It was the night between March 25 and 26, 1971; it was the grisliest
night the Bengali nation has ever known.
The forces of evil let loose by the Army rulers of Pakistan continued,
for nine months at a stretch, the holocaust begun on March 25 with
ever increasing intensity each day using newer and ghastlier methods
of extermination of the Bengalis. It is not my intention however,
to recount here the acts of brutality perpetrated by the Pakistani
marauders during that period. For, it is not pleasant to ruminate
on such brutal scenes as bustee people being felled by swarms of
bullets while coming out, screaming, of their tenements set ablaze
by flame throwers; or the still body of Sujit, a Dacca University
student, in a pool of blood holding fast his mother's letter asking
him, in view of the troubled situation, to return to his village
home; or the mutilated corpse of the old and infirm gatekeeper of
the Dacca University Women's Hall, Nani Rajbhor, who while asleep
was shot dead at a point?blank range with the corner of his mosquito
net lifted ; or the dead body of Moju Mia of Jinjira and that of
his baby boy nestling in his father's breast both of whom were killed,
while running for life, by a single bullet piercing through their
backs. The history of liberation of Bangladesh is replete with hundreds
of thousands of similar acts of brutality of which these are but
a few examples. Thanks to the world press that many such stories
have been carried to the farthest corner of the globe.
While the incidents of 'kill, loot and rape' in Bangladesh are tragic
in themselves, more tragic is the fact that in their bid to 'crush'
the Bengali nation, the Pakistani army have thrown to the winds
all the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
to which Pakistan herself is a signatory. The Declaration very solemnly
declares that the "recognition of the inherent dignity? and of the
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family
is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." (Preamble,
Universal Declaration of Human Rights) But was the dignity of man
respected by the Punjabi soldiers for whom 'Bengalis and bastards'
were synonymous? Was it respected when teachers were threatened
with dire consequences if they indulged in 'loose talks'? Was it
respected when some Dacca University teachers were humiliated day
in and day out for nearly three months in a concentration camp?
Was it respected when prisoners used to be double?marched to the
latrine, given only? 30 seconds to evacuate the stomach and come
out? Was it respected when a man was killed for his failure to recite
The Human Rights Declaration envisages a world "in which human being
shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear."
(Preamble, U.D.H.R.) About freedom of speech, the less said the
better, for there has never been any freedom of speech in the entire
history of Pakistan. This is too well known to be elaborated on.
About freedom of belief, would it not be sufficient to note that
three million people of Bangladesh have sacrificed their lives at
the altar of their belief in; a democratic and secular political
order and in a just and equitable society free from all sorts of
exploitation of man by man? Needless to mention also that an all?pervasive
fear, and not freedom from it, engulfed each and every Bengali during
the occupation period. It was because of fear that Purna Chandra
Dutta, a Dacca University lecturer, assumed a Muslim name through
an affidavit in the Court; so did other members of his family. After
the liberation all of them have forsaken their adopted Muslim names.
It was because of fear of the advancing army that Azizunnessa of
Vikrampur choked her new?born baby, unintentionally though, to death
so that the baby might not cry out and betray her presence to the
killers. To epitomize all, was it not because of fear that 10 million
people of Bangladesh took refuge in this country (India)?
The pogrom that was begun by the Pakistani army on March 25 and
continued with ever increasing ferocity till the liberation of Bangladesh
completely negates Article 3 of the Human Rights Declaration which
grants everyone "the right to life, liberty, and security of person".
The provision of Article 5 of the Declaration that "no one shall
be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
and punishment", has also been totally flouted. I was told by a
friend of mine, who was in a concentration camp, about a Hindu prisoner
who used to perform 'namaz' five times a day like the Muslims because
he could escape torture only during prayer times. I know about a
college professor, who was inhumanly tortured to confess that he
had raped several non?Bengali women during the non?co?operation
movement in March.
Article 9 of the Declaration enjoins that "No one shall be subjected
to arbitrary arrest and exile." Facts, however, are to the contrary.
In real the arrests of thousands of men, young and old, were made
arbitrarily and the detainees were never given any reasons for their
arrests although Article 9 Section (2) of the draft Covenant on
political and civil rights states clearly? that "anyone who is arrested
shall be informed at the time of arrest of the reasons for his arrest
and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him." Mr.
Kamruddin Ahmed, an ex-Ambassador; and Mr. Fazlul Karim, Cultural
Officer of the Bengali Academy,Dhaka, among others, were sent to
the jail by an administrative order of six months' imprisonment
without any trial in the court of law. Each one of the above mentioned
incidents could be multiplied indefinitely. In fact, the provisions
of all the 30 articles of the Human Rights Declaration have been
trampled under foot and what has happened in Bangladesh has transgressed
all norms of civilized behaviour and decency and is a complete negation
of human values and conscience.
But the violation of human rights so persistently followed during
the 9 months of occupation is but a part, indeed an insignificant
part, of the whole story. More important is the fact that the 'master
race', from the Punjab Plains executed a well?planned scheme of
genocide in Bangladesh, the magnitude of which has transcended all
records of known history. Flashing back one could see how indiscriminate
the massacre was: a person would be killed because he is a stout
young man and is a potential Mukti Fauj (freedom fighter); another,
because he is an educated man a likely to give revolutionary ideas
to the society; third, because he is one of the rabble and therefore
must have taken part in anti?government demonstrations; fourth,
because he is 'reported' to have given shelter to Mukti Bahini (freedom
fighter); fifth, because he is a Hindu and therefore an Indian spy;
sixth, because his movements were suspicious ; seventh, because
no other pretext is available, he is a Bengali after all (is not
enough to kill a person ?) ; and so on and so forth.