Many Bengali Muslims were also killed, tortured, raped as well by Pakistani army and their collaborators. Who were those Bengali Muslims? Research done so far and in our experience barring some (being at the wrong time, wrong place, mistaken identity, personal vendetta etc.) most Muslims got killed, raped or tortured were active members/leaders of Awami League, freedom fighters, their supporters and perceived supporters, intellectuals who supported (and/or perceived by Pakistani army and their collaborators) who sided with AL and freedom fighters. All Bengali Muslims who were killed, tortured or raped were victims neither for being Bengali, nor for being Muslim but because of their political belief and their siding with Awami League and freedom fighters. They are victims of politicide, which is unfortunately, not covered by the definition of genocide.
The goal of this write-up not to downplay the atrocities committed on Bengali Muslims by Pakistanis and their collaborators, nor does it try to compare who suffered more and who did not. All Bengalis-both Hindus, Muslims and others suffered at the hands of the perpetrators, but our goal has been to discern the intent factor of the perpetrators. By sheer wish we cannot change the fact. The motive of Pakistani army, government was to subjugate Bengalis (who they believed not Muslim enough). To further their motive of subjugation of Bengalis for ever the soft targets were the Hindus, for being Hindu and nothing else.
The question could be how the Pakistani army and government came to this conclusion that annihilating the Hindus would serve their purpose. The numbers speak. If the election result of 1970 can be dissected and analyzed it might be even clearer. AL secured total 12,937,162 votes in both East and West Pakistan. This number includes 22,937 votes that AL received in West Pakistan being able to field only four candidates. But the PPP did/could not field any candidate in East Pakistan. AL received total 12,914,225 votes only in East Pakistan and this forms 75% of total votes counted/cast in 1970 election. Since we do not have exact number of constituencies that were decided by minority votes we’ll proceed with a more conservative general approach. Even if we hold Hindus being 15% and cast their votes in equal percentage (ignoring the fact that Hindus being minority and more educated in general would be more zealous to visit the polling centers than their Muslim neighbors) the total votes that AL received from Hindus in East Pakistan are 1,937,134 proportionately to their number. Out of total votes of 17,218,967 the number of votes received by pro-Pakistani parties was 4,304,742 (25% of total votes of East Pakistan).
Thegovernment claimed a high level of public participation and a voter turnout of almost 63%. The total number of registered voters in the country was 56,941,500 of which 31,211,220 were from East Pakistan and 25,730,280 were from West Pakistan.
Total vote AL received sans West Pakistan’s 22,937, was 12,914,225 votes. This number is 75% of total votes cast in East Pakistan does include at least 15% of Hindus, that turns out 20% of all votes AL received. This presupposes that Hindus had been living in all areas in equal proportion. But, in reality it is/was not true, not possible. In some districts the percentage of Hindus was more than 30 or even 40%, meaning in those districts Hindu votes made the difference or would have made the difference in coming elections, if held. In this way, Hindu votes played pivotal role in electing at least 30 -40 seats in favor of AL. Had AL received even 30 seats fewer in the national election, the whole picture would have changed altogether. No one else knew it better than the West Pakistani rulers as well as AL leadership. All the pro-Pakistani parties together would have been in a position of forming the government in 300-seat parliament as it would require only 151 seats to assume the power. The math is/was clear.
The crime of genocide being committed by the perpetrators, and it is the perpetrators’ INTENT and motive, not of the VICTIMS or others that is to be considered. How the perpetrators saw it or perceived of it? The victims can feel it and others can fathom it intellectually, but they cannot impose their views on the perpetrators. It was the Pakistani government, its army and collaborators who saw the fact the way they did. Nobody, no intellectual can change that and making it “balanced”. If the language of the Resolution 1430 sounds divisive, it was Pakistan, its army and collaborators who “divided” it that way with differential treatment to Bengali Hindus.
Some argues that the Nuremberg Trial did not identify the victims as Jews, so why we should name it Hindu Genocide. First of all, we should have the courage and integrity to describe things the way it is. If someone hates you for being Muslim or Black and your hater is a Christian/Hindu we must say the victims are victims of hate crime for being Muslim or Black, but that does not necessarily mean that all Christians/Hindus hate Muslims or Black. The hater is happened to be a Christian or Hindu whatever maybe the case. The hater’s religious identity is not the point here, but victims’ is. For the critics of Hindu Genocide, please check with history; Nuremberg trial was held before the Genocide Convention and the definition of Genocide came into being and later, in force.
Now, I would like to shed some light on the language of the Resolution itself. We appreciate the courage and willingness of the Congressmen of both sides of the isle to introduce it in the House. That’s been a long overdue. But it seems it was done in a haste. The people or organization who might be behind this Resolution should have spent some more time understanding the nature of the crime, perpetrators, and collaborators. Unfortunately, the language of the Resolution does not unambiguously and unequivocally condemn the atrocities committed by Pakistan and its collaborators as Bengali Hindu Genocide, as it was the fact, and it is the fact.
Neither this article nor the Resolution may be blamed for driving wedge between the two religious communities-Hindus and Muslims. It’s to be realized that the Pakistanis exactly did that to divide us on religious lines to subjugate the Bengalis as a whole. They were neither friends of Bengali Muslims at all. And most Bengali Muslims could understand that at that time, and they fought together to defeat their common enemy. Since it was the fact, it remains so today as well. Any efforts to change it is nothing but the distortion of history.
Ashok K. Karmaker is a
practicing attorney in
New York and a human rights
activist and Chairman,
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist
Christian Unity Council, USA.