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.

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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.

She spent many years in jail. The new rebels were called 'Naxalices' 1 and they were my incroduction to domestic politics in India. If we were out early enough in the morning in those days, from the window of the car we might see a body on the road, uncleared debris from the previous night. I remember my mother crying to prevent me from seeing a corpse one day, while I, with a child's natural curiosity, craned my neck co look. One morning as we were driving along che Maidan there was a strange thud from the Ambassador car in from of us and the body of a man flew out and hit a tree-trunk on the left.

Everyone in our car thought he had been thrown from che back of che Ambassador.

The ocher car kepc driving and so did we. When I started research on the confl. He said that whatever he remembered about Bangladesh in was in recrospecc, as ac the time he had been coo discracted by people being killed by che regime in Wesc Bengal, on che Indian side of the border.

Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War

IfNaxalites were my introduction to domestic polirics, the Bangladesh war of was my introduction to internacional politics. The world outside the gates of 1 Woodburn Park seemed to be a disturbingly violent one. From what I could gather from fervent discussions among adults in Calcutta, a little more than two decades after the departure of the British, our Bengali brethren across the border were once again fighting for freedom.

This time, their fellow coun trymen from the other side oflndia-West Pakistan is-seemed for some inex plicable reason intent on killing them all. All the West Pakistanis seemed to be generals as well. Pres idem Nixon was backingPakistan. Jndia had the support of the Soviet Union.

Prime Minister [ndira Gandhi seemed to be taking on the world single-handed as India played whice knight co che beleaguered Bangladeshis. Strangely, che existence ofEast Pakistan had barely couched upon our childhood until then, even though my maternal family was originally from there. My grandparents spoke the East Bengali dialects of their respective regions, but they were long setded in Calcutta.

But Bengali nationalism seemed to be sweeping Calcucca. We had a record ofa speech given by che fiery leader of che Bangladeshis, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was played so many cimes chac I had the entire speech by heart and can still remember parts ofit. Edesher manushke mukto koira chharbo inshalhzh'.

Since we have given our blood, we wi II give more blood. I will make the people of chis land free, God willing.

The cales of che refugees were harrowing, cheir plight cruly pitiful. Important visicors came co see them. One was the American Senator Edward Kennedy, his handsome face and shirt sleeves translucent amidst the sea of human misery.

George Harrison sang in Bengali, '0 bhagaban khodatallah, moder chhaira kothagela' 0 Lord God, where have you gone abandoning us. A Bengali singer sang 'Shono ekti Mujiborer theke lakkha Mujiborerkanthaswarer dhwani pratidhwani akashe bato.

There had been a war between India and Pakistan just a few years before, when I was very small. Ac chac cime che people ofEasr Pakistan were fighting against India. I remember being afraid, and not understanding why someone would want to drop a bomb on us. It took a very longtime, especially the French windows to the verandah-three sets of which opened our from rht: drawing room alone. 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.

Dead reckoning : memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War

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.

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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.

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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'.

This is a historically well-established truth: The victor writes history. As such history is nothing but a fable, unless seen from all sides, and accommodates all points of view. So we see how facts, numbers, words and evidence were twisted in the history of the war to either magnify the killings that happened during the war by the Pakistan Army, or to hide the killings done by the Pro-Liberation forces.

The author admits at the beginning her intention was to focus at the micro level. She thus interviews various participants on all sides, the victims and the perpetrators.

In the end she establishes that the figure of 3 million killed by the Pakistan Army and , women raped is patently fabricated, as are many other incidents and events attributed to them.

Dead Reckoning - Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War- By Sarmila Bose

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.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.

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. Some kind of dreadful fighting had broken ouc in neighbouring Ease Pakistan and refugees were pouring inco our side of Bengal.

My mother finally led me away and we proceeded ro Netaji Bhawan. 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. The new rebels were called 'Naxalices' 1 and they were my incroduction to domestic politics in India. Niazi turned our to have a distinguished past and a rragic face.

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