What is Operation Searchlight? Know about bloodiest conflict in post-WWII era

What is Operation Searchlight? Know about bloodiest conflict in post-WWII era

For the majority of its population, the healing from the wounds of war would never be completed without the recognition of the crime against humanity

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Friday, March 24, 2023, 09:02 PM IST
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One of the bloodiest and most contested conflicts in the post-WWII era has been the genocidal violence that was unleashed in the former East Pakistan during 1970-71.

It resulted in the systematic wiping out of the ethnic distinctiveness of its people through ideological, economic, political and military means.

For the majority of its population, the healing from the wounds of war would never be completed without the recognition of the crime against humanity.

This is the reason why Bangladesh has been campaigning to recognise March 25 as as International Genocide Day worldwide.

What is Operation Searchlight?

As per several news reports, in the 9-month-long war of liberation against Pakistan, about three million innocent people were killed and more than 200,000 women were violated, 

On the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani military conducted its so-called Operation Searchlight, aimed at wiping out an entire generation of Bengalis. 

Intellectuals, activists, artists, journalists, politicians or common people going about their daily lives, nobody was spared by the Pakistan Army.

Such was the degree of impunity with which Operation Searchlight was carried out that an officer participating in the operations infamously boasted, "We can kill anyone for anything. We are responsible to none." 

The genocide was targeted at civilians in predominantly Hindu neighbourhoods in and around the capital Dhaka and on army barracks who were loyal to Bangabandhu and other Bengali political leaders.

Three million Bengali civilians killed

During the nine-month war, three million Bengali civilians were killed, more than 200,000 women were violated, 10 million people took refuge in India and 30-40 million people were internally displaced.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has always denied both the intent and the scale of killings. There is a concerted effort by Pakistan to undermine the nationalism of Bangladeshi people as a cause for the separation of erstwhile East Pakistan and justifies the massacre of non-Bengalis before the 1971 war as part of military action.

Quite apart from the fact that the alien/foreign perpetrators have not been brought to justice but rather the denial is amplified, the recognition of the act of Genocide, by them and by the international community, will strengthen peace and stability within Bangladesh.

Over the years, several civil societies have raised voices against it and are pushing forth the demand for 1971 genocide recognition at various international forums.

At an international Seminar on 'Remember and Recognize: The Case of Bangladesh Genocide of 1971' held at the Human Rights Museum, Winnipeg in Canada Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen had said that "the Genocide of Bangladesh committed in 1971 by the Pakistani military is one of the most heinous crimes in human history ... we do not know of another instance of such barbarism of such intensity and mayhem." 

(With agency inputs)

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