Genocide of 1971: Victim Family Perspective:
-Saleem R. Noor   
বৃহস্পতিবার, ১৪ ডিসেম্বর ২০১৭

Yes, NEVER AGAIN!! I am here today to talk briefly about one of the most tragic and inhumane tragedies in world History, the Genocide of Bangladesh. We have been tortured – agonized by the history of Bangladesh genocide. It bleeds our hearts as always. Therefore, as a victim family member I went through all of the vicious effects of life. I have seen, read and studied this agonizing chapter of our history. As you have heard, the loss of lives in Bangladesh was horrendous and it is something that should never be forgotten. My father returned home on 27th March from Daily Ittefaq around 11;00 A.M. – with the idea that we all were dead since our neighboring Police Head Quarter was attacked and heavy fight went on there and due to heavy casualty there we all were dead! Fortunately army did not invade to our civilian area called Chamelibagh on those two nights and day. But on 26th early in the morning Army opened fire from the tank twice at our adjacent Police Intelligence office, which was 500 feet away from our house and that shook our whole compound like an earth quake.

We survived – but people were so panicked and afraid of the ongoing situation that all were trying to move from one place to another, thinking other parts of the city were safe. Many neighbors rushed to my father and ask for his advice. My father told them nowhere was safe in that city. It was better to stay where they were staying! Some listened – some not. My father did not move. On that late afternoon we got the bad news that our next door neighbor’s eldest son Mr. Ataur Rahman Khankhadim, who was the house tutor of Shahidullah Hall and Professor of Mathematics, was killed at Dhaka University while Pakistani army raided at the campus on night before!

Few days later our elder brothers brought the news to our father that our school’s English Teacher, who was nick named, “Hitler” Sir, took refuge to just opposite of our house, which was Mr. Khankhadims’ house and it seemed that he was very much panicked and disoriented due to some army operations days before. Right away our father expressed his willingness to meet him and Abba took few of us and went to visit our Hitler Sir at our neighbor’s house. Mr. Khandhadims’ whole house was empty since the whole family left the house on March 27 right after getting the horrible news of their eldest son’s killing at University campus. That’s a very big compound and full of various trees so that an ideal place to hide there. Our father sat with Hitler Sir there and asked him what happened to him. Incidentally Hitler Sir was from the same district as our father was, from Jessore District. Our father also knew most of the teachers of our school since at the yearend always our father threw a get together party at our house for our teachers; so that many times Hitler Sir visited our house and met our father. Besides that our father was very much active and related with School matters and school committee due to his high position in the society. Panicked Hitler Sir unfolded his story gradually but he was not consistent all through due to mental disorientation. So, our father had to sit with him few days in a row to get the whole story, which affected him. For a week our father almost every day brought him to our house and in his daily Adda asked Hitler Sir to tell the story and shared with others there to give an idea what was going on in the city. Lately the story unfolded from our Sir:

On the fateful night of March 25 Hitler Sir resided to his cousin’s house at Dhaka University Teacher’s Quarter. Hitler Sir’s cousin was the renowned Professor of Statistics and Mathematics Dr. Maniruzzaman, who was from our locality of Jessore area and our father personally knew him and his younger brother was our father’s school friend too. After army crackdown on March 25 night, before daybreak army entered to each and every quarter of that building! Entering Professor Maniruzzaman’s house army ordered all males and females to line up before them. Then the Punjabi officer ordered “fire” – the soldiers opened fire – one after another got hit by bullet and falling down on the floor. Hitler Sir took position at one corner! By the grace of All Mighty the bullet hit his left palm and went through the bottom of the thumb – did not hit his body! But Sir fell down on the floor over others’ dead body and pretended “Dead”! All were dead instantly but him! But he was bleeding too much so he feared death! The Punjabi army left and half an hour later another group of Army entered the house and making sure that all were dead from the previous operation! They were turning all the bodies over to make sure alive or dead! Coincidentally that new group’s officer was from Baluch Regiment and while he turned over our Teacher’s body the officer realized he was alive; so, he hinted him to act like a dead person and thus ordered his force to go to other floors immediately. As soon as the force left that quarter the officer came to our teacher and told him “I know you are alive, I am not going to do any harm to you but if you want to be alive you need to go to the Hospital right now so that I am opening the back door and putting all the soldiers on other way so that by this time you go to the downstairs from the back door and cross the wall to be in the Hospital compound”. Dhaka Medical College Hospital Compound was just separated by a wall in between. Our teacher out of desperation could manage to cross the Wall and dropped him off to Dhaka Medical College Hospital compound. Later few hospital employees found him at their compound and brought him to Doctor’s attention and thus cured lately and came to our neighborhood Chamelibagh and took shelter there at 8 Chamelibagh for few days. Our father arranged Hitler Sir’s three meals a day from our house. Few days later it appeared that our teacher without any notice left his hidden place and we lost his whereabouts for long. He resurfaced after the liberation war and once again joined to our school as a teacher.

Gradually some more horrific news reaching to our father in regular intervals. My father’s long time colleague at Ittefaq and long time friend once the Daily Ittefaq’s Chief Reporter and once the Secretary General of EPUJ (East Pakistan Journalist Union) in early 60s Mr. Khondoker Abu Taleb, we called him Taleb Mamu (Taleb Uncle) was residing in notorious Bihari area called Mirpur. At the time of Bongobondhu’s non-cooperation movement in early March Taleb Mamu was working as an activist in favor of our non-cooperation movement in ‘enemy territory’! But suspecting some bad would come so on ominous March 25th morning Taleb Mamu moved to our Chamelibagh area, where his sister, our Hena Aunty was residing. 25th March evening Taleb Mamu showed up in our father’s daily evening gathering and all were discussing about the unpredictable situation of that time. Getting a phone call, hurriedly our father left for office and that was the last time Taleb Mamu and my father both friends were together! Getting all the rumors and many bad news Taleb Mamu had decided to make a short visit to look after his Mirpur residence for the time being. Though family members were opposing his visit to ‘enemy territory’ Mirpur area but Taleb Mamu convinced them by telling if he would find the normal bus operation from that area to Mirpur only then he would think situation was normal there and would make that visit! Unfortunately Taleb Mamu found Mirpur bound bus was running so he took the bus and visited his Mirpur house and grabbed few valuable things to take with him and lately took the return bus to our area, where Mamu took refuge few days earlier! Local Biharis did not forget Journalist Abu Taleb’s activist role during our non-cooperation movement in Non-Bengali oriented Mirpur area just few days earlier. While Taleb Mamu (Uncle) was about to get on the return bus, from behind few Biharis grabbed Taleb Mamu’s collar of the shirt and pulled him down from the bus. Mamu did not return ever! My father got that ominous news and could understand his closest friend’s fate! My father’s heart was broken and tried to get information from every corner to know his friend’s ultimate fate! But exactly nothing was known during liberation time because no Bengali other than collaborators of Pakistan army could reside in Mirpur area or go there during that time. After our liberation the news surfaced through some eye-witnesses that on that fateful day – March 29, 1971 those Bihari’s stabbed journalist Khondoker Abu Taleb repeatedly and later cut him to pieces and kept his body parts in open roadside for few days to intimidate Bengali people there! Later in post liberation time the 1971 local leader of religious zealot Jamat-e-Islam party Kader Mollah was charged for journalist Khondoker Abu Taleb’s cruel murder as Awami League came into power after post 1975’s long ups and downs Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government set up War Crime Tribunal and brought the major perpetrators of 1971 genocide to justice!

Thus the bad news coming from everywhere! The city turned to City of Doom – City of Death! In early April my father got another horrible news from Jessore that the local Awami League Member of the Parliament and Awami League leader and ex-cabinet minister from Jessore District Mr. Moshiur Rahman’s whereabouts remained unknown since 25th March Army crackdown. On one morning my father had to go to Army Head Quarter Dhaka Cantonment for official purpose and tried to reach out to some of his Bengali friends in army. My father came out from Cantonment with the horrific news that on 25th night army picked Mr. Moshiur Rahman, the Awami League leader and Member of the parliament and on the next day they butchered him, cut him to pieces and displayed his body pieces for couple of days keeping open at the entrance of Jessore Cantonment! My father was horrified! That was the beginning of that Genocide. Thereafter no one and no place of Bangladesh were immune from that killing spree of Pakistani army. Whole Bangladesh experienced life-in-death condition in following 9 months to freedom! In 9 months time period 3 million unarmed – civilian people were killed. In fact number does not matter – 75 million Bengali people, dead or alive, were affected in that 9 months period of time and that is the bottom line! The whole country turned to a graveyard! That devastation and casualty is unmatched in human history!

After March and early April Army crackdown and brutal attacks on major cities the brute army force under Yahya-Niazi-Jamshed-Rao Farman Ali-Tikka Khan with the whole hearted support and assistance of the Muslim fundamentalist party religious zealot Jamat-e-Islam’s leaders Golam Azam-Motiur Rahman Nizami and other parties such as Muslim League – Nezam-e-Islam Parties direct help and provocation Pakistani army kept spreading it’s brutal operations to remote places of all over Bangladesh. Thus Pakistani army with their direct provocation took that brutal oppression and killing spree to all over Bangladesh. Those operations remained so cruel and followed the same patterns such as invading in any village or town first they burnt down the Bazaars or market places to cause food and everyday supplies scarcity to kill the local people by starving! Secondly those invaders went after all male Youths irrespective of religion or party affiliation and kill them until and unless they were from those collaborators’ parties such as Jamat-e-Islam; Nezam-e-Islam or Muslim League! Thirdly, the local collaborators for their better fortune and revenge motivation started going after the women of the village and supplied those helpless women to army camps to enjoy human flesh – in simple word raping the innocent victims. From March 25 to December 16 1971 that was the everyday scenario of Bangladesh, which was termed as Genocide of Bangladesh – Rape of Bangladesh! Pakistani army and its collaborators cannot deny these charges at all!

Though US administration under Nixon-Kissinger took side with the Pakistan but many US officials, politicians and media overwhelmingly took side with Bangladesh cause and its freedom. The heroic role played by US career diplomat Mr. Archer K. Blood, who was stationed in Dacca Consulate Office as Consul General and under his leadership the Consulate office employees in a body sent Note of Dissent to the administration’s taken position and Mr. Blood involved his office to Fact Finding Mission to find the truth. Therefore US Consulate Office of Dacca unearthed Pakistan Army and its cohorts’ taken actions and atrocities, which resulted in massive civilian killing and destruction; those embassy reports implied the word “Genocide” for the first time and while it was leaked to the media it caused a great uproar in US Congress and all over the world! My father played a role in it too. My father had a very good relationship with Mr. Archer K. Blood since my father worked with Mr. Blood in mid 60s. Besides working in Bengali Newspaper called Daily Ittefaq , since early 60s my father had a part-time job too. At that Cold-War era US Department of State had another office in all of its Embassies in foreign land which was called USIS or U.S.I.S. – United States Information Service, which now turns to American Center. That USIS used to have one publication Agency called Franklyn Publication, which engaged in publishing American ideology – ideology of Free world and spread that in respective languages at the height of Cold War to counter the Communist publications and ideology. My father was the Editor of Franklyn Publication at Dacca till his death. Mr. Archer K. Blood came as a Director to USIS in Dacca in 1965 and left in 1967 – in that connection during that time period Mr. Blood was my father’s direct superior or boss. Mr. Blood once again returned to Dacca in 1969 as a Consul General and he was here at the epoch making time of our history. My father had free access to Mr. Blood and somehow got some of Mr. Blood’s secret findings and took charge to send those to the exile Bangladesh Government’s Prime Minister Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed to Calcutta.

To make the long story short: At the fag-end of our liberation war there was pre-planned and targeted killing of the leading personalities of Bangladesh, the intellectuals, from December 10 to December 15, 1971, in that killing spree my father was the first victim as abducted from our house on December 10 after midnight and faced the same fate as millions did!

American diplomats in Dhaka blamed Pakistan army collaborators for killings; they were satisfied based on (Quote) “eyewitness reports from correspondents” (Unquote) that the Dhaka massacre did take place. It was clear that (Quote) “quite a few prominent Bengalis were killed a few days before surrender by Jamaat thugs,” (Unquote) according to a cable sent by the US Embassy in Dhaka to the State Department on 20 December 1971. The Pakistan army connived in this affair as well as other alleged massacres, the cable added.

As Pakistan government of Z. A. Bhutto later established a Fact Finding Commission to examine Pakistan’s debacle in 1971, which was called Hamoodur Rahman Commission and If we just review the perpetrator’s perspectives from its report then it will be evident what did they do at the fag-end of our liberation war to kill the leading personalities of Bangladesh, the intellectuals, from December 10 to December 15, 1971, in that killing spree my father was the first victim as abducted from our house on December 10 after midnight! The Hamoodur Rahman Commission panel examined Major General Rao Forman Ali’s role in killing the intellectuals in Dhaka. Forman Ali told the Commission that on 9 or 10 December, Major General Mohammad Jamshed, Deputy Marhitial Law Administrator, summoned him to his headquarters. Upon arrival, he found Jamshed was getting in to a car. He asked Forman to come along. They drove to meet General A.A.K. Niazi, Commander – in – Chief of the Eastern region. On the way, Jamshed informed Forman that the commanders were thinking of arresting certain people. Forman Ali opposed the idea and repeated his advise in Niazi’s office. Both Niazi and Jamshed kept quiet. Forman Ali had no idea what Niazi did after he had left, but thought that no action was taken.
Niazi told the commission that the local commanders brought a list to him on 9 December. It included names of “miscreants and Mukti Bahini heads, but no intellectuals.” He stopped them from arresting these people. He denied that any intellectual was arrested and killed on December or thereafter.
Now Jamshed’s version differed slightly from Niazi’s. He said Niazi had expressed his apprehension of a general uprising in Dhaka. So Niazi ordered him to examine the possibility of arresting about 3,000 people based on the lists that were already with various agencies. But their housing and safety from bombing by the Indian Air Force presented big problems. So, he asked Niazi to drop the idea and no further action was taken.
What a self-serving statement one after another! With this made up story of self vindication of innocence and the entire “He Said-They Said” storytelling, the Pakistani perpetrators of Genocide could not hide its ugly faces and roles at all from it either since these statements show Pakistan army had a plan and listing to arrest 3,000 dignitaries of the Capital city Dhaka at that same time and date of Intellectual killing. Therefore the reality and truth tells the opposite story! Though the Commission concluded: “We consider, therefore, that unless the Bangladesh authorities can produce some convincing evidence, it is not possible to record a finding that any intellectuals or professionals were indeed arrested and killed by Pakistan army during December 1971.” Bangladesh, in fact, did discover a mass grave of intellectuals after the war. Many prominent Bengali Intellectuals, including university professors, journalists and physicians, were murdered from 10 to 15 December 1971.
Now to show and justify the Pakistan army and its cohorts’ guilt in that Intellectual killing at the fag-end of our liberation war I am giving US perspective quoting from book by B.Z. Khasru, a US expatriate Bangladeshi Journalist, titled THE BANGLADESH MILITARY COUP AND THE CIA LINK, which is based on US declassified documents: that US declassified document reads:

In another report, the US consulate general blamed the Pakistani army for deliberately bombing an orphanage in Dhaka in December. Paul Marc Henry, the UN assistant secretary general, “and I are convinced on the basis of evidence we both regard as conclusive that the bombing of non-military areas in Dacca last night (and inferentially), the bombing of the orphanage on the night of December 8-9) were carried out by a Pakistani government plane based at Dacca airport and that the purpose of the attacks was to discredit the Indian Air Force,” (Unquote) Consul General Herb Spivack wrote to the State Department on 10 December 1971. He strongly urged that Farland and George H.W. Bush, then the US Ambassador to the United Nations, “make immediate demarche to President Yahya” and Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Aga Shahi to warn them that any similar future attempt would bring about full publicity. There were already rumors circulating among Bengalis and foreigners in the Intercontinental Hotel that the bombings were the work of the Pakistanis. ………… I am fully conscious, as is Paul Marc Henry, of the gravity of charges we are making. However, I believe that demarche I have outlined is only to put an end to this kind of unscrupulous barbarity which has already cost the lives of several hundred orphans in Dacca,”, Thus Spivac concluded. A copy of the report carried three letters “HAK” for Henry A. Kissinger, an indication he saw this report.