Operation Searchlight on March 25, 1971: Pakistani forces initiated one of the deadliest genocide on Bangalees of East Pakistan

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Published on March 23, 2024
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Bangladesh is observing ‘Genocide Day’ today commemorating brutalities of the Pakistan army during Operation Searchlight, launched on the night of March 25 in 1971, as a last resort to try and suppress the will of the people of what would become, in less than nine months, an independent Bangladesh.

On the Black Night of March 25 in 1971, the Pakistani military junta resorted to mass killings and arson in Dhaka to implement their blueprint to thwart the Awami League's assumption of office following the election mandate of 1970.

In the attack dubbed 'Operation Searchlight', the Pakistani forces mercilessly killed the Bangalee members of the East Pakistan Rifles and police, students, teachers and common people.

They killed people indiscriminately, set fire to the houses and property and looted business establishments, leaving a trail of destruction.

The night also witnessed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s proclamation of independence before he was arrested by the Pakistani troops and subsequently flown to West Pakistan.

The day is being observed as Genocide Day officially for the seventh time in the country since the Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on March 11, 2017.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages on this occasion.

The president said “The observance of Genocide Day is a recognition of the great sacrifices made by three million Bengalis in the liberation struggle of Bangladesh.”

It is also a symbol of protest against the genocide committed by the then Pakistani aggressors.

“The horrific genocide of 1971 is a black chapter not only in Bangladesh but also in the history of world humanity. The pledge that such genocide does not happen anywhere else will be reflected worldwide through the observance of the Genocide Day” he said

In her message, the prime minister remembered with a heavy heart all martyrs who sacrificed their lives on the night of March 25, 1971, whose fresh blood inspired the brave Bengalis to be spirited to take up arms and fight for independence.

“We have recognized March 25 as 'Genocide Day. We have sheltered more than 1.1 million displaced Rohingya people who escaped with their lives from genocide in neighboring Myanmar. We are working on the principle of ‘Zero Tolerance’ to eradicate militancy and terrorism. We have already made Bangladesh a developing country. Bangladesh in 2041 will be ‘Smart Bangladesh.”

The PM called upon the country's people and the global people to build a society based on equality and free from all kinds of discrimination and sectarianism.

Political parties have taken up programmes in observance of the day.

Different cultural organizations will arrange seminars, cultural programmes lyrical drama on genocide.

Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television as well as private television channels and radio stations will air special programmes while national dailies will publish supplements marking the day.

Meanwhile different religious organizations will hold special prayers and doa mehfil praying for peace to the deceased.