When notorious Pakistani General Tikka Khan phoned his fellow General Khadem Husain Raja and told "it is tonight", it was already clear in the military establishments of the then east Pakistan, that a massive crack-down and military assault on the Bengalis was imminent. The message was conveyed by General Tikka Khan during the first half of March 25, 1971 and subsequently for the rest of the day, officers of Pakistan Army as well as military intelligence were seen shuttling across the entire part of the then east Pakistan in spreading the word of remaining ready for operations. After giving the order of brutalities and severe massacre of the Bengali people, the nefarious and notorious butcher of the history of humanity, after Adolph Hitler – General Yahya Khan in a very secretive manner, boarded onto a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Karachi, possibly with the nasty hope of defeating the aspiration of sovereignty of the Bengali nation. The orders were that the military assault, codenamed Operation Searchlight, would not begin until his aircraft had safely landed in Karachi. By 10 pm, it had become clear to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that an armed assault on citizens was on the way. He exhorted the senior leaders of his party to move to safety. Even so, when Kamal Hossain met him around 10 pm, he asked him if there had been any phone call from the regime. Dr. Kamal replied in the negative before leaving Mujib's residence. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman got secret news from some of the military officers in Pakistan Army, who were vehemently against Operation Searchlight, while several political leaders of the Pakistan People's Party made frantic bids up to the last minute in stopping the planned genocide on the civilians in the then east Pakistan. But, top brasses in Pakistan Army as well as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were determined in giving a 'proper lesson' to the Bengali nation.
As Sheikh Mujibur Rahman already hinted to some of his closest associates of the possible offensives by the Pakistan Army on the civilians, they later spread the message particularly within educational institutions in the country, especially Dhaka University. Students and civilians started putting barricades in different parts of the Dhaka city to thwart movements of the soldiers, though no one at that time could even imagine the degree of the ferocity with which the army planned to strike. At around 11 pm tanks, armored vehicles and trucks loaded with soldiers of the Pakistani Army headed towards the Dhaka University, Shaheed Minar [language movement monument], the Race Course [where the Hindu temple of goddess Kali was situated], Sheikh Mujib's residence at Dhanmondi area in Dhaka, the Hotel Intercontinental and the old parts of the city. The army entered the Hotel Intercontinental and forced all foreign journalists in leaving the country. And then the Pakistani forces started its nefarious brutalities of killing the academics, students, Bengali members of the police as well as members of the East Pakistan Rifles, rickshaw pullers and civilian en messe. The monument of language movement was smashed into rubbles. The Hindu temple of goddess Kali also faced the similar fate. At Jagannath Hall and other halls of Dhaka University, soldiers stormed into the rooms and murdered hundreds of students and academics and buried in mass graves on the DU campus. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, watched Dhaka burn from his suite at Intercontinental Hotel and was even telling his aides that the 'audacity of the Bengalis' [of attaining sovereignty] will be buried for ever. Throughout the night between March 25 and March 26, the Pakistan army killed Bengalis. All day on March 26, the killings and brutalities went on. Though General Yahya Khan is actually accused of being the mastermind of the genocide on Bengali people, it is later learnt from many sources that, it was the sole plan of notorious Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was thinking that, a massive assault on the Bengali people will uproot the aspiration of the independence of the people of the eastern part of Pakistan – permanently! Bhutto even told Yahya Khan, "Yea Bangali shower jaat ko jeisey Hitlerney Yahudioko mara, oiseyhi khatam karna chahiye" [These Bengali pigs must be eliminated similarly as Hitler killed the Jews]. It is even learnt that Bhutto was provided a secret intelligence report stating the Operation Searchlight would dampen the 'arrogance' of the Bengalis and their leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, maximum within a week of starting of the offensives. With this hope, being fully confident on the intelligence report, at Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's instruction, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not immediately flown out of the then east Pakistan and was kept inside Adamjee Cantonment School.
BY : Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.