Bangladesh Genocide Archive » Siraj http://www.genocidebangladesh.org An online archive of chronology of events, documentations, audio, video, images, media reports and eyewitness accounts of the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh in the hands of Pakistan army. Sat, 08 Nov 2014 18:34:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 April 1971 http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/april-1971/ http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/april-1971/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2008 01:31:37 +0000 http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/?p=283 April 1: New York Times reports heavy killing in Dhaka.

Muslim League President Mumtaz Daultana:

Mujib’s demands were much as President Yahya had spelled out in his address to the nation, except that Yahya had not detailed Mujib’s views on an interim central government. Mujib had wanted Yahya to remain as President with no political government at the Center. Mujib was not “particularly concerned” about the Six Points and was willing to accept an interim arrangement based on the 1962 Constitution. However, he envisaged that the President would allow the Awami League to exercise full control over the affairs of East Pakistan, while the President would perform a coordinating role for inter-provincial affairs of the West Wing. On the “two-Assembly” proposal, Daultana said Mujib had been rather vague as to whether he really envisaged two separate assemblies or two subcommittees of the National Assembly.

Mujib replied, and Daultana accepted his response as sincere, that while he was under great pressure to declare an independent Bangla Desh, he wanted to maintain Pakistan. Mujib was convinced the West Pakistan establishment as represented by Yahya and Bhutto would never permit Bengalis to rule Pakistan.

April 3: Background to the Thinning Out of the U.S. Presence in East Pakistan

April 4: The Pakistani ambassador to USA Agha Hilaly tells Assistant Secretary (USA) Sisco:

The army had to kill people in order to keep the country together.

The Slaughter in East Pakistan“, Editorial, The Times, London

“From the evidence available one must conclude that the aim was so to wipeout the Awami League leadership that it could no longer provide an effec­tive leadership for any resistance movement.”

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April 6: Archer Blood, the US Consul General, officers of USAID and USIS sents the famous blood telegram to the Department of State condemning the failure of the US to denounce the suppression of democracy and the widespread attrocities.

Converstaion between Nixon and Kissinger

April 7:Foreign evacuees from East Pakistan tell of grim fight“, Sydney H. Schanberg, in New York Times.

April 8: Telegram From the Embassy in Pakistan to the Department of State:

“Two weeks after Yahya sent army into action, Pak military has control major cities in east, but Bengalis still hold major areas, especially in countryside. Bengali grievances now etched in blood. For present, Awami Leaguers leading resistance forces. If AL movement crumbles before it able consolidate position on ground, resistance movement likely to pass to more radical and left extremist groups such as Naxalites.

Bhutto is eager for power and he may be prepared make deal with military to play key, if not leading role, in new central government.”

April 10: The proclamation of independence order from Mujib Nagar (which was issued on April 10 shall be deemed to have come into effect from March 26, 1971).
The gadget of proclamation of independence on April 10, 1971

US Consul General Archer Blood’s telegram from Dhaka:

“It is, in our opinion, a minor miracle that no American was killed or injured by trigger-happy Pak troops fresh from killing and looting during the delay caused by our accetance of Govt. of Pakistan arrangements.”

April 11: Radio adress by Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister, on behalf of the
Government of Bangla Desh headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, broadcast by Swadhin
Bangla Desh Betar Kendra to the people of Bangladesh.

“Today a mighty army is being formed around the nucleus of professional soldiers, from the Bengal Regiment and E.P.R. who have rallied to the cause of the liberation struggle. These have been joined by the Police, Ansars and Mujahids and now by thou­sands of Awami League and other volunteers and are being trained into a fighting force ready to use the captured weapons from the defeated West Pakistani mercenaries and fresh arms being purchased from funds collected by our Bengali Brothers overseas.

In Chittagong and Noakhali we have commissioned Major Zia Rahman of the Bengal Regiment to take full command of operations. His heroic defence of Chittagong City against overwhelming odds, which included attacks from the air and sea, will take its place with the defence of Stalingrad in the annals of warfare.”

Mujib is the Head of War Cabinet for Bangladesh.

April 12: CIA’s assessment about the present and prospective state of Pakistani civil war and role of India and other powers.

April 13: “Chinese government holds that what is happening in Pakistan at present is purely internal affair of Pakistan, which can only be settled by Pakistan people themselves and which brooks no foreign interference whatsoever.” -Chou En Lai

April 14:Rhetoric and Reality”, Editorial, Guardian, London:

“Nobody can tell precisely what Yahya’s strategists whispered in his ear three weeks ago. They appear to have thought that cutting off the head would kill Bengali nationalism: precisely the reverse. They appear to have forgotten about world opinion. They appear, most insanely of all, to have ruled India out of the military calculations, so that the uncontrolled border and aid seeping in has them as much by the throat as proliferatin- diplomatic complications.”

Liberation forces organized, General MAG Osmani made Chief in command

April 16:Blood of Bangla Desh“, New Statesman, London:

“If blood is the price of a people’s right to independence, Bangla Desh has overpaid. The Bengalis’ case for statehood may be hard to refute, but it is inconvenient to every one else. And yet, by an unusual combination of circum­stances, Bangla Desh has managed to obey all the rules. So, this may be the moment to consider what we, and other countries, mean by those splendid words which recur like a chorus in the United Nations charter: `the right to self-deter­mination of peoples’. Objectively or subjectively, in Chinese or English, in capi­talist or socialist jargon, it is hard to fault the East Bengalis, or justify their abandonment by all the major powers.”

Memorandum from Senior Review Group meeting regarding Pakistan – American relations

April 17: The formation of Bangladesh Government:

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The First Bangladesh Government is Formed in exile. Awami League leaders convene in the district of Meherpur near the Indian border in Jessore, in the village of Baidyanathtala later renamed Mujibnagar, and affirm Sheikh Mujib’s March 26 proclamation for an independent Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is declared the President of the newly formed Republic, and Syed Nazrul Islam the Vice-President. Nazrul Islam assumes the reponsibilities of the Interim President, and appoints Tajuddin Ahmed as the Prime Minsiter to lead the provisional government.

* Tajuddin Ahmed’s April 10, 1971 Proclamation
* Members of The Mujibnagar Government

More here:
Mujibnagar Day: A milestone in our liberation war
BANGLA DESH BECOMES A REPUBLIC - THE SUNDAY STATESMAN, New Delhi-April 18, 1971

April 18: Telegram from the Department of State to the embassy in Pakistan on the Provisional Government of Bangla Desh.

April 19: Minutes of Senior Review Group meeting regarding Pakistan.

Kissinger: “I agree I used to think that 30,000 men couldn’t possibly subdue 75 million, which I suppose is the Western way of looking at it. But if the 75 million don’t organize and don’t fight, the situation is different.”

April 20: Press Statement issued by Professor Muzaffar Ahamed, President of National Awami Party (NAP), Bangla Desh concerning full support to Bangla Desh Government:

“We declare in unequivocal terms that the government headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the only legally constituted government of Bangla Desh. And urge upon all the democratic and progressive nations of the world ‘to recognise the newly-born state and its government and to render all material help and moral support.”

April 21: Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani’s appeal to world leaders:

“I appeal to you. Mr. Secretary-General (UN), in the name of humanity to issue an immediate appeal to stop these brutal massacres of innocent people and to extend all possible help for the relief of the victims of dictator General Yahya Khan against military rule in Bangla Desh. I would welcome sending your observers inside Bangla Desh to see the nature and volume of looting, arson, mass killings and molestation of women by West Pakistani Army so that they can reveal the true picture of the sordid tale of Bangla Desh to the people of the world through the United Nations.”

Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury made special representative of Bangladesh Government.

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April 22: Press statement of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, President of National Awami Party, Bangladesh:

“The question is whether the people of the world and nation of the world will support the struggle of the 71 crore people of Bengal for independence or support the abominable conspiracy of the dictatorial exploiting ruling clique which is indulg­ing in mass murder.

Yahya, who is a Muslim himself, in the name of religion is mercilessly killing lakhs of Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. His soldiers who say that they are Muslims are raping women, including Muslim women. Though Muslims themselves, they are destroying mosques. They kill Muslims who are offering prayers. What will the Muslim world do about this ? Will they support the un-Islamic antihumanity abominable policy of Yahya ? Or will they support the cause of truth, justice and love as preached by Islam ?”

April 27: Maulana Abdul Mannan, General Secretary of Muslim League issued a statement saying that “patriotic” (by which he meant Islamic minded) people imbued with the zeal of crusading (Jihad) had come forward to welcome the (maurauding) army of West Pakistan.

April 28: Tajuddin pleas for arms aid and thus help a new-born country to free itself from the clutches of a murderous army. (The Times of India- New Delhi-April 29, 1971)

Henry Kissinger wrote in a secret memo to President Nixon:

The Pakistani army was poised to “retake” physical control of the major towns and that the ressistance was too poorly organised. He also said that the West Pakistanis were afraid that their economy would crash without emergency foreign aid. Till this day the country survives on foreign aid, like Bangladesh. Kissinger feared that Yahya might be forced to let East Pakistan (Bangladesh) go if this news leaked out.

Kissinger recommended Give serious assistance to Yahya Khan to end the war and bring about an arrangement which would be transitional to autonomy in Bangladesh. He suggested sending aid to Pakistan so that later the US would be in a position to pressurize Pakistan into adhering to the arangement.

The feedback from Nixon was an instruction not to squeeze Yahya Khan at the moment.

April 29: Memorandum from Haig to President Nixon on relief assistance for East Pakistani refugees in India:

According to the Indians, there are now over 500,000 East Pakistani refugees and they expect their numbers could eventually total one to two million. The magnitude of this problem-coming suddenly as it does-is beyond India’s limited resources.

It is recommended that you approve this $2.5 million modest program of assistance to East Pakistani refugees to be administered through appropriate international and voluntary agencies.*

* President Nixon initialed his approval of the recommendation on April 29. The Embassy in India was informed of the President’s decision in telegram 75479 to New Delhi, May 1.”

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March 1971 http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/march-1971/ http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/march-1971/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2008 01:26:03 +0000 http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/?p=282 March 01: People tuned their radios and turned their TVs on because President Agha Yahiya Khan was supposed to address the nation. However, someone else read out a statement that President Yahya Khan has announced the postponement until “a later date” of the National Assembly. He termed it Pakistan’s “gravest political crisis.” Hundreds of thousands of enraged people took the streets.

Mujib reacts and calls for emancipation of Bengalees. Mujib held a press conference and said that this was not democracy but dictatorship and as a sign of revolt the people would observe general strike on 2nd March in Dhaka and the whole country on the 3rd. He also said further announcements would be held on March 7th.

Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan (the man with the idea), ASM Rab and Shajahan Shiraj of Chhatra (Student) League believed that only an armed revolution to create an independent socialist Bangladesh was the way. They demanded the independence of Bangladesh right away.

For the first time in Bengali history, slogans demanding independence for Bangladesh were heard: “Bir Bangali ostro dhoro Bangladesh shwadhin koro (Courageous Bengalis, take up arms and free Bangladesh)”.

Governor East Pakistan Admiral S.M.Ahsan, who refuses to open fire on the Bengalis if they go on strike, is replaced by General Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan.

“In response to a request from the Government of Pakistan, a decision was reached in Washington on March 1 to divert to West Pakistan 150,000 tons of wheat intended for disaster relief in East Pakistan. The request was triggered by grain shortages and rising prices in West Pakistan.” -WSAG minutes

March 2: Curfew was clamped in Dhaka from 8 am to 7 pm. However, the indomitable Bangalees took to the streets. Many were gunned down by the Pakistani troops.

Bengalees reacts. Mujib denounced firing on unarmed men and declares province-wide Hartal on each day from 3rd March 1971 to the 6th March, 1971 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. in all spheres.

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Defiant students (Central Students Action Committee) at Dhaka University led by A. S. M Abdur Rab (VP of the student government), Shajahan Siraj (GS of student govt), Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui, and Abdul Kuddus Makhan held a massive rally. Here for the first time the Independent Bangla Flag (currently Bangladesh flag is the same just without the golden map of Bangladesh inside the red circle) was raised by Rab at the historic Battala at the University of Dhaka.

March 3: Rab and Siraj read out the declaration of Independence of Bangladesh at a public rally in the presence of Sheikh Mujib fearing that since Mujib was in negotiations with Yahiya the revolutionary spirit was on the wane. But Mujib called for a non-violent non-cooperation movement instead of revolution. This day which was to have been the day for the sitting of the National Assembly was observed as a day of national mourning. Mujib demands in a meeting “Withdraw forces, transfer power“.

Curfew imposed in Sylhet, Rangpur, Chittagong, and Khulna. Angry mob burned the Pakistani flag angered by the decision to postpone the Assembly session.

Yahya Khan continues to posture for negotiations while non-bengali regiments of soldiers are surreptitiously flown into Dhaka from West Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rejected the invitation of President Yahya Khan to attend the proposed meeting of the leaders of all the parliamentary groups in the national assembly on March 10.

March 4: Non cooperation movement continued. Mujib congratulates people for stirring response to his call. He had asked the Govern­ment and non-Government offices where employees have not yet been paid their salaries, to function between 2-30 p.m. to 4-30 p.m. for the purposes of disbursing salaries during the next two days of Hartal.

US Embassy’s communication confirms:

“Mujib has admitted to several foreign correspondents “off the record” that he will announce the equivalent to independence for East Pakistan on Sunday (March 7). He did, however, go on to say that the East and West wings should write their respective constitutions and thereafter discussions over the form of linkage could take place.

At least one Pakistani air force C-130 has been seen flying into Dacca and there are recurrent reports of forces being flown into Dacca via the Pakistani commercial airline and of the movement of troops from the West via ship….It is known that there is pressure from some elements in the military to make a quick repressive strike against the East Pakistani leaders in hopes of cowing them and the rest of the province.”

General Khan resigns protesting Yahya’s refusal to visit East Pakistan; General Tikka Khan takes over as Governor East Pakistan.

March 5: Public demonstrations against a West Pakistani scheme to prevent the Bengalees from forming a Government are brutally suppressed. 300 killed in army actions on protesters. Army Withdrawn to Barracks- East Wing protest continues- Firing in Tongi, Rajshahi.

March 6: President Yahiya Khan announced that the Assembly session would be held on the 23rd of March and appointed General Tikka Khan as the Governor of East Pakistan. Text of the address to the nation by the President Yahya Khan, broadcast over
Radio Pakistan network.
Minutes of senior review group meeting in US Department of state including Henry Kissinger:

Another reason for our not taking the lead is that West Pakistan is very suspicious that we are supporting a separate East Pakistan state. If we tell Yahya to call off the use of force, it will merely fuel this suspicion.

March 7: Mujib said after two day long AL working committee meeting:

“It is only too clear to the people of the country and indeed the world that it is a minority group of Western Wing which has obstructed and is continuing to obstruct the transfer of power”.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced his decision to participate in the National Assembly session provided his four-point demand was accepted before the session. This negligence, he said, towards the leaders of the majority party was in fact a dishonour shown to the seven crore people of Bangla Desh.

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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech at the Racecourse Ground in front of about a million people.

“Mujib announced 4 preconditions for participating in the Assembly session. 1. Withdrawal of the martial law 2. Return of the troops back to their barracks. 3. Power handed back to the elected people’s representatives. 4. Proper investigation into the killings of unarmed civilians.

Finally, raising his fist Bangabandhu cried out at the top of his voice : “OUR STRUGGLE THIS TIME IS A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM, OUR STRUGGLE THIS TIME IS A STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE. JOY BANGLA.”

He asked that every house become a fort and attack the enemy wherever they can.

March 8: “People’s rule” by Bangabandhu, became the order of the day. The Bangalis were supremely disciplined and dedicated in this matter. Every man, woman and child scrupulously following the dictates of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Mujib asked for black flags to be raised on roof-tops for a week. He again asked for total shutdown and that no money be transmitted from the East to the West for an indefinite period.

In the evening Tajuddin Ahmad issued several clarifications and exemptions to mitigate public hardship and to prevent damage to the East Bangla economy.

March 9: Maulana Bhasani held a mammoth rally at Paltan Maydan extending his support to Mujib. 2 Bhasani asked Yahiya Khan to acknowledge the independence of Bangladesh.

Tikka Khan had arrived in Dhaka a few days after the non-cooperation movement had started, to take up the dual role of Governor and Martial Law Administrator for the Eastern part. But he had not yet sworn it. Finally he decided to be formally sworn in as Governor and summoned the chief justice of East Bangla for the purpose of administering the oath. Justice Siddique very politely declined. So did the other judges of the Dhaka High Court. This proved that Bangabandhu’s directives were being obeyed even at that top level.

Leftist forces of Bangla in exile formed the Bangladesh Jatiyo Mukti Songram Somonnoy Committee (Bangladesh National Freedom Struggle Organizing Committee) with Bhasani as the leader at Beleghata, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India.

The Bangladesh government in exile also formed the All Party Advisory Committee under Bhasani’s leadership. The others were Moni Singh (Founder of the Communist Party of Bangladesh) and Muzaffar Ahmed (NAP), Monoranjan Dhar, Tajuddin Ahmed and Khondokar Mushtaq Ahmed.

March 10: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a telegram to the UN Secretary General informing him that the human rights of the Bangalees (Bengalis) were being trampled. He asked for UN Secretary General’s help in stopping the flow of arms and ammunition from the west that were being used to kill the Bangalee civilians. Japanese, German and UN workers were withdrawn to their respective countries.

March 11: Keep economy in full gear in the name of Bangladesh: Tajuddin

Chances of a political situation – from a telegram of US consulate:

It is difficult to be completely objective in Dhaka in March when, out of discretion rather than valor, our cars and residences sport balck flags and we echo smiling greetings of ‘Joy Bangla’ as we move about the streets. Daily we lend our ears to the outpouring of the Bengali dream, a touching admixture of bravado, wishful thinking, idealism, animal cunning, anger and patriotic fervor. We hear on Radio Dacca and see on Dacca TV the impressive blossoming of Bengali nationalism and we watch the pitiful attempts of students and workers to play at soldiering.

March 12: Air Marshall Asgar Khan at Lahore said that if Bangladesh gains independence then, West Pakistan wont survive 5 years.

Memorandum from U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to Secretary of State on possible outcomes of the crisis.

March 10-13: Pakistan International Airlines canceling most of it’s international services, concentrated all available aircraft of ferrying “Government Passengers” to Dhaka. But those were the troops in civilian dress.

Yahia gives explicit warning that force would be used against any move for separation.

Asked by a foreign journalist if he planned to go for a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI), Mujib sounded ambiguous: “Independence? No, not yet.” At around the same time, when another foreign newsman questioned Mujib’s challenging of the authority of the Pakistan government in the province, the Awami League chief snapped: “What do mean by government? I am the government.”

March 14: People did not go to work in defiance of martial orders.

Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, Chief of the Council Muslim League said that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s demands were quite reasonable and should be accepted to end the present political crisis in Pakistan. (The Dawn, Karachi March 14, 1971)

Syed Siddiqul Hasan Gilani, Chief of the Parliamentary Affairs of the Jamaati­ Islami, said that the responsibility for the present crisis lay with Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, the People’s Party Chief, who had aggravated the situation by threatening to boycott the National Assembly session on March 3. (The Dawn, Karachi March 14, 1971)

Maulana Mufti Mahmud, leader of the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Islam Parliamentary Party said:

“In spite of the disastrous gravity of the situation in East Pakistan, of the tremendous heat and pressure generated there and the scope thus given to disrup­tive forces, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has shown his stature and his firm commit­ment to the solidarity of Pakistan, by putting in the present crisis four demands that are not in the least parochial or regional, but exclusively based on a national approach.”

Mr. Zulfikar All Bhutto, Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party addressing a public meeting in Nishtar Park said there were two Wings of the country. The People’s Party was in majority in this Wing and the Awami League in East Pakistan. If power was to be transferred to the majority parties of the two Wings, it should be given to the Awami League in East Pakistan and to People’s Party in West Wing.

March 15: Mujib claims he has taken over administration of East Pakistan except for the cities of Dhaka, comilla and Jessore – Central Intelligence Bulletin

Announcement of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – issued 35 directives (laws) to carry on with civilian rule.(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971):

- Non-co-operation movement to go on.
– Peoples determination commended.
– Fresh action programme as struggle enters 3rd week.

President Yahiya Khan arrived along with several other generals at Dhaka at 2:20 pm to meet Mujib for “negotiations”.

March 16: Mujib arrived at the President House hoisting a black flag to protest the horrendous massacre for the so called negotiations.

Pakistan’s Peoples Party cannot be ignored in country’s governance” says Bhutto in a press conference.

Minority parties leaders in West Pakistan criticise Bhutto’s speech.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan says “Bhutto’s stand is self contradictory“:

On the one hand, Mr. Bhutto has opposed the “grouping” of provinces in West Wing and on the other is suggesting transfer of power to the “majority party in West Pakistan”. “Politically there is no West Pakistan. There are four provinces in this Wing of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is at present “holding the Country together.” Because, if East Pakistan goes, West Pakistan will also disintegrate.

West Pakistan political leaders slate Bhutto-Press report on March 16, 1971 (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971)

Professor Ghulam Azam, Amir of the Jama’at-i-Islami said that it had been crystal clear from the statement of Mr. Bhutto that he did not want to see Pakistan United. The Jama’at leader alleged that Mr. Bhutto had engaged himself in ” a conspiracy” immediately after the last general elections to divide the nation to fulfil his desire. He made an appeal to the President “not to help Mr. Bhutto in any way to break Pakistan”.

Prof. Azam said that immediate lifting of Martial Law and transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people could only save the nation from crisis.

March 18: Second day of “negotiations”. Mujib declines to accept probe body set up by the Martial Law Administrator Zone B “to go into the circumstances which led to the calling of the Army in aid of civil power in various parts of East Pakistan between March 2 and March 9″.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mujib has sent Capt. Mansur Ali, leader of Parliamentary party in the East Pakistan Assembly. Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed, Vice-President, East Pakistan Awami League and Mr. Abidur Reza Khan, MNA-elect to Chittagong to make an on the spot enquiry into the recent firings and other incidents there.

March 19: Clash near Dacca – Curfew clamped in Joydevpur.

After 90 minutes of heated discussion with Yahiya, Mujib heard that the military had fired upon people at Tongi, Joydebpur and other places. Hearing this he found no reason to continue talks.

Mujib condemned the killings and said:

No sacrifice would be considered enough to emancipate the people of “Bangla Desh”. Bangla Desh can not be suppressed by force. If necessary we shall give the last drop of our blood to see that our posterity lived happily as a free citizen in a free country.

March 20: Mujib and Yahiya talked for 2 hours, this time with their advisors.

March 21: Mujib and Yahiya talked again as thousands agitated in the streets of Bangladesh. Pakistan People’s Party chief Z. A. Bhutto came to Dhaka for “talks” with Mujib. With Bangabandhu finally consenting to Bhutto’s joining the talks, Yahya Khan had him come over to Dhaka. Angry crowds of Bengalis dogged Bhutto and his team all the way to the Sheraton.

March 22: The concept of a united Pakistan had dwindled, owing to the stiff position adopted by the Awami League, to the issue of a confederal arrangement for the two wings of the country. After talks, Yahiya again postponed the session of the National Assembly.

Daultana, Wali, Mufti resent postponement of the National Assembly.

Political crisis will be resolved” – says President Yahya Khan in a message.

In the message given on the occasion of bringing out of special supplements captioned, “Emancipation of Bangla Desh” by most dailies, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman described the present movement as the struggle for total emanci­pation of seven crore Bengalees. This struggle will continue until the final goal is achieved, he said and added, the people of Bangla Desh could no more be silenced by bullets, guns and bayonets because they are united today (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 23, 1971).

Bhutto said in a press conference he had a “satisfactory meeting” with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hoped to meet him again. Bhutto said they were examining the broad agreement reached between the President and Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and assured that his party would make every effort to reach an understanding to end the present crisis.

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March 23: Mujib declared 23rd March as a holiday. At his residence in Dhanmondi, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman raised the Bangladesh flag, to the cheers of the crowd gathered on the road outside his gate. It was the Bangladesh flag that was displayed on his car as it wound its way through the streets and into the President’s House for a fresh round of negotiations with President Yahya Khan. The Awami League submitted a draft of what was considered its final proposals regarding a transfer of power to the Yahya Khan team on the day. General Peerzada promised to get back to the AL the next day.

March 24: The advisors of Yahiya and Mujib met. Mujib warns against bid to impose decision:

“Whatever conspiracy you indulge in you will not succeed in suppressing the demands of the people. We would not bow our heads to any force. We will free the people of Bangla Desh”.

Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, General Secretary of East Pakistan Awami League, urged the people to be vigilant and to be ready to make any sacrifice to defeat the conspiracies of anti-people forces.

Rumours abounded that Yahiya would hand over power on the 25th. Bhutto and his heavy body guard stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (Sheraton Hotel).

Major Ziaur Rahman and M. R. Choudhury asked Major Rafiq to abandon his (Rafiq’s) plans of pre-emptive attack on the Pakistanis to disarm them before they got a chance to attack. Zia and Choudhury said that the Pakistanis would not do anything and Rafiq’s ill-conceived plans would result in all of their deaths.

March 25: Daytime -newspaper headlines read that 150 people were killed in various parts of the country by the armed forces. Mujib regrets delays and fears that the talks were decoys. Mujib condemns attempts to divide Bengalees and Mohajir.

Sheikh Mujib gave a call for a general strike throughout ‘Bangla Desh’ on March 27th
as a mark of protest against heavy firing upon the civilian population in Saidpur, Rangpur and Joydevpur.

Mujib orders resumption of jute trade telecom links to function via Manilla.

“Only way out is to accept Awami League demands”, statement by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The staff and employees of the Hotel Intercontinental ceremoniously hoisted a regular sized ‘Joy Bangla flag’ replacing the smaller one at the main mast. The new flag measuring 100 x 60 inches was unfurled in the presence of a large number of people including foreign journalists.

Rumours flew around of imminent military action against the Awami League, indeed against the population.

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto’s Press conference in Dacca on March 25, 1971: Mr. Bhutto said that the quantum of autonomy sought by the Awami League was some thing which could be termed as “more than autonomy “. It was bordering on sovereignty.

Yahiya and his generals secretly fled Dhaka by 6 pm. Three battalions took up position in Dhaka as per previous plans.

Around 11 PM the army pounced on sleeping citizens of Dhaka to execute operation searchlight. The goal was to “crush” Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able-bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. By midnight, Dhaka was literally burning, especially the Hindu dominated eastern part of the city. Although the violence focused on the provincial capital, Dhaka, the process of ethnic elimination was also carried out all around Bangladesh. Hindu areas all over Bangladesh suffered particularly heavy blows.

Death squads roamed the streets of Dacca, killing some 7,000 people in a single night. It was only the beginning. Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed. Chittagong, too, had lost half its population.

Thus began the worst genocide of history… a genocide that many would like to forget and many would like that the new generation not hear about. The international media and reference books in English have published casualty figures which vary greatly, from 5,000–35,000 in Dhaka, and 200,000–3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole.

The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid May.

These systematic killings served only to enrage the Bengalis, which ultimately resulted in the secession of East Pakistan later in the same year.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Pakistani Army late at night. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto watched from the window of his suite at the Sheraton and saw the offices of The People newspaper blazing.

More on operation searchlight -from the “Witness to Surrender” by Siddiq Salik.

Hamoodur Rahman Commission’s report on the state of preparedness of the
armed forces.

March 26: The violence unleashed by the Pakistani forces on March 25, 1971, proved the last straw to the efforts to negotiate a settlement. Following these outrages, a declaration from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was distributed widely:

Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between E.P.R. and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla. (source)

A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s declaration reached some students in Chittagong in 26th of March early hours.

Soon after the Pakistan army took over Dacca Betar Kendro in the early hours of March 26, 1971. The Pakistanis renamed the radio station as “Radio Pakistan Dacca” and used it to announce martial law orders. On the evening of that same day a small radio station started broadcasting defiantly in the face of the Pakistan military’s bloody onslaught on the Bengalis. The clandestine radio station, located in Kalurghat north of the city of Chittagong called itself Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro -SBBK (Free Bengal Radio Station).

The first persons to broadcast that “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has declared the 75 million people of East Pakistan as citizens of the sovereign independent Bangla Desh.” in the evening on March 26, 1971 from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro in English were Ashikul Islam, a WAPDA engineer, and in Bengali, Abul Kashem Sandwipi. Later in the evening M. A. Hannan also broadcast the declaration from the telegram in a speech. (Bangladesh Observer, April 23, 1972)

March 26, 1971 is considered the official Independence Day of Bangladesh.

As evening descended on March 26, Bhutto arrived back in Karachi, to tell waiting newsmen: “Thank God, Pakistan has been saved.” In the evening, General Yahya Khan addressed Pakistanis to announce an outlawing of the Awami League and a determination to punish Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his “act of treason” in challenging the authority of the government of Pakistan.

Memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon:

“The West Pakistani army has moved to repress the East Pakistan secession movement. Our embassy believes that the military probably has sufficient strength to assert immediate control over Dacca and other major cities, but is not capable of maintaining control over an extended period.”

Minutes of the Washington special actions group meeting:

“After reviewing the situation in East Pakistan, the WSAG agreed that the U.S. should continue its policy of non-involvement in the dispute between West and East Pakistan. In particular, the U.S. should avoid being placed in a position where it could be accused of having encouraged the break-up of Pakistan. The WSAG agreed that the U.S. should delay action on any request that might be forthcoming for recognition of an independent East Pakistani regime.”

March 27: The Kalurghat Bridge area was controlled by an East Bengal Regiment under Major Ziaur Rahman who revolted against the Pakistani army. Bengali soldiers were requested to gueard the station. On request of Belal Mohammed of the SBBK, at 19:45 hrs on 27 March 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman broadcast announcement of the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur which is as follows.

This is Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro. I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangobondhu sheikh Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that the independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken command as the temporary Head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalis to rise against the attack by the West Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our Motherland. By the grace of Allah, victory is ours. Joy Bangla.

Zia

Major Ziaur Rahman brodcasted the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which was a moral boosting impact to the nation that an army major is on the side of Sheikh Mujib. He was quoted in international media as the provisional Commander-in-Chief of the Liberation Army.

Source: Audio of Zia’s announcement (An interview with Belal Mohammed who requested Zia to give the speech)

Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro And Bangladesh’s Declaration Of Independence – Mashuqur Rahman & MMR Jalal (also published in Prothom Alo and the Daily Star)

Shaheed Minar (Monument to commemorate the martyrs of the Language Movement) was blown up by the army with demolition charges.

Archer Blood, the American Consular General sent a telegram to different American consulate offices and embassies around the world expressing extreme horror at the systematic killing.

1. Here in Decca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak[istani] Military. Evidence continues to mount that the MLA authorities have list of AWAMI League supporters whom they are systematically eliminating by seeking them out in their homes and shooting them down.

2. Moreover, with the support of the Pak[istani] Military. non-Bengali Muslims are systematically attacking poor people’s quarters and murdering Bengalis and Hindus.

A telegram from the Embassy in India to the Department of State on the subject of
Government of India’s reaction to East Pakistan Developments.

During the debate in Lok Sabha Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India made an intervention and talked
about the political situation in East Pakistan
. She also discussed about it in Rajya Sabha:

“We are interested in this matter for many reasons, firstly as one Member has said, that Shri Mujibur Rahman has stood for the values which we ourselves cherish the values of democracy, the values of secularism and the values of socialism. We are also concerned with the truly wonderful and unique way in which the people there had stood behind him and behind these values. We are no less full of sorrow and grave concern and even agony at what is happening there but I can only appeal to the Hon. Members that this is not a moment when the Government can say anything more and whatever the Government may or may not be able to do it would not be wise if this becomes a matter for public debate.”

March 28: Memorandum From Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger).

March 28: Sidney H. Schanberg was one of 35 foreign newsmen expelled Saturday morning from East Pakistan. He cabled his dispatch from Bombay, India titled “IN DACCA, TROOPS USE ARTILLERY TO HALT REVOLT

March 29: New York Times said 5,000-7,000 people were killed in Dhaka. The Sydney Morning Herald said, 10,000 – 100,000 were killed.

Rain exposed two mass graves, one at Zahrul Huq Hall and the other at Rokeya Hall.

US department of State secret memo predicts Indian future response to situation:

a. Tolerate privately provided cross-border assistance to the East Bengalis ; This assistance could range from propaganda support to weapons and explosives.
b. Permit East Bengal dissidents to use India as a refuge and to conduct cross­border activities from within India.
c. Covertly provide supplies, including weapons, and perhaps some training, to East Bengal dissidents.

Telephone conversation between President Nixon and Kissinger.

Archer Blood sends another telegram:

American priests in old Dacca reports that army acted with no provocations on part of Bengalis except barricade erection. Army exclusively responsible for all fires. Technique was to set houses afire and then gun down people as they left their homes. Stated army looking for Awami Leaguers but more indiscriminate rather than selective in approach. Most army destructions on 25th and 26th night, lesser on March 27th and March 28th.

We have received reliable reports of troops engaged in looting homes. Military reportedly is standing by while non-Bengalis looting Bengali dwellings.

Police were simply executed in Mohammadpur and elsewhere as Army considered them as potential threat. 800 Police killed in surprise attacks. The East Pakistan Rifles camp in Peelkhana had 1000 EPRs present. 700 Killed, 200 overpowered and 100 escaped.

House to house searches underway with ex Bengali servicemen being special target and shot at site whenever found. “No police seen anywhere in Dhaka”.

26 hour chronicle of Dacca drama” -A diary through the eyes of Robert Kaylor of UPI of what happened in Dacca when the Pakistani Army took control.

March 30: Telegram from Archer Blood:

The university professors believed they were subject to a pre-planned purge and the burning of university documents suggested that the army wanted to eliminate all traces of the current “trouble making” elements at the university.

Six naked female bodies were found with bits of rope dangling from the ceiling fans at Rokeya Hall. Apparently the girls were raped, shot and hung from the heels.

The army burned Hindu and Bengali (Bangalee) areas in the Old Dhaka and shot ocupants as they came out. Hindus undeniably were specual focus of military brutality. Large fires burned on 30 and 31 March mostly in Hindu predominant areas. There were steady gunfire (1 shot every 10 seconds) in those areas. Large number of prisoners were taken into the EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) base.

First signs of ressistance: A British report said that army unit faced ressistance was in a desparate situation near Pabna.

Telephone conversation between Nixon and Kissinger.

March 31: Another Telegram from American consulate in Dhaka on the number of atrocities prdicts 4000-6000 death.

More on Army terror campaign and evidence that military faced some difficulties elsewhere.

Letter from Yahya Khan to Kissinger.

Minutes of meetings at US Deaprtment of state:

Dr. Kissinger: Does the government have Mujibur Rahman?
Mr. Blee: They captured him. Presumably he is in West Pakistan, perhaps in Quetta.
Dr. Kissinger: Will they execute him?
Lt. Gen. Cushman: Yahya accused him of treason. Possibly he has been shot already or was shot inadvertently.
Dr. Kissinger: Are we going to keep VOA quiet about reports coming from our Consul?

From an editorial in New York Times:

The United States, having played a major role in training and equipping Pakistanis armed forces, has a special obligation now to withhold any military aid to the Yahya Government. Economic assistance should be continued only on condition that u major portion be used to help bind up East Pakistan’s grievous wounds.

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