Bangladesh: Genocide, Independence and Islam




Rayer Bazar (Dhaka) killing field


By R Chowdhury   5 December 2021

“Fight against those who fight against you in the way of God, but do not transgress, for God does not love transgressors” –The Quran (2:190)

The Pakistan military swooped on the unarmed people of East Pakistan on March 25, 1971. Their crime? They sought freedom from the Pakistani civil and military oligarchy and dared to ask for political and economic rights. Within hours, the Operation Searchlight, as it was styled, saw a few hundred thousand dead bodies carpeting most cities. Amidst the rattling of killer guns, came a voice from Chittagong Radio Station. It was the declaration of independence by Major Ziaur Rahman of East Bengal Regiment, as well as a call for the people to join the fight for freedom. The disoriented people received a direction–that was hitherto missing–and commenced a war of independence.

I was a diehard Pakistani and served in the western part. After learning what the Pakistanis did to my fellow Bengalis, I realized my loyalty was misplaced.

Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal, a physician turned self-styled Islamic Jihadist, saw that fight for independence as “treachery” against Islam by the victims. (Please see his article at ). It was not the first time he said so, nor is it going to be his last, despite strong rebuttals from many quarters.

Allah says: “Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom fighting is launched” –The Quran (22:39).  

Being a small-time fighter in the Bangladesh independence war, it is difficult for me to digest his illogical rhetoric. He makes his own self-serving interpretations and deductions of the Quranic injunctions aimed at his idea of so-called Pan Islamism. Similarly, he is one-sided and flawed in his interpretation of the Agartala Conspiracy Case, Peoples’ Uprising in 1969, President Ayub Khan’s political trickeries, and Pakistan’s debacle in 1971. I read all the books he referred to, such as “War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh,” “Last Days of United Pakistan,”Witness to Surrender,” et al. He is largely out of context, if not wrong, in his quotes from them.

In 1947, Pakistan might have been a “philosophy” but it was created because of a religious discrepancy, intolerance, and conflicts in British India. It was the need of the Muslims of the sub-continent at the time. Contrary to Dr. Kamal’s notion, no outside Muslim leaders or communities were involved in South Asian politics. Also, that philosophy or partition saw one of the largest human miseries in history. Two million people lost lives and 20 million got displaced, and the numbers are still counting.

Unfortunately, Pakistan degenerated over the years. The West Pakistani overlords–civil and military–never took their fellow citizens from the eastern half as their equals. Before challenging me on this, one may read the article in the link to check the degree of disparity between the two sides of Pakistan.

It is also true that India sought to dismember Pakistan from day one, but the Pakistani leaders did little to counter that. In fact, they widened the gap of disparity, thus providing fuel to India’s design, in collaboration with its Bengali lackeys.

The Pakistan of 1971 was the worst thing that could happen to history. Dr. Kamal implied that Pakistan’s war in East Pakistan and killing of brother Muslims–anything between Hamoodur Rahman’s 26,000 to Sheikh Mujib’s 3,000,000–and raping of thousands of women were “Halal,” and “Hellfire” awaited those who challenged that (Halal action!). Conversely, he thought a non-practicing Shia Muslim Jinnah and ‘W’-addicted Yahya and Bhutto were Jannati.   

To me, such assertions are not only unfounded, misleading, and clear deviations from the Quran, they are also a usurpation of the authority of Allah (SWT), who knows who is right and who is wrong and who should go where after the Judgement Day.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then supreme leader, betrayed the Bengalis in 1971. Whatever his “foot soldiers” cried or demonstrated, he never wanted the independence of Bangladesh. He refused to declare independence or join the liberation war citing that to be “treason.” Instead, he chose to surrender to the military, even though he called for Ebarer songram swadhinotar songram… (the struggle this time is for independence…)” on March 7, 1971.

Mujib was not in the war but claimed the ownership of an independent Bangladesh upon return from butcher Yahya’s hospitality. It is an irony that his followers bestowed on him the title of the “Father of Nation,” the nation he never wanted. Please read a Pakistani interview in the article

Let me summarize my points to Dr. Kamal’s wrong-conceived notions about the Mukti Juddho of 1971.

  1. Mukti Juddho was not fought against Islam. It was against Pakistani barbarism.
  2. Where does it say that nationalism is anti-Islamic? Can’t a person be both Chinese or Masai and a Muslim? I believe, Islam is universal, for all mankind of all times. Allah (SWT) made Islam easy for all, not clannish, not difficult.
  3. Secularism had never been an issue on which the Mukti Juddho was fought. Even Sheikh Mujibur Rahman never uttered the word before January 1972. Yet, secularism as a state policy is not supposed to be bad. However, it is wrongly interpreted and implemented in Bangladesh to help a particular community, ostensibly at New Delhi’s Hindutva direction. And, where does it say that secularism allows sex and children out of wedlock?
  4. Where in the book “War and Secession,” it says that Yahya and Bhutto accepted all the 6 Points of Mujib? If they did, why were the planes and shiploads with West Pakistani soldiers and armaments landing in Dhaka and Chittagong daily, even as the negotiations were going? And, why did Yahya and his team quietly flee Dhaka on March 25, 1971, after ordering Operation Searchlight to annihilate the Bengalis?
  5. Sheikh Mujib never wanted independence, nor did he declare independence despite growing demands from his party. He sent a message to General Khadim Hussain Raja on the night of March 6, 1971, asking to be taken into custody with a view to saving himself from the pressure of his party extremists to declare independence (Ref: Witness to Surrender by Siddik Salek).
  6. Where did Dr. F M Kamal get the notion that no Alem, Fazil, Kamil, Pir, Imam, in other words, Muslims, fought the Mukti Juddho? Absurd! I learned that the Pesh Imam of my hometown’s big mosque was a freedom fighter. In my unit (2 Field Artillery), during Ramadan in November ‘71, more than 50% of soldiers observed fast and offered Tarawih whenever they could, even on war fronts. Dr. Kamal needs to know better. Otherwise, Mukti Juddho is not his cup of tea.

Zoglul Husain, a renowned political analyst, says, in 1971, Bengalis fought for their independence from Pakistani domination and injustice (of 23 years) and India supported the Mukti Juddho to break its archenemy Pakistan and subjugate Bangladesh. India succeeded only because of the treachery of Tajuddin-Mujib-Hasina and their Awami League. It could not do so during any other administration in Dhaka. The Mukti Juddho was not a party to the Awami sellout to India.

Finally, Dr. Kamal hinted that since Bangladesh did not materialize through a “plebiscite” or referendum, it was not valid. Can he cite the countries born out of plebiscite, other than those from the pledges of the great wars? In other words, according to him, countries that were created by the independence war were not valid. There should be a limit to bigotry, if not insanity!

The writer is a decorated fighter for the independence of Bangladesh in 1971 and authored a few books, in addition to writing regularly on contemporary issues of Bangladesh. 

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