Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeWorldBangladesh: Hindu victims of Islamist arson attack in Rangpur say that the horror reminded...

Bangladesh: Hindu victims of Islamist arson attack in Rangpur say that the horror reminded them of 1971 genocide by the Pakistani army

Niranjana Mahanta, one of the victims of the arson attack and a resident of Majhipara Jelepalli, recalled how she escaped the onslaught of radical Islamists. She said, “I didn’t witness the Liberation War but what I saw Sunday night reminded me of the stories I had heard about the Pak army’s brutality in 1971. "

A day after radical Islamists burnt down 20 Hindu homes in Pirganj Upazila in the Rangpur Division of Bangladesh, the victims recalled the horrors of the 1971 Operation Searchlight on Monday (October 18), reported Dhaka Tribune.

Niranjana Mahanta, one of the victims of the arson attack and a resident of Majhipara Jelepalli, recalled how she escaped the onslaught of radical Islamists. She said, “I didn’t witness the Liberation War but what I saw Sunday night reminded me of the stories I had heard about the Pak army’s brutality in 1971. “

Furthermore, she recounted, “As the attackers unleashed hell on our village while screaming terrifying chants, I took my children and ran out of my burning home to hide in a paddy field. There I lay all night, pressing down my hand over my children’s mouths so their cries aren’t heard by the savage raiders.” According to Mahanta, her house was reduced to ashes when she returned home on Monday morning.

Another victim, Swarna Rani, lamented how she lost rice, furniture and money worth 60,000 Tk. “Now, we have no roof over our heads and no money to get back on our feet,” she told Dhaka Tribune. Ram Barman narrated how the radical Islamists set fire to 2 of the temples in the village. Sumit, a rickshaw driver by occupation, had lost his source of livelihood in the dastardly attack. The victims recounted that the cops were nowhere to be seen at the time of the attack, allowing the perpetrators to continue their carnage.

A total of 30 people were injured in the arson attack. The cops have detained 42 people in connection to the crime. A large consignment of police has been deployed to control the law and order situation in the area. Md Kamruzzaman, Assistant Superintendent of Police, remarked, “Police reached the spot soon after tensions mounted and stood guard around the home of the young man. We could save that house but attackers torched some 15 to 20 nearby houses.” DIG (Rangpur) Devdas Bhattacharya assured that all accused will be brought to justice.

Remembering Operation Searchlight and atrocities committed by Pakistani Army

The story began in 1970. In the General elections held on December 7 that year, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of the Awami League secured a huge majority (167 seats) in the provincial legislature in East Pakistan. With constant interference in the affairs of East Pakistan by its Islamic counterpart, Rahman had begun demanding greater regional autonomy.

This was just within 13 years of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent when Muslims sought a separate country of their own. Although united by the common Faith, the resentment between the West and East Pakistan towards each other continued to grow. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who won the most seats in West Pakistan in the 1970 elections, as opposed to the demands of Rahman. He had threatened to boycott the Assembly and sought the dissolution of the provincial legislature in East Pakistan if PPP was not included in the government.

Miffed over the denial of power and autonomy to East Pakistan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called the civil disobedience movement, on March 7, 1971. Bhutto feared civil war and President Yahya Khan, therefore, declared martial law and ordered the arrest of Rahman and other leaders. In order to contain the civil and political unrest, the Pakistan army launched Operation Searchlight on March 26, 1971. Rahman, disillusioned by the high-handedness of West Pakistan, had already called for independence from West Pakistan.

The Pakistani soldiers launched their attack on the Bengali population in Rajararbagh and Peelkhana area. They put Mujibur Rahman behind bars and ambushed the Dhaka university, resulting in the death of 9 teachers and 200 students in Iqbal Hal. Similarly, the Pakistan army continued with its barbaric attacks on civilians in Old Dhaka, Tejgaon, Indira Road, Mirpur, Kalabagan and other places.

On the same night, several people in Chittagong were shot dead by the army personnel. National newspapers, including, Daily Ittefaq, the Daily Sangbad were shut down and their offices were set ablaze, resulting in the death of several media personnel. Mass graves were dug out and hastily bulldozed. An estimated 700 people were burnt to death in Dhaka. Similarly, they set fire to the houses of slum dwellers, fired bullets at those running away to save their lives, razed a Kali Mandir and also destroyed the Central Shaheed Minar.

It is believed that around 10,000-35,000 Bengalis were killed by the Pakistan army under Operation Searchlight while the death toll increased to over 3 lacs in the months to follow. “Thanks to God that Pakistan could have been saved,” Bhutto had famously remarked. The genocide against the Bengali population intensified. In the following months, around 4 lac Bengali women were raped by the Pakistan army while a majority of the victims being Hindus.

The situation worsened, forcing neighbouring India to step in to prevent the further continuation of genocide. In 14 days, Pakistani forces under AK Niazi signed the Instrument of surrender and thus a new nation of Bangladesh was born. While Bangladesh has tried and hanged several war criminals, Pakistan continues to dispute the 1971 genocide, far from being apologetic about the heinous crimes.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -