Dacca, March 29, 1971, 1130Z
- Pak Military Crackdown: Listing of Military Versus Civilian Incidents
- A. Dacca 959
- B. Islamabad 2792 (NOTAL)
- Item: American priests (protect) in old Dacca report Army acted with no provocation on part of Bengals except barricade erection. Army exclusively responsible for all fires. Technique was to set houses afire and then gun down people as they left their homes. Unwilling estimate number of casualties but advised that must be very high. Believe Hindus particular focus of campaign, although areas including non-Hindus also [Page 2] burned out. Stated Army looking Awami Leaguers but really more indiscriminate than selective in approach. Most Army destruction nights of March 25 and 26: lesser on March 27 and 28. Also reported what termed reliable account family of eleven all killed nite of 25th.
- Item: Recurrent reports many university professors killed. Although circumstances vague, many say attempt underway wipe out all source potential intellectual ferment. British say six confirmed dead, including two deans and ex-governor Dr. M.N. Huda, econ dept head. Indians claim at least six dead (five names same as British list, with addition of Dr. D.C. Dev of philosphy department, who recently returned from US visit and who according numerous reports is dead. Well-connected Bengali previously noted for previous reliability provided names of five professors reportedly killed. When tallied, total of those reliably reported dead is ten: (Comment: Unsubstantiated whether killed in cross-fire when student halls attacked or whether selectively shot. Also still unclear whether all shot at time when Army occupied campus or whether some killed subsequently).
- Item: Same Bengali cited above opined violence random in nature. As evidence, claimed he was eye-witness to one family with no government or Awami League connections being wiped out by Army. Claimed house of three or four senior civil servants entered by Army and inhabitants killed.
- Item: We have received widespread and we believe reliable reports of troops engaged in looting homes (beating those who object, including middle level government officials) and shaking down refuges.
- Item: Military reportedly is standing by while non-Bengalis loot Bengali dwellings, thereby abetting criminal tensions. Bengali-non-Bengali tensions very high (ConGen officers this morning (March 29) witnessed butchering of one civilian by another in area of Bengali-non-Bengali discord, although incident possibly of other origin). Bengalis reportedly biding time to retaliate.
- Item: Bengali intellectuals in scared but surprisingly [Page 3] sober mood told ConGen officer of witnessing unprovoked Army firing on neighboring shanty-town. Reason they ascertained was that these people were type who build barricades, etc. Six bodies seen. Although Muslim, they contended Army going after Hindus with vengeance, citing destruction of predominantly Hindu areas in old Dacca. Stated police simply executed in Mohammepur (Dacca suburb) and elsewhere because Army considered them potential threat. Hearsay has it 1800 police killed in surprise attacks, they noted. Possibly more reliable, although estimates still subject to question, they commented, was report from survivor of Army attack on East Pak Rifles (EPR) camp at Peelkhana. Of approximately thousand EPRs present at time, 700 killed, 200 “overpowered”, and 100 escaped. They also reported house-to-house searches underway, with “Fouji men” (ex-Bengali servicemen) being special targets and being shot on site whenever found.
- Item: USAID Public Safety Chief reports police apparently no longer effective as force, with communication facilities gone and Razarbagh police lines razed. Special Branch building practically demolished and appears abandoned. Senior police officals on duty at office at Eden building awaiting orders from MLA. non-committal about situation, but one implored “pray for us.” No police seen anywhere in Dacca.
- Item: USAID Provincial Director eyewitness to what appeared to be unprovoked firing by military on children and fisherman afternoon March 28. No curfew in effect and no explanation for firing. Approximately 20 to 30 shots fired, but seemingly no one hit. Affair witnessed by many persons, mostly Americans.
- Comment: As details of horror stories of varying reliability filter in it appears Army seeking (a) terrorize population in general and thereby crush will to resist (although resistance in Dacca ended several days ago), and (b) eliminate all elements of society that pose potential threat to consolidation and maintenance of martial law authority.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 PAK. Confidential; Priority. Also sent to Islamabad. Repeated priority to Bangkok, New Delhi, London, Karachi, Lahore, Calcutta, CINCPAC, CINCSTRIKE, and MAC.↩
- The Consulate General reported on the continuing “crackdown” in Dacca by Pakistani army units, which seemed targeted in particular upon Hindus.↩