• Thursday, August 28, 2014

Yahya okays Operation Searchlight

Syed Badrul Ahsan

It was later to transpire that following the meeting between Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan and then between their advisers on the previous day, orders had gone out from the regime to the army on the need for action against the Bangalee political leadership. General Yahya Khan instructed General Tikka Khan to prepare for action.
Against the background of such an order, on March 18, General Khadim Hussain Raja and General Rao Farman Ali prepared the blueprint of what would soon come to be known as Operation Searchlight. Under this euphemistically used term, the military prepared to begin its harsh action against the Bangalees. The result would be genocide on a scale unprecedented in modern history.
But of this there was, at the time, not an iota of knowledge among the Bangalees, although informed observers of the scene noted the regularity with which the strength of the Pakistani forces in their restive eastern province was being augmented. On the streets, Bangalee militancy increased inexorably and open calls were being made for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to go for an outright declaration of independence for East Bengal.
Meanwhile, on March 18, Mujib rejected the commission of enquiry set up by the martial administrator, zone B (Tikka Khan) to "go into the circumstances which led to the calling of the army in aid of civil power in various parts of East Pakistan between March 2 and March 9." He stated that the people of Bangladesh would not cooperate with such a commission.

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Last modified: 7:13 pm Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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