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2.1 An Affront to Common Sense?
It has already been noted that Lt Gen. Aurora has dismissed the very claim of three million killed as 'absolutely impossible'. No firmer rejection of it could have been conceived.
2.2 Fabrication Can’t Stand for Fact
Moreover, the way it had been fabricated by the Purbadesh/Pravda/ENA combined could hardly be said to be worthy of any confidence in terms of reliability and validity. Given the dislocated communication systems and the completely anarchic situation of the time, with the Bangladesh Government still waiting in Calcutta for the Indian permission to return to Dhaka , the editor gentleman was apparently in no position to make even a few random estimates with his correspondents outside Dhaka for producing a crude guess-work. This gentleman seemed to have simply taken the mean average of the five hypothetical figures mentioned in a plainly searching mood by his paper's correspondent only twenty four hours before.
2.3 Could the Indian Figure Be Any Better?
Some of the above reasons, for which no confidence could be accorded to the Purbadesh/Pravda/ENA combination's guesswork, apply equally to the figure adopted by the Indian authorities and to which Field Marshall Manekshaw, Lt. Gen. Aurora and Maj.Gen. Palit wanted us to repose our trust. One may ask, if the figure of three million was 'absolutely impossible', could the figure of one million be deemed within the realm of probability?
2.4 From Comparative Perspective
In answering the above we may apply a number of tests. Firstly, a comparison with countries which have all seen 'much bitter and prolonged armed conflict'.
Comparative Casualty Figures
||3 (up to March '94)
* in year **exclude the citizen who were killed at the hands of the Pol Pot regime.
In Vietnam the US waged a war of attrition of unprecedented scale for 12 years. There was barely any lethal weapon, excepting the atomic bomb, which the mighty Superpower did not use against the North Vietnamese Forces and their South Vietnamese proxies, the Viet Cong guerrillas. Thousands and thousands of tons of bombs were used for carpet bombing insurgent infested villages and valleys. Yet the total Vietnamese casualty figures during the 12 years of contest did not exceed one million or an average yearly toll of little over 83,000.
From 1954 to 1962 the Algerians waged an all-out guerrilla war against French rule provoking serious attacks against them not only from the French Government but also from the Algerian-born Frenchmen. In this seven and a half year long struggle for independence, 100,000 Algerians lost their life at a yearly rate of little over 13,000.
Cambodia has continuously suffered either direct foreign invasion or internal civil war at the behest of foreign powers or both, non-stop for over two decades. The VS alone has dropped 539,129 ton bombs on Cambodia. Yet, over a period of 23 years the Cambodian casualty figure stood at 2,100,000, averaging less than 48,000 a year.
The Afghan Mujahideen confronted Soviet occupation for 14 years. In the plains they fought against the Communist Superpower's tanks and armoured cars and on the hills and valleys they suffered savage aerial bombardment. Their total cost in life was 2,000,000 with an annual average of less than 143,000.
The 16 year long Angolan civil war in which the Government forces aided by the Cuban military personnels fought for the control of the country against the Unita rebels who had the backing of the USA and South Africa. The total loss in Angolan lives was 300,000 with an annual average of less than 19,000.
Between them Iran and Iraq have fought a particularly savage all out frontal war for nine years. In the war both sides even used forbidden chemical weapons and completely destroyed each others towns and cities. Even in that vicious war the average yearly loss of life was about 111,000.
Amidst untold Serb savagery and ethnic cleansing, implicitly facilitated by the Russians and the West European powers, the Muslims of Bosnia have been fighting a grim war to preserve their existence and the integrity of their country. During the first three years up to March 1994 the total casualty figure stood at 142,592 with an annual rate of 47,531.
In Sri Lanka, the Tamil separatists have been fighting a bitter war for the last 13 years. As on January 1996 the total casualty figure of that Indian engineered civil war in Sri Lanka has cost about 50,000 lives at an annual average of 3,846.
Compared to any of the above, as summarized in the preceding Table, either of the casualty figures for Bangladesh, i.e. the Purbadesh/Pravda/ENA three million, and Indian one million, look simply incredible. Lt. Gen. Aurora's description of 'absolutely impossible' could be appropriate not only to the Purbadesh/Pravda/ENA fabricated figure but to his preferred Indian figure as well. Both are inflated out of proportion to suit their much loved propaganda.
2.5 Some Indications of Combatant Casualty:
In this connection one might note that by trawling numerous participant accounts of the Mukti Bahini's 'heroic exploits and sacrifices' that have appeared in print, one would not be able to gather together a grand casualty figure of more than a few thousand. This was not surprising. First, the Mujib Bahini, a major component of the 130,000 or so Mukti Bahini [2}, was specially trained and kept in reserve away from insurgency duty in case the ordinary Mukti Bahini become defiant of India and needed to be brought in line. Secondly, the ordinary Mukti Bahini's primary function was not so much to fight the Pakistan Army but to gather intelligence and to serve as scouts to the Indian Army. Last but not least, much of the publicized encounters between Pakistan Army and the Mukti Bahini were in fact clashes between Pakistan Army and Indian Forces in the guise of Mukti Bahini. As disclosed by Moralji Desai, who later briefly succeeded Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of his country, about 5,000 regular Indian soldiers were killed while fighting in the disguise of Mukti Bahini.  This was further confirmed by the Indian Army's later demand for the formal recognition of these fallen soldiers.  Apart from the regular Indian Army, members of her Border Security Forces were also known to have fought under the guise of the Mukti Bahini.
2.6 The Extent of Civilian Casualty:
Apparently, the authors of the different casualty figures were aware of the miniscule size of the casualty among the Bangladeshi fighting men, including the Mukti Bahini. Their allegation of indiscriminate killing of civilians was partly intended to cover this up. But how plausible were these claims?
2.7 From Another Comparative Perspective:
To have a measure of their probability, let us compare the two vaunted figures with that of Nazi Germany's. The attempt at the extermination of the Jews during the Second World War, the most extensive and methodical effort of its kind ever, is a legend. It would be recalled that over a six year period the Nazi Germany rounded up the Jews, not only from Germany but also from all other conquered countries of Central and Western Europe, herded them in Concentration Camps and systematically gas them to death on a mass scale. Altogether six million Jews were killed at an annual rate of 1.5 million. As against this, the rate implied in the two vaunted figures for Bangladesh would be as follows:
Purbadeshl/Pravda/ENA - 4 million; and Indian - 1.3 million. Although the last figure is slightly less than that of Nazi Germany's, once the German territorial and population sphere, scale of operation, use of concentration camps and gas chambers were taken into account, the fantastic nature of both the figures for Bangladesh emerge with force.
In order to kill three million the Pakistan Army would have had to kill 11,494 persons a day non-stop from 26 March onwards. If on the other hand, they were to kill one million people, their daily killing would come to 3,831. Seen in another way, for the 60,000 Pakistan Army to kill three million and rape three hundred thousand women, each and everyone of them had to kill 50 persons and rape 5 women. In this context let me quote an apparent believer of the myth of three million:
"Considering that 60,000 armed officers and men had managed this abominable feat in course of few months, it would appear that each individual had on an average, committed about 50 murders, inflicted injuries on about 3 persons, raped about 7 girls/women, burnt numerous houses and looted a sizeable amount of money!" 
Plainly, despite his apparent agreement with the myth, the inner incredulity of the author of the above lines could not remain unchecked. His own exclamation mark said it all.
Anyone who has any semblance of rationality would recognise that to produce any of the above killing rates, each and every member of the Pakistan Army would have to be more than a homicidal killing machine. Even the worst serial killers known in human history have not succeeded in killing people at such a high rate! On top of that make them responsible for producing a rape figure of three hundred thousand. One needs to be extra imaginative to even contemplate the scenario. Probably, in spinning the telltale figures the spin doctors' head went spinning! Apparently, in hailing 'the Chief' all 'the Indians' went berserk.
2.8 From Ground Level Perspective:
According to the Government statistics, in 1971 East Pakistan had 69,774,000 people, 12,673,000 family households, 68,385 villages, and 4,472 unions. If either of the above imagined figures were placed alongside the above demographic facts the following ratio of casualty should in reality be found:
Demography and Implied Killing Rate
||@ 1 million
|Per 1000 people
|Per 100 families
Hardly anyone in Bangladesh could relate his or her local knowledge of casualties to any of the above. Although Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the Communication Minister of Bangladesh of the time, had been quoted by the PTI claiming that his own village had suffered a total loss of 107 persons, personal enquiry has shown the utter baselessness of the reported claim. Some of the villagers who have lived through the terrible year of 1971 are still alive, they would freely testify to the make believe nature of the alleged casualty figure.
2.9 Certain Local Testimonies:
Jessore is a boarder district, nearest to Calcutta. The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was presented before the world at Baidayanathtala, a border village of the same district and throughout the civil war the district remained a hotly contested and disruptive area. From a part of Jessore, Maulana Khandkar Abul Khair, a popular religious preacher and published author of several widely circulated books, has said:
"I clearly remember, in our Jessore district there was hardly any village from which 20/25 people did not flee to India. But I shall be able to name numerous villages which did not experience a single killing. For example, my own village and a number of villages around did not encounter a single death." 
Jauhuri, a Bangladeshi journalist wrote:
“It is beyond me how three million people could get killed in a guerrilla war of eight months and 21 days. The raping of two hundred thousand women is also beyond my comprehension
I. have spoken to no less than five hundred peoples of different districts and have asked them, 'Has anyone in your family or among your relatives, friends or acquaintance been raped by Pakistani soldiers?' None affirmed, everyone said 'no'. It may be that some of them were ashamed to disclose. Besides, it is not impossible for the Pakistan Army to have a few characterless soldiers. But, how could these produce the figure of two hundred thousand? Moreover' how was this figure arrived at within a week of the liberation of the country? Who did the survey?” 
William Drummond of The Guardian was no less emphatic:
“The figure of three million' deaths has been carried uncritically in sections of the world press. My judgement, based on numerous trips around Bangladesh and extensive discussion with many people at the village level as well as in the government, is that the three million deaths is an exaggeration so gross as to be absurd.” 
Peter Gill, another western journalist, said:
"Sheikh Mujib's wild figure of three million Bengalis killed during those 10 terrible months is at least 20 times too high, if not 50 or 60." 
Reporting from the Noakhali district Abdul Muhaimin, well-known author, Awami League MCA and long time friend of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had this to say:
"As a Member of the Constituent Assembly I was entrusted with the responsibility of finding out the casualty figure for the whole of Noakhali district. After contacting different Police Stations and Unions the figure I had was less than seven thousand. Even after adding up the number of Razakars killed, the total did not exceed seven and a half thousand. At that time, Bangladesh had 19 districts. All these districts were not equally affected by the war. Noakhali was one among the districts which had seen severe fighting. If the figure obtained from Noakhali was seen as the mean average for the rest of the districts, even then the total killed would not exceed more than one hundred twenty five thousand. 
So, we are not alone in casting our doubts! Even Sheikh Mujib and his colleagues were not convinced about the story of three or even one million dead and were eager to know the real facts! Was it then that despite telling us 'children' the 'Ghost Story', as grown-up men they knew all along that the 'Monstrous Ghost' did not exist?
Notes and References
1. Jauhuri, Tirish Lakher Telesmat (The Riddle of Thirty Lakh) Asha Prokashan, 435 Elephant Road, Dhaka - 1217, 1994 : 13.
2. India's Defence Minister, J agjivan Ram was quoted in Jyoti Sen Gupta, History of Freedom Movement in Bangladesh, 1943-1973 : Some Involvement, Naya Prokash, 206 Bidhan Sarani, Calcutta -6,1974,:305.
3. Oriana Fallaci, Interview with Morarji Desai, The New Repub¬lic, Washington, 2 and 9 August, 1975.
4: Souvenir of 45 Indian Armored Regiment, December, 1983; also Cf. Subir Bhaumik, Insurgent Crossfire: North-East India, Lancer Publishers, 56 Gautam Nagar,New Delhi, 1996 : 52
5. Abul Hasanat, The Ugliest Genocide in History, Muktadhara [Swadhin Bangla Sahitya Parishad], 74 Farashganj, Dhaka -1, 1974: 79.
6. Maulana Abul Khair, Sowal Jwab (Question and Answer), vo1.5; also cfJauhuri, op cit : 52.
7. Jauhuri, op cit: 14
8. William Drummond, The Missing Millions The Guardian, London, 6 June, 1972.
9. Peter Gill, Pakistan Holds Together, Daily Telegraph, London, 16 April, 1973.
10. Yahya Mirza, Interview with Mr Abdul Muhaimin, The Tarokalok, Dhaka, 1 March, 1990 cf. also cf. Jauhuri, ibid: 48-49.