Dead Reckoning Memoir Of War Of Bangladesh By Sarmila Bose. Journal. Contemporary South Asia. Volume 21, - Issue 1: ANNUAL CONFERENCE EDITION OF THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR. Dead Reckoning book. Read 38 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. This text chronicles the war in South Asia by reconstituting th.
|Language:||English, Spanish, French|
|Genre:||Business & Career|
|ePub File Size:||19.64 MB|
|PDF File Size:||18.35 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Sign up for free]|
This ground-breaking book chronicles the war in South Asia by reconstituting the memories of those on opposing sides of the conflict. was marked by. Get this from a library! Dead reckoning: memories of the Bangladesh War. [ Sarmila Bose]. Dead Reckoning - Memories of the Bangladesh War- By Sarmila Bose - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free.
Shelves: non-fiction It is a book worth reading. Yes, Bangladeshis will hate it, and the reasons for the hate are obvious, since the book challenges the narrative established by the Bangladeshis regarding their secession from Pakistan. No one likes their truths to be debunked, their heroes portrayed as petty terrorists. Sarmila is a neutral observer, being an Indian and herself a Bengali. However she manages to stick to history. This is not a book which discusses the politics of the secession movement. Its focus is t It is a book worth reading.
Since the foreign media had limited access much of what was published in the foreign press was hearsay and not actual facts on the ground. The narrative thus found it easier to gain currency worldwide. This was a mistake that lost the Pakistan Army its PR war.
The book also establishes India's aim in fomenting the separatists, by supplying training and weapons, even conducting attacks within the Bangladesh territory. Unlike what the reviewers before me claim, the interviewees are not anonymous. Their names and where they were at the time of the events are mentioned in the book.
Another reviewer claims that the Hamood-ur Rehman Commission Report declared 3 million dead. That is untrue. The Commission declared a figure of 26, Instead of being furious, perhaps my Bengali friends should read the book with a cool head. We, and that includes myself, as citizens are generally the victims of government lies and propaganda.
I, myself have learnt that teh textbook history I was taught about the Partition differs from the truth. Those who are today painted as villains in Pakistan are not villains at all. You can decide to disagree with Sarmila's assessment, however the same data has also been presented by other scholars of South Asian history. The other odd thing was the black paint on the cop half of che headlights of all the cars.
This war was short-lived, however. India won, Bangladesh became free. The Indian army was led by Sam Manekshaw, who exuded a dashing 'can-do'. But the man of the moment was the commander of the Eastern command.
General Jagjit Singh Aurora, a smardy turbaned Silch, framed for history as he sac wich a large man in a beret called General A. Niazi, who signed che surrender documents on behalf of Pakistan.
Sheikh Mujib, a prisoner in West Pakistan for nine months, returned to Dhaka to a hero's welcome. As we tried to get the sound right, I talked to General Aurora. I told him I was from Calcucca and remembered him as a war-hero. For the most parr, however, General Aurora was agitated.
Later I heard that it had not gone as well with an Indian language programme and General Aurora had got upset.
Here was the war-hero of pined againsr the very srace he had served, on che grounds of violation of the rights of his people. I thought I might write something about the irony. One wrote rhar 'his command did not cake him seriously as a fighrer because he did nor display che flamboyance of a soldiers' generaJ'. By the time I mer him face to face, it was no longer possible ro discuss che derails of I 97 I with him.
The result was a revelarion. General A. Niazi turned our to have a distinguished past and a rragic face.
Honoured by the British with the Military Cross for his performance on che Burma front during the Second World War, he was a general who had lire rally fought his way up from the ranks and a humble background. In his book and his discussions with me he condemned the way in which General Tikka Khan had conducted the military action in Dhaka on 25 March , bur also criticised General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, the previous Governor, for copping out at the eleventh hour of the crisis.
But in the continuing absence of any political secdemenc, his men ended up fighting a wearying war against Indianassisred guerrillas for months and chen a full-scale invasion by India from all directions, helped by a population largely hostile ro the Pakistan army.
By all accounts the Pakistan army performed astonishingly well against India in Ease Pakisran under almosr impossible odds.
Indian accounts are predictably triumphal with regard ro viccory over Pakistan, with che memoirs of a few officers peppered wich self-promotion and derogation of ochers. Most ofche key players did not publish memoirs. Pakistani discussions on are full ofbiner recriminations, mosdy with regard co losing co India, wirh deafening silence from the majoriry of chose who had served in Easr Pakisran. The Bangladeshi refrain, by con erase, plays volubly and melodramatically on che theme of Pakisrani 'villains' and Bengali 'victims: often with scam regard for tactual accuracy or analytical sophistication.
The material from al1 parties co rhe conflict is relentlessly partisan, with rhe Bangladeshi ones infused with a deep sense of grievance char their suffering has nor been given due acknowledgment in the world.
The conflict of , therefore, is in need of 5eriuus study in many aspects. Sisson and Rose did their research in the s, interviewing key players in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the Uniced Scares. Mosc of the senior players have since passed away, making their work unique. On reading Sisson and Rose I was intrigued co find chat the picture ofwhat happened in chat emerges from chis work by two eminent scholars differed significantly from my childhood memories from Calcutta, which reflect the dominant narrative and public perception of in South Asia and beyond.
While Sisson and Rose's book addressed diplomaric and policy issues of at the macro level, my srudy addresses rhc ocher end of the spectrumhow the conflict played our among people at rhe ground level. Its focus is rhe civil war within rhc territory of East Pakistan-between those who wanted independence for Bangladesh and chose who believed in preserving the unity of Pakistan-rather than rhe war between India and Pakistan, though India's heavy involvement on the pro-liberation side blurs chat distinction to some extent.
Irs aim is to contexrualise and humanise the war by examining specific instances in derail at the ground level, while gaining insights into rhe conflict as a whole.
I found myself rather uniquely positioned to do this pioneering work. As a Bengali I was able to receive help from Bangladeshis, visit sites in Bangladesh, interview Bangladeshi participants and eye-witnesses to events and read Bangladeshi sources in the vernacular. With the help of friends and colleagues in Pakistan I was able to obtain-after much hard work and perseverance-unprecedented access to Pakistani participants on the ground in East Pakistan, the vast majority of rhem officers of the Pakistan army, who were largely unheard from.
This study for the first time brings together the experiences of all sides of the conflict ac the ground level and combines them with ocher documentary or audio-visual materiaJ, to create a unique chronicling of the conflict that serves as the basis for non-partisan analysis.
It sheds all preconceived notions and allows the material to tdl its own stories. While I hope that it is the first of many systematic, dispassionate and evidence-based studies on and that there will be more by future scholars, in a crucial way my study is destined to remain unique just as Sisson and Rose's book was. This is because many of the people who directly experienced the war, whom I interviewed, were already elderly, and will pass away with time. The case studies in chis book are from different districts and different moments of che timdine of the conflict, and involve different groups of'combatants: 'perpetrators' or 'victims'.
They are therefore 'representative' of the conflict, though not 'comprehensive'. Only institutional projects on a national level could even attempt to be a 'comprehensive' study of in any meaningful way, and no such effort is in evidence. Bangladeshi institutional works, whether government or non-government, all suffer from multiple layers of partisanship and poor quality and blatant sdectivicy in 'documentation'. The specific instances studied in-depth in chis book were selected after discussion with several Bangladeshis with a keen interest in the war, almost all strongly 'pro-liberation', or else were suggested by research into published material from all sides.
The timeline starts around January , just after the historic elections of December , and ends in March , three months after the independence of Bangladesh. The data was colleered primarily during in Bangladesh and Pakistan from site visits, interviews with survivors, eye-wirnesses and parricipanrs, published and unpublished eye-witness accounts and memoirs in English and Bengali, photos, films and foreign media reports of rhe rime.
During this period I visited Bangladesh and Pakistan many times. Some of rhe research was done in Britain and the USA. I did most of rhe location work in Bangladesh first. There is a constituency of Bangladt:shis who are devoted to the cause of rhdr independence and to preserving rhe memories of rhe trauma rhar accompanied irs achievement. There was no deanh ofpeople who were eager to help, to recommend people to ralk to or material to read, and to rake me to rhe places where I wan red to go.
I was overwhelmed by their warmth and hospitality, and tht: timt: people were wil1ing to give me to talk about what were for rhem ofren very painful memories. It was hard enough just listening to rhe stories of trauma. All the while I had ro remind myself to keepacoolhead and nor lose sight of rhe task at hand. Once I apologised to Mrs Shyo. She said she did nor mind, she would speak about it as many rimes as necessary in rhe interest of justice.
Ironically, parrs of rhe Jlood of 'assistance' actually posed problems. I had ro sifr trivial or dubious marerial from the truly useful. Most of rhe Bangladeshi intelligentsia 1 met seemed ro be unaccustomed to rhe notion of cross-checking for facts or search for independent corroboration.
Many were imbued with hatred or binerness towards their opponents. Straight questions about a person or event ofi:en produced answers that had nothing to do with the question. As a general pattern, usually those who had truly suffered during were relatively more level-headed and reliable in their testimony. Some accounts of participants seem driven by the need for selfpromotion or to be seen co have been on the 'right' side after BangJadesh had achieved independence. The worst were the ones, ofren in Dhaka or abroad, who had not participated or suftl:red directly in the war, bur had 'views' nevertheless, never mind che facts.
The same turned out to be true about many people in Pakistan as well. Soon an additional problem emerged in Banglade5h-all the people trying to help me were strongly 'pro-liberation' and were nor on speaking terms with anyone from rhe 'pro-unity' camp within Bangladesh.
Many did not seem to appreciate chat I needed to speak to all sides of rhc conflict in a fair manner. When I spoke candidly of my plan to seek out Pakistani officers who had been in East Pakistan for their version of events, many members ofrhc Bangladeshi intelligentsia reacted with blind hatred and vindictiveness.
Help was not as forthcoming when it came to trying to speak to those who had believed in united Pakistan, or those who had been at the receiving end of Bengali nationalist wrarh. Yet Bengalis in Khulna 5poke openly about the killing of non-Bengali 'Biharis' rhcre. L: When I asked about the alleged massacre at Mymensingh cantonment the director of the Liberation War Museum told me there had been no cantonment in Mymensingh.
Shortly thereafter a site visit confirmed the large-scale killing of West Pakistanis at the East Pakistan Rifles centre in Mymensingh, referred to locally as a 'cantonment', as reported in the White Paper.
If the challenge in Bangladesh was to sifr through the overwhelming amount of 'help: the challenge in Paki5tan initially was to get anyone who had been in East Pakistan to talk to me at all. For my purpose I needed to talk to Pakistan Army officers who had served in East Pakistan in , especially those who had been present at the events or in the areas I was looking at in-depth. Owing to the small number ofWesr Pakistani officers and troops in East Pakistan facing extraordinary circumstances, many young officers were le.
These were rhe men I needed ro talk to. My ethnic, religious and national background-and gender as wdl-meant chat officers of the Pakistan army could not exactly be expected to rush to open their hearts to me about rheir experiences in