Global help sought thru' Betar Kendra

On this day in 1971, the curfew in Dhaka city was eased from 7:00am to 4:00pm.

That night, help was sought from the rest of the world through broadcasts from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in Chittagong (now Chattogram).

Meanwhile, Pakistan navy fired shots in different areas of the port city. In the port area, they disarmed Bangladeshi navy men and murdered them.

In Dhaka, freedom fighters and Pakistani occupational forces exchanged gunfire in Jinjira area.

The Pakistan army attempted expelling all foreign journalists from Dhaka, confiscating their notes and tapes to keep the news of the genocide at bay. But as the war deepened, Bangladesh became the focus of the world.

Following the declaration of independence and the arrest of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, freedom fighters kept the fight up against the Pakistan army.

Also on this day, the Pakistan Observer, a newspaper which remained close for two days before the declaration of independence, resumed publication.

American Consul General to Dhaka Archer Blood sent a telegram to Washington about his observations at Dhaka, under the subject heading "Selective genocide".

He reported that they were "mute and horrified by a reign of terror by the Pakistan military" in East Pakistan. Blood pointed towards surfacing evidence suggesting that Awami League supporters and Hindus were being systematically targeted by the martial law administrators. He also reported that Prof Dev, Prof Fazlul Haque, Prof Abedin, along with many DU teachers and MPA's, have been killed.

On the other hand, in the Memorandum for Dr Henry Kissinger, Situation in Pakistan, NSC official Samuel L Hoskinson told Kissinger that the events in East Pakistan had taken a turn for the worse. It also acknowledged both American recognition of the "reign of terror conducted by West Pakistan” and the need to address new policy issues that have been created “as a result of the terror”.

American television broadcasting centres CBS and NBC claimed that “the East Pakistan Rebellion [has been] crushed”.

[Source: The Daily Star Archive, The Liberation War Museum Archive and US Department of State Archive]