Progressive member of the US House of Representatives, Ro Khanna, remembered the 50th anniversary of the Bengali Hindu Genocide on Friday. He said that he stands with the Bengali Hindu diaspora to ensure that the world never forgets “one of the most forgotten genocides of our time”.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Bengali Hindu Genocide. Millions were killed or displaced in what was one of the most forgotten genocides of our time. I stand with the Bengali Hindu diaspora & human rights activists to ensure that we and the world never forget.— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) March 25, 2021
After Ro Khanna made the tweet, Indian intellectuals proceeded to demonstrated precisely why the Bengali Hindu genocide of 1971 is “one of the most forgotten genocides of our time”. ‘Eminent intellectual’ Salil Tripathi jumped in to claim, without evidence, that the majority of those killed by the Pakistani Army were Muslims. Furthermore, he emphasised that they were targeted for being Bengali.
Pakistan army killed East Pakistanis who were Bengali, and weren’t targeting only Hindus. The majority of the victims were Muslims, but that was irrelevant. They were Bengalis. Do read @Gary__Bass‘s Blood Telegram, @srinathraghava3‘s book on 71, or my Colonel Who Would Not Repent— saliltripathi (@saliltripathi) March 26, 2021
Tripathi mentioned one book, Blood Telegram authored by Gary Bass, which certainly does not peddle the narrative he believes it does. In reality, Bass’s book reveals the twisted mentality of the then Indian government, one shared by Salil Tripathi himself, that led the Indian State to downplay the Bengali Hindu genocide.
Bass wrote in his book, “From Moscow, D P Dhar, India’s ambassador there, decried the Pakistan army’s preplanned policy of selecting Hindus for butchery, but, fearing inflammatory politicking from rightist reactionary Hindu chauvinist parties like Jana Sangh, he wrote, ’We were doing our best not to allow this aspect of the matter to be publicised in India’.”
Imagine the perversity of it for a moment. The Indian Government at the time covered up the genocide of Bengali Hindus in 1971 because it believed ‘secularism’ will come under threat in India. Swapan Singh, the then External Affairs Minister of India, is said to have told a meeting of India diplomats in London, “In India we have tried to cover that up but we have no hesitation in stating the figure to foreigners.”
“Singh instructed his staff to distort for their country: We should avoid making this into an Indo-Pakistan or Hindu-Muslim conflict. We should point out that there are Buddhists and Christians besides the Muslims among the refugees, who had felt the brunt of repression.” Genocide denial became the unstated policy of the Indian Government.
The book also noted that “senior officers like the COAS [chief of army staff and CGS [chief of general staff] were often noticed jokingly asking as to how many Hindus have been killed.” “One lieutenant colonel testified that Lieutenant General A K Niazi,who became the chief martial law administrator in East Pakistan and head of the army’s Eastern Command,asked as to how many Hindus we had killed. In May,there was an order in writing to kill Hindus from a brigadier.”
“There was a general feeling of hatred against Bengalis amongst the soldiers and the officers including generals. There were verbal instructions to eliminate Hindus”, the book states.
A user on social media pointed it out to Salil Tripathi that the book does not say what he believes it says. The user shared a photograph of a page in the book which explicitly describes how Hindus in East Pakistan were made a target.
Surprise surprise.— Rohan Mahadevan (@rohan_mahadevan) March 26, 2021
Next time you throw in a source like this thinking people haven't read it, try digging into how popular it is. pic.twitter.com/cLHyCUJkYw
The page in question notes that the staffers of Archer Blood, the US Consul General in Dhaka, noted that “evidence of selective singling out of Hindu professors for elimination, burning of Hindu settlements including 24 square block areas of Old Dacca and village built around temple… Also attack night of March 26 on Hindu dormitory at Dacca University resulting in at least 25 deaths.” It was also noted that “Hindus seem [to] bear brunt of general reign of terror.”
Scholar Shrinandan Vyas, in his research paper at IIT Kanpur, stated that of the 3 million killed in 1971, 2.5 million were Hindus. Senator Edward Kennedy and Pulitzer winner journalist Sydney Schanberg noted that Hindu houses were marked with a bright yellow ‘H’.
Vyas notes, “Nearly 2.5 million Hindus were killed during the 9 months of Pakistani Army repression of East Pakistan in 1971. Thus it was a Hindu slaughter in 1971.”. “Indian Government controlled ‘secular’ media deliberately hid the sinister truth of Hindu Genocide in East Pakistan,” he added.
The barrage of propaganda unleashed by the Indian Government all those years continues to have repercussions today. People who remember the genocide of Bengali Hindus are branded communal. It is another sordid reminder of the fact that Secularism in India is built over the corpses of Hindus and the misery of our people.