Revisiting 1971 War Crimes and Molla


Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami, Abdul Quader Mollah, 1971, Pakistan, War Crimes, 1971 War, Pak-India War, RAW, Media reported the hanging of Abdul Quader Molla in Bangladesh, a leading Jamaat-i-Islami leader; the first person to go to gallows for the alleged massacre of 1971. A leading newspaper reported, “Molla’s lawyers had protested the original order, saying the death penalty was awarded based on evidence given by only one prosecution witness, who had also earlier given two different versions of the same event… UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeking a stay of the execution, saying the trial did not meet stringent international standards for the death penalty.” (12, 12, 2013)

A brief revisit to the 1971 genocide is in order. The facts are well detailed in a book Blood and Tears (Published 1974) by historian Qutubuddin Aziz. It details 170 eye witness accounts of atrocities on non-Bengalis and pro Pakistan Bengalis by Awami League militants and other rebels in 55 towns of then East Pakistan between March-April 1971 with photographs. Another interesting book by B Raman; “The Kaoboys of RAW: Down Memory Lane”’ talks about the role of Israel and Indian intelligence agencies in creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Raman has headed the counter-terrorism branch of India’s intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The Indian Express in a piece by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay, “Didn’t fight on front, yet proud to have helped Mukti Bahini’ writes, ““Kartik Kumar Ganguly, then a Major, was assigned to help a motley group of people from then East Pakistan — some deserters from the Pakistan Army but largely students, other young civilians, factory laborers and farmers — who formed the Mukti Bahini. His task, he says, was to take care of their various needs and give them courage… Ganguly, one of a number of Indian Army officers who interacted with the mukti joddhas, found them lacking in training but not in enthusiasm…”(Published December 16, 2011) Borrowing research from a treatise by Lt. Gen [R] Kamal Matinuddin ,“Tragedy of Errors; East Pakistan Crisis 1968-1971” states that the hard core team leaders of Mukhti-Bahini were the deserters, from the Bengali element [officers, junior-commissioned, non-commissioned, and other ranks] composed in the following Army and para-military formations:. Six battalions of East Bengal Regiment 5,000, East Pakistan Rifles [like our Rangers in West Pakistan]16,000, Razakars 50,000, Bengali in East Pakistan police and allied services 45,000. This is a total of 116,000 forces. By 3rd March 1971 a de facto Bangladesh Government was in place. It was after the March 1971 crackdown by the Pakistan Army in Dacca and later all over East Pakistan that the 6 battalions of East Bengal Regiment as well as the forces above cited deserted and went over to the Indian Army. Colonel [retired]Osmani; the first commanding Officer 1st East Bengal Regiment in 1952 and later been made the Commandant of East Bengal Regimental Centre at Chittagong having retired from Pakistan Army in 1966 organized, with the help of the Indian Army; a militant wing of Awami League in July 1970. It was he who led the march past of the militant Awami League on 23rd March 1971,in front of Shiekh Mujib’s house. On 17April 1971 the Acting President of the defacto Bangladesh Government made him the Commander in Chief of the ‘Bengal Liberation Army’ with a rank of a ‘General.’

Although Pakistan Army had by end of April 1971 regained all border posts in East Pakistan and Bengal Liberation Army had suffered defeat, it was then that the Indian Army moved in. It set up 6 training centers and unlimited cash flow to induce younger student element from East Pakistan to join and be trained. All of these 6 training centers which encircled East Pakistan on the Indian side of the borders were under Brigadiers of Indian Army. Soon after another 70,000 young Bengali students inspired by Bengali patriotism joined these camps for a three week crash course including use of mortars, mines, machine-gun handling as well as use of PRC 25 wireless sets for communication. Selected 600 became the naval wing of Mukhti-Bahini; trained by Indian special forces as ‘Frogmen’ to plant explosives under the ships and take over boats, barrages and launches plying in the rivers of East Pakistan. Other radical elements arose as well from the men trained in the 6 Indian training centers .They were a force of 20,000 under the two sons of Sheikh Mujib namely Moin & Kamal and three other i.e. Rafiq, Siraj- ul- Islam & Tofail Ahmed. Yet another set of special forces were led by Major Zia-ur-Rehman [later President of BD]called ‘ZED FORCE’ another was ‘Kay force under Major Khalid Musharaff. Yet another was the ‘S’ force under Major Saifullah, another large force; the ‘Kader Bahini’ was under Abdul Kader Siddiqui who styled himself as the ‘Tiger of Tangail’ and had 20,000 men under him. (Reference ‘Dismemberment of Pakistan’ by Brig. Jagder Singh 1988) General Osmani divided his Mukhti-Bahini force of 1,0000 in ten sectors, each under a former officer of East Bengal Regiment . (Reference ‘ Bangladesh at War’ by Major General Saifullah 1989-page 149) Beside the various Bengali Liberation Army outfits the Indian Army had encircled East Pakistan with a total effective strength of 400,000 men. (Seepages -408,411-418, ‘Roots of Tragedy’ by Brig. Asif Haroon 2005)

Now comes the icing on the cake; the total strength of Pakistan Army was just 45,000 out which the actual fighting arm the infantry had 23,000 men, and 11,000 were men from armour, artillery, engineers, signals and ancillary units. A total of 34,000 men. .The other 11,000 were from civil armed forces like the police and other armed, yet non-combatants outfits who were West Pakistani personnel serving in East Pakistan.[page 52-The Betrayal of East Pakistan’ by Lt. Gen. A.K Niazi, Oxford Press.1998]

Martin Woollacott in a brilliant book review of “Dead Reckoning” by Sarmila Bose says, “Bose’s case-by-case arithmetic leads her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people died in 1971.” He goes on to state, “The wider revision of the conflict’s history she implies exonerates the Pakistani government of any plot to rule the east by force, suggests that the Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman let the genie of nationalism out of the bottle but could not control it, and insists that the conflict was a civil war within East Pakistan…Yet when she underlines how stretched the Pakistani forces were, how unready they were for the role of suppression that was thrust on them, and how perplexed they were in the face of a Bengali hostility that seemed to them so disproportionate, what she writes rings very true. The killings by Bengalis of non-Bengali minorities, of Bengalis who stuck with the idea of a united Pakistan, and even of some Hindu Bengalis – all of whose deaths were attributed at the time to the Pakistani army – needs to be reckoned in any fair balance.” (The Guardian July 1, 2011)

Who was outnumbered, who committed atrocities upon who is now clear. Lack of research leads to formation of uneducated opinion. It was under these odds that men of Jamiat-e-Islami in counter outfits like Al Badar and Al Shams fought those who wanted to break Pakistan.
Reports announce death of three protesters and two activists from Awami League. These riots were to be expected in light of a very public execution of Molla. The headline of Wall Street Journal tellingly announced, “Bangladesh Executes Opposition Leader.” The hanging of Molla is likely to lead to polarization within the Bengali society. A friend wrote, “The hanging of the JI leader by Bangladesh was nothing but a witch hunt and a state sponsored atrocity!!”

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.

Tweets at:@yasmeen_9




Discussion11 Comments

  1. The hanging of Molla was the removal from society of a convicted mass murder and rapist of children….I don’t care what side you favor, when a man is responsible for 344 deaths of innocent civilians…when a man is responsible for killing a complete family including a pregnant mother and her two year old son followed by the rape of an 11 years old girl…he deserves what he got…those who support him because of his political affiliation have no integrity or sense of justice….

    • ok, but where’s the credible evidence? one “eyewitness” who has given different versions of the event? is that what passes for credible to you americans? it’s utterly disgusting how biased you are even in the face of facts.

      • 321…did you go to his trial?…did you hear the evidence against him given by eye witnesses?…the question is why do you support a mass murderer and child rapist?…Pakistanis have no sense of integrity or justice….they support killers and mass murderers because they are of the same religion or political party….how many thousands of people does a Muslim have to kill before another radical Muslim in the JI party will Condemn him?….

        • @eddied DID YOU GO TO THE TRIAL?? HAVE YOU HEARD ALL THE EVIDENCE?? your speaking from your rear end AS USUAL! He was convicted by someone who changed his version of events so many times and a known indian agent. The question arises why now?? Mollah Abdul Qadir was very popular in Bangladesh he was the head of the jamaat e Islami movement and gaining influence many bengalis have told me that when he visited places people would come out in numbers to hear him he was also Pro Pakistani and changing the thoughts of many people towards Pakistan (and subsequently india) and there lied his “crime” and real motive.

          Mollah Abdul Qadir had repeatedly said he was innocent and can prove it in court but a kangaroo court convicted him without ALL the facts and then a swift hanging followed which begs the question why did they want him dead so soon even after many human rights groups asking for a stay on his execution all too suspicious.

        • as usual you’re speaking like a true moron. speak for yourself? did you go to the trial? why should i believe the charges when the only eye witness who gave evidence against him has given different version of events? you must be a nigger idiot than i previously believed you to be if that was even possible.

          • How easily you can overlook the deaths of 344 innocent Muslims?…the murder of entire family including two year old boy, his pregnant mother and gang rape of 11 year old sister can be excused by your religion?…you blind followers of extremist Islamic diatribe are sickening because you have no sense of right or wrong…you can justify anything with sharia and your twisted religious beliefs or political affiliations…once again how many Muslims must a terrorist kill before he is condemned by fools like you?…

          • blah blah blah….give me the proof eddied. evidence from an eye witness with different versions of the same story is not good enough in any court of law that seeks to do justice.
            “followers of extreme diatribe”…lol get out of here. lying out of your *** and accusing me of something i would never do is typical of a paid shill like you. good day troll

  2. let us start the same process for the occupying ratty army in rat occupied Jammu and Kashmir,put the criminals on trail for mass graves and rapes of thousands of innocent Muslim citizens of Kashmir.

    • Yes indeed, you are most invited to come and try…. the rats you have sent since 1947 have been systematically hunted down and exterminated… and more are WELCOME… after all, the world does indeed need to dispose of such pests… and what’s more, its good exercise for the Indian and Kashmiri Army.. they will die of BOREDOM otherwise..!!

      • @vakil You need to read your history again! When we went in 1948 we took half of kashmir with lightly armed tribal fighters just imagine what we would have done with a full army. india has 700 000 troops swarming in Kashmir because they are scared we’ll take the other half. You should be fearful when that day comes!

  3. How popular was Abdul Qader Molla is visible from the fact that when he was not given capital punishment by a lower court, there were riots in Bangladesh. Now when he was hanged, Jamat-e-Islami tried to protest by committing violence in Dhaka. His hanging followed a series of trial in various courts of Bangladesh under a democratic govt. and not Martial Law. There is no point debating it further.

    Alicaan, Pakistan grabbed Kashmir when it was not a part of India. After India intervened, Pakistan could not take an inch further rather it retracted in many areas. Talking about your arrogance, please understand that your army has tried several times to grab Kashmir like in 1965, 1971, 1999 but has alwys failed to take an inch, needless to mention about Siachen and losing east pakistan.

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