Dead Reckoning: Memories of the Bangladesh War is a controversial book on the Bangladesh Liberation War written by Sarmila Bose. The book caused. Read Dead Reckoning book reviews & author details and more at backcocodembe.cf Through a detailed investigation of events on the ground, Sarmila Bose. Sarmila Bose's book Dead Reckoning: Memories of the Bangladesh War serves as the most sophisticated propaganda for those who.
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backcocodembe.cf: Dead Reckoning: Memories of the Bangladesh War ( ): Sarmila Bose: Books. The eyes would widen and the head move from side to side in the striking Bengali gesture of affirmation. "How many were killed?" we would. Dead Reckoning - Memories of the Bangladesh War- By Sarmila Bose - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free.
Since the foreign media had limited access much of what was published in the foreign press was hearsay and not actual facts on the ground. The narrative thus found it easier to gain currency worldwide. This was a mistake that lost the Pakistan Army its PR war. The book also establishes India's aim in fomenting the separatists, by supplying training and weapons, even conducting attacks within the Bangladesh territory.
Unlike what the reviewers before me claim, the interviewees are not anonymous. Their names and where they were at the time of the events are mentioned in the book. Another reviewer claims that the Hamood-ur Rehman Commission Report declared 3 million dead.
That is untrue. The Commission declared a figure of 26, Instead of being furious, perhaps my Bengali friends should read the book with a cool head. We, and that includes myself, as citizens are generally the victims of government lies and propaganda. I, myself have learnt that teh textbook history I was taught about the Partition differs from the truth.
Those who are today painted as villains in Pakistan are not villains at all. You can decide to disagree with Sarmila's assessment, however the same data has also been presented by other scholars of South Asian history.
He chided people for rioting and ordered stolen. There were clashes all over Dacca that night between rioters and the police. Several cases of arson were reponed along with attacks on the persons and property of non-Bengalis. When League volunteers tried to intervene some were roughed up by the irate crowds This was the start of a2S-day mass upsurge.. On the one hand, Sheikh Mujib seemed unable to control the masses he had incited.
On the other hand, his word was law and he appeared to encourage militancy. From the many Bengali reminiscences, despite some rhetorical calls for restraint by 1v1ujib, the Bengali revoir was openly-and proudly-armed and militant. Huge crowds gathered to hear Mujib at the race-course on 7 March, ' Bengali reminiscences describe the crowds attending political rallies armed with weapons as if that was a perfectly normal thing to do.
The American Consul-General, for all his sympathy, noted: There was an ugly side to the demomcratiom which soon manifested itself in arson, looring, intimidation ofW'est Pakistanis and foreigners, and confrontations with the Army. At the residential area 'Farm gate' Bengalis arracked the homes and shops ofWesr Pakistanis living in the area.
Ar the lmercominental Hord, the abode of choice of foreigner! A srudent armed with a pisrol fired a shot in the lntercominentaL. The New York Times correspondent and his wife were attacked by teenagers on the screet but were saved by the intervention of an Awami League patroL an attempt was made, possibly by leftist srudenrs, to set the British Council on fire.
In rhe runup co 24 March, there was 'a sudden outbreak of ineffectual bombings and shootings' against the American consulate. Jahanara Imam found people on the street looking in a hostile manner at her American house guest Kitty.
Kitcy, who was doing research at Dhaka University and lived with a Bengali family in order co learn the Bengali language, asked Mrs Imam why Bengalis were suddenly expressing hosriliry rowards her.
Dead Reckoning - Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War- By Sarmila Bose
Mrs Imam wrirt: At the more organised level weapons training started and military-style parades were held carrying weapons both real and dummy. Kaliranjan Shil, a Communist activist who survived the army's assault on Jagannath Hall in Dhaka University on March, wrote char following dn: I was also raking training in a group. In a few days our first batch's training was completed and along with a girl-students' group three groups of us rook parr in a march-past orl the roads'.
Mujib, 'the apostle of agitation'Z? Crowds did not go ro hear Gandhi armed with guns, rods and spears. Afier a single incident of mob violence ar Chauri Chaura in , Gandhi called off his entire non-cooperation movement-for the sake of his principle-in spite of criticism and disappointment among his own followers.
In his 7 March speech ar Ramna race-course Mujib exhorted his supporters to make every house into a fortress and fight the enemy with whatever they had 'pratyek ghorey ghorey du1go gorey tolo. His followers did whar he rold rhem ro do. On 16 March Jahanara Imam found explosives and bomb-making equipment in her sons' room. Yet though he thundered 'ebarer songram amader mukti'r songrarn,.
The public had been inflamed by his incitements, and their violence had not been checked by their leader. They did nor understand his. According w Anthony Mascarenhas, even when he scopped in London in January on.
Another wave of miliranr activity occurred in the early s, with incidents like rhe Chiccagong armoury raid, or che assassination of successive British magistrates in Midnapore. The violence chat Sheikh Mujib's Bengali nationalise movement unleashed was a chao ric violence, nor a controlled one. Ic was meant co execc tactical pressure, nor serve as giand strategy. The most senior Bengali officer in the Pakistan Army wrore char he approached Sheikh Mujib seyeral times during the political negotiations proposing a first-srrike against rhe enemy with Bengali officers and men, bur Mujib cold him ro wair for che ourcome of his negoriations.
Mujib never chose che. Ease Bengal had been a centre of che movement char had culminated in rhe creation of Pakistan in as a homeland for South Asia's Muslims. The rerricorial partition of India was accompanied by a terrible loss of human life in 'communal' -char is, Hindu-Muslim-killings in rhe run-up co partition and during the massive population transfer char accompanied it.
A contemporary consensus arose char 'riots' were perhaps nor spontaneous expressions of primeval hatreds bur politically engineered events. A mere two decades afi: As Michael Ignarieffhaswritten about rhe Balkans, ' On the contrary, these people had to be transformed from neighbours into enemies'.
Henry Kissinger: Presidem Nixon: By all aceounts, from chat point the Pakistan government effectively lost eonrrol of. Many Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have reeorded the 'parallel government' run on Sheikh Mujib's deerees until 25 Mareh. Though mueh attention since has focused on the military action started by the regime on 25 March, the apparent abdication of governance until that date is an intriguing and critical factor in the unfolding of subsequent events.
Mujib threw down a challenge ro rhe regime, he was still leading a poHrkal agitation, not providing alternative 'government'.
Mujib's 'directives', which were widely obeyed whether out of1oyaltyor apprehension, were 'an audacious assertion ofaurhoritywirhout any concomitanr assumption of responsibUity: He found that the trains were running not according to published rime-cables, but on Mujib's orders.
Meanwhile, violence including lynching of non-Bengalis, especially Biharis, became a dally occurrence. The police seemed inactive and the army mostly stayed in the barracks. Many Bangladeshis have spoken of the feeling of'let down' in the crowd-the public had been incited well beyond where their leader was prepared to go. Young people like Rumi were disappointed, while their older guardians thought Mujib had done the prudent thing. On 12 March two bombs exploded at the US consulate and one of the attackers fired a revolver.
More shots were fired at the consulate on 15 March.
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Molotov Cocktails were thrown at American consulate buildings and the lmercominental Hotel on 19 March. However, the bombers and shooters were fairly inept. The White Paper published by the Pakistan government in August listed many such incidents, in which the worst loss of life appears to have occurred in Khulna and Chittagong in the first week of March.
For instance, in Khulna several employees of the Telephone Exchange were reported kU! Despite Sheikh Mujib's clear-cut instructions and che protective effotcs of Awami League volunteers, rhece had been numerous incidents involving non-Bengalis in Chitcagong, Khulna, Dacca and some of che smaller towns'.
The government's White Paper, and West Pakistanj and Bengali pro-regime accounts, describe the Awami League members not as peacekeepers but as the leaders of the violent mobs. He had been in East Pakistan since mid Trouble had been brewing for a while, buc afi: Babar felt that Mujib was given such a free hand during this period that even the fence-siuers among the Bengalis dedded they would be better off if they stayed on his side.
The army was told to stay inside the cantonment and not react to anything at alP Lc Lc Gen. His unit had taken part in cyclone relief that year-he noted that even as they worked, Bengalis watched from the sidelines and complained that nothing was being done.
His unit had then done election duty-there had been complaints from various parties of intimidation, but the army was told not to interfere in the electoral process and it didn't.
As open rebellion started in March, Bengali mobs tried to storm installations like the telephone exchange and food god owns in Jessore city. According to Lt Gen.
Mustafa, initially the army tried to maintain order and there were injuries on both sides. But then the army was ordered to the cantonment,. Curfew was declared on 2 March, and some violators were shot, bur troops were withdrawn on 3 March-an action that Lr Col. The army remained under an order not to use force even in the event of curfew violations, unless army personnel were physically attacked. Bengali officers in sensidve positions remained free co pass on information to Sheikh Mujib.
The curfew was violated wirh impunity. Anderson had previously served in Ireland during a period of severe repression when British forces fought the Irish 'Volunteers' wirh rhe help of the 'Black and Tans: But in rhe writ of the nationalist 'parallel government' in East Pakistan was such chat the Bengali Chief]usdce declined to administer rhe oath of office to General Tikka Khan.
The Awami League meanwhile mounted an effective 'blockade' against rhe army. Food and fuel supplies were blocked and shops and local markers would nor sell the army anything. There was no fresh food-no fish, meat, vegetables or even milk for infants. The army's movement was disrupted, and army personnel were jeered and spat upon. Some of these encounters turned. Abbas of29 Cavalry. With an escort of Bengali soldiers, he had vemured out of rhe unit lines to download fresh vegetables for the troops.
The escort was 'rushed' by the militants, the officer was killed, weapons were 'confiscated' and the BengaU members of the guard sent back unharmed'.
Nothing seems to have been done about Lr Abbas' murder-it was considered 'inadvisable' to arrest the culprits or take any punitive accion in the area. When Lt Muhammad Ali Shah of 18 Punjab heard in Dhaka that his course-mate Lc Abbas had been murdered, he realised there was something seriously amiss in the situation in Ease Pakisran.
When he arrived in early , Dhaka had been fairly normal and young officers like him. By October, however, the fiery rhetoric of rhe political parties had taken its roll-people were no longer as friendly at rhe Club. Hostility was obvious on rhe roads and in shops, though Bengali army officers were still friendly. After rhe elections rhe mood changed for the worse, with numerous incidents of provocation indudingatremprs ro snatch weapons from army personneL Army officers' movements were restricted and Lr Shah needed an escort ro go out of the cantonment.
By lare February fresh rations were hard ro gee and officers and troops were all reduced ro an endless diet of dal-roti. There was an occasion when a bank manager refused to honour a cheque written by Lt Shah, explaining chat his full pay had not been deposited in his account as Sheikh Mujib had put a limit to how much army officers could be paid.
One night Lr Shah received an SOS from another officer and rescued a West Pakistani family whose house and factory were being attacked by a Bengali mob.
The family was evacuated to rhe cantonment and went back to West Pakistan. Non-Bengali families waiting fOr passage to West Pakistan would not kave the airport our of fear.
The airport looked like a refugee transit camp. Every loyal army officer I spoke to voiced frustration over the deteriorating conditions, lawlessness and provocations at that rime, bur reported char the army had remained under orders co remain within cantonments and not use force.
Sarwar of 18 Punjab described how just beyond the barriers of rhe cantonment in Dhaka, nationalist Bengalis pur up their own barrier, at which they scopped and searched west Pakistanis, even snatched their valuables, in full view of the armed forces which, following their orders, could do norhing. Ir took the armed forces several weeks to 'recapture' the territory and establish che government's writ up to che borders with India.
The regime's decision to keep the army in the banacks despite widespread curfew violation and violence, and. Contrary to popular perceptions, the void lefr by rhe withdrawal of official authority was not filled by the 'parallel government' of Mujib's directives. Mujib was still challenging government, not running it. Writing about the descent of the Balkans into ethnic nationalist frenzy in the s, Michael Ignatielfwrote, ' There is one type of fear more devastating in its impact chan any ocher: Ethnic hatred is the result of the terror which arises when legitimate authority disin cegrates'.
The failures of the Awami League leadership-its inability or unwillingness to control a population it had inflamed and encour aged co break the law-were matched by the failure of the regime to respond appropriately to attacks on life and property. If the decision on 25 March co try to impose a military solution to a politieal problem was wrong both ethically and politically, the decision to abdicate the responsibilities of governance in the preceding weeks could be considered no less so.
The Joydevpur Incident, 19 March 'The military has shot at the public in Joydevpur, there is a reaction to that in Tongi and Narayanganj', wrote Jahanara Imam on 22 March in her journal-style book on , 'People are newly inflamed by the incident at Joydevpur'.
The most serious dash occurred on March 19 when Army personnel opened fire on a crowd gathered at the Joydebpur railwaycrossingrwcnry miles north of Dacca.
Army sources claimed one person was killed after troops fired. A proAwami League newspaper daimed that twemy were killed in the firing. Blood continues: He wanted me to know char Mujih was concerned rhar rhe firing incident at Joydebpur that same day would make it difficult for him co present some compromise solution co his people at rhe same time the Army was engaging in "such provocations": This strange incident, which 'newly inflamed' rhe Bengali public, and which Mujib branded a 'random firing' on 'unarmed people' and tried to use as a.
What had really happened in Joydevpur marker and why? Had one person died or rwenry? The accounts of four eye-witnesses, two Bengali army officers who were supporters of the Bangladesh movement and two West Pakistani defenders of united Pakistan, are presented below. They serve to illustrate che variations of rhe testimony of different memories of a single incident of conA.
The comparative analysis of the conflicting memories also hdps arriving at conclusions about what might be con6tmed as true, or confirmed as false, and what: The detailed documentation of chis incidem on che ground also illuminates the nature of the looming conflict over the territory. Ihe 'royal palace' oj]oydevpur. Curiously, this was the sear of one of rhe most intriguing mysteries of twentieth-century Bengal, char of rhe reported death and alleged reappearance years later of the Kumar of Bhawal.
Witrms 1: Masud-ul Hossain Khan, wrote: He said his purpose was to see our conditions. But l did nor chink that was true when I saw such a huge number of soldiers. There was a plot behind bringing so many soldiers. That was to disarm us. I was getting rhe impression for some days of something. He alleged that che real purpose of the assignments was to remove Bengali troops from the headquarters. He said the general public also thought the brigadier was coming to disarm 2 EBR, and had erected barricades ail rhe way from Tongi to Joydevpur.
It took Brigadier Arbab quite a while to get to Joydevpur after removing the barricades. On their way back to Dhaka the visitors found their way blocked by a goods train bogie which the local people had dragged on to the level crossing. Lt Col. Masud writes chat Brig. Arbab ordered him to remove the barrier, telling him co shoot at people indiscriminately 'be-paroua' if necessary-Masud pms these words in quotation marks, as though they were directly pronounced by Brig. According to Lt Col.
Masud, after a while Brig. Arbab realised that he, Masud, was hesitating to shoot. So he ordered another Bengali officer, Maj. Moin, to shooc. Main to shoot in such a way char the bullets would go 'over rhe heads or below rhe feet'. Seeing this, Brig. Arbab allegedly ordered his own troops to open fire. The troops fired their 'machine guns'-'some people were killed, the rest ran away. Among the dead were cwo named Manu Mia and Khalifa'. Masud adds, 'It is necessary co men cion char the local people were also ready with shotguns, rifles and spears; buc how long could these last in the face of heavy machine guns?
Masud says Brig.
Arbab threatened him, saying chat he needed co command his men properly. On 23 March Masud 'vas called to Dhaka and relieved of his command. His second-in-command 2! Raquib, was moved from commanding 32 Punjab co commanding 2 EBR. Witnm 2: Safiullah, the 21 C of2 EBR wrote: On his way back, che civilians ofJoydebpur courageously put up an impregnable barricade at che railway crossing resulting in a hoc exchange of fire with rwo civilian casualries'. He also wrote char by 17 March che local people had puc up fifi: Both he and Lc Col.
Masud had calked co the people, buc the barricades had remained. Any taken down by soldiers were pur up again elsewhere. Safiullah added, 'Situation at Gazipurwas also tense.
Barricades were erected en come and the resident director of the ordnance factory, Brigadier Karimullah, a West Pakistani, was surrounded by the workers. We had to send our troops to retrieve the resident direcror: Safiullah, ac 12 noon 2 EBR received a message from Brig. Arbab chat he was clearing barricades as he came along, buc that they should also dear the road from their side and use 'maximum force' if there was opposition.
Arbab-'the Lieutenant Colonel and one of the Captains were gunner officers. The major was an armour man. Of the remaining two captains one was an infantry officer while the other was a commando'.
Buche did not explain how chis distribucion might be different from the normal eomposition of officers. Safiullah himself confirms further along in his account, the Bengali personnel had the same weapon.
He wrote that Brig. Arbab questioned him about the state of readiness and probably guessed his intentions. During lunch news arrived of a violent gathering at the railway level crossing of! Moinul Hussain was sent with his company to rhe barricade, while Maj.
Safiullah remained in the palace with the rest of the troops. Though he does not say so, Safiullah's description of what happened at the barricade must therefore be based on what he heard from Maj.
Main and others. According to this version, Maj. Main tried to cell the crowd, strong in the bazaar on market day-chat the Bengali troops had nor been disarmed, but rhey listened neither to him nor to rhe Awami League leader and a labour leader who were also present at the spot.
After Brig. Arbab arrived he ordered the barricades removed;' The brigadier ordered Moin to open fire'. He also told him to take orders from his CO. Matters were further complicated by the appearance of two Bengali soldiers, a driver and his helper, who informed the brigadier chat they had been severely beaten by the crowd, and that five of them had been kidnapped and their arms and ammunition snatched.
At Brig. Arbab's order Maj. Moin ordered his men to fire bur added in Bengali 'fire below' or 'fice over the head'. Allegedly Brig. Atbab demanded that they 'fire fuceffect: The crowd also opened fire. Accordingto Maj. Safiullah who was not present at the seene , 'The brigadier became wild and shouted "I want one dead body foe one bullet.
If you cannot handle the situation 1 will employ my troops"'. As someone fell down after being hit, the rest began to run away. According to Maj. The captured Chinese sub-machine gun opened up from behind the barricade from top of the mosque on the brigadier who luckily escaped death'. Safiullah, the clash continued for about twenty minutes, afi: Arbab returned to Dhaka, leaving instructions to put the area under curfew, recover the missing weapons and report ammunition usage and casualty reports of dead and injured to him.
The brigade commander was not happy. Safiullah felt that the clash at the barricade could have been avoided if Bengali officers had been lefi: He claimed the mob fired in 'self-defence' after the troops were ordered to fire. This finally led to the replacement ofLr Col.
Masud wich Lc Col. Raquib, who was a Bengali, bmwhom Safiullah accusedofkilling 'quite a number of innocent Bengalees' on 1 March while commanding Punjab during an action in Dhaka against Awami League supporters-no details are given of this alleged incident. Lc Gen. JehanzebArbab declined to meet me despite many requests. There is no independent conficmation that he said any of che things- chat have. Howevec, I obtained che West Pakistani perspective on the day's events through the eye-witness accounts.
Karimullah and Brig. Jafac Khan, boch of whom knew Brig. Arbab, worked with him and were present at the incidents in Gazipur and. Joydevpuc chac day.
Witness 3: Jafar Khan arrived in Dhaka in the first wec Khaled Musharrafkept delaymg his departure:: On IS March, rhe President,. General Yahya Khan, arrived for calks in Dhaka.
Aceordingco Brig. Jafar, rhe brigade commander of 57 Brigade, Rrig. Arbab, an ocher officer and he had gone co visit 2 EBR in Joydevpur, wich a platoon of about thirty troops. This totally contradicts the number of visiting. Safiullah, as cecounced above. The purpose of che visit co Joydevpur, according co Brig.
Sarmila Bose changes perspective on 71 war through Dead Reckoning
He said chat chey eould not have gone there to disarm che unit-talks were on in Dhaka at the highest lcvd for a negotiated settlement to the political impasse; the President himself was in town.
Had there been any plan to disarm Bengali units at that time, the units in Dhaka would have been disarmed first. Joydevpur was about.
The visiting group had their lunch at the:: When they were staning back, the level crossing was blocked with railway wagons. There were hundreds of people. According to Brig.
The crowd fired at the army too. A couple of people were hit among rhe crowd, and a couple of people were injured on the army side. The firing lasted about twenty to thirty minutes. When the parry got back to base in Dhaka there was much excitement, as for rhe first time the brigade commander had been attacked while visiting one of his own units. As a result of the visit, Brig. Arbab decidc:: He was replaced by Lt Col.
Raquib, another Bengali, who had been commanding 32 Punjab. Thus Masud was removed from command and Raquib was removed from Dhaka. The very first entry in Brig.
I rhtew rhem our ar gun poinr wirh rhe help ofMODC. I was declared a Punjabi Brigadier whose head must be raken. According to the log records. Karimullah and other West Pakistani and Bihari officers. AU the non-Bengali staff and rheir families suffered harassment and intimidation, there were no rations, and rhe facrorywas closed as the Bengali East Pakistanis refused to work even after 2 p. Karimullah seemed involved in endless rounds of trying to negotiate with the Bengali staff and workers, requesting additional troops for protection of rhe factory and its personnel, and defusing crises.
On 8 March, factory workers formed 'sangram p trishtds' struggle committees to work on behalf of the Awami League. They stopped anyone trying to leave the factory premises. Cheques of West Pakistani or other non-Bengali officers were not being cashed by the local bank. Karimullah needed a helicopter to go to Dhaka on work, and kept getting stranded until a means of getting him back again could be fOund.
Masud, who agreed to take him on condition that he would nor tell anyone. He found the airport full of West Pakistani and non-Bengali families fleeing, abandoning all their property in East Pakistan. It reminded him of the partition oflndia in I The West Pakistani and Bihari personnel and their families in rhe factory repeatedly spoke to him of their fear for their lives and asked to be evacuated to West Pakistan.
By 17 March, Brig. Karimul1ah became aware of a private army formed at the Awami League's orders, called the 'Sbechha Sevak Babini: Irs members had shotguns in addition to rhe spears chat practically every Bengali man seemed to be carrying, and were drilling every day. The 'sangram parishad' men at rhe gates prevented any West Pakistani or ocher non-Bengali from Ic: The Bengalis, however, lefi: On the morning of 18 March, nine bus-loads ofBengali workers and officers!
Later rhar morning, Brig. Karimullah heard there was a rum our chat the Bengali battalion at Joydevpur was going to be disarmed, and that the nine busloads of people had gone to protest at this order and to ask the Bengali CO, Lr Col. Masud, nor to lay down his arms. He also found that his phone lines had been cur. That evening, with the phone lines still cut, Brig. Karimullah spoke to Lt Col. Masud on the wireless: It seemed that the Battalion had rhe old 0.
Alter they have been issued the Chinese weapons, they were asked to return these old weapons ro the depot and the telephone being tapped everywhere, the locals thought, chat, because it wa.
To prevent the supposed 'disarming: Masud said that 'He himself had been dubbed as a Bengali traitor as he seemed to have agreed to lay down arms when called upon to do so by the West Pakistani ln1perialisrs'. Lr Col. Masud said that he had called the local leaders to explain the situation and asked rhe civil police to dispel rhe rumour, bur it was raking time to undo the harm.
They also had diffieulry getting rations as no army vehicle was being allowed ro pass through the barricades, which were still up. A 'subedar' of his security section told him that the 'rajbtzri' at Joydevpur had been surrounded by thousands of people that day and rhe Bengali CO had tO spend quire a bit of time convincing them of the falseness of the rumour about disarming rhem.
On 19 March at II 55 hours, Brig. Masud, inviting him to lunch at the palace with his. Jehanzeb Arbab, who would be visicing. Karimullah accepted the invitation. Ac hours he scarced off for Joydevpur in a jeep wich chree armed escorts, driving himself. He was stopped by the 'sangram parishad' men at the gace, who refused co lee him go for che lunch. They said chey had heard chac Punjabi or Baluch regiments were on their way to Joydevpur, and all the men were preparing to go there to stop them.
Karimullah gave up and sent a wireless message co 2 EBR char he was unable co come to the lunch. Ac hours, che hoocers and sirens of che faccory all sounded cogecher. Beyond che gates, Brig. Karimullah saw a cushing crowd, each man holding spears, bamboo sticks, and quire a few 12 bore shotguns, 0. They had heard through 'sangram parishad' communications char Baluch or Punjabi regiments were coming to Joydevput to disarm 2 EBR and rake over rhe ordnance factory.
They were going to stop them. Karimullah comacced Lc Col. Masud again, co be cold chac all chac was happening was that Brig. Arbab was coming on a liaison visit to his battalion for lunch-to which he had also been invited.
The approaching column was removing barricades on the way: After 10 minutes I get Brig. Jahanzeb on the set. Sorry to hear I could not come to lunch with him.
Anyway on his way back to Dacca he would pay me a visit in POFs. Good God! His passing on the main ehourasta on Joydevpur road, with about 10 or 12 trucks so they said full of troops had such a disturbing effect on my people. What will it do to them if he actually comes to POFs?
He joked; did I mean roday or for ever? I told him I meant today; he is most welcome some other rime when conditions have returned to normal.
Karimu1lah went to the gates to explain the true situation to his workers. The 's,mgram parishad' members had also phoned 2 EBR and found ouc that this was merely a routine visit and a lunch. Karimul1ah explained that he had asked the Brigade Commander not to visit the factory that day, and also dispelled rhe false rumours abouc che disarming of 2 EBR.
He cold his workers rhey should noc go co Joydevpur and should allow che visiting unic to return to Dhaka unimpeded. Ac hours Brig. Safiullah chac Brig. Arbab's column was scuck ac Joydevpur market and there was shooting going on. Within minutes the sirens were on again and armed men were rushing everywhere, having heard of the shooting at Joydevpur market. Agitated men rushed into the premises, demanding arms and ammunition, and the siren. Karirnullah gave them. At hours Maj. Safiullah called to say that the visiting column had left for Dhaka and curfew was imposed onJoydevpur.
That night Brig. Karimullah slept with his M rille under his bed and a 0. By that evening Brig. Karimullah got an account of what had happened at the kvel crossing from Subedar Aziz of his security section.
It was a 'haat' market day, so it would be crowded in any ease. Many more people had gathered at the instigation of the local Awami League representative, Mr Habibul-. On arriving in Joydevpur Habibullah found char no disarming was raking place-the Brigade Commander had come on a routine visit and was having lunch with his unit.
The Awami League representative then tried to reverse his action, bur it was too lace. The excited crowd would not listen and pushed a goods train across the level crossing. When Brig. Masud, tried for a long time to persuade the people to remove the barricade, but in vam. When the rroops were pushing the wagon ro one side, the mob opened fire, and the Easr Bengal Regiment troops fired hack, killing two persons. An East Bengal ration vehicle was also attacked and one person was killed in that incident.
The crowd kidnapped six Easr Bengal soldiers with their weapons. Safiullah, arrived at Gazipur to say chat curfew was extended to Gazipur. Also, a couple of the missing weapons were thoughr to be wirh the facwry workers-one Chinese rifle was recovered. Masud, had come in rhe middle of the night, removed the barricade outside the gates and given insrruccions to rhe subedar. On 21 March, Lc Col. Masud came co the factory again and discussed the Joydevpur firing incident with Brig.
Only rhen the troops opened fire in self-defence. Before rhar they even talked to the erowd for good forty to forty-five minutes to allow rhe troops go through unhindered, bur all in vain'. Judgment on joydevpur. One of the striking aspects of the four accounts of rhe ]oydevpur incident given ahove is the number of things both sides agree on: Jehanzeb Arbab, the commander of 57 Brigade, came. Also clear from the accounts are the claims char were plainly false: It was not a case of the army firing at rhe crowd only-the crowd fired at the army too, and attacked Bengali personnel coming cowards Joydevpur.
According ro Maj. Safiullah, rhe Bengali 2IC who claimed to be planning a rebellion, one of rhe snatched weapons-a Chinese sub-machine gun-had been used to fire at the brigadier himself. It was not 'random firing' bur the result of a barricade by an armed and violent crowd which refused to listen to either the Bengali officers or the Awami League activisr who was instrumental in bringing them rhere. The provocarion, if any, seemed to have come from the Bengali narionalist acrivists who had incited local people by telling rhem thar the Bengali battalion was going to be disarmed, and from the mob that was armed, incited and Out of control, rarher than the visiting army unit from Dhaka.
Contrary to Awami League claims, twenty people were nor killed-two were killed in the incident, another possibly died in the attack on the unrelated vehicle. Uy over how many officers and men came to visit, and for what purpose.
The specific words spoken by Brig. Arbab, and their interpreradon, arc also open w eon test. Regarding the number of the visicingpany there is a direct contradiction: Major Maj.
Safiullah, the Bengali seeondineommand of 2 EBR, claims che brigade commander was accompanied by five ocher officers and seventy soldiers, while Major Brig. The Bengali officers elaim the purpose of the visit was to disarm the battalion, even though no disarming happened; the West Pakistanis maintain that it was a normal visit to check up on the battalion and, originally, also the situation at the ordnance factory at Gazipur.
While it may be true iliar the visit may have been more chan just a roucine liaison visit-rather a specific mission for the brigade commandt: It seems unlikdy that a brigade commander would come twenty miles our of the capital co Joydevpur to disarm just this one unicwhen no other Bengali unit in the capital or elsewhere was being disarmed.
Talks were going on at the time in Dhaka between Mujib and the President in the expectation of a political settlement. L' Col. Masud says he had 'only' 2 50 troops in Joydevpur, and that rhe brigadier came with a large Bm the visiting party had thirty soldiers according to Maj. Safiuliah, and carried their normal weapons, so either way, the Bengalis far omnumbered and outgunned the visitors. Indeed, Maj. Safiullah daims char it was che scare of readiness of his troops that made the Brigadier change his mind about disarming them afi: The faces suggest char rhe brigadier came to inspect rhe siwarion and decided that [he battalion needed change after his experience ar Joydevpur.
With regard to Brig. Lt Gen. Arbab's alleged orders to use 'maximum force' and 'fire for effecc: Arbab declined co talk co me and has not published his version of events. Arbab 'led from the front'. Another West Pakistani officer-who did not serve with Brig.
Arbab in East Pakistan-described him co me as 'merciless'. Arbab could hardly be faulted for removing the existing CO from his job after chis incident. As for his alleged unhappiness over the report scaring the Bengali troops expended sixty-three. Safiullah, insinuates that the Brigadier wanced sixty-three people dead, bur alternative explanations are possible: Perhaps predictably, rhe Bengali officers' accoums acrempr co paint rhe West Pakistani visiting group in general and Brig.
Arbab in particular in as black a light as possibJe-by the use of somewhat cheatricallanguage and commentary-while positioning themselves as longstanding supporters ofBangladeshi independence, secretly working for the cause of liberation while stili serving in the Pakistan Army. They had even cried co reason with the public over the barricades the day before, and failed.
The crowd was not listening to Awami League activists either. It was thoroughly incited and already armed and violent, and was attacking incoming vehicles and even Bengali personnel to snatch more weapons. Indeed, the Joydevpur incident is an illustration of many aspects of the collapse of effective authority chat happened in the province as a whole. The crowds were armed and violent, and had been encouraged in char direction by their leaders.
They were further inflamed by the rumour, spread by rhe Bengali nationalists, chat the battalion arJoydevpur was going to be disarmed chat day.
When the rumour turned out to be false, the crowd was beyond the control ofits own instigators as well as the fully armed Bengali battalion. Civilians died in rhe clash. The Awami League immediately put out a figure of the dead chat was ten times the actual number.
A nationalise mythology starred to spin by distorting the event, for example by claiming the army had shot without reason at unarmed people. Sheikh Mujib then tried to use it to strengthen his bargaining position in his negotiations co become the prime minister of all Pakistan.
On the night of March, the Pakistani regime decided to go for a military solution to a polirical problem. Arguably never the right policy choice under any circumstances, it proved co be catastrophk for Pakistan.
A bloody civil war and full-scale war with India ended with the break-up of the country with East Pakistan emerging as independent Bangladesh. For the people of East Pakistan it caused a trauma that is yet to heal and for many Bengalis in the new state of Bangladesh, a rifr filled with hatred towards Pakistan.
What triggered the launch of the operation is unclear. Political negotiations were on until rhe last moment on 25 March, when President Yahya abruptly lefr Dhaka.
Some accuse Sheikh Mujib and his Awami League of being poor negotiators who took too inflexible a stand. Others, both Bangladeshi and Pakistani, suspect that the military regime was insincere about negotiating while hatching a plot to use force. The regime claimed that the Awami League:. Bengali accounts show that some Bengali mHirary officers were urging Mujib to undertake a 'firststrike', but that he was sraliing, saying char he was still negmiacing.
Professor Nurul Ula of Dhaka University, who. There had been a contingency plan named 'Operarion Blitz', prepared during rhe tenure of Lt Gen. Sahabzada Yaqub Khan in Dhaka, Gen. Tikka Khan took his place as Governor. He said that there was no material difference, but whereas the former envisioned achieving objecrives with minimum use of force, the latter came to seek accomplishing them with maximum usc of force.
He was never in 'inrelligence', he argued, bur a mere 'Secretary' of the newly formed National Security Council, which, he said, never met as a body at all. He denied General.
He was, however,. Umar acknowledged chat he had been in East Pakistan just before che military action, bur said he. Yahya did. Micha, also considered a 'hawk', has tried ro rescore his prominent role in che military action, from which he had been 'written out' by some of the ocher accounts. Mitha, che. Many Bangladeshis appear to harbour dark views about General Mitha without knowing anything about him.
The most senior Bengali army officer, Brigadier Mazumdar, former commandant of the East Bengal Regimental Centre in Chittagong, paints a black picture of him, but cannot even get his. The Mithas spent three years in the s in Co milia in East Pakistan. Mitha writes chat Yahya, then GOC ofl4 Division in Dhaka, did not tolerate West Pakistani officers talking condescendingly about East Pakistanis and told him to ensure that this kind of prejudice did not occur in his unit.
When two West Pakistani officers did just that in the dub one day, Mirha threw them out. Pakistan on March I97I when the law and order situation had deteriorated gravely. Supplies had been stopped, labour was stopped from coming to work and road and rail movement had become dangerous. He visited all the cantonments for twelve days and 'sorted out' their problems. He was surprised to be summoned again on 23 March, arriving on 24 March to be told that.
He said the decision to act had been taken on 23 March. As Sisson and Rose point out, the operation failed to achieve key goals: The disarming of Bengali police and army personnel turned into a bloodbath in many places, with casualties on both sides, and many Bengali personnel escaped with their arms, to return to fight another day. The army did regain control of the entire province eventually, bur it took several weeks to accomplish. India ', replied Nixon, 'They are all in the middle of it'.
Perhaps differences of perspective are only to be expected berween those 'in the middle of it' and those at a distance. Bur do even people 'in the middle of it' all see it in the same way? And like 'Rashomon', in the case of , even dead men have their say. The Attack on Dhaka University '88 for Roger so for over'.
Dhaka, March night, " 'For the first time in my life I saw people being killed, and that too injured people being shot in cold blood In the meantime two more batche. The spectacle of a military regime sending the army to crush a 'rebellious' university.
This is one of the most fully reported incidents, in the heart of the capital city, and, one would have thought, an evenc abouc rhe faces of which there would be little dispuce. Bur turns our co be one of chose conflicts where nothing is ever quire what it seems. This chapter examines in derail what happened at Dhaka University on March, through the memories of those present from both sides of the conflict.
Ocher actions by rhe military char night included raking control of rhe police lines, key police stations and rhe television centre, arresting key political leaders, demolishing the offices of separatist newspapers, and, by the following morning, acracking areas of old Dhaka.
Snatches of memories of these contemporaneous incidents are used occasionally for adding context ro rhe story of what happened in Dhaka University. Armed militants or unarmed students! Presented that way, the army action at the university is simply depicted as a massacre of unarmed civilians whose political beliefs the regime did nor like.
Yet nor only is this a distortion of the true picture, it is also nor the only possible Bengali nationalist representation of events at Dhaka University, especially with regard to rhe student haHs. In the preceding weeks, Bengali nationalists had openly Aaunred rheir militant defiance of the military regime. Dhaka University was a centre of this defiance. Normal university activities had dosed down from the beginning of March. Many college and university students all over rhe province had gone home as there were no classes.
Numerous media reports and Bengali nationalist reminiscences chronicle the amassing of weapons, military training, martial parades and incidents of violence in Dhaka, in keeping with slogans like 'Bir Bangali ostro dhoro, Bangladesh swadhin koro' Brave Bengalts take up arms, make Bangladesh independent. So a different, bur equally 'patriotic' Bengali nationalist narrative was also possible-one in which armed militants in the university might be described as waging a heroic, hue tragically futile, battle against far superior forces and becoming martyrs to their cause.
As Simon Dring wrote in the Sunday Telegraph shordy afterwards: They led noisy and ofren violenr demonstrations, but rhey had no organization, no training, no weapons, and, as the army proved in Dacca, no real stomach for war: In the capital the students, reckoned to be the militanr hard core of the Awami League, lived in a similar dream world.
They calked endlessly of fighting to the death. Bur they had nothing more than a few rifles from the war, equally ancient pistols, and some home-made bombs which, when the army moved in on March Once the shooting started the jeering, the shouting.
Just as the Bengali nationalists seemed to Dring to have 'no real stomach tOr war', they seem to have no real stomach for a 'heroic' version of their struggle, preferring a 'villains versus victims' version. The reality is that there were weapons, and training, and no matter how unequal the fire-power, a few Bengalis apparently did puc up a fight. The 'victim' story denies them their true role while undermining the credibility of the narrative as a whole, as it is contradicted by Bengali eye-witness accounts themselves.
Kaliranjan Shil, a Communist activist who survived the attack onJagannath Hall, che Hindu scudenc hall in Dhaka University, wrote chac after che postponement of the national assembly on 1 March, the student union started 'preparation for war with training with dummy rifles on the Dhaka University gymnasium fidd I was also taking training in a group.
In a few days our first batch's training was completed and along with a girl-students' group three groups of us took part in a march-past on the roads'.
Indeed, photographs of marching girls carrying rifles appeared in the foreign media during chis period and are proudly exhibited in the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka. After 7 March the number. March Thursday morning there was training as usual on rhe gymnasium field: Havingrrained to wage war, he was apparently surprised and even offended char the enemy had anua1ly attacked!
Shil also confirms chat the students of Dhaka University had mostly leli: Some of them may have bt: Nazrul Islam also writes chat his art coHege hostel had emptied of students who had returned to their village homes. As there wc: On rhe fateful night a friend who had come to Dhaka to look for a job asked to stay in the hostel with him.
Two-way b11ttle or one-sided massacre? University and were well armed and bent on. Mirha, 'They fought back when the army wenr to clear them out and some died: Two-way battles occurred in the principal 'target' studc: Killing of unarmed or disarmed people happened at the halls after resistance had been crushed and at the adjoining apartments of the faculty.
In the morningof25 March, Professor Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta, rhe Provost ofJagannath Hall, had a nagging feeling ofdoubt about the newspaper reports ufirnrninent 'samjhauta' understanding: Their slogan was 'Bir Bangali ostm dhoro, Bangladesh swadhin koro' Brave Bengalis take up arms, make Bangladesh independent.
Jyorirmoy Guharhakurta was a renowned professor of English. Like many in his generation, Guharhakurca's nationalism had its roots in British India. While in eighth grade in school, he had composed and recited a poem to welcome the Indian nationalist Sub has Chandra Bose, later President of rhe Indian National Con.
The Guharhakurtas lived in a ground-floor flat in a three-storey faculty apartment building No. His wife Basanti recounts that Guharhakurta expected to be arrested if rhe country's politics took a turn for the worse, bur refused ro abandon his post of Provost and go away somewhere as advised by some.
The Medical College and the Shahid Minar commemorating rhe language rebellion of the s were situated dose to the Guhathakurtas' apartment building.
At tea-time a music rehearsal could be heard in Professor Anisur Rahman's Rat on the first floor: At rhe student hall rhe fourth- grade sralf was being taught by the students how to parade.
Guhathakurca joked with his staff member Rambihari Das that his chronic stomach pain might at lasr be cured. Then he stood by the Shahid Minar talking to the srudenrs, advising them to go away to relatives' homes and admonishing those who had come back on 23 March. Young men were barricading the roads with water tanks and branches of banyan trees.What the writer successfully did is that she figured out certain possibilities about the events actually occurred which are over exaggerated.
That is untrue. At the residential area 'Farm gate' Bengalis arracked the homes and shops ofWesr Pakistanis living in the area. When Guhathakurta asked them what they were doing, they said they had 'orders' to check every car that passed.
Its focus is t It is a book worth reading. In rhe runup co 24 March, there was 'a sudden outbreak of ineffectual bombings and shootings' against the American consulate.
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