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US Spotlight On ‘Operation Searchlight’

Fifty years after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, Indian-American Democrat Congressman Ro Khanna and Republican Congressman Seve Chabot introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on October 14 (2022), urging US President Joe Biden to recognise the Pakistani atrocities mainly against the Hindu Bengali community in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) as Genocide. The resolution also called on Pakistan to tender apologies to the people of Bangladesh for Islamabad’s role in carrying out the genocide.

The Pakistani Army had launched an operation, called Operation Searchlight, in March 1971 to suppress the Freedom-loving Bengalis. The Pak Army, with the help of Razakars (mostly anti-Bangladesh and pro-Pakistan Bengalis and Urdu-speaking migrants who used to live in Bangladesh at that period of time), had carried out terrible killings across the South Asian nation. Millions of people were brutally killed by the Pakistani Army and their allies during this operation. Several Human Rights organisations have long been pushing for international recognition of the killings as Genocide, so that the perpetrators could be identified and brought to justice half a century later.

After introducing the resolution, Chabot, the Republican Congressman from Ohio, tweeted that what the Pakistani Army had done in today’s Bangladesh was a genocide like the Nazis’ killing of Jews. He stated that they had killed millions, almost all of whom were Bengalis and 80% of them were Hindus. “The Bangladesh Genocide of 1971 must not be forgotten. It is important to recognise that the mass atrocities committed against Bengalis and Hindus, in particular, were indeed a genocide,” added Chabot. Incidentally, the US had backed Pakistan during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, and Washington DC had made a serious attempt to hide the genocide committed by Islamabad.

On his Twitter account, California’s Democrat Congressman Khanna wrote that he was “proud to join @RepSteveChabot in introducing the first resolution, commemorating the 1971 Bengali Genocide in which millions of ethnic Bengalis and Hindus were killed or displaced in one of the most forgotten genocides of our time“.

It has also been mentioned in the resolution that Archer Kent Blood (March 20, 1923 – September 3, 2004), the then US Consul General to Dhaka, called the events a genocide on March 28, 1971. In September (2022), Liberation War Affairs Minister of Bangladesh A K M Mozammel Haque called upon the Global Community to recognise the terrible torture and brutal killing of the unarmed Bengalis by the Pakistani Army as genocide. According to the minister, it is unfortunate that international recognition of genocide of 1971 could not be realised in 51 years after Independence (of Bangladesh). Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed declared March 25 as National Genocide Day.

For her part, Priya Saha, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), stressed: “On this 51st anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence, we hope that millions of people in Bangladesh, who were systematically exterminated by the Pakistan Army and their collaborators in 1971, will be formally memorialised.” Meanwhile, Aroma Dutta, the first woman from Civil Society to serve in the Parliament in the history of Bangladesh, has recalled that the Pakistani Army personnel killed her grandfather Dhirendranath Dutta (85) and uncle Dilip Dutta (40) at Mainamati Cantonment after brutally torturing them during the War of Liberation. She wants justice and punishment for those who had brutally killed innocent people five decades ago.

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