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7.1. The Scale of magnification: 60 times?
The self-serving story of ‘three million killed and three hundred thousand raped’, however vociferously recited, soon lost its credibility. The foreign journalists who were partly responsible for creating the hallucinatory atmosphere of 1971 through their often unfounded and/or exaggerated reports were the first to point out the utter fantasy of three million killed. Within a few months after the end of the war, William Drummond of The Guardian wrote:
"This. figure of three million deaths has been carried uncritically in sections of the world press the scale of the atrocities claimed by the Mujib Government has been blown out of proportion." 
Peter Gill of the Daily Telegraph was more dismissive:
"The Pakistan soldiery in the East during 1971 was suppressing a rebellion, and not in occupation of a foreign country. 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. And what of all the killing that the Bengalis did whenever they had a chance?" 
7.2. The Categories of People ‘Killed’
The people who got killed at the hands of the Pakistani Army were not the only casualties of the war. The hands of the 'liberationists' were no less blood stained. If anything, the allegations of wanton killing against the Pakistan Army were mostly baseless, with only a few which might at best have circumstantial, rather than indubitable, evidence to back them up; whereas the instances of the Mukti Bahini's killing of non-combatants and detenues were so well documented that no amount of subterfuge could conceal them. The killing of suspected- Pakistan supporters by Abdul Kader Siddiqui's uniformed men, for instance, could never be considered anything other than a war crime. Apart from those, whether armed or unarmed, who got killed on both sides, there was another group of victims. Irony is that they were made victims by their fellow 'Bengalis'. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, the columnist, disdainfully wrote:
"Now we are saying three million Bengalis have been martyred. Without even having a survey we are claiming that three million Bengalis have died. But those of us who went to Mujibnagar and took up administrative responsibilities were responsible for the death of four hundred thousand children, one million women and two hundred thousand old people, out of the ten million Bengalis who took refuge in India. The records of their death exist in the newspapers of Calcutta and in the refugee related documents of the Government of West Bengal....A section of our public representatives have taken away food from the mouth of these women and children and have sold the goods that came from foreign countries as aid to the refugees ....Millions and millions taka's worth of foreign aid came and most of them disappeared in the cavern of corruption." 
It was not Abdul Gaffar Choudhury alone, M.R. Akhtar Mukul, another leading liberationist, has also provided us with a vivid eye witness account of this heartless killing of hapless women and children at the hands of the Awami League politicians. 
7.3. Cover-up and Disbelief
Had the Mujib Government shown confidence in the people of Bangladesh and let them have the findings of their own MCAs and the Inquiry Committee and released other related information such as those regarding compensation applied for and compensation actually provided, a more reliable picture of the nature and extent of losses on all sides would have emerged and an informed discussion and debate could have taken place. The authors such as Abul Hasanat ard Jyoti Sen Gupta have also tried to keep the people of Bangladesh in a land of utter fantasy and falsehood. Moreover, successive Bangladesh Governments have found it expedient to live with, and often make use of, this falsehood.
As we have seen, despite the attempt to foster and perpetuate the myth, the public disbelief expressed itself in all manner of ways. The extent of the public incredulity was such that even some of the Awami Leaguers began publicly questioning the exaggerated claim. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, Zahirul Qayyum and Abdul Muhaimin were only a few of these questioning Awami Leaguers.
7.4. Where Lies the Truth, Then?
The claim of 'three million killed and three hundred thousand raped' may have been utter concoction. But where does the factual truth lie, then? Is there any hope of finding them after a lapse of twenty five years?
We have been provided with a glimpse of the truth by an important body like the Bangladesh International Institute of Strategic Studies. Writing in the October 1993 issue of its Journal, Abdur Rab Khan, Senior Researcher of the Institute has shown that eight hundred thousand people had sacrificed their lives during the prolonged struggle for the creation of Pakistan. As against this, during Indo-Pakistan war leading to the creation of Bangladesh 11,000 soldiers on both sides were killed.  During the period of civil war between the Pakistan Army and the Bangladeshi rebels prior to the war itself, a total of 50,000 lives were lost. 
The Senior Researcher of the Bangladesh International Institute of Strategic Studies has not given any break-down of the 50,000 casualty figure. However, his figure includes all categories of victims, not just the Bangladesh partisans killed at the hands of the Pakistan Army. On the basis of what we have learnt from different sources about the various categories of people who have lost their lives during the conflict, there is no reason to pretend that the casualties suffered by the Biharis and the supporters of Pakistan, as well as by the Bangladeshi refugees were numerically any smaller than the losses met by the Bangladesh partisans.
The Army authorities in East Pakistan have never claimed that their efforts to quell the secessionists was an easy task. Nor have they ever said that during their drive to save the integrity of Pakistan, no innocent civilians, were killed in the cross fire. But, the claim of wanton killing by the army, far less the allegation of systematic genocide by them, is simply untenable. Were it otherwise, Mujib and his Government would not have suppressed the truth; nor would the propagandists remained content in merely reciting their claim. Certainly, they would have tried to display factually what the Pakistan Army did.
Notes and References
1. William Drummond, The Missing Millions, The Guardian, London, 6 June, 1972
2. Peter Gill, Pakistan Holds Together, Daily Telegraph, London, 16 April, 1973.
3. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, Shahosh Kare Kichu Shaythay Katha Bala Proyjan (With Courage a Few Truth Have to be Said), The Dainik Janapad, Dhaka, 20 May, 1973.
4. M.R.Akhtar Mukul, Ami Vijoy Dekhechi (I Have Seen Victory) Sagar Publications, GPO Box 3057, Dhaka, 1391 B.S. (1984)
5. Subir Bhaumik, Insurgent Crossfire: North-East India, Lancer Publishers, 56 Gautam Nagar, New Dehli - 110049, 1996: 8
6. Abdur Rab Khan, ‘Contemporary International Conflicts in South Asia: A Compendium’ BIIS Quarterly Journal, Dhaka, October, 1993; Cf 443, also Mubaidur Rahman in Dainik Inqilab, Dhaka, 26 March, 1994.