December 16 is the commemoration of the Fall of Dacca (Dhaka which is named after the Hindu Goddess Dhakeshwari Devi) and India’s momentous victory over Pakistan. India won the fight and was able to liberate Eastern Pakistan from the grasp of Western Pakistan’s army dictatorship thanks to the ultimate sacrifice and heroism displayed by Indian troops in collaboration with the Mukti Bahini. Nearly 93,000 Pakistani soldiers were detained. It is not just victory of Indian troops over barbaric Pakistani Army, it is also the victory of humanitarian facets of the great Indian valour. This story is not merely a collection of dry facts, it is also a story that motivates the human heart to beat in an environment of fearlessness and empathy.
It all began with the dominating West Pakistan’s invasion and military tyranny over Eastern Pakistan. When the then President, Ayub Khan, invited Army Chief General Yahya Khan to take over the administration, Yahya Khan quickly dismantled the status of West Pakistan. Following that, general elections were held in 1970, with the Awami League winning a majority in eastern Pakistan and the Socialist Pakistan Peoples’ Party winning votes in western Pakistan. Sheikh Majibur Rehman urged that Bengalis be at the forefront and that the right to govern be given to Bengalis. When the army declined to give Sheikh Majibur the presidency of Pakistan, this dream was quickly crushed. He then organised a series of strikes and lockdowns to protest the directive. This resulted in violent acts, with 300 Biharis killed in Chittagong by Bengalis for supporting Western Pakistan. Subsequently, a series of violent operations were launched to take control of Eastern Pakistan.
On 22 February 1971, General Yahya Khan reported to have said – “Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands” On the 25th and 26th of March, 1971, Operation Searchlight was initiated to combat the Bengali Nationalist Movement. It is estimated that the Army slaughtered between 3,00,000 and 30,00,000 Bengalis. Approximately two million people fled to India as refugees. On another instance, the army surrounded Dhaka University’s campus with heavy weapons, following the same pattern. The Jagannath Hostel on campus, which housed mostly Hindu students, was targeted, and roughly 200 students and teachers were slain in a matter of minutes. Cables of the US Government recorded that Pakistani soldiers were asked to specifically target the Hindus. Lt. Colonel Aziz Ahmed Khan reported that in May 1971 there was a written order to kill Hindus and that General Niazi would ask troops how many Hindus they had killed. Members of the military and Pro-Islamists raped around 4,00,000 women in a systematic manner of genocidal rape campaign. Most of the victims were Hindu girls.
Aubrey Menen documented a 17-year-old Hindu bride who was gang-raped by Pakistani soldiers. “Two went into the room that had been built for the bridal couple. The others stayed behind with the family, one of them covering them with his gun. They heard a barked order, and the bridegroom’s voice protesting. Then there was silence until the bride screamed…In a few minutes, one of the soldiers came out, his uniform in disarray. He grinned to his companions. Another soldier took his place in the extra room. And so on, until all six had raped the belle of the village. Then all six left, hurriedly. The father found his daughter lying on the string unconscious and bleeding. Her husband was crouched on the floor, kneeling over his vomit.”
Australian Doctor Geoffrey Davis was brought to Bangladesh by the United Nations and International Planned Parenthood Federation to carry out late-term abortions on rape victims. He was of the opinion that the 200,000 to 400,000 rape victims were an underestimation. On the actions of the Pakistan army, he said – ” And then the infantry would go in and begin to segregate the women. Apart from little children, all those were (sic) sexually matured would be segregated. And then the women would be put in the compound under guard and made available to the troops … Some of the stories they told were appalling. Being raped again and again and again. A lot of them died in those [rape] camps. There was an air of disbelief about the whole thing. Nobody could credit that it really happened! But the evidence clearly showed that it did happen.”
Steps should be taken to expose the real face of Islamic barbarism and the war of 1971 should be officially declared as genocide in India and at the forums of various International Organisations. This act of the Pakistani Army should be added in the curriculum to show what a holocaust unmatched since Hitler looks like.
The main objective was to protect the dignity of humanity and democracy. The Indian government opened the border to provide shelter to victims of radical Islamism when formal news reports and episodes of genocide perpetrated by the army of Western Pakistan against Bengalis, particularly the Hindu minority, were broadcast. India had a moral responsibility to care for the people who, at the time of partition, migrated to Pakistan and Bangladesh in the hope that their rights would be protected by both nations’ democratic governments. The 1971 war is one of the few wars in history that was fought not to acquire territory or grab power. The main objective was to protect the dignity of humanity and democracy. It was such a time that even the opposition supported the moves of the government to protect the minorities. It should be noted that of all the opposition parties, the CPM alone refrained from complimenting the government for this act. And today, when the centre introduced the CAA to grant citizenship rights to such persecuted religious minorities, the opposition went to great lengths to deconstruct it in order to secure the Muslim vote bank. India continued to raise this matter at international conferences and in the corridors of power, but received no reaction. Most human rights organisations and first world – fully responsible countries acted as if nothing had happened during the largest human genocide in Southeast Asia’s history. Because India was still a developing country, the presence of millions of people in the eastern section of the country put a strain on the economy.
Meanwhile, the Indian government directed the Chief of Army Staff, Sam Manekshaw, to begin war preparations. Despite his opposition to the war, he vowed victory if it was fought on his terms. To stop the massive carnage, everything was allowed. Meanwhile, the Indian government has dispatched operatives to eastern Pakistan. India and Pakistan have begun a proxy war. And Pakistan formally invited India to war by bombing 11 Indian airbases. The Indian Air Force responded with airstrikes the same night. And what happened after that is still history about which we rarely know.
It is all because of our Marxist and brainwashed historians and academicians that we know more about the failures of the Indo-China 1962 war. And very few know about the shortest and swiftest victories ever recorded in the history of military warfare, in which 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered. It is the largest ever surrender by an army after World War II. Most of us do not even know about this historic victory. There is an urgent need to broadcast such stories through academic means.
(The writer is a graduate from SRCC and currently a final year LLB student at Faculty of Law, DU)