April 14, 1971
CABINET MEETING HELD
The first cabinet meeting of the provincial government of Bangladesh today laid down a seven-point programme for smooth functioning of the administration as far as practicable under the prevailing situation.
The cabinet meeting was attended by Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, Khondkar Mushtaque Ahmed, Kamarujjaman and Yusuf Ali.
The points laid out in the programme are:
1. Endeavour to keep liberated areas free from any attack.
2. Run the civil administration in the liberated areas in right manner by picking up development work, particularly the productive aspect, both in agricultural and industrial fields.
3. Try to resume normal flow of life, run school, offices and other commercial establishments such as bank.
4. Continue the fight with the enemy in the occupied areas with stepped up vigour.
5. Opening foreign trade with some neighbouring friendly countries immediately.
6. In the absence of gold standard, the trade will be run in some sort of barter system.
7. The government is already into negotiations with some neighbouring friendly countries for starting barter system. [Hindusthan Standard, April 15, 1971]
REORGANISATION OF LIBERATION FORCES
The newly formed provisional government today set about the task of transforming the liberation army into an organised force by setting up a full-fledged operational base and an interim capital and naming commanders for well-defined liberated zones.
Colonel Osmani was appointed the commander-in- chief of the Mukti Fauj. The names of regional commanders as announced by Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad were: Maj Khalid Musharaf, Sylhet-Comilla; Maj Ziaur Rahman, Chittagong-Noakhali; Maj Safiulla, Mymensingh-Tangail; and Maj MA Osman, south-west.
Besides the interim capital located in the western zone, a regional unit had been set in the Sylhet-Comilla zone with full administrative authority for the eastern region.
A LAND LIVING IN FEAR
Maurice Quaintance of Reuters news agency conducted a tour of war-torn Bangladesh in the first half of April, 1971 with five other correspondents. They were the first allowed to enter the country since the expulsion of all foreign correspondents at the start of the war. The tour was supervised throughout by the Pakistan army and it was only after protests that the correspondents were allowed to talk to people without being overheard.
The report submitted by Quaintance was published in Guardian (UK) on April 14, 1971. He wrote: "A horrifying picture of slaughter and destruction met journalists on an official visit over the past week. The scale of it went beyond the imagination. No one will ever know the full truth but authoritative sources put the figure of dead at 300,000 and others asserted that it was perhaps as high as half a million.
"Priests speak in a whisper at a Roman Catholic mission hospital in East Pakistan where Father Mario Veronese from Padua, was gunned down by soldiers last month. They look over their shoulders for the officer outside as journalists ask them questions. Repeat the experience scores of times over four days and it conjures up the fear - justified or not - that lurks outside the military cantonments in a land where tens of thousands of people have been put to death," the report continued.
The report also provided details of army operations in various parts of the country. Indicating to the Pakistan army's ruthless method of combating rebels the report quoted a senior officer at Khulna, who said, "It took me five days to get control of this area. We killed everyone who came our way. We never bothered to count the bodies."
The reports also mentioned incidents where non-Bangalees were attacked and brutally killed by the Bangalees.
Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org