‘Genocide’ has a multidimensional meaning: one is the literal meaning; one is the perceptual meaning; and another is the etymological meaning or the legal meaning. Generally, the word is a compound of the ancient Greek word Genos (tribe, clan) and the Latin suffix -caedo (act of killing), which means intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part. The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944.
According to the Geneva Convention and the Genocide Convention, it is evident that ‘genocide’ took place in Bangladesh in 1971. Because according to the Convention, genocide is such an act committed with intent to destroy a group in whole or in part. In addition, the definition of genocide adopted by the UN General Assembly under Article 2 of the 260 (3) Resolution on December 9, 1948, also proves that, the crime committed in Bangladesh by Pakistani Military on 1971 was genocide.
One of the main features of Liberation War is genocide. There is no war in the world where genocide and torture have not perpetrated. However, from ancient times, killing was said to be limited to only battlefield. The ancient scriptures did not allow killing or torture of civilians, specially, used to prohibit the killing of women and children. From the times of the Ramayana, Mahabharat and the Iliad-Odyssey to the Napoleonic period, the wars were only confined between two disputed troops. However, there had been little reflection of these prohibition and order in real life. Besides, genocide is also widely reported in ancient epics. The concept of genocide can be applied to historical events of the past. In the Middle Ages and the modern age, the magnitude and severity of genocide has increased. The invention of modern weapons in the modern era has also been increasing the likelihood of genocide around the world. The magnitude and severity of genocide became so high that in the middle of the 20th century a new word, ‘genocide’, needed to be coined. Some said that it was a ‘crime without a name’ and some said that, it is a modern word for an old crime. Earlier, European powers waged mass extermination, torture, and destruction to the colonies. Since the First World War, innocent civilians are being killed, wounded, and perpetrated more than members of the military in war. In the last century, except the First and Second World War, more than 50 wars between two countries or civil broke out; where most of the victims were civilian.
In modern times, at the beginning of the twentieth century, there occurred a genocide in Armenia. During World War II, Hitler's Nazi forces invaded Europe with a horrific genocide on Jews. Besides, genocide has also taken place in various parts of the world, including Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Myanmar, Sudan, Nigeria. The genocide was also carried out by Pakistani Military Force in Bangladesh during 1971; it is commonly said that about three million people were martyred. Genocides in the 20th century are estimated to have cost more than forty million lives. The Political Instability Task Force estimated that, between 1956 and 2016, a total of 43 genocides took place, causing the death of about 50 million people. The 20th century has also been called the “century of genocide” by various researcher and activists.
The Pakistani army launched massive destruction from 25th March to 16th December in Bangladesh. They had brutally killed millions of women, men and children of Bangladesh. More than two lakh women became brutal victims of Pakistan Military Force. Currently, researchers estimate that, the number of women raped by Pakistani and their associates is more than 4 lakhs. Not only the Pakistani army but also their allies Peace Committee, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams played a major role in the genocide. In fact, because of their help, the Pakistani army was able to carry out such genocide in such a short period of time. In particular, Al-Badr's forces took an active part in the assassination of intellectuals.
Although genocide took place on all irrespective of religion, race, caste, political affiliation, there was also a matter of priority. Pakistani Army identified their main enemies as 1. Awami League leaders and activists 2. Communists and Socialists 3. Freedom fighters and their allies, 4. Irrespective of women, men, children, elderly and the Hindu community 5. Students and intellectuals.
In most cases of torture, the Pakistani military officers and generals used the following procedure: 1. Abusive language with continuous beating 2. Hanging feet with rope, as well as torturing with bayonet and beating with rifle 3. Keep standing naked for hours 4. Burning all over the body with cigarette fire 5. Insert thick needles into the nails, head, hands and feet 6. Insert thick needles into the hands, feet, nails and head with a pinch, 7. Cigarette fires in the anus and inset ice cube, 8. Throw nails with a pinch, 9. Tie rope and hang the legs and put the head repeatedly in hot water, 10. Tied legs and hand and kept them under burning sun 11. Spreading salt and pepper powder in bloody wound, 12. Naked and wounded bodies were kept on slabs of ice 13. Electric shock on anus 14. Urinate in the mouth in want of water 15. Applying electric shock to the sensitive part of the body.
The Pakistani army had thoroughly hunted and killed people from Hindu communities across the country, burnt down their homes, shops and business establishments, looted and raped. They had killed women after raping. In some areas, Hindu communities were forced to convert to Islam. But these were not limited to only Hindu communities. The Pakistan Army and their allies had killed Buddhist Christians and indigenous people also. However, it is reported that the people of the Hindu community were the worst affected. A report said: During the war, the religious minority Hindu community were principal targets of the brutalities of the Pakistan army and their local allies such as the Razakar and Al-Badar paramilitary forces and other collaborators. Even after independence, the Hindu community had to face unfavourable socio-political climate and were victimized by communal elements. As a result, many Hindu families who suffered immense physical and material loses in 1971, have left the country in recent years.
The Pakistani ruling class was annoyed with the intellectuals for their active role in the Bengali nationalist movement. In addition to the wrath, Pakistani ruling class also realized that, to destroy the future of a nation the intellectuals needed to be eliminated. Therefore, at the end of the war, the Pakistani Army, under the leadership of Rao Farman Ali, and with the active support of Al-Badr, executed a well-planned killing of intellectuals. An arrested al-Badr member claimed that, all intellectuals would be killed if they got some more time.
The genocide ended with the surrender of the Pakistani army on December 16.