- Soon, the trickle of refugees into India
had become a deluge. Soon, every possible Indian facility
along those borders was swamped. The hospitals were
overflowing with men who had had limbs chopped off; women who
had been raped, disfigured, and had their breasts cut off.
Even children had not been spared. The bestiality displayed by
the Pakistan Army cannot be expressed by mere words. Mutilated
and mangled, millions flowed into India.
- "We were grappling to come to terms with
what we saw, as much as we were trying to cope with the daily
increasing flood of starving, battered and mutilated people."
The expression on Captain Sutradhars face conveyed it all. "I
still remember Ted Kennedy standing in the hospital ward when
he visited us in July 1971. There was not even an inch of room
available in the hospital; every possible corner had been
taken up by a mass of humanity ‚Ä¶ by what had once been normal,
happy human beings." The good doctor was now crying openly.
- Ted Kennedys visit, and the coverage by
international media that followed in its run-up, played a
major role in highlighting the plight of the East Pakistani
refugees and the atrocities committed on them. Till now this
was being largely ignored by the American media, primarily
because the Vietnam War and the Cold War were at their peak,
and America was not very keen to discuss the misdemeanours of
Pakistan, its favoured ally in the Southeast Asia Treaty
Organization (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO).
And also because Nixon and Kissinger were using Yahya Khan to
try and effect a rapprochement with China.
- The Pakistani Armys atrocities also went
unreported because the then UN High Commisioner for Refugees,
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan also happened to be the only child
of Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III, a Pakistani. He
allegedly did not hesitate to use his offices to play an
ambivalent role and downplay the horrors unleashed by
Pakistani soldiers on the hapless East Pakistanis.
- "I cannot tell you what terrible things we
saw," Major Chandrakant, then officiating second-in-command
and commander of Alpha Company, 4 Guards, muttered bleakly.
"In the months before the war, when we were at Sabrun, every
day, Pakistani soldiers would drag naked Bengali (Hindu) women
like cattle to the river, right in front of our border
outposts (BOPs) and force them to bathe in front of every one
... and they would beat them, rape them and mutiliate them.
Those gutless men would even yell at us that this is what the
fate of all Indian women would be if India dared to intervene
- The anguish in his voice was raw even to
this day. I tried to visualize what he had described, and
failed. My mind could not grasp such a reality. I tried to
understand the pain and horror they must have experienced, but
in vain. But then I correlated it with the news of the day,
where Pakistani soldiers had beheaded an Indian soldier, and I
could easily see that the Pakistan Army had lost its soul a
long time ago. This is not the way soldiers behave. Warriors
the world over live by a code of conduct, and such animal
behaviour is not a part of it. There can be little hope for a
nation when its Army (its pride and glory) stoops to such
- "They should not have been allowed to get
away with all this. Their officers posted in East Pakistan
should have been tried for war crimes, for the sheer
bestiality they committed and allowed their men to commit,"
Chandrakants anger was palpable. "Do you think they would have
gotten away scot-free if this had happened in any western
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