The Guardian, London, May 27, 1971


Rev. John Hastings and Rev. John Clapham of Sudder Street, Methodist Church, Culcutta, in a letter to THE GUARDIAN, London, write:


"We are not reporters with little time to spare looking for the best stories. We have each lived in West Bengal for most of 20 years and we have talked at random with hundreds of refugees in the course of our relief work among them. The total picture of what has been happening in East Bengal is clear to us without any shadow of doubt.


"There are scores of survivors of firing-squad line-ups. Hundreds of wit­nesses to the machine-gunning of political leaders, prefessors, doctors, teachers and students.


"Villages have been surrounded, at any time of day or night, and the frigh­tened villagers have fled where they could, or been slaughtered where they have been found. or enticed out to the fields and mown down in heaps. Women have been raped, girls carried off to barracks, unarmed peasants battered or bayoneted by the thousands.


"The pattern, after seven weeks, is still the same. Even the least credible stories, of babies thrown up to be caught on bayonets, of women stripped and bayoneted vertically, or of children sliced up like meat, are credible not only because they are told by so many people, but because they are told by people without sufficient sophistication to make up such stories for political motives.


"We saw the amputation of a mother's arm and a child's foot. These were too far from the border, and gangrene developed from their bullet-wounds. Many saw their daughters raped and the heads of their children smashed in. Some watched their husbands, sons, and grandsons tied up at the wrists and shot in more selective male elimination.


"No sedative will calm a girl now in Bongaon Hospital-she is in a per­manent delirium crying, "They will kill us all, they will kill us all.." next to her is a girl still trembling from day-long raping and a vaginal bayonet wound


"About 400 were killed at Chaudanga while on their way to India, surroun­ded and massacred. Why? Lest they take tales to India? Or because choosing a certain democratic system under Sheikh Mujib means forfeiting the right to live in any country?


"Most vicious of all perhaps was the attempted annihilation of the East Bengal regiment. Few of the 1st Battalion escaped through a curtain of bullets fired by those who the previous day were their mates in the mess. It was sym­bolic of the betrayal of the whole of the eastern province.


"The insensate fury follows the contempt of years: exploitation has been chronic-rice had become double the price it sold for in the western province. Mujib's men were ready to re-establish justice democratically and peacefully, and gained an overwhelming mandate from the people in the December elec­tions-167 out of 169 seats. But Yahya Khan's military junta and Mr. Bhutto could not stomach the humiliation implied.


"Is this to be regarded as India's problem? It should be no more hers than any other country's. What is the West doing? The big event is over, the heavy print of Pakistan recedes, the tragedy is stale, who will fund the relief operations? Who will campaign for this?


"Are the political, complexities so much a gag? Has no government or people the voice that can sound out with the authentic ring of passion in sup­port of the victims? Is there no consensus out of which can be heard a cre­ative answer?"


(THE GUARDIAN, London-May 27, 1971.)



Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol – I, p.403-404