WAR is a situation of armed conflict between two or more states. A war is the ultimate cause of the humanitarian crisis. War is objectively a horrific event with devastating impact. War destroys the social order of the society specifically affects the civilians’ life more. War brings death and destruction. Human societies are affected by the war as the infrastructure, public residential areas, hospitals and schools all destroy. Civilians face famine, poverty, unemployment, starvation and lose their beloved ones. Same as the worst consequences of the war being faced by the Bihari’s of East Pakistan during the 1971 war. Bihari’s hail from Bihar, a State of India (located in its north-eastern region). They are Urdu speaking people. The southern side of Bihar is connected with Jharkhand, its northern side is connected with Nepal, its eastern side is connected with West Bengal and its western side is connected with Utarpardesh. Bihari Muslims played a vital role in the creation of Pakistan. They were a strong supporter of Two Nation Theory as compared to the rest of the Muslims of Sub-continent.
On October 26, 1946, a year before the creation of Pakistan massive Hindu Muslim riots occurred in Bihar. The reason behind this uproar was developing Hindu displeasure and outrage against the Muslims. In 1946 the most noxious attack occurred, when four districts of Patna, Gaya, Chhapra and Munger were targeted simultaneously. In which according to the Muslim League facts finding committee report 50,000 Muslims were martyred. Member of All India Legislative Assembly Allama Raghib Ahsan substantiated this report in his book “ The Bihar State Killing” and also Barrister Syed Abdul Aziz in “Bihar Tragedy”. After the post-Bihar riots, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah quoted that “ I had never thought that I will see the creation of Pakistan but the Bihar tragedy gave birth to it”. Bihari Muslims are the one who migrated thrice for Pakistan, first time even before the creation of Pakistan, the second time at the time of partition in 1947 and third time after the Fall of Dhaka.
During the East Pakistan crisis in 1971, Mukhti Bahini started genocide of Bihari Muslims. Total five hundred thousand Bihari civilians were killed during the 1971 War. More than two hundred thousand children had been orphaned and more than one hundred thousand women had been made widows. Thousands of pregnant women were treated even worse which led to miscarriages. Pregnant women were ruthlessly tortured and the baby fetes were aborted from them. Almost one hundred thousand young girls and women were raped and paraded naked before being killed. Almost one hundred thousand children were killed and even brutally torned apart. The most terrible incident was the massacre of Santahaar and the adjacent railway colony. They burnt their houses and men and children were slaughtered. Young girls and women were raped in front of their families and then slaughtered. Hardly 150 people survived out of 80,000 people. When rescue forces reached Santahaar, wild animals were eating the dead bodies. Because of the worst condition of the dead bodies, they were buried in mass graves.
East Pakistan’s border was directly attached with India from three sides and it was completely vulnerable and porous making it very easy for the Indian forces to intervene in it. Mukhti Bahini, trained by India, used guerrilla warfare tactics to create an atmosphere of war. Indian army attacked East Pakistan on 3 December 1971. Indian Army surrounded Pakistani forces from all sides who were fighting war since March 1971, making it extremely difficult for them to fight an army of more than its size. Biharis also fought very bravely alongside Pakistan’s armed forces. Pakistani forces surrendered on December 16th 1971 leading to the creation of new state Bangladesh. Bihari community faced cruelties of Mukhti Bahini forces even after the creation of Bangladesh and almost 500,000 people lost their lives. Pakistan accepted 170,000 Biharis in 1974 though their process of repatriation remains unresolved even after five decades. Today almost 400,000 Biharis live in camp in Bangladesh in an extremely miserable condition. They are suffering from extreme poverty, unemployment, no educational facilities, no electricity and even don’t have clean and fresh drinking water. They are Stateless people. There is no societal acceptance for them in Bangladesh and called “Stranded Pakistanis”.
Similarly, the people who were repatriated in Karachi are also facing almost the same issues as identity cards are not issued to them. And in their hub Orangi town of Karachi, their civic conditions are worst with no standard of educational facilities, poor sanitary system and not even have a facility of clean and fresh drinking water. This is how we as a nation treat our civil heroes, who sacrificed their everything for the unity of Pakistan. Now, this is the responsibility of civil society and State to highlight the sacrifices of our Bihari brothers and sisters. The State should take necessary measures for the uplift of Bihari’s education and civic conditions and make them proud Pakistanis again. The young generation of the Bihari community is not highly qualified, whose forefathers were highly qualified and technically educated. There should be a special quota for the Bihari youth in universities and armed forces of Pakistan. In this advanced and social media era if the State still does not mainstream and do not recognize their sacrifices for Pakistan, the state may face another internal security challenge.
—The author is a freelance writer.