Pakistani military committed atrocities in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in a bid to quell the guerrilla resistance movement, the Mukti Bahini, fighting for division of the country and creation of Bangladesh.
After occupying the territory in East Pakistan during the 1971 war, the Indian armed forces were shocked by the presence of inappropriately dressed women and young girls in trenches and bunkers of the Pakistani troopers. Many of these women and girls were in advanced stages of pregnancy.
The atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army on the civilian population in East Pakistan were discussed by the military veterans/authors and historians in a session on the “Bangladesh campaign” during the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Moderating the session, Maj Gen D C Katoch (retd), who has authored a book on Liberation of Bangladesh, said Pakistan’s state-sponsored genocide was launched and females, from the age of 6 to 80 years were raped by its soldiers. It was common to find bangles, female clothes and inappropriately dressed girls and women in the trenches and bunkers of Pakistan Army and the Indian troops had to evacuate them to safe places after occupying the territory, he added.
Col L J S Gill (retd), an officer from 2 Para who was part of the Army’s airborne operation in Tangail area of the then East Pakistan, said “official” orders by Pakistan Army’s General Tikka Khan, who was sent to East Pakistan in February-March, 1971 to quell the Mukti Bahini, urged his soldiers to carry out a genocide and to change the “breed of Bengalis”.
Maj Gen Katoch said the Pakistan generals also clearly orders their troops that “they do not need to go to Lahore for sex.”
Col Gill, who was a young second lieutenant in 1971, said his senior officers and colleagues had told him a large number of women in advanced pregnancy were found by the Indian soldiers in the areas occupied by Pakistani soldiers after the war. “A large number of women on whom atrocities were committed by the Pakistani troops were rescued from the Dhaka University after the surrender had taken place on December 16,” Gill added.
After the surrender ceremony, the Indian Army’s role was reversed and its soldiers had to kill some violent members of Mukti Bahini who wanted to eliminate Pakistan PoWs in the custody of the Indian Army.
Lt Gen H M Singh, who was a young Lieutenant of 63 Cavalry and fought the war, said he and his fellow troops had witnessed an old man carrying the body of his minor granddaughter who was violated by a “Khan sahib” of the Pakistani Army.
“The Indian Army adhered to international law after taking Pakistani troops as PoWs in various battlegrounds, but the Pakistanis committed brutality with Indian soldiers. Famous Bollywood actress Leena Chandavarkar’s brother, Second Lieutenant S R Chandavarkar of 45 Cavalry was brutally killed after he was caught during the 1971 war. He was tied to a jeep and his body was mutilated just like what they did with Saurav Kalia’s body during the Kargil war,” Gen Singh revealed.
Maj Chandrakant Singh of 4-Guards, who was awarded Vir Chakra —third highest gallantry award for his role in 1971 war — said atrocities on civilian population, especially exploitation of women by the Pak troops was the most inhuman side of the war. “But the moment Indian troops entered East Pakistan, not a single incident of atrocity on civilian population took place,” said the soldier who quit the Army in 1977 and now writes and speaks on defence issues.