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'.
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.
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
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