Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bangladesh - A Nation Divided? - Part 4 by Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Bangladesh: A Nation Divided? – Part 4


Dr. Habib Siddiqui

How many people died in the civil war of 1971 in East Pakistan that culminated in the emergence of Bangladesh? Is the casualty figure even important?

No official record exists. Instead, what we have are conflicting claims on the two sides – the perpetrators and the victims - that are off by a factor of 100!

As has been noted in the Guardian, UK (May 23, 2011) by Mr. Serajur Rahman, who was the deputy head of the BBC Bangla Program, when Sheikh Mujib arrived in London (after being released from Pakistan prison) on January 8, 1972 and was met at the Claridge Hotel by many Bangladeshis, he was informed there that based on information from various sources that up to "three lakh" (300,000) people might have died in the conflict. However, during his interview with journalist David Frost later, Sheikh Mujib was heard saying that "three millions of my people" were killed by the Pakistanis. That mention of the 3 million casualties would eventually become the official version in Bangladesh. As we have already noted the Hamoodur Rahman Commission (HCR) Report in Pakistan, in contrast, puts the figure at only 26,000.

This gross anomaly with the casualty figures reminds me of the response I wrote to al-Ittihad (a Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies, published from the USA) back in December 1980 challenging its editor - M. Tariq Quraishi’s views on the split of Pakistan. In the July-September, 1980 issue, Mr. Quraishi, commenting on Sheikh Mujib’s assassination, had stated, “Mujibur Rahman’s honeymoon with his people was of short duration. Once his treason was exposed, he was assassinated.” I was then a graduate student at the University of California, and found the remark absurd. In my letter, published under the title “Who was the traitor?” (al-Ittihad, vol. 18, no. 2, 1981, pp. 45-6), I wrote, “Muslims would like to know the real reasons that brought the emergence of Bangladesh, not lies. The second largest Muslim country [Bangladesh] came into being not for the so-called ‘treason’ of Sk. Mujib. It was solely owing to the mass extermination of Bangalis (3 million people were killed, 0.2 million women were raped, 90% of these victims were Muslims) by the heinous un-Islamic forces of Pakistan’s Army to preserve the Yahya-Bhutto brand of Islam. Bangladesh would have stayed with Pakistan had her rulers respected the majority wish (i.e., transfer of power to the Awami League, which captured 160 of the 300 seats in the National Assembly election of 1970)…. During the first 25 days of March, hundreds of innocent people were killed in several cities of the then East Pakistan by the Pakistani forces. The time was ripe for Sk. Mujib to declare independence during this period, had he really wished. But he did not. He fell victim to Yahya’s satanic ‘time-buying’ phony talks. The result was the genocide of an un-prepared people by a minority. The very night of March 25, when the blood-thirsty Pakistan Army, under the satanic guidance of Generals Hamid and Tikka Khan started killing its ‘24-year twin-brothers,’ the unity of Pakistan was dead; a new generation of nationalist Bangladeshis was born, which eventually led to the emergence of Bangladesh…”

In his long response to my letter, Mr. Quraishi, quoted at length from Dr. Matiur Rahman’s book – Bangladesh Today – an indictment and a lament – trying to prove that the hegemonic tendency of India was at the root of the split and that one of the latter’s objectives was to “embitter relationship between east and west Pakistan so that any reconciliation between them would be rendered impossible. This last objective could be realized only by means of a civil war, in which each side would commit unforgivable atrocities, perpetrate crimes against humanity, which would continue to hurt them as memories long…” (al-Ittihad, op. cit., pp. 46-49)

While Dr. Rahman may be absolutely right about the intentions of India to see Pakistan divided, it would be foolish to overlook the culpability of West Pakistani leaders whose attitude towards East Pakistan had been anything but brotherly. To put it bluntly, it was colonial, which had only widened the gap between the two wings ensuring that the majority wing had no participation in the governance of the country. Pakistan’s colonial policy was simply unsustainable for a geographically divided third world country. And the 1970 election result was a rude awakening call for mending the broken fences; it was Pakistan’s last best hope to remain united. By refusing to address the disparity issue that was at the heart of East Pakistani grievances, Pakistani leaders played into the hands of India, giving a reality to their strategic dream of a dismembered Pakistan, which they hate to confess. They also forgot to learn from history that whenever any government becomes destructive of its people's inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, it has ceased its right to govern, and that people has every right to alter or abolish it.

Dr. Rahman’s claims that Sheikh Mujib refused to accept premiership of united Pakistan and that “Each concession extracted from Yahya Khan was used as a springboard for the next demand” seem too ludicrous to be taken seriously. As reviewed earlier, General Yahya Khan wanted to retain power while Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wanted to attain it. The transfer of power to Sheikh Mujib was not part of that formula; the powerful civilian-military clique in Larkana and Islamabad had no wish to transfer power to Mujib. Had they done so, Pakistan would have survived and remained united. My view on this matter has not changed in the last four decades and has been echoed recently by B. Z. Khasru and many other researchers. In his book, Myths and Facts of Bangladesh Liberation War: How India, U.S., China and the USSR shaped the outcome, Khasru shows that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had a tacit preference to let East Pakistan secede (and leave West Pakistan to be governed by him) than be the subject to a weak federation ruled by Bengalis. Bhutto preferred power over unity of Pakistan. Yahya Khan’s allusion to Mujib as the future PM of Pakistan was more to scare the politicians in West Pakistan and the army to unite behind him than to hand-over power.

As to the casualty figure, Mr. Quraishi commented, “Again the figure of three million Bengalis killed by the Pakistani troops, as alleged by you, is an echo of the infamies created India and her anti-Islamic troupe.” He went on to write, “No wonder even the subsequent government in Bangladesh, despite its venom, could not corroborate it. Mr. Matiur Rahman quotes William Drummond of the Guardian, London, June 6, 1972: ‘My judgment, based on numerous trips around Bangladesh and extensive discussions with many people at the village level as well as in the government, is that the three million deaths is an exaggeration so gross as to be absurd. Since the third week of March (1972), when the inspector general’s office in Bangladesh home ministry began its field investigations, there have been about 2,000 complaints from citizens about the deaths at the hands of the Pakistan Army.’” (Op. cit., p. 48; William Drummond, The Missing Millions, The Guardian, London, 6 June, 1972.)

As to the matter of allegations relating to rape of Bangladeshi women, the HRC Report said, “The falsity of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's repeated allegation that Pakistani troops had raped 200,000 Bengali girls in 1971 was borne out when the abortion team he had commissioned from Britain in early 1972 found that its workload involved the termination of only a hundred or more pregnancies.”

One can understand why raped victims would not come forward because of the social stigma that they might face in a conservative Muslim society like Bangladesh. One can also disagree with the HRC Report, accusing it to be highly biased to save the neck or skin of the war criminals of the Pakistan military apparatus, but what about the Guardian’s William Drummond? Can he be accused of twisting facts? I was somewhat dumbfounded by such citations of which I had no knowledge. I needed to do my homework and check the veracity of claims and counterclaims on either side from both available and reliable sources.

It is true that within the days of his return to Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had asked the Awami League workers and elected members of the 1970 election to collect detailed reports on genocide, arson and looting committed by the Pakistani Army in Bangladesh and to submit those data to the Awami League Office within 15 days. (The Bangladesh Observer, January 16, 1972) He also formally instituted a 12-member Inquiry Committee on January 29, 1972. However, the Government of Bangladesh never said a word about officially receiving the report, which was, as per the original Gazette notification, due on or before 30 April 1972 or what happened to the Inquiry Committee's work.

In January 1972 Sheikh Mujib also announced a compensation scheme for the families of those who had been killed at the hands of the Pakistan Army and their collaborators. Under the scheme, every victim's family was promised TK 2,000 (taka) as compensation. A media campaign was started to encourage victim's families to apply for the compensation. However, as per Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh, only 72,000 claims were received. The relatives of 50,000 victims were awarded the declared sum of money. [Behind the Myth of Three million by M. Abdul Mu'min Chowdhury, p. 29]

In Chittagong, during the military occupation, one of our female Bengali tenants was abducted by Urdu-speaking Razakars. After the liberation, several women, once kept as sex slaves of the military, were reportedly rescued from various army camps. Some of the victims even included wives of fleeing Bengali officers and soldiers who had joined the liberation war. They were given the honorific title of Birangana (or heroine) to alleviate any social stigma that they might face in the society, and the government tried to provide incentives for their repatriation into the society.

Regrettably, no further Bangladesh government initiative was launched to record the casualty figures about the dead or raped victims of the 1971 War of Liberation in Bangladesh.

In late June of 2005 the Office of the Historian of the United States Department of State held a two-day conference on U.S. policy in South Asia between 1961 and 1972. Bangladeshi speakers at the conference stated that the official Bangladeshi figure of civilian deaths was close to 300,000, which was wrongly translated from Bengali into English as three million. Ambassador Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury acknowledged that Bangladesh alone cannot correct this mistake and suggested that Pakistan and Bangladesh should form a joint commission to investigate the 1971 disaster and prepare a report. A 2008 study in the British Medical Journal concluded that 269,000 civilians were killed by all sides in the war.

In her recently published book “Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War,” Dr. Sarmila Bose (who is a senior research associate at Oxford University) has also challenged the Bangladesh government’s official figures on death casualty and rape victims. She estimates that during the conflict of 1971 a total of somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 combatants and non-combatants perished on all sides. She also raises troubling questions about veracity – a massacre said to have killed 8,000 Hindus probably killed only 16 at most – as well as its effect.

Dr. Bose says that both Pakistan and Bangladesh are still “imprisoned by wartime partisan myths". She has also recorded cases of Bengalis committing "appalling atrocities" against the Biharis and other pro-Pakistani elements during and soon after independence. "In the ethnic violence unleashed in the name of Bengali nationalism, non-Bengali men, women and children were slaughtered," Dr. Bose says, arguing such atrocities took place in the towns of Chittagong, Khulna, Santahar and Jessore during and after the 10-month war. "Non-Bengali victims of ethnic killings by Bengalis numbered hundreds or even thousands per incident... men, women and children were massacred on the basis of ethnicity and the killings were executed with shocking bestiality."

In his book - Death By Government, Professor Rudolph J. Rummel estimates that perhaps 150,000 Biharis were murdered by the vengeful victors in a “brutal bloodletting following the expulsion of the Pakistani army” after 16 December, 1971. (p. 334) Qutubuddin Aziz’s book "Blood and Tears" contains the harrowing tales of inhuman crimes committed on the Biharis, West Pakistanis and pro-Pakistani Bengalis living in East Pakistan during that period. Quoting various citations, he estimates that between 100,000 and 500,000 Urdu-speaking and pro-Pakistani Bengalis (e.g., Razakars) might have been killed by the Bengali militants.

Again all such claims on any side are only guess works, and nothing more.

As a teenager back then, I can only testify to the things that I witnessed or heard from reliable sources. In 1972 when my cadet college reconvened, I was sad to learn about the death of some of our cadets and instructors – Bengali and Urdu-speaking. Eight of our students and 10 staff members got killed, and 4 were missing (after the war). That is like 5% of the entire cadet college population! While such a small sample cannot be generalized to mimic the entire population in Bangladesh, it does underscore the enormity of xenophobic violence on all sides.

Cadet Shah Abdul Momin (Hitlu) was one of the first freedom fighters to die in Bogra on March 29, fighting against the military. Cadet Hannan Ashraf, a 12-year Urdu-speaking student, was killed along with his parents by local Bangalis in Thakurgaon in March. Being away from home his older brother cadet Hasnat miraculously survived. Many Urdu-speaking cadets never returned and some later settled in Pakistan. I don’t blame them for making that decision. We, as a nation, have failed to safeguard their lives and properties!

There was wanton violence on both sides from March to December of 1971. With rapidly changing events, the former tormentors had become victims and vice-versa. And being caught in the middle, many innocent lives were unnecessarily lost.

My friend, cadet Tazeem Hasan’s older brother – Shameem bhai - a Chittagong Medical College student then, who was affiliated with the Students’ League (the student wing of Mujib’s Awami League), was saved by his mother in what she described as a tug-of-war between her and some Bihari Razakars trying to snatch him away. Later, however, Shameem bhai was picked up from the college campus by pro-Pakistan members of the Al-Badr paramilitary forces and taken to the Fayes Lake area to be shot at. Fortunately, after much torture, they decided not to kill him and instead handed him over to Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, son of F.Q. Chowdhury (ex- Speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly), in their Goods Hill house, possibly to extract information about the Mukti Bahini. There Shameem bhai was tortured inhumanly and then handed over to the military who took him to the Circuit House, which by then has become a torture house for torturing pro-liberation forces. For three days, he was hung upside down from the ceiling and beaten mercilessly, and then handed over to the prison authorities where he stayed until being released after Bangladesh got liberated. As I hinted earlier, there were many Bengali students like him that suffered serious injuries under detention, and many were killed, too.

The railway colonies in the Pahartali and Tiger Pass/Dewan Hat area of Chittagong city were notorious venues for xenophobic crimes. Many low-income Urdu speaking employees of the East Pakistan Railway had traditionally lived there. Before liberation, some Bangladeshi youths were killed and tortured there by the Urdu-speaking Razakars. After 16 December, I heard that the Urdu-speaking people living there were targeted by some members of the Mukti Bahini for their alleged Razakar activities. And this, in spite of the government directives not to take law into their hands!

Oddly, soon after 16 December, there seemed to be a mushrooming of a new brand of armed Mukti Bahini (the so-called 16th Division) – who during the 9-month long liberation war did not shoot a single bullet against the Pakistan military! As opportunists, they were taking advantage of the new reality. They appeared more zealous than the real Mukti-Bahini in some of the post-liberation period vendetta against the pro-Pakistani elements still living inside Bangladesh.

In certain parts of the newly liberated Bangladesh there were reported incidents of forcible and unlawful possession and occupation of properties, once owned by the Urdu-speaking people. In our neighborhood, a “16th division Mukti Bahini” hijacked the car of Mr. Baig, a very nice Urdu-speaking gentleman, who had done his utmost to save our entire community from any Pakistani inflicted harm. But after the war, we could not save his property! Those rifle or gun totting 16th Division guys were irresponsibly trigger-happy!

Taking advantage of the almost total breakdown of the law and order situation soon after 16 December, some of the Bengalis were hunting for the Urdu-speaking people, still stranded in Bangladesh, for sheer greed, if not for tit-for-tat revenge. Out of fear for their lives and those of the loved ones, many of the wealthy Urdu-speaking people fled Bangladesh, and many took shelter in the Red Cross camps. Many of them wanted to sell off their properties and possessions for a very small fraction of the market price. Most of their homes were later taken over by the Bangladesh government and put under Mukti Joddha (Freedom Fighter) Trust to cater for the needs of the family members of the freedom fighters – dead or alive.

My cousin Reena’s family who’s married to a bi-lingual Muslim from Calcutta did not feel safe in Bangladesh. Her husband, Abdul Mannan, was the Assistant Regional Director of Radio Pakistan, Chittagong. He was instrumental in transmitting Sheikh Mujib’s March 7 historic speech from Ramna Park when government directives were against any such transmission. And yet, he, his siblings and parents, living in Chittagong, felt insecure. They later settled in Rawalpindi.

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 Center), 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 Jaipurhat-Pachbibi area who have been fleeing towards Dhaka through Bogra were finished off here on the bank of the river. Women and children have been kept unharmed in a homestead.”

A Urdu-speaking friend of mine, Dr. Jawaid Ahsan (who was a fellow cadet then) said that he had personally witnessed the killing of scores of Biharis by Bengali vigilantes in the early days of the civil war. However, he and his family members were unharmed in their neighborhood in Rangpur. Ian Jack has also noted in the Guardian that Bengali jute mill workers in Khulna slaughtered large numbers – probably thousands - of their fellow Urdu-speaking workers on 28 March 1971. (As I have noted earlier, soon after the Pakistan military had moved in Khulna, my cousin Munna was picked up and he vanished; possibly killed by the Biharis.) After liberation, “Bengali mill workers repeated their original atrocity of the previous year and sent thousands more non-Bengalis into the rivers,” notes Ian Jack. [Guardian, 20 May, 2011]

The matter of the killings of the Bihari Muslims and Razakars was brought up by Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci in her interview of Sheikh Mujib. She mentioned how on December 18, two days after Bangladesh had achieved independence, in Dhaka Stadium she had witnessed the Liberation War hero Kader Siddique (Bagha Siddique) lynching the presumed ‘Razakars’ with bayonets while their hands and legs remained fastened with ropes. “He had bullets loaded in his guns, he could have had shot them to death.” Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib did not believe her and abruptly stopped the interview.

The greatest casualty in war times is always the truth. And that is what seems to have happened with Bangladesh/East Pakistan liberation/civil war of 1971. It is conceivable that while Bangladesh authorities exaggerated the casualty figures of their Bangladeshi victims to draw sympathy to their cause, they discounted the casualty figures of those Urdu-speaking and pro-Pakistani residents. Similarly, the lower estimates provided by the HRC Report seem aimed at arresting anti-Pakistan feelings and possibly exonerating the war crimes of their planners.

History emerges only slowly from the passion-filled context of contemporary events. Forty-two years have passed by since Bangladesh earned her independence. I think we are now better placed to look at this dark chapter in history objectively and dispassionately. It is, therefore, high time to set up a joint Bangladesh-Pakistan commission to investigate and prepare a report on this highly controversial issue around the 1971 casualty figures.

Whatever the true figures are, there is no denying that Pakistan government’s actions in 1971 in the then East Pakistan were utterly criminal and inexcusable by any book, something that was also admitted in the HRC Report, recommending court martials for several top generals. Their actions should fall under war crimes and can’t be whitewashed. The soldiers that they brought in from West Pakistan were brainwashed to justify their violent actions against the Bengalis –who were different in identity – in language, diet, dress and customs. And if journalist Anthony Mascarenhas can be believed, he reported that senior military officers in East Pakistan had told him that they were seeking a "final solution", determined "to cleanse East Pakistan once and for all of the threat of secession, even if it means killing 2 million people and ruling the province as a colony for 30 years." [Genocide, Sunday Times, London, 18 June, 1971] In their heinous crimes it did not matter that 90% of their victims shared the same religion as they did.

Ultimately, of course, neither the numbers nor the labels would matter. What matters is the pragmatic wisdom that political problems should not and cannot be solved through the barrel of a gun.

>>>> To be continued…

Bangladesh - A Nation Divided? - Part 3 by Dr. Habib Siddiqui

After the promulgation of East Pakistan Razakar Ordinance of June 1, 1971, some Bengalis either volunteered or were recruited to work as a paramilitary force or collaborators for the Pakistan’s military regime. They were called the Razakars. Some of the political parties that did not like the division of Pakistan actively sought out recruits for the Razakar (and other militia groups like the al-Shams and al-Badr) to fight and weaken the Mukti Bahini (the freedom fighters for Bangladesh) so that the emergence of Bangladesh as a separate state could be halted. More zealous of those party leaders even allowed their homes to be used as torture chambers for anyone suspected of belonging to the Mukti Bahini. In Chittagong, I was told by Rafiq bhai’s friends how the Goods Hill residence of Mr. Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, ex-speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly, was used to torture many students who were suspected of being members of the Mukti Bahini. Some members of the Razakar came also from the Urdu-speaking Bihari community. One day, my first cousin brother Munna was picked up in Khulna City by a Razakar; he never returned. Apparently, he was killed.

The pro-Pakistani paramilitary groups terrorized the rural areas of East Pakistan trying to find Mukti Bahini, suspecting anyone young in age who had not joined their forces. Since an overwhelming majority of the East Pakistanis supported the freedom struggle, they would often pass on tactical information on the Razakars to the Mukti Bahini, and hide information on the latter when pressed by the Razakars. Thus, the Mukti Bahini had comparatively much more success in ambushing and killing the members of the Razakar. Consequently, by the last quarter of 1971, the recruits to Razakar fell drastically, and they hardly dared to go out of their camps without superior firepower coverage provided by the Pakistan military.

By the last quarter of 1971, India had started not only providing material support to the Mukti Bahini but had also been training select groups of freedom fighters -- the Bangladesh Liberation Front (BLF), who would later come to be known as the Mujib Bahini. The Mukti Bahini guerrilla forces grew in size and numbered around 100,000. In his insightful book, Witness to Surrender, Brigadier General Siddique Salik estimated that Pakistan needed at least 250,000 to 300,000 troops, but even after organizing the Razakars (estimated strength 40,000), Pakistan could field only 150,000 (45,000 regular army, the rest paramilitary units) soldiers in East Pakistan.

With the added material support provided by the Indian government, the insurgency grew ever stronger. And with their guerilla-style hit-and-run tactics, the morale of the Pakistan military, deployed in East Pakistan, waned down. It was quite evident that tensions would reach a climax towards triggering a full blown war between India and Pakistan. That came on December 3, 1971. The eventual failure of combating the insurgency caused Pakistan to attack Indian air bases in Jammu and Punjab on that day with the objective to stop the Indian support for the Mukti Bahini. In response, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared war at midnight, December 3. Thirteen days later, Pakistani troops under Lieutenant General A. A. K. Niazi surrendered in Dhaka. Bangladesh emerged as an independent state on December 16, 1971.

The surrendering Pakistani forces – numbering more than 90,000 - were taken to India as Prisoners of War (POWs). They were later released in 1974 to Pakistan after a supplement to the Simla Agreement (July 2, 1972) was signed about repatriation between India and Pakistan. Those released included 195 POWs who were accused of committing war crimes or genocide in Bangladesh.

Amid overwhelming public anger in Pakistan over the loss of East Pakistan, the chief martial law administrator (CMLA) General Yahya Khan resigned on December 20, 1971 and transferred power to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who became president, commander-in-chief and the first civilian CMLA in Pakistan’s history. Bhutto immediately placed General Yahya Khan under house arrest, and ordered the release of Sheikh Mujib, who was held prisoner by the Pakistan Army. To implement this, Bhutto reversed the verdict of Sheikh Mujib's court-martial trial that had taken place earlier, in which the latter was sentenced to death.

Bhutto also created a judicial commission in December 1971 with Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman, the then Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan as its Chairman, to investigate military and political causes of the country's defeat in the 1971 war, or more specifically, "the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern command, surrendered” and also to investigate the accusations of atrocities committed by the military personnel in 1971 in what was once East Pakistan. The commission’s first report, prepared based on the interview of 213 people, was submitted to Bhutto in July 1972. After the return of the POWs, the inquiry was reopened. The final report, based on the interview of some 300 people altogether, also called supplementary report, was submitted on October 23, 1974, showed how political, administrative, military and moral failings were responsible for the surrender of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan. The commission challenged the claims by Bangladesh authorities that 3 million Bengalis had been killed by Pakistan army and 200,000 women were raped. The commission put the casualty figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties.

The report accused the generals of what it called a premature surrender to India. The report said Pakistan's military ruler at the time, General Yahya Khan, 'permitted and even instigated' the surrender, and it recommended that he be publicly tried along with other senior military colleagues - General Abdul Hamid Khan (Chief of Staff, Army), Lieutenant General S.G.M.M. Pirzada, Lieutenant General Gul Hasan (Chief of General Staff), Major General Umar and Major General Mitha (commandant of Army SS Group) - for being party to a criminal conspiracy to illegally usurp power from President Mohammad Ayub Khan. Five other Lieutenant-Generals (which included Lt. General A.A.K. Niazi) and three Brigadier-Generals were recommended to be tried for willful neglect of duty during the 1971 War.

It is worth noting here that Lt. General Gul Hasan, who had become the Army C-in-C after the 1971 War, was ousted on March 3, 1972, and was dishonorably discharged from the army by Bhutto. His alleged involvement and controversial approvals of military operations in East Pakistan during 1971 created a public resentment towards him, as he was the Director-General for the Military Operations (DGMO). Bhutto later appointed General Tikka Khan as the new Chief of the Army Staff in March 1972, just about a year after the latter was responsible for directing the brutal military crackdown in Bangladesh.

Major General Mitha was particularly active in East Pakistan in the days preceding the military action of March 25, 1971. After General Yahya Khan had secretly departed on the evening of March 25, 1971, Major General Mitha is said to have remained behind. He allegedly planned the military action with Lt. General Tikka Khan, Major General Rao Farman Ali and Major General Khadim Hussain Raja. His retirement was announced by Bhutto in December 1971, months before the Commission report was submitted to him. After retirement he was stripped of his medals and pensions without due cause. He was however never court-martialed, as recommended by the Hamoodur Rahman Commission.

After his return to Pakistan, Lt. General Niazi was blamed for the defeat and was removed from the army in 1975. Though the Hamoodur Rahman Inquiry Commission had recommended his court-martial, Lt. General Niazi did not face a trial. The final report included his statement, which supports some allegations of war crimes against the Pakistani Army in the early days of Pakistani crackdown in East Pakistan: “Damage done during those early days of the military action could never be repaired, and earned for the military leaders names such as ‘Changez Khan’ and ‘Butcher of East Pakistan.’” The report said, “He [Niazi] went on to add: "on the assumption of command I was very much concerned with the discipline of troops, and on 15th of April, 1971, that is within four days of my command, I addressed a letter to all formations located in the area and insisted that loot, rape, arson, killing of people at random must stop and a high standard of discipline should be maintained. I had come to know that looted material had been sent to West Pakistan which included cars, refrigerators and air conditioners etc." When asked about the alleged killing of East Pakistani officers and men during the process of disarming, the General replied that he had heard something of the kind but all these things had happened in the initial stages of the military action before his time. He denied the allegation that he ever ordered his subordinates to exterminate the Hindu minority. He denied that any intellectuals were killed during December, 1971. He admitted that there were a few cases of rape, but asserted that the guilty persons were duly punished.” (Chapter 2)

The report quoted Brigadier Shah Abdul Qasim (witness No. 267) about the use of excessive force on the night between the 25th and 26th March 1971: “Army personnel acted under the influence of revenge and anger during the military operation."

The report also quoted Brigadier Iqbalur Rehman Shariff (Witness no. 269), who alleged that during his visit to formations in East Pakistan, General Gul Hassan used to ask the soldiers "how many Bengalis have you shot." The report quoted Lt. Col. Aziz Ahmed Khan (Witness no 276) who was Commanding Officer 8 Baluch and then CO 86 Mujahid Battalion: "Brigadier Arbbab also told me to destroy all houses in Joydepur. To a great extent I executed this order.”

The Report said, “There is also evidence that Lt. Gen Tikka Khan, Major Gen. Farman Ali and Maj. Gen Khadim Hussain were associated with the planning of the military action. There is, however, nothing to show that they contemplated the use of excessive force or the commission of atrocities and excesses on the people of East Pakistan.”

Interestingly, thus, the Commission did not find any of the major players, including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and General Tikka Khan, guilty of the crisis which led to the dismemberment of Pakistan. As noted by Lt. General Niazi in his interview with journalist Amir Mir (December 2001), Pakistan’s new Army chief General Tikka Khan and his boss President Bhutto did not want to open the Pandora’s Box.

According to Lt. General Niazi, “Yahya and Bhutto viewed Mujib's victory in the 1970 election with distaste, because it meant that Yahya had to vacate the presidency and Bhutto had to sit in the Opposition benches, which was contrary to his aspirations. So these two got together and hatched a plan in Larkana, Bhutto's hometown, which came to be known as the Larkana Conspiracy. The plan was to postpone the session of the National Assembly indefinitely, and to block the transfer of power to the Awami League by diplomacy, threats, intrigues and the use of military force. Connected to this conspiracy was the 'M. M. Ahmed plan', which aimed at allowing Yahya and Bhutto to continue as president and prime minister, besides leaving East Pakistan without a successor government. After the announcement of the date of the assembly session (to be held at Dhaka), there was pressure on the politicians to boycott it. The reason given was that East Pakistan had become a hub of international intrigue, therefore, it should be discarded. In the end, this clique achieved its aim.”

Commenting on the Hamoodur Rahman Commission of Inquiry Report, Lt. General Niazi said, “Similarly, Tikka has not been mentioned in the report, although his barbaric action of March 25 earned him the name of butcher. The commission overlooked his heinous crimes. As far as Rao Farman is concerned, he was in-charge of the Dhaka operations. According to authentic press reports, tanks, mortars and artillery were ruthlessly employed against the Dhaka University inmates, killing scores of them. Rao remained military adviser to five governors and had his finger in every pie.”

In its concluding remarks on allegations of war crimes, the Hamoodur Rahman Commission of Inquiry Report said, “From what we have said in the preceding Paragraphs it is clear that there is substance in the allegations that during and after the military action excesses were indeed committed on the people of East Pakistan, but the versions and estimates put forward by the Dacca authorities are highly coloured and exaggerated… Irrespective, therefore, of the magnitude of the atrocities, we are of the considered opinion that it's necessary for the Government of Pakistan to take effective action to punish those who were responsible for the commission of these alleged excesses and atrocities.” It further recommended a fruitful inquiry to be undertaken to investigate all the allegations by requesting the Dacca authorities to forward whatever evidences they might have.

In December 2000, 29 years after the inquiry was completed, the full report of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission of Inquiry was finally declassified in Pakistan by President Musharraf's Military government.

Bangladesh: A Nation Divided? - Part 2 by Dr. Habib Siddiqui

According to Lt. General A. A. K. Niazi, who was in charge of Pakistan's Eastern Command when it surrendered to the joint Bangladesh-India forces on December 16, 1971 in Dhaka, “The 1971 imbroglio was the outcome of an unabated struggle for power between Yahya, Mujib and Bhutto. Yahya wanted to retain power while Bhutto wanted to attain it. This was despite the fact that Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League had emerged victorious and he should have been handed over the government. Bhutto’s fiery speeches were not mere rhetoric, but the actions of a desperate man vying for power at any cost. Had power been transferred to Mujib, Pakistan would have remained united.” [Interview with Amir Mir, India Abroad, in December, 2001.]

Instead of transferring power to Sheikh Mujib, the military government of General Yahya Khan concocted a sinister plan - Operation Searchlight, which called for a brutal military solution to the constitutional crisis in East Pakistan. The plan called for neutralizing all East Pakistani (Bengali) troops by seizing weapons and ammunition, and disarming of the 15,000-strong EPR, armed police (numbering 23,606 out of a total of 33,995) and other para-military formations in East Pakistan on the zero-hour. Its objectives were to eliminate the Awami League (AL) apparatus and any civilians and personnel of the armed forces supporting the Awami League movement in defiance of the martial law.

At the zero hour, the operation was to be launched simultaneously all across East Pakistan with the objectives of arresting maximum number of political and student leaders, and those among cultural organizations and teaching staff; the operation was to achieve 100% success in Dhaka; Dhaka University – the center of Bangladeshi nationalism - would be occupied and searched; free and greater use of fire was authorized for securing cantonments; all internal and international communications were to be cut off, including telephone, television, radio and telegraph.

As planned, in those early days of March 1971, the fly-in of troops into Dhaka from West Pakistan continued. PIA’s fleet of Boeings flew the troops in. Ammunition was also delivered by ship to the southern port city of Chittagong. The Army was mobilized to unload those arms carrying ships. And all these preparations continued while Yahya Khan continued his dialogue with Mujib in March 1971 until the zero-hour came.

Before putting the plan into action, senior Pakistani officers in East Pakistan who were unwilling to support the military operation on civilians were relieved of their duties. Vice Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, the Martial Law Administrator and Governor of East Pakistan, was absolutely against any military action, and he resigned weeks before the zero-hour. Lt. General Sahabzada Yaqub Ali Khan, Chief of General Staff, Commander Eastern Command, who briefly served as the Governor of East Pakistan after Vice Admiral Ahsan’s resignation, was also removed from East Pakistan. Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan (known as the ‘Butcher of Baluchistan’) was chosen to become the new Governor and GOC of East Pakistan. He had arrived quietly at Dhaka airport on March 7, 1971 at 4 p.m., accompanied by Major General Rao Farman. Chief Justice B.A. Siddiqui of East Pakistan High Court refused to swear him in, and only did so after the zero hour.

Although the Plan did not specify the time needed to subdue East Pakistan, it was assumed that after the arrest of the political leadership, which included arresting Sheikh Mujib and 15 top AL leaders, and disarming of the Bengali military and paramilitary units, civilians could be terrorized into submitting to martial law within a week. Lt. General Tikka Khan estimated that no resistance would remain after April 10.

The zero hour came in the night of March 25, 1971. Mujib and his legal advisor Dr. Kamal Hossain were arrested. However, the other top AL leaders managed to escape to India where they eventually formed the Bangladesh Government in exile. As already noted, many Bengali troops, EPR, Ansar and Police forces fought valiantly against Pakistan military and set up resistance groups from within the local civilian population, until being pushed out to India.

According to the New York Times, probably 35,000 people got killed in Dhaka during the Operation Searchlight.

The ordinary Pakistani soldiers brought from West Pakistan were ordered by Generals Tikka Khan and Rao Forman Ali to set an example by killing as many Bengalis as possible since they have proven to be unreliable and unpatriotic. It did not matter that 90% of their targeted victims were Muslims who read the same Qur’an and prayed in the same direction of the Ka’bah.

Most of the atrocities committed in East Pakistan by the Pakistani military happened in the first two months of the crackdown - March and April of 1971. By the dawn of 10 April, Pakistani forces had gained control of Dhaka, Rangpur, Saidpur, Comilla, Chittagong, and Khulna. All able-bodied young men were suspected of being actual or potential freedom fighters. Thousands were arrested, tortured, and killed. Sweeps were conducted of young men who were never seen again. Bodies of youths would be found in fields, floating down rivers, or near army camps. As noted by Professor Rounaq Jahan of Dhaka University, “Eventually cities and towns became bereft of young males who either took refuge in India or joined the liberation war.”

News of such atrocities led to the exodus of millions of East Pakistanis to India, who mostly lived as refugees in the Indian states bordering East Pakistan. Many of the young recruits to the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters for Bangladesh) came from these refugees. A great majority of them were trained by the Bengali-speaking East Pakistani soldiers and officers, who had fled to India, and set up training camps along the borders. With the arms and ammunition brought in by them and/or captured from Pakistan military, they were able to train the Mukti Bahini and lead guerilla operations inside East Pakistan against an enemy enjoying superiority in number of trained men, firepower, and complete air superiority. In those early months of the war, the Indian government of Indira Gandhi refused to provide material support to the Mukti Bahini, which arguably could have liberated Bangladesh without any Indian intervention.

Lt. General A. A. K. Niazi, who took command of Pakistan forces in East Pakistan on April 11, 1971 from the outgoing GOC, Major Gen. Khadim Hussain Raja focused his strategy around defeating the Mukti Bahini, which included combing operations to wipe out the insurgent network. Against this strategy Bengali field commanders opted to go with holding as much area for as long as possible while the Bangladesh government-in-exile sought diplomatic recognition.

By late April, all the major cities in East Pakistan had fallen to Pakistan military. By mid-May all major towns had been captured by the Pakistan military and by mid-June the battered remnants of the Bengali fighters had been driven across the border into India. The Mukti Bahini, suffering from a lack of trained men, proper logistics and coordination, plus timely material support from India, had lost the conventional battle against the much superior Pakistani forces.

A few thousand people sought refuge during April and May, mostly the resistance fighters, in India. However, as Pakistani army operations spread throughout the province, refugees fleeing to India increased. Ultimately, approximately ten million people would leave East Pakistan, and about 6.7 million were housed in 825 refugee camps. An estimated 7.3 million would be in West Bengal, and 1.5 million in Tripura. The rest were mainly in Assam and Bihar states of India.

Bangladesh - A Nation Divided? - Part 1 By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

March 26 is a very important day in the history of Bangladesh. It is celebrated as the Independence Day of Bangladesh although the true liberation of the country came some nine months later on 16 December, 1971. I was a high school student studying in a cadet college. Our school was closed sine die on March 8, 1971 - a day after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had delivered historic speech in the Ramna Race Course of Dhaka (now the capital city of Bangladesh) where he called a nationwide strike and launched a non-violent non-cooperation movement against the Government of Pakistan. His party – the Awami League – had won 160 of the 300 National Assembly seats (all from East Pakistan) contested in the parliamentary election of 1970, and was supposed to form the government. But the military regime of General Yahya Khan with the backing from the People’s Party of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which had won only 81 seats (all from West Pakistan) in the election, won’t hand over the power to Sheikh Mujib.

The 1970 national election result was a big surprise to the military regime. In its worst nightmares, it probably never imagined Sheikh Mujib’s East Pakistan-centric party (the Awami League) to win with a simple majority (all but two seats from East Pakistan). The military junta had falsely assumed that a coalition government would emerge, which would allow the military to maintain its sway over the political developments inside the country. The election outcome was, therefore, shocking and unacceptable to the ruling regime. In this, it perceived a divided country separated by a thousand miles of hostile India. It did not want to accept the mere fact that years of domination from West Pakistan had already alienated the people living in the eastern wing of Pakistan. As a matter of fact, since August 14, 1947 when Pakistan gained her independence from British India, the political elite (which also included military) from the western part of the country had been ruling the country for all but two years (1956-58). It is worth noting here that in those years, the Bengalis living in the East Pakistan comprised the majority (54%) of the population of Pakistan.

Years of negligence and discrimination from the central government, which had spent less than 29% of its budget in East Pakistan, had made Bengali nationalism the rallying ground for most Bengali speaking people to support the political agenda of the Awami League, led by its charismatic leader Sheikh Mujib, fondly known then as the Bangabandhu (the Friend of Bengal). The party participated in and won the 1970 election with a Six-point formula, promising regional autonomy to the federating units so that political, economic and social aspirations of its Bengali speaking people would be met under a federal system of government.

Instead of convening the National Assembly session on March 3, 1971 and handing over power to the majority Awami League, the Pakistani President General Yahya Khan indefinitely postponed it, thus, precipitating massive civil disobedience in East Pakistan. Within weeks hundreds of demonstrators and supporters of the Awami League were killed by the police, further worsening the situation.

In his speech at the Race Course on March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu declared a four-point demand to consider the national assembly meeting on March 25, 1971. These were: (a) the immediate withdrawal of the martial law; (b) immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks; (c) an inquiry into the loss of life; (d) immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting of March 25. In spite of much pressure from the hawkish elements within the student groups, he resisted the temptation to declare secession of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) from Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujib further strengthened his position by issuing 35 directives for the management of East Pakistan on March 15. On March 16-24, Mujib, Bhutto and Yahya held a series of meetings, which appeared to give the impression of attempting to forge a compromise. As the negotiations proceeded, the country was extremely tense. When an army ship – MV Swat - full of ammunition docked at the port city of Chittagong in East Pakistan on March 18, hundreds of thousands of Bengalis blockaded the port to prevent it from being unloaded. The deployment of West Pakistani soldiers and the shipment of arms and ammunitions meant that the central government was not serious in resolving the constitutional crisis peacefully and was using the so-called negotiations as a ploy to misdirect attention. Student leaders within the pro-Awami League Students’ League raised new flags for Bangladesh and demanded that Sheikh Mujib declare independence. But Mujib, warned by his wise policy advisers, did not want to give the military regime an excuse to try him and his party leaders for committing treason against the state. As such, he stuck to his demand and continued negotiations.

In my neighborhoods along Zakir Hossain Road in East Nasirabad and south Khulshi, Chittagong, I could see college students taking para-military type training without guns and rifles. Fearing military incursion, they put up barricades on the streets. They were ready to lay down their lives when and if Bangabandhu declared independence.

In our upscale neighborhood, many non-Bengali merchants and jute mill managers and owners lived. Fearing undue violence, which might ensue any time, my father and some of his elderly friends formed peace committees and ensured that everyone’s life and properties would not be threatened by any troublemaker.

Then came the fateful night of March 25, 1971 when perhaps thousands of Bengali-speaking East Pakistanis were killed in Dhaka and Chittagong by Pakistan Army. Rumors circulated late at night that General Yahya Khan had ordered the arrest of Bangabandhu and some of his aids before flying back to Islamabad. In Chittagong, thanks to border security forces of East Pakistan Rifles, reporting to Major Rafiq, the city with its seaport was still under control of local Bangladeshis and the military cantonment in Sholashahar, within walking distance from my home, was surrounded by them. It was said that more than a thousand new army recruits from East Pakistan were killed while they were asleep in their barracks by the West Pakistani non-Bengali forces. Included amongst the casualty was an East Pakistani colonel – M.R. Chowdhury. No one seemed to know the whereabouts of another high ranking East Pakistani Brigadier Majumdar.

On March 26, I saw a cyclostyle copy of the declaration of independence made by Bangabandhu, which was apparently received by Captain Moslem (a Bangladeshi) of the Signal Corpse of Pakistan Army – who was our neighbor. This documentation is exactly similar to the one which later came to be known as the Independence Declaration of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

In the late afternoon of March 26, I walked towards Sholashahar and witnessed rifle-carrying para-military forces of Ansar surrounding the home of a Urdu-speaking manager or owner of a jute mill who reportedly had shot at the crowd on the street. To get him out of his house, some people threw fire-bombs at his well-protected concrete home. It was a disturbing scene for me to watch and I returned home.

In those days of late March, with the reports of killing of Bengalis, esp. in Dhaka, by the Pakistan Army circulated, there must have been a lot of violence directed against Urdu-speaking Biharis (Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees from the state of Bihar in India who had fled to East Pakistan after the partition of India), who were perceived to be pro-Pakistan and against Bangladesh. But I did not personally see any such violence in the violent months that followed. Our mixed neighborhood was free from any such violence.

My sleep on the night of March 26 was cut short by sounds of mortars, reportedly fired from the Patenga and Halishahar port areas by the Pakistan Navy and Army. I remember taking shelter in the bathroom with my sister. The next day, I discovered an unexploded mortar shell that had landed the night before in my neighbor’s yard. Rumors also circulated about the existence of a Free Bangladesh Radio Station, operating from Chittagong, and we were later able to listen to the declaration made on behalf of Bangabandhu by Major Zia, a Bengali officer who had joined the (rebel) liberation forces.

The rifles and guns of the Bengali-speaking police, Ansar and EPR were no match against the superior fire powers of the Pakistan military, and within days by end of March, the once barricaded Pakistani forces were able to come out of their barracks and retake the entire city. Fearing harm, we quickly brought down a huge boat – the symbol of Awami League – which was visible from the road and had been hanging for months from the roof our 3-story house ‘Prantik’. From the roof top we could witness the surrender of the lightly armed Ansar, police, and Rifle (liberation) forces to highly armed Pakistan Army and Navy, who came in tanks and armored cars hoisting Pakistani flags. We could also see jet fighters and bombers of Pakistan Air Force flying in the sky. In our home, we fed and clothed many fleeing members of the resistance force so that they could hide from and leave undetected by the Pakistan military. Some fighters, afraid of carrying their rifle any more, buried it in our backyard. In our home, we also treated some bullet-injured members of the Ansar and the EPR.

Rumors about and fears of massacre created such a panic that many city dwellers started fleeing from the city. Later we heard that many of them did not make their way to safe havens, but were killed on the Trunk Road going out of the city. In our neighborhood, a doctor was reportedly killed by the Pakistan Army. For days, I could smell of dead corpse for no one had dared to venture out to bury the corpse.

In early April, soon after the takeover of Chittagong, the military imposed curfew in the city with a short break of only an hour or two for people to buy their food and medicine, or attend to business. It was very dangerous going out of home. [In those days, quite a few of our family friends, which included the Chairman of Port Trust, had disappeared, and no one had heard from them ever since. They were probably summarily executed and their bodies dumped or buried in some unmarked grave.] My father, however, wishing to find out about the whereabouts of his friends, neighbors and relatives would go out ignoring my mother’s protests about the danger that waited outside. [Some of his friends, in their haste to leave the city, had left their home doors and cars unlocked. In those days cars were a luxury and vulnerable item for getting picked up by the military unless put inside the garage. Similarly, homes could be robbed of all the valuables.]

And my mother was right. In one such trip to my cousin’s home in Agrabad, my 9-year old sister and I accompanied him and one of his friends in our car. When we had just crossed the Dewan Hat area, not too far from the commercial center of Agrabad, a military jeep commandeered our car to its camp in Tiger Pass. Soon we were taken to a room and Captain Rizvi, a Urdu-speaking officer who lived in our neighborhood in the same building where Bengali-speaking Captain Moslem had lived, showed up. He started screaming, “You are Awami Leaguers,” “miscreants,” “traitors,” and “you must be killed.” Realizing probably our tender young age, he let me and my younger sister leave. He and his orderly corporal took my father and his friend outside the room near a tree with the intention to execute them.

As we two walked towards the gate, and my sister crying greatly, we noticed a jeep approaching the military camp from outside. A senior ranking air force officer stepped out of the jeep and inquired why we were crying. When I explained what had happened, he said, “Do you know how many Urdu-speaking people were killed by your Bengalis?” I told him that such information was news to me since in our area no such violence had happened, and that my father ought to be credited for the peaceful coexistence; and that if he wanted to verify about my father’s role, he could contact our next-door Urdu-speaking neighbor, or others. I told him that he could contact Wing Commander Sulayman Kayani, my cadet college principal, to learn more. He said that he could take me to parts of the city where many Biharis had lived and show scores of shoes of two- and three-year old girls that were murdered by Bengalis. I was simply shocked and told him that I was very sad to learn the nature of violence perpetrated by people of my own linguistic group against another group. He told us that he would talk to Capt. Rizvi and stop the execution.

Rizvi, probably having seen the high ranking officer talk to me, did not carry out the execution. My father later told me that the officer stopped the execution and inquired about why he was brought into the camp. He then called my father and apologized for Rizvi’s rudeness. Apparently, Rizvi was upset that Capt. Moslem, who shared the same house and lived upstairs, had deserted Pakistan Army and joined the liberation force. The Air Force officer told my father to collect the latest information about Moslem and report back the next day before noon. We were all relieved to dodge death. However, the curfew time imposed in the evening was approaching fast, and we were afraid that if we did not make it to our home by driving fast within the next five minutes, we might be violating the curfew and could be shot at on the street. We arrived home in the very nick of time.

My mother and other two siblings were very worried that we had left my cousin sister Reena’s place in Agrabad nearly an hour ago and had not returned. They were relieved to see us return alive. But when my father told everyone that he had been asked to report back the next day, it was a panicky moment. If he did not report, the military could come to our home, which was well known to them and kill everyone. If he reported, what’s the likelihood that he would return alive again? The Urdu-speaking good neighbor of ours suggested that my father report back, giving us the hope that “InshaAllah, nothing would go wrong.”

Later I learnt from my father that it was a very wearying night for him. He had not slept the entire night. He decided to report back the next morning. My younger brother accompanied him to the military camp. My mother prayed for their safe return. Fortunately, as my father’s car approached the gate of the camp, the good-natured Air Force officer was in a hurry and about to leave for the airport to receive a very high ranking general. When my father told him that he had no information on Capt. Moslem, the officer told him that if Moslem was inside the country they would find him. He then told my father to go home, and again apologized before stepping in his jeep. If my father had missed that Air Force officer, he would have found the trigger-happy Capt. Rizvi awaiting him. And God knows, what could have happened!

After returning home, within days my father decided that it was no longer safe for him to live inside the city, and he moved away to rural areas to finance and help the liberation movement.

When the time for the SSC and the HSC examinations came, all the cadets were summoned to appear at Mymensingh Cadet College in Mirzapur. I decided not to go. Instead, on the suggestion of a freedom fighter in our locality I decided to collect information on the war from various media sources, including the BBC. The information was used for boosting the morale of the freedom fighters, who by then were showing some success against the military and their local agents.

In our home, we gave shelter to two other families who were afraid to live in their own homes. One was the family of my childhood home instructor – Hari Sadhan Das, a college professor. He and his wife lived with us for the entire nine months of the liberation war. From August onward, after the first batch of India-trained freedom fighters had returned to Bangladesh and started ambushing Pakistani forces, our home provided shelter to three freedom fighters. The first of these, Rafiq bhai, a student at the Commerce College, died in a gun exchange with the Pakistan Army on November 1 in front of City College. One of his friends brought the sad news to us, and we cried. Although he was not a relative, he became more like a cousin brother to me and my siblings.