East Pakistan 1971: The Allegories and the Accuracy – II

22 Dec

 

By Sohail Parwaz

Only few of the pertinent and relevant excerpts for the interest, from the renowned Indian author and researcher Sarmila Bose’s book, “Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War”, would be sufficient for the readers to evaluate reality and the intentions of such propaganda. For example a most common and propagated myth is that over 3 million Bengalis were killed during the military operations.

However, the reality was analysed by the author and the fable is logically undressed,

“Examination of the available material on the 1971 war in both Bengali and English showed that while the allegation of ‘genocide’ of ‘three million Bengalis’ is often made in books, articles, newspapers, films and websites it is not based on any accounting or survey on the ground. Sisson and Rose state that the figure of three million dead was put out by India, while some Bangladeshi sources say it was the figure announced on his return to Dhaka by Sheikh Mujib, who in turn had been ‘told’ that was the death toll

 

when he emerged from nine months in prison in West Pakistan. It is unclear who ‘told’ Sheikh Mujib this and on what basis. However, Sheikh Mujib’s public announcement of ‘three million dead’ after his return to the newly created Bangladesh was reported in the media. For instance, on 11 January 1972 in The Times Peter Hazlehurst reported from Dhaka on Mujib’s emotional home-coming: in his first public rally in independent Bangladesh Mujib is reported to have said, ‘I discovered that they had killed three million of my people’.”………… “As the earlier chapters indicate, my own experience in Bangladesh was very similar, with claims of dead in various incidents wildly exceeding anything that could be reasonably supported by evidence on the ground. ’Killing fields’ and mass graves were claimed to be everywhere, but none was forensically exhumed and examined in a transparent manner, not even the one in Dhaka University. Moreover, as Drummond pointed out in 1972, the finding of someone’s remains cannot clarify, unless scientifically demonstrated, whether the person was Bengali or non-Bengali, combatant or non-combatant, whether death took place in the 1971 war, or whether it was caused by the Pakistan Army. Ironically, as Drummond also points out, the Pakistan Army did kill, but the Bangladeshi claims were ‘blown wholly out of proportion’, undermining their credibility. Drummond reported that field investigations by the Home Ministry of Bangladesh in 1972 had turned up about 2000 complaints of deaths at the hands of the Pakistan Army.”

(Sarmila Bose, Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War, Pages 175, 177)

Another parable which was given wide circulation and substance was that, West Pakistani Army was the ‘occupying force’ whereas Indian Army was a ‘liberation army’. Interestingly, this allegory was also ragged by Sarmila through a logical analysis,

“The Pakistan army is also constantly referred to in the Bangladeshi literature as an occupying force’, or ‘hanadar bahini’ (invading force, raiders). This is a mindless misrepresentation of reality. In 1971 East Pakistan was a province of Pakistan, a country created in 1947 as a homeland for South Asia’s Muslims, through a movement in which East Bengal played a significant role. The Pakistan army was present in the province as it was in other provinces of the newly created state. Bengalis served both in the existing units of the army and in the special Bengal regiments raised later. Just as West Pakistanis served in East Pakistan, Bengali officers were posted in West Pakistan. Bengalis who later decided they wanted to secede from Pakistan and fight for an independent country could have termed the Pakistan army ‘shotru’ ‘enemy forces’ whom they wished to eject, instead of resorting to pointless attempts to erase history by labelling them ‘occupying’ or ‘invading’ forces, as though they had suddenly appeared from a foreign land. Moreover, many Bengalis did not support the idea of secession and continued to consider the Pakistan regime the legitimate government, and some Bengali officers continued to serve in the Pakistan army, defending what was still Pakistani territory. There was only one ‘invading force’ in East Pakistan in 1971 that was India.”

(Sarmila Bose, Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War, Page 163)

And finally a firsthand account by a Pakistani author Ikram Sehgal, who in fact served in East Pakistan and who, by narrating his personal experience negated the myth that Pakistan Army was alone responsible for all violence. The writer states that,

“By the time I reached my unit, my world had been turned topsy-turvy the writing clearly on the wall.

 

One could never believe that the 2E Bengal had killed their West Pakistani colleagues. Sadly, it was true. The massacre of the family of Subedar Ayub was especially heinous and unforgiveable. All these officers had repeatedly been warned by West Pakistani officers that they would be killed if they did not leave the unit. During those critical days, some Bengali officers even advised them to take leave or go to Dacca on some pretext. All of them without exception refused to take the easy exit by abandoning the unit. It was unthinkable on their part to do so, particularly at such a juncture. They all were of the sentiment that if they stood their ground, they will be able to stop any action that might be taken against their unit. But they proved to be gravely wrong. They were murdered – their martyrdom proves that they were heroes by all means. Their killing is a dark stain on history and can never obliterate the fact that they were a fine battalion.”

(Ikram Sehgal, Escape from Oblivion: the Story of a Pakistani Prisoner of War in India, Page 6)

These are just few of the examples out of a large number of impartial and unbiased analyses about the myths created by the Indians and the Awami League which are enough to reflect the intentions and minds of the enemies of Pakistan.

 

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