Honing Blurred Memories
"Islam is the deeply cherished faith of the overwhelming majority of the people. Awami League affirms that a clear guarantee shall be embodied in the Constitution to the effect that no law repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah shall be enacted or enforced in Pakistan.” [Awami League's manifesto 1970]
“The holocaust in East Pakistan must be ended.” [Editorial, The New Nation, Singapore, April 6, 1971]
“Refugees have testified to massive bombings, reckless rampages of West Pakistani troops and mass murders. The hostilities are directed against the majority of the country's population under the motivation that the unity of Pakistan must be preserved!” [Expressen, Stockholm, April 12, 1971]
“This is GENOCIDE conducted with unusual casualness.” [Anthony Mascarenhas, former Assistant Editor, Morning News, Karachi, in Sunday Times, London, June 13, 1971.]
“There is overwhelming evidence of murder, of senseless slaughter of children, of rape, or prostitution organised by and for senior army officers, of wholesale, maddened, crazed, blood-thirsty determined massacre.” [The Hong Kong Standard, June 25, 1071]
“There are now, according to the military authorities, 5000 razakars in East Pakistan, 300 of them in Khulna District. They are paid Rs. 3 a day and receive seven days' training, which appears to consist entirely of learning how to shoot a police Lee-Enfield rifle. Their work consists of 'security checks' guiding the West Pakistan troops to the homes of supporters of the Awami League. They are supposed to be under the orders of the local 'peace committees' which are selected by the military authorities on a similar basis of 'loyalty to Pakistan'. These people are, in fact representatives of the political parties which were routed in the last elections…the now banned Awami League won all eight seats in the district and scored 75% of all votes cast. The three branches of Muslim League got 3 to 4% between them and the fanatical Jamate-Islam got 6%.” [Murray Sayle, The Sunday Times, London, July 11, 1971]
“Bengal, the murder of a people. All over the country, the resistance is rapidly taking on the earmarks of a classic guerrilla war. And East Pakistan is ideal guerrilla terrain reminiscent of South Vietnam's Mekong Delta…” [Newsweek, August 2, 1971]
The repressive passion of Pakistani militarism has achieved the destruction of practically 50 percent of the villages of East Pakistan. The number of dead, according to the European Press, varies between 500,000 to 1,000,000 (five to ten lakhs in June) apart from massive tortures, psychological repression and persecution, with no-holds-barred on the old, the young and the children. In this sense most commentators agree that humanity is faced today with one of the most horrid genocides of all times.” [The Momento, Caracas, June 13, 1971]
“Dressed in black sweaters and khaki pants, members of the group, known as Al-Badar, rounded up their victims on the last three nights of the war… Their goal, captured members have since said, was to wipe out all Bengali intellectuals who advocated independence from Pakistan and the creation of a secular, non-Moslem state. … It has now been determined that the Al-Badar was composed of Bengalis, not of the hated West Pakistanis or the Bihari immigrants from India who have long oppressed the native Bengali majority… There is growing evidence that the Al-Badar was equipped and directed by a special group of Pakistani army officers.” [Fox Butterfield in The New York Times, January 3, 1972]
“INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER
The Pakistan Eastern Command agree to surrender all Pakistan Armed Forces in Bangla Desh to Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding in Chief of the Indian and Bangla Desh forces in the Eastern Theatre. This surrender includes all Pakistan land, air and naval forces as also all para-military forces and civil armed forces…” [Document signed on December 16, 1971 (today's Suhrawardhy Udyan) by Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora and Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, Martial Law Administrator Zone B (East Pakistan) and Commander, Eastern Command (Pakistan)].
“Gen. 'Tiger' Niazi, the East Pakistani Commander, who boasted he would 'fight to the end' was seen to be near tears after he had signed surrender terms on a table at the Dacca Race Course. He stripped off his epaulette of rank from his right shoulder, unloaded his revolver and handed over his ammunition to Lt. Gen. J.S. Aurora, the turbaned Sikh leader of the Indian forces. Then he pressed his forehead to that of the Indian General as an act of submission.” [The Daily Telegraph, London, December 17, 1971]
There was severe economic disparity between East and West Pakistan, a result of the latter's systematic domination in economy, civil administration and military.
There was demand for Bangalis' autonomy, based on Awami League's six-points. viz. in brief (1) establishment of a federation on the basis of Lahore Resolution, (2) only defence and foreign affairs at centre, (3) separate currency for East and West Pakistan OR stop flight of capital from the East to the West, (4) vesting of right of taxation with federating states, (5) separate accounts and control for foreign exchange earnings, and (6) setting up a militia or a para-military force by the two wings.
There was Islam.
There was an election in Pakistan and Bangalis won the claim to adopt the six points.
There was cruel and devious denial of that right.
There was betrayal, a ruthless crackdown on unarmed civilians in the darkness of the night.
There was genocide.
There was a declaration of independence.
There was a deliberate and governed struggle to liberate the country a War of Liberation, a full-fledged war to get rid of enemy Pakistani forces from the sacred soil of Bangladesh.
There was unreserved co-operation and support from people of the world, the international media and neighbouring India, which gave refuge to one crore Bangalee fleeing the dastardly and brutal liquidation in East Pakistan.
There was planned killing of Bangali intellectuals by Bangla-speaking cowardly collaborators.
There was surrender by Pakistan to joint Indian and Bangla Desh forces.
There was victory for Mukti Bahini and the people of Bangladesh.
There is Islam in Bangladesh despite the lame propaganda.
There are war criminals in Bangladesh, who abetted in the genocide and cowardly killing of our intellectuals and others. During a war, any action of murder, rape, torture against the civilian population is a crime.
There will be no punishment for the never-ever-pardoned war criminals, who have the audacity today to question history that is ripe in the memory of millions of living people worldwide and documented well in archives around the world for posterity, unless we understand that five years of shamelessly laying wreaths at the Jatiyo Smriti Soudha cannot convert a wolf into a sheep.
Do we know why we as a nation are in so much turmoil? It is because our valiant Shaheeds do not rest in peace.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007