The Birth of A Nation
by Raisa Kabir
The faintly chilly air of the quiet dawn was pervaded only by excited whispers coming from the back of the vehicle, which carried exactly twenty five soldiers away from the capital. It was an excitement that was infectious, he realized, as he stared straight ahead, concentrating on navigating through the uneven terrain. The East Pakistani soldier had devoted thirty years of his life to his profession but for the first time, he could feel hope stirring within him for better career prospects, at the possibility of the Awami League coming to power. He didn’t know why they were being sent away to the border, but he assumed it was for training, but he was feeling guilty for not saying goodbye to his family. He had no idea that in a bid to protect his children, his wife would be murdered. He didn’t know that his eldest son would be brutally tortured and killed while trying to flee, while his youngest son would be lost forever. He could never have imagined that merely twenty four hours from then, he would have no family.
Operation Searchlight was a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistani Army to curb elements of the separatist Bengali nationalist movement. The original plan envisioned taking control of the major cities on 26 March 1971, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military. Before the attack, the Bengali soldiers from these cities were deployed to other remote areas and replaced by Pakistani ones.