Saturday, February 26, 2011

1971 killing of Bengali intellectuals

1971 killing of Bengali intellectuals refers to the systematic execution of Bengali pro-liberation intellectuals during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971 by Pakistan Army and their local collaborators, most notably the extreme right wing Islamist militia groups Al-Badr. Intellectuals were killed during the entire duration (9 months) of the war. However, the largest number of executions took place on 25 March and 14 December 1971.

Black Night of 25 March

At the beginning of Operation Searchlight, on the night of 25 March 1971, a number of teachers of Dhaka University were killed[1][2]. Among them were notable intellectuals like Dr. Govinda Chandra Dev of Philosophy, Professor Abdul Muktadir of Geology, Professor A R Khan Khadim (Physics), Anudaipayan Bhattacharjee (Applied Physics), Dr. F. R. Khan, Sharafat Ali of Mathematics, Dr. Muniruzzaman of Statistics and Professor Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta of English. These killings can be attributed to the Pakistan Army who also killed thousands of students and other people in Dhaka on that night and afterwards.

14 December executions

On 14 December 1971, over 200 of East Pakistan's intellectuals including professors, journalists, doctors, artists, engineers, and writers were picked up from their homes in Dhaka by the Al-Badr militias and Pakistani Army. They were taken blindfolded to torture cells in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Rajarbagh and other locations in different sections of the city. Later they were executed en masse, most notably at Rayerbazar and Mirpur. In memory of the martyred intellectuals, December 14 is mourned in Bangladesh as Shaheed Buddhijibi Dibosh ("Day of the Martyred Intellectuals").
Even after the official ending of the war on December 16 there were reports of hostile fire from the armed Pakistani soldiers and their collaborators. In one such incident, notable film-maker Zahir Raihan was killed on January 30, 1972 in Mirpur, allegedly by the armed Beharis of Mirpur.
It is widely speculated that the killings of 14 December was orchestrated by Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali. After the liberation of Bangladesh a list of Bengali intellectuals (most of whom were executed on 14 Dec) was discovered in a page of his diary left behind at the Governor's House. The existence of such a list was confirmed by Ali himself although he denied the motive of genocide. The same was also confirmed by Altaf Gauhar, a former Pakistani bureaucrat. He mentioned an incidence in which Altaf requested Ali to delete a friend's name from the list and Ali did that in front of him.


The number of intellectuals killed is estimated in Banglapedia. as follows -
  • Academics - 991
  • Journalist - 13
  • Physician - 49
  • Lawyer - 42
  • Others (litterateur, artist and engineer) - 16
The district wise break-up of the number of martyred academicians and lawyers published in 1972[5] was as follows -
District and DivisionAcademiciansLawyers
PrimarySecondaryHigher Secondary
Dhaka Division130551710
Chittagong Hill Tracts9411
Chittagong Division138731310

Khulna Division18481156
Rajshahi Division187611415
Martyred academicians (not affiliated to universities) = 968
Martyred university teachers = 21
Total martyred academicians = 989
Administrative districts and divisions mentioned here are as they were in 1972.

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