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Mascarenhas' 1971 "GENOCIDE" Story Biased All Media Coverage of East Pakistan

Pakistani journalist Anthony Mascarenhas' sensational story headlined "GENOCIDE", published by London's Sunday Times on June 13 1971,  had a profound effect on all subsequent media coverage of East Pakistan, according to veteran BBC South Asia correspondent Mark Tully.

Mascarenhas (1928-1986) worked for "Morning News", a Karachi-based English language daily, when he was sent to report on East Pakistan in 1971. It's not clear how he ended up reporting for Sunday Times (now owned by Rupert Murdoch) but it's known that he and his family moved to take up residence in England before the publication of his "GENOCIDE" story. Here's how the BBC reported it: "Pretending he was visiting his sick sister, Mascarenhas then travelled to London, where he headed straight to the Sunday Times and the editor's office".

In a radio interview, Tully said in Urdu: "There are still significant questions in my mind as to whether the media coverage of Pakistani military crackdown in 1971 was balanced.....it (balanced coverage) became especially difficult after the Mascarenhas' exclusive dispatch (headlined "Genocide") published in The Sunday Times".




Mascarenhas'  "Genocide" story was accepted on face value and widely disseminated by major western and Indian media outlets without any verification or fact-checks. Decades later, Sarmila Bose, an Indian journalist and scholar, finally scrutinized the story and found it to be "entirely inaccurate".

 Bose's investigation of the 1971 Bangladeshi narrative began when she saw a picture of the Jessore massacre of April 2, 1971. It showed "bodies lie strewn on the ground. All are adult men, in civilian clothes....The caption of the photo is just as grim as its content: "April 2, 1971: Genocide by the Pakistan Occupation Force at Jessore."  Upon closer examination, Bose found that "some of the Jessore bodies were dressed in shalwar kameez ' an indication that they were either West Pakistanis or ‘Biharis’, the non-Bengali East Pakistanis who had migrated from northern India". In Bose's book "Dead Reckoning" she has done case-by-case body count estimates that lead her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed on all sides, including Bengalis, Biharis, West Pakistanis and others, in 1971 war.

Here are the relevant excepts on the Mascarenhas story in Sarmila Bose's Dead Reckoning:

On Page 10: "An interesting example is Anthony Mascarenhas' famous report in Sunday Times published on 13 June 1971. His eyewitness description from Comilla of how a Bengali, especially a Hindu, could have his life snuffed out at the whim of a single army officer serves as a powerful indictment of the military action, but his description of the army's attack on the Hindu area of Shankharipara in old Dhaka on 25-26 March--where he was not present--given without citing any source and turns out to be entirely inaccurate according to the information obtained from my interviews with survivors of Shakharipara".

On Page 73: "In his (Mascarenhas') book that followed his report in the Sunday Times condemning the military crackdown in East Pakistan, Anthony Mascarenhas wrote ," In Shankaripatti an estimated 8000 men, women and children were killed when the army, having blocked both ends of the winding street, hunted down house by house:". This is not an eyewitness account, as Mascarenhas was not there, and he does not cite any sources for his information---which in this case s totally wrong in all aspects.

Mascarenhas' reports, like many foreign press reports in 1971, are a mixture of reliable and unreliable information, depending on where the reporter is faithfully reporting what he has actually seen or is merely writing an uncorroborated version of what someone else has told him.......According to survivors of Shankharipara, the army did not go house to house. They entered only one house, Number 52".


Aided and abetted by the Indian and western media with stories like Mascarenhas', the Bangladeshi Nationalists led by the Awami League have concocted and promoted elaborate myths about the events surrounding Pakistan's defeat in December 1971.

Sheikh Mujib's daughter and current Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina alleges "colonial exploitation" of Bengalis by Pakistan and "Bengali genocide" by the Pakistan Army. They claim economic disparities between East and West Pakistan as the main cause of their "war of independence" in which "Pakistan Army killed 3 million Bangladeshis".

Let's examine the Bangladeshi claims on the basis of real facts and data known today as follows:

1. The per capita income in West Pakistan was 60% higher than in East Pakistan in 1971. But they never tell you that the per capita income in East Pakistan was higher than in West Bengal and India. They also don't tell you that the ratio of per capita incomes between Bangladesh and Pakistan has changed little in the last four decades since "independence'.

Per Capita Incomes Source: World Bank


2.  Bangladeshi nationalists claims that "three million people were killed, nearly quarter million women were...". These claims have failed the scrutiny of the only serious scholarly researcher Sarmila Bose ever done into the subject.  Bose's investigation of the 1971 Bangladeshi narrative began when she saw a picture of the Jessore massacre of April 2, 1971. It showed "bodies lie strewn on the ground. All are adult men, in civilian clothes....The caption of the photo is just as grim as its content: "April 2, 1971: Genocide by the Pakistan Occupation Force at Jessore."  Upon closer examination, Bose found that "some of the Jessore bodies were dressed in shalwar kameez ' an indication that they were either West Pakistanis or ‘Biharis’, the non-Bengali East Pakistanis who had migrated from northern India". In Bose's book "Dead Reckoning" she has done case-by-case body count estimates that lead her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed on all sides, including Bengalis, Biharis, West Pakistanis and others, in 1971 war.

3. Dr. M. Abdul Mu’min Chowdhury, a Bengali nationalist who actively participated in the separatist cause, in his publication "Behind the Myth of 3 Million", challenges the falsehood. Citing an extensive range of sources to show that what the Pakistani army was carrying out in East Pakistan was a limited counter-insurgency, not genocide, the scholar discloses that after the creation of Bangladesh, the new de facto government offered to pay Taka 2,000 to every family that suffered loss of life but only 3,000 families claimed such compensation. Had there been three million Bengalis dead, a lot more of such families would have come forward. The actual fighting force of Pakistan was 40,000 not 93,000. They were given the responsibility to maintain law and order and protect civilians from the India-backed insurgents of Mukti Bahini. India's Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw praised the professionalism and gallantry of Pakistani soldiers facing the Indian Army's 50:1 advantage in the 1971 war.

4. Now declassified US State Department transcript of an April 6, 1971 conversation between then Secretary of State William Rogers and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger reveals that the US diplomats in Dhaka were also misled by false media reports of mass graves. Kissinger told Rogers that a reported mass grave of 1,000 dead Bengali victims of "genocide" turned out to be baseless.

Recent books and speeches by Indian officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ex top RAW officials, confirm what Pakistanis have known all along: India orchestrated the East Pakistan insurgency and then invaded East Pakistan to break up Pakistan in December 1971.  Unfair and inaccurate media coverage payed a large role in helping India succeed.

Here's Sarmila Bose, the author of "Dead Reckoning" on the events of 1971:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OihBdcLvETA




Here's a video of Indian Army Chief Field Marshal Manekshaw talking about Pakistan Army in 1971 War:

https://vimeo.com/55461334



Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on Pakistan Army's gallantry in 1971 War from cherie22579 on Vimeo.


What Happened in East Pakistan (Yuri Bezmenov Former KGB Psychological Warfare Expert). Yuri Bezmenov ex KGB Psychological Warfare Expert Explains What Happened in East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) in This Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bb_fXONk2Y



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

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Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

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Bangladesh and Pakistan Compared

Economic Disparity Between East and West Pakistan

Is this a 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History? 

India's Hostility Toward Pakistan

Views: 32

Comment by Riaz Haq on Monday
The courageous Pakistan army stand on the eastern front —Sarmila Bose
"Clearly, the Pakistani army regained East Pakistan for their masters in Islamabad by April-May, creating an opportunity for a political settlement, and held off both Bengali guerrillas and their Indian supporters till November, buying more time — time and opportunity that Pakistan’s rulers and politicians failed to utilise."
 
Authoritative scholarly analyses of 1971 are rare. The best work is Richard Sisson and Leo Rose’s War and Secession. Robert Jackson, fellow of All Soul’s College, Oxford, wrote an account shortly after the events. Most of the principal participants did not write about it, a notable exception being Gen. Niazi’s recent memoirs (1998). Some Indian officers have written books of uneven quality — they make for an embarrassing read for what the Indians have to say about one another.
 
However, a consistent picture emerges from the more objective accounts of the war. Sisson and Rose describe how India started assisting Bengali rebels since April, but “the Muktib Bahini had not been able to prevent the Pakistani army from regaining control over all the major urban centers on the East Pakistani-Indian border and even establishing a tenuous authority in most of the rural areas.” From July to October there was direct involvement of Indian military personnel. “…mid-October to 20 November… Indian artillery was used much more extensively in support …and Indian military forces, including tanks and air power on a few occasions, were also used…Indian units were withdrawn to Indian territory once their objectives had been brought under the control of the Mukti Bahini — though at times this was only for short periods, as, to the irritation of the Indians, the Mukti Bahini forces rarely held their ground when the Pakistani army launched a counterattack.”
 
Clearly, the Pakistani army regained East Pakistan for their masters in Islamabad by April-May, creating an opportunity for a political settlement, and held off both Bengali guerrillas and their Indian supporters till November, buying more time — time and opportunity that Pakistan’s rulers and politicians failed to utilise.
 
Contrary to Indian reports, full-scale war between India and Pakistan started in East Bengal on 21 November, making it a four-week war rather than a ‘lightning campaign’. Sisson and Rose state bluntly: “After the night of 21 November…Indian forces did not withdraw. From 21 to 25 November several Indian army divisions…launched simultaneous military actions on all of the key border regions of East Pakistan, and from all directions, with both armored and air support.” Indian officers like Sukhwant Singh and Lachhman Singh write quite openly in their books about India invading East Pakistani territory in November, which they knew was ‘an act of war’.
 
None of the outside scholars expected the Eastern garrison to withstand a full Indian invasion. On the contrary, Pakistan’s longstanding strategy was “the defense of the east is in the west”. Jackson writes, “Pakistani forces had largely withdrawn from scattered border-protection duties into cleverly fortified defensive positions at the major centres inside the frontiers, where they held all the major ‘place names’ against Mukti Bahini attacks, and blocked the routes of entry from India…”
 
Sisson and Rose point out the incongruity of Islamabad tolerating India’s invasion of East Pakistani territory in November. On 30 November Niazi received a message from General Hamid stating, “The whole nation is proud of you and you have their full support.” The same day Islamabad decided to launch an attack in the West on 2 December, later postponed to 3 December, after a two-week wait, but did not inform the Eastern command about it. According to Jackson, the Western offensive was frustrated by 10 December.
Comment by Riaz Haq on Tuesday

On page 171 of Dead Reckoning, author Sarmila Bose demolishes the national consensus behind ‘liberation’ as expressed in the 1970 elections: “the voter turnout in East Pakistan is given as only 56 per cent, lower than in the provinces of Punjab; (66 per cent) and Sindh; (58 per cent) in West Pakistan. It would appear that 44 per cent of the East Pakistani electorate was too disinterested in the issues of the election to vote, or else had some disincentive to go out to vote. Of those who voted in East Pakistan, three quarters voted for the Awami League, showing that the party had been highly successful in bringing out its vote on election day. As only 56 percent of the electorate voted, it meant that 42 percent of the total electorate voted for the Awami League..... However, even the 42 percent in favour of Awami League can not be interpreted as a vote for secession. The relatively low turnout suggests that the electorate did not consider the election to be a referendum on such a major issue and Sheikh Mujib did not present it as such during the campaign. Those who vote for him may have been expressing their alienation from the existing regime, in favor of change, redress of perceived discrimination and greater autonomy. Only an unknown fraction of them may have sought outright secession at that point" .

Comment by Riaz Haq on Wednesday

SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | New Delhi, August 20, 2011 17:12 
Tags : Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War | Sarmila Bose | india | pakistan | 1971 |

http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/dead-reckoning-memories-of-...

SB: As you know, it is said that history is written by the victors. And it has stood true for every conflict. In that respect, it is not unusual for this conflict too. What is unusual is the length of time that it has taken to take a dispassionate and realistic look to be brought upon this conflict. 40 years is a long time. In fact, it has been decades since I started to do things on this issue. Normally, after a decade or two after the conflict, all the parties try to take a fresh look of the conflict departing form inevitable war propaganda. That is why it is much harder in this case to take a dispassionate look at the case. Another problem in this particular case is that many of the eyewitnesses have died. But better late than never; mine is one contribution in this discussion. I am sure many more books will come that will take a dispassionate and unbiased look at the series of events. 

SB: Numbers are not important in a humanitarian point of view. Of course in a war, people will get killed. But the number of people on both the sides who were killed unlawfully, I mean, non-combatants; people without arms etc, these things are crime against humanity. And even one such crime is too much. Numbers are important from a different point of view. If the numbers that has been initially reported differs from what really was, it affects the nature of the event. So the Bangladeshi claim of more than 3 millions Bengali non-combatants killed comes into question. If we talk about millions killed over a year or less than a year, that is a different kind of event from tens of thousands killed. Even this is a big number, but it affects as to what we are looking for. What sorts of event took place? Because the range is so vast and there is extremely huge difference in numbers reported by both sides, there is a need to arrive at some rough idea as to where we are. I found that there is some unnecessary exaggeration by some section of Bangladeshis in number of people killed by the Pakistani Army. Why I say unnecessary is because if the point was to show that army committed atrocities, that can be easily shown by the real number too. You don't need the figure of 3 million to show or prove that. And I have proved that with real figures. Some of the acts they were done are so ghastly that you don't need any exaggeration to prove them. In fact, those who have exaggerated, especially to an absurd level, have actually harmed Bangladesh by undermining even the truth. Thus it is important to keep all these in mind while handling the numbers. The general trend that prevailed was the exaggeration of numbers killed by the other side and minimizing of numbers killed by one's own side. But even that also does not work that ways all the time. Some people gave exaggerated numbers of people they killed as they thought it was something heroic. But I have tried to arrive to a reasonable estimate. The figure of 3 million I found was not arrived at by some systematic accounting. It is based on hearsay. There is exaggeration in every event I have talked about. With a great deal of confidence I can say that close to 100,000 were killed on both sides.

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