March 07, 2021
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'A Greater State Of Denial In Bangladesh'

'A Greater State Of Denial In Bangladesh'

A senior research fellow at Oxford University, Sarmila Bose, has created a furore with her new controversial book, Dead Reckoning, by suggesting that Bengalis in what was then East Pakistan — fighting for independence  — also committed "appalling atrocities".

Her "highly controversial conclusions", the BBC reports, include that the Pakistani army has been "demonised" by the pro-liberation side and accused of "monstrous actions regardless of the evidence", while Bengali people have been depicted as "victims". "

"This has led to a tendency to deny, minimise or justify violence and brutalities perpetrated by pro-liberation Bengalis,"  the book claims.

Some excerpts at the BBC:

In the terrible violence of a fratricidal war, the victims were from every ethnic and religious group and from both sides of the political divide and so were the perpetrators...

Both sides had legitimate political arguments and their idealistic followers, along with those who indulged in opportunism, expediency and inhumanity.

Many Bengalis - supposed to be fighting for freedom and dignity - committed appalling atrocities.

And many Pakistani army officers, carrying out a military action against a political rebellion, turned out to be fine men doing their best to fight an unconventional war within the conventions of warfare...

A long-standing theme is the state of denial in Pakistan: A refusal to confront what really happened in East Pakistan.

However the study revealed a greater state of denial in Bangladesh.

More at the BBC

Also see: Response by Nayanika Mookherjee at the Guardian: This account of the Bangladesh war should not be seen as unbiased:

Bose's book is methodologically inconsistent and appears to be informed by a disdain for Bangladeshis and their movement for political freedom. Her portrayal of East Pakistanis/Bangladeshis as either capable of showing "bestial" violence or being cowards calls into question her neutrality.

The response in Pakistan and Bangladesh is already on predictable lines and promises to get more engaged as the Indian edition gets readied for publication.

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