Over 2,400 genocide acts by the Pakistani army and their local collaborators took place in 10 districts of Bangladesh in 1971, according to a new survey conducted by a group of researchers led by renowned historian Professor Muntassir Mamun.
Earlier it had been thought there were 905 incidents of genocide in all 64 districts.
The survey has so far been conducted in Nilphamari, Bogra, Natore, Kurigram, Pabna, Rajshahi, Satkhira, Narayanganj, Bhola, and Khulna districts. It will be carried out in the remaining 54 districts in phases. The 1971 Genocide-Repression Archive and Museum Trust, which was established under the initiative of Prof Mamun in Khulna, is conducting the survey.
"Before the survey, we had assumed there were five to six acts of genocide and a few torture centres in Nilphamari. But we found in the survey that there were 85 incidents of genocide and 20 torture centers in the district in 1971," said Prof Mamun, in presenting the survey report at the inaugural ceremony of a daylong seminar on the genocide of 1971 at the Bangla Academy auditorium in Dhaka on Friday.
The highest number of incidents of genocide among the ten districts was in Khulna, at over 1,200, while the highest number of torture centres was in Rajshahi, at over a hundred. There were a total of 204 killing fields and 151 mass graves in the 10 districts.
Considering the new data, Prof Mamun said the number of martyrs in 1971 would easily exceed the government announced figure of 3 million.
“Earlier, we had information on 905 incidents of genocide in all districts in 1971, which put the number of martyrs at around 3 million. With the new survey now finding over 2,400 incidents in just 10 districts, the actual number of martyrs is likely to be much higher,” he claimed.
Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor addressed the function as the chief guest, while writer and journalist Shahriar Kabir, also spoke on the occasion. Ten volumes of the survey report were published at the event.
In his address, Asaduzzaman Noor said it was disappointing that the genocide committed against unarmed citizens of Bangladesh by Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators was yet to get international recognition.
He said this lack of action from the international community was stopping perpetrators of crimes against humanity from being brought to justice.
The minister also paid a rich tribute to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, saying no other leader could have earned as much trust and faith from the people.
“Thousands from all walks of life leapt into the Liberation War in response to his call, and embraced martyrdom to free the nation from Pakistani subjugation,” he said.
The minister also said it was a matter of great sorrow that “some of the defeated forces of 1971” were still in politics in Bangladesh.
“In no other country of the world can a political party which does not believe in the state's independence and sovereignty participate in politics,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shahriar Kabir called for the Liberation War Denial Crimes Act to be approved in parliament, so that those who denied a genocide took place can be brought to justice.