Myth of 300,000 raped in Bangladesh

Asif Haroon Rajabangladesh-articleLarge

It has been alleged that Pakistani troops raped 300,000 women on and after March 25, 1971 in former East Pakistan. This allegation has generally been accepted by the world at large and even by some Pakistani secular pseudo intellectuals like Tahira Abdullah, Asma Gilani and others. Sheikh Mujib was the inventor of this themes fed to him by India. This was phenomenal exaggeration which has no parallel in history. Rather than blindly buying the bloated figures, it should have been coolly analyzed by saner elements whether it was humanly possible to perform those unholy acts at such a gigantic scale. No one questioned as to how the Indians had gathered the data since the Army had gained total control over the province from May 1971 onwards. Direct linkage between the people and rebels housed in India had been broken.

The version of refugees who had fled to India after the military operation couldn’t be relied upon, being entirely at the mercy of Indian Army and BSF living in unsavory conditions. Foreign journalists based in Dacca had been asked by Lt Gen Tikka Khan to leave because of their biased reporting. Jilted journalists moved to Calcutta where they were lavishly entertained by Indians. Nursing ill-feelings, they went out of the way to magnify the stories fed to them by Indian media and broadcasted exaggerated news the world over.

Even if the entire Army and paramilitary forces numbering 12000 on 25 March 1971, later increased to 45000 had only one objective in mind of raping any female coming their way day in and day out, even at the cost of sleep and other essential daily rituals, it was still impossible to reach anywhere near the stated figure. It can now be safely concluded that the rapes committed by Awami League (AL) urchins in March-April 1971, and again in November- December 1971, as well as by Indian staff supervising refugee camps from March 1971 till February 1972 were all lumped in the account of Pak Army. Indian Army soldiers and officers had also indulged in daily sex for the entire period of their stay in Bangladesh after 16 December 1971.

Roman Catholic Relief Agency put the figure of rapes to as low as 4000. (New York Times, January 30, 1972). In fact, only ten cases of rapes had been reported till August 31, 1971, and the culprits tried and punished. These few cases were swollen to the exasperating figure of 300,000. The falsity of Sheikh Mujib’s repeated allegation of rape of 300,000 Bengali women was exposed when the abortion team he had commissioned from United Kingdom in early 1972 found that there were no more than a hundred or so pregnancy cases they could deal with throughout their stay in Bangladesh. (Bangladesh Papers, Vanguard, Lahore, page 287). The AL government opened many centres in Bangladesh and gave wide calls to the rape victims named as ‘heroines’ to come forward and register their names so that they could be rehabilitated. Not more than one hundred or so who reported to the centres were given into marriages and perforce the centres had to be closed down. These cases were also in all probability the victims of rapists in Indian refugee camps.

Dr. M. Abdul Mumin Chowdhry, a Bengali nationalist who actively participated in the separatist cause, writes in his book ‘Behind the Myth of Three Million’, writes, ‘It was reported that on arrival in Dhaka on 10 January 1972, the lobby behind the fabrication of the absolutely impossible figure promptly briefed the returning Bangladesh leader Sheikh Mujib with added ‘fact’, of 300,000 women raped, who in turn immediately went on parroting it. Thus the fiction of three million killed and 300,000 women raped was created’. He gives research-based details of each major incident that was blamed on Pakistan; and the rapes of 300,000, now enhanced to 400,000 women, resulting in 200,000 pregnancies.

One of Pakistani prisoner of war (PoW) Maj (now retired Brig) M. Azad on his way to India after the surrender had stayed a night in transit along with others at Krishanagar in West Bengal. The camp in which they were housed was well laid out and didn’t like a hurriedly made make-shift arrangement. The in-charge of the camp, a Sikh major, in usual Sikh style of light-heartedness and frankness, got chummy with Azad and told him that the camp had not been prepared for Pak PoWs but was meant to keep rebellious Bengalis who refused to participate in guerrilla war. He added that sissies were taken to task and made to perform allotted tasks, while their womenfolk were kept as hostages to serve their carnal needs. He boasted that he and his colleagues had thoroughly enjoyed raping thousands of Bengali women during their nine-month confinement. Laughingly he added that many virgins were impregnated. He divulged that many more suchlike camps for unwilling Bengalis had been established in other areas. This inadvertent disclosure would give an idea to independent readers that who were the actual rapists of Bengali women.

Besides resorting to series of atrocities, Indian security forces are using rape as a weapon of war to subjugate the Kashmiris demanding their birth right of self-determination. Kashmiris want independence from India at all cost. Incidents of rapes and gang rapes in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) are on the increase, but no Indian soldier or policeman has ever been punished. While there was lot of hue and cry over gang rape of an Indian woman in New Delhi, no voice has ever been raised in India over rapes of thousands of Kashmiri women, as if they are not human beings. It is puzzling as to why the ever vigilant western media has never mentioned a word about thousands of rapes committed in IOK? Or is it that it has different yardstick for Muslims and non-Muslims?

The writer is a retired Brig, author of several books and a defence analyst.

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