Bangladesh’s parliamentarians and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deserve our salute and support for declaring 25th March as Genocide Day to pay due respect to the three million martyrs who laid down their lives during the War of Liberation in 1971. Though the wound in our hearts will never heal permanently, the resolution will no doubt make us united and have us remember the extreme forms of brutality the martyrs faced before breathing their last.
The Pakistani military machinery unleashed the frenzy of the killing of the unarmed Bengali people of erstwhile East Pakistan in a systematic manner as per a pre-conceived plan approved by the most highly-placed military rulers of the time. The dimension and the stretch of the mass murders of unarmed men, women and children throughout 1971 led the world community to term it as one of the worst kinds of genocide in human history and condemned Pakistan for orchestrating it in cold blood.
The Yahya Khan-Tikka Khan junta deployed army tanks, mortars and machine-guns to kill civilians in their sleep on 25th March. Only in Dhaka city thousands of people died in one single night. Many were reduced to ashes when all the city slums were torched with flame throwers and gunpowder.
The Pakistani military invaded its own country, committed genocide on its own people, on the citizens of Pakistan and tried to pin the blame on the Bengalis for everything. It was a unique example of ‘peacetime genocide’ never heard of before in history. The soldiers attacked in the manner of cowards in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness.
There was no justification for this attack given that a political dialogue was still on-going and all the political forces were trying their best to find a political settlement to the impasse. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself was leading the dialogue hence there was no reason for the army to hatch the monstrous plot and destroy the political process. The thick headed, corrupt Pakistani generals and an infantile ZA Bhutto were enraged by the possibility of the charismatic Bengali leader becoming the prime minister of Pakistan and therefore they conspired to stop the forward march of the Bengalis towards self-rule.
In many ways and in many forums, Pakistanis in the following decades made feeble attempts to deny their involvement in the genocide. They even paid money to some unknown writers to write against Bangladesh’s claim of Pakistan’s genocidal mass murders in 1971. But they failed miserably to find any buyer of such stories as the horrendous tales of killings have been recorded in books written by many foreign journalists who were in Dhaka in 1971. The telegrams sent to Washington by Dhaka based American diplomat Archer Blood or the eye witness accounts recorded by Anthony Mascarenhas in his book, Rape of Bangladesh, are enough to justify our claim.
The 1971 genocide is part of history now and no one can deny in his right mind that such killings of unarmed civilians did not take place. The killing fields are strewn all over the country with the tell-tale mass graves where the bullet-ridden bodies of men, women and children were dumped by Pakistan’s murderous soldiers. There is no scope to deny the evidence.
The government of Bangladesh with the support of the people and other international friends will now place these facts before the United Nations with the request that 25th March be declared World Genocide Day. Millions of Bengalis of every religion, caste and creed are likely to join marches across the globe and sign petitions to urge the UN to adopt the day. Nothing possibly will make patriotic Bengalis all over the world happier than observing the solemn day with prayers in their hearts.
We shall all join hands to observe 25th March as World Genocide Day.