ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Losing the Victims

This refers to the article, ‘Losing the Victims: Problem of Using Women as Weapons in Recounting the Bangladesh War’ (September 22) by Sarmila Bose. There appears something wrong with the article. I wish the author had probed the figure of the total strength of the Pakistani military and paramilitary personnel who were accused of committing crimes of genocide and rape in Bangladesh. As regards the strength of Pakistani soldiers and non-combatants in East Pakistan, the author has relied on the figure (45,000) given by Niazi in an interview to her in 2003. Subsequent analysis and results are based on this strength of the troops.

After the 1971 war ended, India took approximately 90,000 prisoners of war (PoW) that included Pakistani soldiers as well as some of their East Pakistani allies. 79,676 of these prisoners were uniformed personnel, of which 55,692 were army, 16,354 paramilitary, 5,296 police, 1,000 navy and 800 PAF. The remaining prisoners were civilians – either family members of the military personnel or Bihari collaborators (‘razakars’). The Hameedur Rahman Committee report instituted by Pakistan puts the break-up of Pakistani PoWs as follows: army 54,154; navy 1,381; air force 833; paramilitary and police 22,000; civilians 12,000 (total 90,368).

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