Niazi admits March 25 crackdown, blames Tikka Khan
History records it as army crackdown to gouge Bengali voice demanding their legitimate rights while a Pakistani no less than General AAK Niazi himself confessed to the atrocities of the March 25, 1971 fateful night to exceed Chengiz Khan and Halaku Khan’s mercilessness.
‘The cruelty of the March 25 military operation was more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Chengiz Khan and Halaku Khan,’ commented the commander of the defeated forces in his book ‘Betrayal of East Pakistan’.
He, however, blamed his predecessor General Tikka Khan for the atrocities recalling Tikka telling the Pakistani troops under his command ‘I want land, not people’.
Niazi could not witness himself the atrocities as he was posted in Dhaka afterwards to take the command of the troops but Pakistani army’s the then public relations officer Major Siddique Salik gave a vivid description of the events of the fateful night as an eyewitness calling it a ‘holocaust’.
He wrote Lieutenant General Tikka Khan and his staff spent the night at the Martial Law Headquarters in the Second Capital, now Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, to watch the ‘progress of action in and outside Dacca’ while he recalled ‘the night was as pleasant as a spring night in Dacca could be (and) the setting was perfect for anything but a bloody holocaust’.
‘The gates of hell had been cast open,’ Salik recalled in his book ‘Witness to Surrender,’ as the military crackdown began.
Salik said he had watched the harrowing sight from a verandah for four hours when ‘the prominent feature of this gory night was the flames shooting to the sky and at times, mournful clouds of smoke accompanied the blaze but soon they were overwhelmed by the flaming fire trying to lock at the stars’.
‘When Bhutto (on the next day) was making this optimistic remark (about Pakistan’s survival due to the military action), I was surveying mass graves in the university area where I found three pits — of five to fifteen metres diameter each. They were filled with fresh earth,’ he recalled.
Salik said after surveying the massacres he returned to the cantonment for lunch on March 26 when ‘I found the atmosphere very different there as the tragedy in the city had eased the nerves of defence personnel and their dependents’.
‘The officers chatted in the officers’ mess with a visible air of relaxation. Peeling an orange, (one) Captain Chaudhry said, ‘The Bengalis have been sorted out well and proper — at least for a generation’. Another officer Major Malik added, ‘Yes, they only know the language of force. Their history says so’,’ he wrote.
It could not be known how they swallowed the slap of the history only nine months later — on December 16, 1971.