Mukti Bahini: The Forgotten Terrorists
Mukti Bahini killed 100,000 Biharis (according to the ‘Chronology for Biharis in Bangladesh’) to 150,000 Biharis (‘Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict’).
Qutubuddin Aziz, in ‘Blood and Tears’, has documented 170 eye-witness accounts of the ‘atrocities committed on Biharis and other non-Bengalis’ across 55 towns, covering ‘110 places where the slaughter of the innocents took place’. He estimated 500,000 killings by Mukti Bahini.
The most heart wrenching story was that of Masoom Ahmad reported by an Indian columnist Saurabh Kumar Shahi in his write up “History’s forgotten orphans” published in “The Sunday Indian” of 9 August 2009.
“As the mob came closer to our house”, Masoom was left with his wife and sister, recounts his uncle Zahir Siddique. “With only one bullet left in his revolver, his wife asked him to shoot her lest she be raped by the mob… the next day Zahir found the bodies, the empty revolver lay by Masoom’s side. He stops the tale here and offers me the last piece of Bihari Kibab. Who did Masoom shot? The truth will go to the grave with Zahir.”
According to a write up titled ‘Mukti Bahini and Indian Army were the initiator and executor of the genocide’ expressed in the Nepalese publication, the “People’s Review”:
“After the fall of Dhaka, Indian Army and Mukti Bahini arranged mass slaughter ceremonies of Pakistanis and Bihari Muslims in Dhaka race ground. Thousands of Bengali Muslims were also butchered who had sided with Pakistan against India and Mukti Bahini. In front of the cheering crowds of Mukti Bahini terrorists and Indian army troops, one by one, these Pakistanis were brought, tortured, their eyes taken out and they were bayoneted in sadistic macabre….. “
According to Lawrence Lifschultz, South Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Mukti Bahini leader, Abdul Kader Siddiqui, “personally bayoneted” non-Bengalis to death… and the entire incident was filmed by foreign film crews whom Siddiqui had invited to witness the spectacle.
“Two weeks after capitulation the non Bengalis were in the throes of a slaughter. The Mukti Bahini were taking their revenge after the fall of Dhaka by lynching anyone who appears to be an enemy”, writes Oriana Fallaci and Gianfranco Moroldo, the well known Italian interviewers. Mukti Bahinis had gone so out of control that even the Indian army had to kill thousands of Muktis after the surrender.
In his book, ‘Ami Bijoy Dekhechi’ (I have seen victory), journalist M.R.Akhtar Mukul, who ran the shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendra (Free Bangladesh Radio Centre), stated:
“For three days in Shantahar, medieval fiendish killings have been carried out. Now the town cannot be entered into, because of the stench from the dead bodies”. He continued, “The non Bengalis from Jairpurhat-Pachbibi area who have been fleeing towards Dhaka through Bogra were finished off here on the bank of the river.”
For the record, as per the 1951 census there were 671,000 Biharis in East Pakistan-and imagine up to 20 percent of the entire Bihari population was massacred by the Mukti Bahini. According to Yasmin Saikia’s ‘Women, War and the Making of Bangladesh’, thousands of Bihari women were raped and tortured by the Mukti Bahini (Duke University Press; page 41).
“No one has been able to strike terror into others and at the same time enjoy peace of mind”.
The Mukti Bahini terrorists may have been forgotten but the terror that they unleashed on innocent Biharis and other non-Bengalis cannot be whipped off the history books.
American Professor Rudolph Rummel estimates that 150,000 Biharis were massacred by the vengeful victors of Mukti Bahini in a brutal bloodletting in 1971. Mujib ur Rehman supported the brutal killings by his own Mukti Bahini.
In one of the incidents in Dhaka stadium, as a frenzied, shouting mob of 5000 Bengali screamed encouragement, young Mukti Bahini guerrillas methodically tortured four suspected Pakistani quislings. For 30 minutes, the guerrillas battered the bound bodies of the helpless prisoners with kicks and karate blows with the bayonets. Quietly and systematically, they began stabbing their victims over and over again- all the time carefully avoiding the prisoner’s hearts.
After more than ten minutes of stabbing, the grisly performance seemed at an end. The soldiers wiped the blood from their bayonets and begun to depart. But before they left the scene, a small boy – perhaps a relative of one of the victims- flung himself on the ground…next to a prisoner’s near lifeless body. In an instant the guerrillas were back, kicking the boy and beating him with their rifle buts. And as he writhed, the child was trampled to death by the surfing crowd.
This horrendous blood-letting took place next to Dhaka stadium. The man who ordered the public killing and personally saw the order being carried out is Abdul Kader Siddiqui, the Mukti Bahini commander from Tangail.
During her interview with Mujib, Oriana Fallaci, the Italian journalist, wanted to know what the Bangladesh leader thought of the massacre. The following conversation took place between Mujib and Fallaci:
Mujib- Massacre? What massacre?
Fallaci- The one committed by the Mukti Bahini at the Dacca Stadium
Mujib- There has never been a massacre at the Dacca stadium. You are lying.
Fallaci- Mr Prime Minister, I am not a liar, I saw the massacre with other journalists and 15000 people. If you’d like, I’ll show you photographs. My paper has published them.
Mujib- Liar, they were not Mukti Bahini.
Fallaci- Mr. Prime Minister, please do not repeat the word liar, they were led by Abdul Kader Siddique and were in uniforms.
Mujib- Then it means that those were Razakars that had opposed resistance and Siddiqui was compelled to eliminate them.
1. Dr Abdul Mu’min Chowdhry, Behind the Myth of 3 million
2. Afrasiab, 1971: Fact and Fiction