nation pay respect to those departed souls? Is there any room for the Hindu leaders in the history who fought for the cause of history and the War of Liberation? In the post-August 1975, Bangladesh, Bengali, Hindu and India are equated with a typical psyche by the ruling cliché.

The existing literature on the history of Bangladesh underplays not only the inner contradictions of the Muslims of Bengal, but also other significant features of her past. Those who have sacrificed lives at the altar of the War of Liberation, as termed ‘Shahid’ but what reward would get their families and memories in this land, while Razakars become policy makers.

I seldom visited Faridpur town after 1972, as I could not stand there. If I stand before the Alimuzzaman Bridge over the Kumar River in the evening, hundreds of known departed faces approach me haunt me, martyrs’ souls haunt me their souls questioned me. Did the martyrs of the Liberation War sacrifice their lives for this Bangladesh where people’s enemy, the founder of Al-Badr, was safely placed with ministerial berth and a slot in the country's policy-making body? I look down to the tiny stream of the Kumar River, as the 'Herman Hess' looked into the river through Gobinda's image in the eternal stream in 'Sirddhartha'. I found time passes from Zilla school in early fifties to Rajendra College in sixties, from there on to join the six-point movement turned War of Liberation. A ill-clothed boy made his journey from Talma,a native village in early fifties and have reached this victory day after three and half decades over the Alimuzzaman bridge. Whither Bangladesh?

As a retired officer, who witnessed the birth of Bangladesh at Mujibnagar and fought the War of Liberation, served the exile government at Mujibnagar and government in the liberated Dhaka till OSD-ship in November 2001, keenly observed that during the War of Bangladesh Liberation, the policy of Hindu-hunting helped Pakistan to be successful in 1971.

After my retirement in September 2003, I frequently visited my native village to repair my so long neglected house for passing the rest of my life there as I have no house or plot in Dhaka, although I had the occasion to the president and prime minister and ministers of the Republic since its birth in April 1971, presently, I am accommodating in the changed situation under duress in a rented abandoned house without job.

I am paying for my ignorance of culture of corruption and kleptocracy. Both the prime ministers had ignored the President's recommendation for an assignment abroad on a humanitarian cause.

But in the village I found that the Hindus were gradually getting uprooted. Even the families of the martyrs and victims of Pak-military atrocities were surviving only as natural species of human beings. The minorities of East Pakistan had not only fought for independence of Bangladesh together with all citizens of other sections of society. It is very difficult to guess about the inner world of the present-day Bangladesh. The distortion of the history of Bangladesh in post August 1975 and with it the Bangladesh foreign policy objectives started following the fifth and eighth amendments to the constitution of Bangladesh. But why it happens in Bangladesh?

The Hindus, as a nation, religion and of ancient civilization identity, had to pay a great sacrifice for Bangladesh nationhood, but after August 1975, they are being cornered, ciphered and uprooted due to property and votes bank assaults like erstwhile Pakistan military regimes.

Published in the Bangladesh Observer as a Lead Post Editorial on Monday 16 April 2007
Rabindranth Trivedi is a retired Additional Secretary and former Press secretary to the President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh

- Asian Tribune -

Hatiar dal do

Hatiar dal do (হাতিয়ার ডাল দো):
A tribute To Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Ajoy Roy

Published on July 01, 2008

The call of surrender

That was the repeated call of the then General Manekshaw, Army Chief of the Indian Military, to Pakistani soldiers fighting against Mitrabahini in the occupied territory of East Pakistan during the period 12-15the December 1971 as the Indian Army and Bangladesh army hand in hand penetrating deeper and deeper in Bangladesh territory In the mean while well fortified Jessore garrison fell in 7th December without serious fight by the Pakistanis. Mitrabahini and Bangladesh Army were fast approaching Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh, last fortress of General Neazi, commander of the Pakistan Army in Eastern front from all sides west, north, north east.

The strategy of the combined force was to offer least resistance to well fortified position of Pakistani army, such as Hilly, Comilla Cantonment etc and by pass those strong holds and rush to Dacca. However the resistance offered by Pakistanis on way of advancement of the Mitrabahini was totally and drastically wiped out.

At this stage General Manekshaw opened a psychological war front to further demoralize the morale and courage of fighting spirit of the already demoralized Pakistani soldiers by calling Neazi and his soldiers to surrender to the combined India-Bangladesh force in eastern front. The call was `surrender unconditionally’ to Mitrabahini immediately. In Urdu the call was simply `Hatiar dal do’. General Manekshaw assured the Pakistani occupation force that their lives and security would be guaranteed and Geneva convention would be applied to POWs.

Field Marshal Manekshaw was a great friend of Bangladesh. But his professionalism has never been overshadowed by sentiments and emotion. He was a cool thoughtful man and wonderful military strategist, totally committed to his professionalism as military personnel. The following narration illustrates his strict principle of professionalism and capability of distance vision. In an interview in 1996, he disclosed that some time in mid April General was summoned in a cabinet meeting attended by apart from PM Indira, Jagjivan Ram (defence minister), Sardar Sharan Singh (foreign minister) and Y, B. Chyavan (finance minister). At that time a large number of refugees started pouring in Tripura, Asam and West Bengal. PM Indira, showing a telegram of chief minister of Assam that expressed concern over it and if some thing positive was not done to prevent the refugee flux, a grave situation might develop in north-east region of India that might go beyond the control of the state government, asked the General `What are you doing ?’ Sam replied, `nothing’, and what am I to do?’ PM said that the government wanted that you march in. Sam’ rely was vey amusing and materialistic at the same time. This meant a war against Pakistan. ‘Are you ready ? Honestly speaking I am not.’ ‘In a few weeks time, monsoon will set in Bangladesh would turn into an ocean. And you can not move not to speak of fighting fortified Pakistanis’, continued the General., ‘we wiill be restricted to only land roads. The Air force will be of little use.’ In such a condition we cannot win against Pakistanis. More over our armament division is not fully equipped for shortage of tanks’, was the straight answer of Manekshaw. When the meeting was over and all left, PM asked to Sam to sit down. Sam thought that PM probably got annoyed with him and would ask him to resign. On the contrary PM asked him if that what he said were the true picture. Manekshaw convinced Indira that not only militarily, but even the condition and people were not prepared, the international situation was also not in India’s favour in marching against Pakistan at this stage. He then point balank asked the PM, ‘Are you yourself prepared Prime Minister?’ He finally concluded to PM, ‘My job is to win a war. And I want to do this in my opportune time when every thing would be in our favour. I give you hundred percent assurance of victory. He concluded by saying, ‘But I need unitary command.’ No body will interfere with your actions, assured Indira Gandhi. Thanking Indiara Sam said, ‘I give you hundred percent guarantee of our success.’ This was Sam Manekshaw. . . .

Field Marshal was suffering from lung problem and some old age complexity. A few days back he was taken to in Wellington Military hospital in Tamilnadu in a stage of coma, where he breathed his last on last Friday morning, June 27, 2008. He was 94.

General Manekshaw was the main architect of planning the India Pakistan war in western front and India-Bangladesh vs. Pakistan in eastern front i.e. in occupied Bangladesh. In this grand strategy theory of by passing strongholds of Pakistani and rushing fast to Dacca’s fall like a roped mango posts that will panic the Pakistani forces and would have no option but to surrender Manekshaw was the chief architect in which PM of India and PM of Bangladesh and military strategist led by Air Vice Marshall AK Khandakar all contributed. Manekshaw clearly stated the PM Indira Gandhi, PM Tajuddin and military leadership of Bangladesh that if we want to win the war against Pakistan the military force of Indian army in eastern command under Lt Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora and Bangladesh army including the guerillas must be brought under a unified joint command. The joint will force a defeat on the demoralized and already harassed Pakistani occupation force by the guerillas. The defeat in East Pakistan would a sure victory in western front too. How prophetic he was. With the surrender of Pakistanis in eastern front the Indian government declared unilateral ceasefire in western front. And defeated Pakistanis readily accepted it without murmuring that `we will fight for thousand years, even if have to chew grass. The end of war came within 13 days and Bangladesh emerged as a free independent state. What a glorious victory for all of us, the Bengalis, the Indians and the people of the world who morally and materially supported the cause of Bangladesh. Sam Manekshaw must have been the happiest man in the world. He shared the glory of liberating a country with his proud Indian army colleagues particularly hose who were involved in the eastern front including the chief of joint command Lt. Gen. Jagjit Sing Aurora. Jagjit and Sam both our great friends in our crisis are no more with us, but their memory will remain ever green in our memory century after century.

Brief sketch of the Field Marshal

Manekshaw was awarded the highest military title of Indian army, the Field Marshall in 1973. He was also decorated with civil award `Padma Bibhusan’ He was popularly known as Sam Bahadur, who joined Indian army in 1934. His bravery was mythical in war fields. During his long military career he showed infinite courage in five wars. He also took part in the Second World War as a member of the British Army in Burma front. He was decorated with military cross for his glorious role in Burma front. He became army chief of Indian army in 1969. He retired from Indian Army as field Marshall in January 15, 1973. Manekshaw was born in 1914 in Amritsar in Punjab. His full name was Sam Hormushji Fremji Jamshedji Manekshaw.

Personal remembrance

I saw the general perhaps some time in end of July, 1971 in Fort William, the military head quarter of the eastern front, Calcutta. He held a press conference with the foreign and Indian journalists. Some Bangladeshi journalists were also invited. A few Bangladeshi intellectuals among whom myself, as secretary of Bangladesh Teachers Assocation and Dr, Belayet Hosain, joint secretary of Liberation Council of Bangladesh Intelligentsia and Dr. Mozaharul Haque, Professor of Bengali, Rajshahi University and few others, I don’t remember now. were also invited at the press conference as the general wanted exchange views on Bangladesh problems with some Bangladesh intellectuals after the press conference. The invitation was sent through the office of the Vice Chancellor, Calcutta University, who was the president CU Bangladesh Sahayak Samity, a sister organization of ours, as Bangladesh Teachers Association’s office was at the Dwarbhanga Building. Prof. Dilip Chakaravorty, secretary of CU Bangladesh Sahayak Samity accompanied us to Fort William. We were intercepted at the entrance of the conference room for pass, which we didn’t have. We identified ourselves that General intends to meet us after the conference. We were politely asked to wait, and five minutes later the same man in uniform took us to a specified area in the second row where I found Dr. Mazharul Haque and some others. The conference has already started a few minutes back. I saw many high military officials were sitting in the first row, among whom Lt. Gen. Aurora was also there, a tall slim hand some man in uniform. I saw Lt. Gen Aurora too when Prof Chakravorty showed me. He was tall and slim having impressive appearance. The room was crowded with hosts of journalists. Most questions were of military nature and Indian army’s plan and what would be its military strategy in case Bangladesh’s liberation war turned into India’s war against Pakistanr. I found the general most intelligent and pragmatic man. He ruled out the possibility of Indo Pakistan war on Bangladesh issue. He point blank said that `I don't think Pakistani military would be that foolish to force war on us. Then it would be a disastrous for Pakistan, but Indian people would have to be prepared for extreme sacrifice. He added to a Bangladesh journalist, that ‘it is your war; you have to fight it out. Under the circumstances we could help you only as your friend and well wisher. The policy our government adopts we, would follow to materialize.’ Regarding a question of recognition to Bangladesh government by India he plainly said, as far as I remember, it is a political matter and Indian military has nothing to do it. The long press conference when ended, a man in uniform announced that because of general’s time constrain he could not meet the Bangladesh intellectuals for which he apologized. We stood up in disappointment. The general waved his hand towards us saying `my apology. We will meet some time later.’ That some time later never came. Alas !.

Published at Muktomona

Pakistanis were misled into thinking that Bangladeshis were Hindus

DU Correspondent

Noted Pakistani writer Ahmad Salim has said that before the independence of Bangladesh the Pakistan government told the people of the then West Pakistan that the then East Pakistanis were Hindu due to their multi-dimensional culture.

Salim, a former professor of the Karachi University, said that in 1971 the people of West Pakistan were in the dark totally about what was really going on in the eastern part due to the false and malicious propaganda of the then military rulers of Pakistan.

Ahmad Salim, honorary coordinator of the South Asian Research and Resource Centre under the SAARC secretariat who is visiting Bangladesh, was giving a lecture on "Creative Responses in West Pakistan Regarding the Tragedy of 1971" on Saturday.

The lecture at the RC Majumdar Arts Auditorium of Dhaka University was organised by Unnayan Onneshan, a centre for development research and action.

Presided over by Zaheda Ahmed, professor of history department of DU, the discussion meeting was attended, among others, by the chairman of Unnayan Onneshan, Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir.

Ahmad Selim, who suffered jail terms for writing against military atrocity in Bangladesh in 1971, also said that there were a good number of poems and other writings in different languages by renowned Pakistani writers protesting against the West Pakistani attack on East Pakistan. "But most of them were banned by the military rulers," he said.

A book containing the writings of Pakistani wordsmiths about the West Pakistani oppression of East Pakistan in 1971 will be published simultaneously in Pakistan and Bangladesh within a few months, said Salim.

He said the book, titled "Another Side of a Medal", would be a compilation of writings that will explain a lot about the thoughts of the Pakistani people who did not agree with the atrocities of the then Pakistani government on the Bangladeshi people.

Source: New Age

বীভৎস যৌন নির্যাতন, কিন্তু এড়িয়ে গেছেন সবাই

একাত্তরে আমাদের নারীদের ওপর পরিচালিত পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যদের যৌন নির্যাতনের ধরন কতোটা ভয়াবহ, কতোটা বীভৎস ছিল- যুদ্ধ চলাকালে এদেশ থেকে প্রকাশিত কোনো দৈনিকে তা প্রকাশিত হয় নি। প্রকাশিত হয়নি বিদেশী সংবাদ মাধ্যমে পরিবেশিত বাংলাদেশের যুদ্ধ সংবাদেও।

১৬ ডিসেম্বর বিজয় অর্জনের পর থেকে জাতীয় দৈনিকগুলোতে পাকিস্তানিদের নারী নির্যাতনের বেশ কিছু সংবাদ প্রকাশিত হলেও ধর্ষণ ও অন্যান্য যৌন নির্যাতনের ধরন, প্রকৃতি, শারীরিক, মানসিক প্রতিক্রিয়াগুলো নিয়ে খুব কমই গবেষণা হয়েছে। “স্বাধীনতা যুদ্ধের ইতিহাস লিখন ও দলিল প্রামাণ্যকরন” প্রকল্পের তৎকালীন গবেষক, বর্তমানে ইংরেজী দৈনিক ডেইলি ষ্টারের সিনিয়র সহকারী সম্পাদক আফসান চৌধুরী এজন্য ইতিহাস রচনার সনাতনি দৃষ্টিভঙ্গিকে দায়ী করে বলেছেন, দেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের ইতিহাস লিখনে বরাবরই সশস্ত্র লড়াই, ক্ষমতাসীন পুরুষদের কৃতিত্ব গ্রন্থিত করার উদ্যোগ চলছে, কিন্তু তৃণমূল পর্যায়ে লাখ লাখ নারী অস্ত্র হাতে যুদ্ধ না করেও যেভাবে যুদ্ধের ভয়াবহতার শিকার হয়েছে, সনাতনি মানুসিকতার কারণে কখনই তা নিয়ে গবেষণার উদ্যোগ নেওয়া হয়নি।

মুক্তিযুদ্ধে পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যদের যৌন সন্ত্রাসের ধরন সম্পর্কে প্রথম তথ্য পাওয়া যায় ১৯৭৫ সালে প্রকাশিত আমেরিকান সাংবাদিক সুসান ব্রাউন মিলার রচিত “এগেইনেস্ট আওয়ার উইল: ম্যান, উইম্যান এন্ড রেপ” গ্রন্থে। দেশে এ বিষয়ক গবেষণাকর্ম প্রকাশিত হয় খুব কম এবং যা হয়েছে ৮০ সালের পর থেকে। যুদ্ধের পর ৭৬-৭৭ সাল পর্যন্ত গ্রহণ করা এ বিষয়ে ক্ষতিগ্রস্তদের সাক্ষাৎকার একমাত্র প্রকাশিত হয় প্রামাণ্যকরণ প্রকল্পের অষ্টম খন্ডে। কিন্তু এই খন্ড যাচাই করে দেখা গেছে, এতে মোট গৃহীত ২৬২টি সাক্ষাৎকারের মধ্যে নির্যাতনের সাক্ষাৎকার মাত্র ২২টি।

প্রকল্পের তৎকালীন গবেষকদের সঙ্গে যোগাযোগ করে জানা গেছে, প্রামাণ্যকরণ কমিটি তাদের কার্যালয়ে প্রায় সাড়ে ৩ লাখের বেশি পৃষ্ঠার তথ্য সংগ্রহ করেছে। এরমধ্যে মাত্র ১৫ হাজার পৃষ্ঠা গ্রন্থিত আছে। বাকি লাখ লাখ পৃষ্ঠার তথ্যের মধ্যে নারী নির্যাতন বিষয়ক বেশকিছু ঘটনা আছে। প্রকল্পের সাবেক পরিচালক অধ্যাপক কে এম মহসীন বলেন, ‘ডকুমেন্টগুলো এখন জাতীয় ও মুক্তিযুদ্ধ বিষয়ক মন্ত্রনালয়ের দায়িত্ব গ্র্রহনের পারস্পরিক টানাহেচড়ায় অরক্ষিত অবস্থায় আছে। যতোদূর জানি, বেশ কিছু ডকুমেন্ট চুরিও হয়ে গেছে।’

মুক্তিযুদ্ধ সংক্রান্ত লিখিত সূত্র, সমাজকর্মীদের সঙ্গে কথা বলে জানা গেছে, ২৫ মার্চ থেকে পাকিস্তানিদের ধারাবাহিক ধর্ষণ উন্মত্ততার সঙ্গে মধ্য এপ্রিল থেকে যুক্ত হতে শুরু করে এদেশীয় দোসর রাজাকার, শান্তি কমিটি, আল বদর ও আল শামস্ বাহিনীর সদস্যরা। এরা বিভিন্ন স্থান থেকে নারীদের ধরে আনার পাশাপাশি ধর্ষকে অংশ নিয়েছে। প্রত্যেকটি ক্যান্টনমেন্ট, পুলিশ ব্যারাক, স্থায়ী সেনা বাঙ্কার ছাড়াও বিভিন্ন স্কুল কলেজ, সরকারি ভবন ধর্ষণের কেন্দ্র হিসেবে ব্যবহৃত হয়েছে।

জানা যায়, একাত্তরে পুরো ৯ মাস পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যরা অতর্কিত হামলা চালিয়ে ঘটনাস্থলে, কনসেনট্রেশন ক্যাম্পে বাঙালি নারীদের ধরে নিয়ে গিয়ে দিনের পর দিন আটকে রেখে ধর্ষণের যে ঘটনা ঘটিয়েছে অধিকাংশ ক্ষেত্রেই তা গণধর্ষণ। বেশীর ভাগ ক্ষেত্রে বাড়ির পুরুষ সদস্য, স্বামীদের হত্যা করার পর নারীদের উপর ধর্ষণ নির্যাতন চালাতো পাকিস্তানী সৈন্যরা। ৯ থেকে শুরু করে ৭৫ বছরের বৃদ্ধা কেউই পাকিস্তানী সৈন্য বা তাদের দোসরদের হাত থেকে রক্ষা পায়নি। সুসান ব্রাউনি মিলার তার গ্রন্থের ৮৩ পাতায় উল্লেখ করেছেন, কোনো কোনো মেয়েকে পাকসেনারা এক রাতে ৮০ বারও ধর্ষণ করেছে। ওয়ার ক্রাইমস ফ্যাক্টস ফাইন্ডিং কমিটির “যুদ্ধ ও নারী” গ্রন্থ থেকে জানা যায়, এক একটি গণধর্ষণে ৮/১০ থেকে শুরু করে ১০০ জন পাকসেনাও অংশ নিয়েছে। একাত্তরের ভয়াবহ ধর্ষণ সম্পর্কে একমাত্র জবানবন্দিদানকারী সাহসিক ফেরদৌসী প্রিয়ভাষিণী তার সাক্ষাৎকারে (একাত্তরের দুঃসহ স্মৃতি, সম্পাদনা শাহরিয়ার কবির) জানান, “রাতে ফিদাইর (উচ্চ পদস্থ পাকিস্তানি সেনা কর্মকর্তা) চিঠি নিয়ে ক্যাপ্টেন সুলতান, লে. কোরবান আর বেঙ্গল ট্রেডার্সও অবাঙালি মালিক ইউসুফ এরা আমাকে যশোরে নিয়ে যেত। যাওয়ার পথে গাড়ির ভেতরে তারা আমাকে ধর্ষণ করেছে। নির্মম, নৃশংস নির্যাতনের পর এক পর্যায়ে আমার বোধশক্তি লোপ পায়। ২৮ ঘন্টা সঙ্গাহীন ছিলাম”।

পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যদের ধর্ষণের বীভৎসতার ধরন সম্পর্কে পুনর্বাসন সংস্থায় ধর্ষিতাদের নিবন্ধীকরণ ও দেখাশোনার সঙ্গে যুক্ত সমাজকর্মী মালেকা খান জানান, সংস্থায় আসা ধর্ষিত নারীদের প্রায় সবারই ছিল ক্ষত-বিক্ষত যৌনাঙ্গ। বেয়োনেট দিয়ে খুঁচিয়ে খুঁচিয়ে ছিড়ে ফেলা রক্তাক্ত যোনিপথ, দাঁত দিয়ে ছিড়ে ফেলা স্তন, বেয়োনেট দিয়ে কেটে ফেলা স্তন-উরু এবং পশ্চাৎদেশে ছুরির আঘাত নিয়ে নারীরা পুনর্বাসন কেন্দ্রে আসতো।

পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যরা আমাদের নারীদের একাত্তরে কতো বীভৎসভাবে ধর্ষণসহ যৌন নির্যাতন করেছে তার ভয়াবহতা সবচেয়ে বেশী ধরা পড়ে ১৮ ফেব্র“য়ারীর ৭৪ সালে গৃহীত রাজারবাগ পুলিশ লাইনে একাত্তরে সুইপার হিসেবে কাজ করা রাবেয়া খাতুনের বর্ণনা থেকে। প্রামান্যকরন প্রকল্পের অষ্টম খন্ডে গ্রন্থিত ঐ বর্ণনায় কয়েকটি অংশ: রাবেয়া খাতুন জানান, ‘উন্মত্ত পান্জাবি সেনারা নিরীহ বাঙালী মেয়েদের শুধুমাত্র ধর্ষণ করেই ছেড়ে দেয় নাই অনেক পশু ছোট ছোট বালিকাদের ওপর পাশবিক অত্যাচার করে ওদের অসার রক্তাক্ত দেহ বাইরে এনে দুজনে দুপা দুদিকে টেনে ধরে চড়াচড়িয়ে ছিড়ে ফেলে ছিল। পদস্থ সামরিক অফিসাররা সেই সকল মেয়েদের ওপর সম্মিলিত ধর্ষণ করতে করতে হঠাৎ একদিন তাকে ধরে ছুরি দিয়ে তার স্তন কেটে, পাছার মাংস কেটে, যোনি ও গুহ্যদ্বারের মধ্যে সম্পূর্ণ ছুরি চালিয়ে দিয়ে অট্টহাসিতে ফেটে পড়ে ওরা আদন্দ উপভোগ করতো । ’ রাবেয়া খাতুনের আরেকটি বর্ণনায় জানা যায়, ‘ প্রতিদিন রাজারবাগ পুলিশলাইনের ব্যারাক থেকে এবং হেডকোয়ার্টার অফিসে ওপর তলা থেকে বহু ধর্ষিত মেয়ের ক্ষত-বিক্ষত বিকৃত লাশ ওরা পায়ে রশি বেধে নিয়ে যায় এবং সেই জায়গায় রাজধানী থেকে ধরে আনা নতুন মেয়েদের চুলের সঙ্গে বেধে ধর্ষণ আরম্ভ করে দেয়। ’

১৬ই ডিসেম্বর বিজয় অর্জনের পরও পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যরা বাঙ্কারে আটকে রেখে নির্বিচারে ধর্ষণ করেছে বাঙালী নারীদের। বিচারপতি কে এম সোবহান প্রত্যক্ষ দর্শনের অভিজ্ঞতা থেকে বলেন, ‘ ১৮ ডিসেম্বর মিরপুরে নিখোঁজ হয়ে যাওয়া একজনকে খুঁজতে গিয়ে দেখি মাটির নিচে বাঙ্কার থেকে ২৩জুন সম্পূর্ণ উলঙ্গ, মাথা কামানো নারীকে ট্রাকে করে নিয়ে যাচ্ছে পাক আর্মিরা। ’

বিভিন্ন সূত্রে প্রাপ্ত তথ্য থেকে জানা যায়, পুরোপুরি পরিকল্পিতভাবে পরিচালিত পাক আর্মিদের ধর্ষণ-উত্তর অন্যান্য শারীরিক নির্যাতনের ফলে বেশ কিছু মেয়ে আত্মহত্যা করেছে, কাউকে কাউকে পাকসেনারা নিজেরাই হত্যা করেছে; আবার অনেকেই নিরুদ্দিষ্ট হয়ে গেছে। ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের ইতিহাস বিভাগে অধ্যাপক ড. রতন লাল চক্রবর্তী ৭২- এর প্রত্যক্ষদর্শনের অভিজ্ঞতা থেকে জানান, ‘ যুদ্ধের পর পর ডিসেম্বর থেকে জানুয়ারী, ফেব্রুয়ারি পর্যন্ত শহরের বিভিন্ন স্থানে উদ্বাস্তুর মতো ঘুরে বেড়াতে দেখা গেছে বেশ কিছু নারীকে। তাদের ড্রেসআপ এবং চলাফেরা থেকে আমরা অনেকেই নিশ্চিত জানতাম ওরা যুদ্ধের শিকার এবং ওদের যাওয়ার কোনো জায়গা নেই। ’

তথ্যসূত্র: উক্ত লিখাটি ভোরের কাগজ, ১৮ মে ২০০২ ইং এ প্রকাশিত

শেষ কথা: এতো বিভৎস নির্যাতনের কোনো বিচার আজও হয়নি। বিশ্বের কাছে এসকল তথ্য অজানা। বিদেশ কেনো আমাদের নতুন প্রজন্ম যুদ্ধের ভয়াবহতা সম্পর্কে কতোটুকু জানে তা নিয়ে প্রশ্ন আছে। এবং এই পাকিস্তানি সৈন্যদের সহায়তা দানকারী আলবদর আলশামস এখনও বীরের মত ঘুরে বেড়ায়। এই কি ছিল আমাদের নিয়তি?

আপনাদের সবাইকে ধন্যবাদ। একটি কথা উল্লেখ করেছি - উক্ত লিখাটি ভোরের কাগজ, ১৮ মে ২০০২ ইং এ প্রকাশিত। উল্লেখ করা উচিত ছিল লেখাটি সংগ্রহিত। আমি শুধু টাইপ করেছি মাত্র।

কথাগুলো এইজন্য বলা কারন, অনেকে ভাবছেন পোষ্টটি আমার লেখা তাই উল্লেখ করলাম লেখাটি সংগ্রহিত।

আপনাদের ধন্যবাদ।

Family secrets, state secrets

Rahnuma Ahmed

History is never more compelling than when it gives us insights into oneself and the ways in which one’s own experience is constituted.

Amitav Ghosh, in a letter to Dipesh Chakrabarty

I do not see my life as separate from history. In my mind my family secrets mingle with the secrets of statesmen and bombers. Nor is my life divided from the lives of others.

Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones

‘We hated it if anyone asked us about her’

‘MANY widowed mothers were forced to re-marry, some for reasons of social security,’ these were Amena’s opening words when I went to interview her. Amena Khatun works as a conservator and archivist for the Liberation War Museum. She was speaking of their family life after 1971.

Things did not always transpire as intended, she added. Her mother’s second marriage had been short-lived.

My father? He is Shahid Abdul Kader, he had a furniture business, it was new. But by then the war had started, and his friends and workmen had left to fight for liberation. I was a few months old, my other brother, the one younger to me, was not yet born. My elder brother was two and a half years old. I think my father was planning to go away, to join the struggle, but it happened before he could make arrangements for us. They took him away. We lived in Mymensingh, our area was full of Biharis, I think they could sense what was happening, and they targeted my father. Actually, it was a Bengali woman, a razakar, who came and called him. She came and said, so-and-so wants to talk to you. My father stepped out and found a group of Bihari men and women waiting for him. It was May 28, 1971.

My grandmother, it was her, my nanu who raised us. Her struggle was much greater. My mother? Oh, she was very young, only seventeen or eighteen, she hardly understood anything. She was forced to re-marry, this was later, in 1977 or 1978. She had no other choice.

For us kids it was a new experience, we had not seen a man before. My mama was five years older to me, he and my older brother, they were the only men in the house. My uncles came later but nanu didn’t like them, she was worried that they would take us away, put us to work on the farm, that we would have to give up our studies. My younger chacha had wanted to marry my mother but she didn’t agree to the proposal. She said, he was like a brother.

And in the middle of all this, here was this new man, we could tell that he was intimate with her. When he appeared, she was a different mother. Sometimes I think, did we deserve this? If my father had lived, life would have been very different.

By the time my mother gave birth to a daughter, that phase [her married life] was over. That little sister of ours was the most exciting thing that could have happened in our lives, she lit up our home, all our dreams centred around her. We couldn’t think of anything else. We didn’t want to.

But whenever we went to the village, people would say, she was born of your mother’s second marriage, wasn’t she? We hated the sound of those words. Of course, what they said was true, for them it was not unusual. They were just curious, they would keep asking us and I don’t blame them. But I hated it, bhaiya didn’t like it either. My sister? She was too young to understand. But how can you stop people talking, and so we stopped going to the village. We wouldn’t go, hardly ever.

Much later, right before my sister took her matric exams, we were forced to tell her. In a sense, she found out for herself. You see, her friends kept asking her, ‘But if you were born in 1971, how can you be this young?’

I guess we needed to grow older to come to terms with the truth.

‘A dirty nigger’. Racial prejudice and humiliation in the British Indian army
‘As a child, I remember hearing only idyllic stories of my father’s life in the British Indian army,’ writes novelist Amitav Ghosh, in a letter to historian Dipesh Chakrabarty.

But towards the end of his life, before he died in 1998, my father told me a very different story. During the siege of Imphal, he had turned away from the main battle to confront a South African officer who called him a ‘dirty nigger’. After this, other stories poured out, stories of deep-seated racism within the army, very different to the idyllic picture that Amitav had grown up with. He writes, why did my father (and, in some sense, all our fathers) avoid telling us these stories? Speaking of such things must have been difficult, he muses, especially because they were at odds with their vision of themselves as ‘high-caste, bhadra patriarchs’. He adds, what may seem to be mere instances of racism were not so, they represented the system itself. Western liberal thought, whether that of JS Mill, or Bentham, or any other nineteenth century British writer, is built on racism, writes Amitav.

His question is: if we reproduce these silences of history, are we denying or abetting in structures of exclusion and oppression?
Post-independence armies of South Asia

Did racism survive the departure of the white colonisers in 1947? Are post-independence armies of South Asia non-racial and hence, non-racist? Is it meaningful to talk of race and racial differences in our cultures?

East Pakistani (later Bangladeshi) scholars spoke of ethnic differences in racial terms. They said, Pakistan’s military commanders perpetuated the recruitment policies of their colonial masters. ‘Martial races’ – meaning Punjabis and Pathans – were over-represented in the national armed forces, whereas the majority Bengali population, and smaller minorities like the Baluchis and Sindhis, were largely excluded. Indian historians maintain, imperial institutions like the army and the civil service allowed particular forms of racist practices, because of their proximity to the ruling race. They also say, racism survived independence. The north-eastern provinces, known as the seven sisters, have been subjected to decades of racist oppression by successive Indian governments.

Is ethnic discrimination in Bangladesh racist? Educated paharis, who have suffered militarily, tell me that ‘ethnic discrimination’ as a term does not do justice to the horror of their experiences. I was speaking to a young woman whose father was hung upside down for days, and later died a broken man. And to a young pahari man who was detained for several weeks, and was severely traumatised because of what he was made to witness.

Family secrets can be state secrets. Our mothers and fathers need to tell us stories. We need to discover ways of talking about silenced histories. And about the silenced present.

First published in New Age 26th May 2008


YEAR Hindu Population of East Pak/BD Actual (9)
Expected Hindu Population in Absence of Strife
Refugees from E. Pakistan to India(8)
Hindus Missing

Thus if 1947 partition had not resulted, the Hindu population of East Pakistan area should by 1961 have increased proportionally from 11.76 millions in 1941, to 14.24 millions (11.76 * 50.84 / 42 = 14.24). The official Indian Government records indicate that between 1947 and 1958, 4.12 million (Hindu) refugees crossed into India from East Bengal(3). This means the Hindu population in East Pakistan in 1961 should have been 10.12 million (14.24 - 4.12) compared to the actual 9.41 million. The missing 0.7 million Hindu population can be accounted by several hundred thousands killed in the riots in 1947 on the Bengal border, plus the refugee influx from 1958 to 1961. 1961.

Let us now look at Hindu population in East pakistan from 1961 to 1974. With proportional increase the Hindu population of 9.41 million in 1961 should have increased to 13.23 million ( 9.41 * 71.48 / 50.84 = 13.23 ) by 1974. However the actual Hindu population as per Bangla Desh Census data for 1974 was 9.65 million. Of the 3.58 million shortfall only 1.11 million can be accounted for since Government of India's record indicate that 1.11 million (Hindu) refugees crossed into India between 1964 and 1970 (3) i.e.PRIOR to the 1971 crisis.

Since the 80 percent of the refugees in 1971 were Hindus,a similar proportion of the dead are likely to be Hindus also. The official Bangla Desh government estimate puts the number of Bengalis killed at 3 million. 80 percent of 3 million put THE NUMBER OF HINDUS KILLED AT 2.4 MILLION which is close to the number of Hindus missing calculated comes above.
  1. Independent accounts indicate that Hindus from East Pakistan were special target during the 1971 army repression. HINDU HOUSES WERE PAINTED WITH YELLOW "H"s, THEY WERE ROBBED OF THEIR LANDS AND SHOPS, AND THEY WERE SYSTEMATICALLY SLAUGHTERED.
  2. 80 percent of the refugees to India in 1971 were Hindus, THUS IT WAS A HINDU REFUGEE PROBLEM.
  6. In any internal political problem of an Islamic country, Hindus (or minorities of other religions) become the scapegoats and will be liquidated at the first chance the Islamic Government gets.

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I Am A New Generation Freedom Fighter. Always Fight Against Razakar And Jamat Shibir. My Favorite Dialogue Is "Beware of Dog & Jamat Shibir".

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