Bangladesh’s emergence as a nation in 1971 came at the cost of three million people dead, a quarter of a million women and girls raped, ten million people fled to India, and thirty million people forced to flee their homes.
Pakistan was made up of a province on the west side of India (former Punjab et al.) and on the east side of India (former East Bengal). The army was manned and commanded by people from West Pakistan. Elections for a Constitutional Assembly were held in Pakistan in December 1970. The East Pakistan based Awami League won an outright majority of seats in this Assembly, and planned to write a constitution that would give the majority population of East Pakistan political control of the country. On the evening of March 25, 1971, the military and political elite of West Pakistan with malice aforethought loosed the Army of Pakistan (manned and commanded by West Pakistanis) on the Bengali population of East Pakistan to emasculate the Awami League as a political opponent, to rid the province of East Pakistan of its Hindu population of 10 million persons, and to terrorize the civilian population into complete and permanent submission. This plan of intimidation, brutalization, and extermination of any Bengali who would not accept West Pakistani superiority continued until the West Pakistan military capitulated to the Indian Army on December 16, 1971.
Particularly at risk were known Awami League politicians and their supporters, most of whom, however, went into hiding in the countryside or escaped to India. The armed security and police forces manned by Bengalis were an early target, but many of these also escaped with their weapons to return as guerrillas. Bengali students, professors, and intellectuals were summarily executed. The West Pakistan Army was particularly intent on killing every single Hindu they could find. Slum and squatter areas of the major cities and towns were also obliterated with all their occupants.
All able-bodied young Bengali men were considered freedom fighters. Early on, they were routinely rounded up, tortured, and killed. Very quickly, however, they fled the cities and towns for the guerrilla camps in the countryside and in India. The Army of West Pakistan turned its fury on the women and girls left behind. Girls and women were publicly raped in front of their family members. They were routinely abducted to special camps near army barracks to be gang-raped, brutalized, and killed, or to live with the eternal shame of their violation. Many committed suicide.
As the Bengali guerrilla campaign became more effective against the West Pakistan Army, the Army undertook