7th Rangers: When we can raise your voice for 2,000 Muslims killed in Gujarat, we must cry from the rooftops for 2.4 million Hindus killed in 1971 or the 250,000 Kashmiri Pandits forced out of their homes in Kashmir. Why do we not?
The Fighting Rangers On War, Politics and Burning Issues
When we can raise your voice for 2,000 Muslims killed in Gujarat, we must cry from the rooftops for 2.4 million Hindus killed in 1971 or the 250,000 Kashmiri Pandits forced out of their homes in Kashmir. Why do we not?
Friday, April 21, 2017
Public memory is short and fleeting. Events register momentarily like a blip on a radar and are then consigned to some dark corner of our cerebral galaxy. The brain needs to be bombarded with repetitive stimuli or jolted by a single moral turpitude of seismic proportions to evoke a strong and sustained response. In the absence of such reinforcement, a thought fades away from ones mind and that is the unfortunate tragedy of the Bangladesh genocide.
To ascertain the etiology of this amnesia or selective attention deficit we need to delve deeper into the details of this gory chapter of South Asia. In a massive military operation, code named Operation Searchlight aimed at crushing Bengali aspirations of autonomy, the Pakistan army in March of 1971 unleashed a deadly reign of terror that killed about 3 million Bangladeshis and forced another 10 million to seek refuge across the border in India.
Estimates of the actual numbers vary from a ridiculous low 26,000 put out by the Pakistan government (Hamood-ur-Rahman Commission) to a high of 3 million circulating in the international media. In a preface to this massacre, Yahya Khan, the military dictator of Pakistan at that time is supposed to have remarked: "Kill 3 million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands." (Pierre, Stephen and Robert Payne (1973), Massacre, New York: Macmillan, p 50).
The official position from Bangladesh concurs with the figure of 3 million.
R J Rummel in his book, Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 (ch.8) concludes: "Consolidating both ranges, I give a final estimate of Pakistan's democide to be 300,000 to 3,000,000, or a prudent 1,500,000." Even this figure of 1.5 million places this massacre high up in the list of notable world genocides. While the number killed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (in excess of 2 million) may top the Bangladesh genocide, it was carried out over a period of 4 years in comparison to the nine-month deadly rampage of the Pakistan army: a chilling testimony to the awesome brutality of this massacre.
Who bore the brunt of this genocide? Was it the Bengali Muslims? Were the Bengali Hindus selectively targeted? Or did both communities suffer equally? It is important to know the actual distribution of the casualties for therein may lie the clue to the big unanswered question: Why were the guilty not brought to book?
The killings were not random acts of response to a mass uprising but a meticulously crafted strategy of selective victimisation as Rummel indicates in his book: "In East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) [General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan and his top generals] also planned to murder its Bengali intellectual, cultural, and political elite.
They also planned to indiscriminately murder hundreds of thousands of its Hindus and drive the rest into India. And they planned to destroy its economic base to insure that it would be subordinate to West Pakistan for at least a generation to come. This despicable and cutthroat plan was outright genocide."
A report in the Sunday Times, London (June 13, 1971) corroborates the existence of such a diabolical blueprint: "The government's policy for East Bengal was spelled out to me in the Eastern Command headquarters at Dacca. It has three elements: 1. The Bengalis have proved themselves unreliable and must be ruled by West Pakistanis; 2. The Bengalis will have to be re-educated along proper Islamic lines. The -- Islamisation of the masses -- this is the official jargon -- is intended to eliminate secessionist tendencies and provide a strong religious bond with West Pakistan; 3. When the Hindus have been eliminated by death and fight, their property will be used as a golden carrot to win over the under privileged Muslim middle-class. This will provide the base for erecting administrative and political structures in the future.