DhakaTribune
Tuesday October 17, 2017 04:46 AM

Parliament declares March 25 Genocide Day

Parliament declares March 25 Genocide Day
Slain Bengalis in front of Jessore City College, a sign of Pakistani atrocity. Jessore, Bangladesh. December, 1971Mohammad Shafi/Liberation War Archive

Lawmakers also called for greater government initiative to ensure March 25 was recognised internationally.

Parliament on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution declaring March 25 as Genocide Day during the 14th session, in remembrance of the brutality carried out by the Pakistani Army in the “Black Night” of March 25, 1971.

Earlier in the day, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal’s General Secretary and MP Shirin Akhter placed the proposal first, after Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury asked for proposals, under section 147 of the House’s rules of procedure at the outset of the session.

Later on, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed placed the same proposal again, but in an amended form.

Besides, he, also an Awami League lawmaker, suggested that the government take initiative so that December 9, which is marked as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide, as declared by the United nations, sees the March 25 victims being commemorated internationally as well.

He also called for observing December 1 as Freedom Fighter’s Day and the government’s more active role to draw international attention in this regard.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, after the proposals were tabled, showed videos and pictures on genocide using projectors at the parliament.

Different organisations including Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, Antorjatik Juddaporadh o Gonobichar Andolan, and the AL-led 14-party alliance had long been demanding the recognition of March 25 as Genocide Day.

The Black Night

The attack termed “Operation Searchlight” by the military was launched after Awami League supremo Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence of Bangladesh in a message. He was subsequently arrested, flown to Pakistan and kept in jail.

The exact number of casualty could not be known. But foreign journalists working in Dhaka at that time estimated the number to be between 7,000 and 35,000.

The purpose of the operation was to arrest or kill the distinguished Awami League leaders, student leaders and Bangali intellectuals in the main cities of the then East Pakistan including Dhaka, to disarm the Bangali members of military, para military and police forces and to capture armoury, radio station and telephone exchange.

From the report of Simon Dring published under the caption Dateline Dacca in the Daily Telegraph of March 29, it was revealed that 200 students of Iqbal Hall (now Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall), teachers and their family members numbering 12 in Dhaka University residential area had been killed on that night. In Old Dhaka, around 700 people were burnt to death.

The Pakistani military rulers thereby wanted to take over the control of East Pakistan by ruthlessly curbing the non-cooperation movement headed by Bangabandhu. Military operations were carried out under “Operation Searchlight” from 11:30pm of March 25 to the middle of May in all the big towns of erstwhile East Pakistan, according to Banglapedia.

The “Operation Searchlight” was scheduled to be launched at 1pm on March 26, but Mujib’s message prompted then president Yahya Khan to launch the crackdown immediately.  On that very night freedom loving Bangalis created resistance in various places in Dhaka.



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