Note: Abridged and edited version of the interview of General Niazi taken by Prof. Muntassir Mamoon and Mahiuddin Ahmed. Published in the book titled The vanquished generals and the liberation war of Bangladesh
Mahiuddin Ahmed: Would you please tell us about your general ideas about the events in the then East Pakistan?
General Niazi: People were coming up and telling me wholeheartedly in interviews here in West Pakistan about truth that was never told. The reason was that when Tikka Khan took over, he warned foreign pressmen, reporters and cameramen and threw them out of East Pakistan with disgrace. The result was that they came against us and they started talking and publishing concocted stories. They were depending on people who were fleeing from East Pakistan and going there as refugees and they were being brainwashed by the Indians and whatever they were told by the Indians and the result was that the truth never came out. …And then in West Pakistan, and as at that time there was martial law, the people were not interested and they did not try to find out what had actually happened. Bhutto and Yahya wanted to embolden themselves in East Pakistan and rule West Pakistan.
Therefore, they were not publishing anything. The result was that people started believing those concocted stories published in the Western press because there was nothing from the home press.
Q. You say these, General, from the knowledge of the hindsight. Did you know at that time what they were thinking?
A. I did not know because I was busy there with my own tasks. But when I came back here I found that the people did not know about the truth and people used to ask me silly questions. The result is truth hidden under the debris of farce and falsehood. Somebody wrote but as you see, they were keen to know who broke Pakistan. It was Bhutto, it was Mujib. …… if you read the stories and everything the brute war was by the outsiders.
Q. Who were outsiders?
A. [They were] America, India, Afghanistan and Israel. Therefore, they did not fight [the election] in the other provinces. ……..
Q. No. I think Awami League had also fought in West Pakistan. They had candidates in West Pakistan.
A. I don’t know. But they did not want to, I think.
Q. But they had an all-Pakistan-based party.
A. They were people who were voters we seek. I made a party here after I came here.
Q. What was the name of your party?
A. It was Mujahid….. Fedayeen Party. The government did not approve it.
Q. Why? Why was it not approved?
A. Because it was my party. And Bhutto’s government was against me! There were so many promises to get me a ticket. They say that [there are] people who get a ticket to go wherever they want. So there were these things that were never removed. Then I wrote this book. And I was almost apprehensive that a lot of people will start cases against me because I have exposed everything I found out. It took me 5 to 6 years [of] research to find out. In the book I have brought out everything you want. And if you had read it, [it will answer] any question. Government again went to the polls, [there were] people who liked Bhutto and who liked Mujib……We surrendered and all those officers who were fighting with me they were my students…..They knew me and I knew them……I did not like these atrocities. I will give to you [some examples] from the book of a British…..[that describes] atrocities committed by the East Pakistanis. I was here and you must have been there. When the cyclone came, it was a very serious thing. Real Admiral AKM Ahsan was the Governor. Shaebzada Yaqub Khan was the Martial Law Administrator and Commander of the troops. Ahsan first asked for helicopters and Yaqub…..did not give [them] though it was [his] moral duty…..The result was that he did not share their bad days and time. And then the other team came and that was a bad thing. That created some sorts of doubt in the minds of the people, that at a time of crisis these people did not help us. But people were one man. But he still was representing [a certain population]….. So that went against West Pakistan. But in the Army at that time it was equal: 12 battalions from West Pakistan and 12 battalions from East Pakistan. And there were 13 Unit Officers. So in a greater sense, Army had discipline although [there were some disappointments in East Pakistan].
The election came. Yahya was Commander here. Whatever he was as Commander-in-Chief, he was a selfish and a greedy man. He removed Ayub by something, whatever it was, and he encouraged Mujib to carry out things so that martial law would not be declared if [nothing is done] against him. And they had the understanding that if Mujib [would] certify him he would remain. So that whatever you may call it, he broke parity and one unit …..By breaking parity we became 35%, East Pakistan became 35% and then again by one unit…
Q. I mean, votes were always allotted according to population.
A. No. But in parity it has to be made equal. 50 seats here and 50 seats there irrespective of proportionate population of the respective units.…….. but before that [there was a] reason [to fear] ….. a Hindu population that was educated in East Pakistan. If they make the Government the Hindu population would have [upper] hand there.
Q. What was the number of Hindus there?
A. It was at that time one crore. They were all educated. They were holding good posts. Most of them were professors and teachers. And the constitution to be adopted by them will have Hindu iron hand in it. And that was the idea given here.
Q. Where was this idea given? In West Pakistan?
Q. But did you also have the idea yourself?
A. No. No. I was a soldier. I had nothing to do with it. At that time, our training was different. That [training taught us not to] bother about what happened. You are [to be] loyal to your institutions and constitution. We are loyal to institutions and the constitution. Whatever happens makes no difference.
Q. Which institution were you loyal to?
A. My unit, Army, the institutions and the constitution ….. under which I had taken oath that I will be faithful to the country .… At that time, we had a low profile look at the civilians. And whoever came from outside, if he was a politician, I did not allow him to enter the cantonment. I never allowed anybody, even if they were my friends. I did not allow them to enter the cantonment if they had taken part in politics. So then the elections there were rigged.
Q. Which was 1970 elections?
A. Yes. Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, Monem Khan, Farid Ahmed and a couple of other people who were pro-Pakistani told me about this. ….that a man who is planning to do everything [had to be] stopped. Then if Martial Law Administration had stopped those people [from contesting in election] ….. we would win 50 to 60 seats in the election. And at that time, if we had 50 to 60 seats Mujibur Rahman would not have a thumping majority. And he would not have a high hand in the affairs. But then again blame came on the Martial Law. So elections in the West Pakistan were fair but not in East Pakistan. I feel, you remember, Fazlul Quader Chowdhury was an honourable man, Sabur Khan, Monem Khan, Moulavi Farid Ahmed of Teknaf – all the people were pro-Pakistani, and they used to come to me. And everybody use to come….. In Mymensigh, I went into the crowds and the people felt I am not doing any harm to them. But I used to go into the crowd and nothing happened. Mujib won the elections. Yahya [came] …..here. He kept saying: here is my future Prime Minister. But he told him: you are not my future President. Mujib said: I am a politician. So Yahya got a shock – that I had broken one unit for him, I broke parity for him, I did not bother what he is doing in the election. In the mean time Bhutto, who had some 82 seats, …..went to Mujib. He wanted a share in the Government. He said, meet Major No.2. Mujib said, No. ‘You give me the foreign ministries’. ‘No’. ‘Give me the post of Speaker’. ‘No’. Then he began overtures otherwise, and Yahya told him that this man has promised to make me the President. ‘I will make you President. We have West Pakistan for us, and you will be the President, I will be the Prime Minister’. So Bhutto took him to Larkana for shikar (game party). And then they made a plan and that was ‘Larkana Plan’. It was ‘leave East Pakistan without a successor government’.
Q. Yes you have said in your book, you should have East Pakistan without a successor government. But how did you know about the Larkana Plan? I mean who informed you?
A. Yes. It was secret. But there was a chap – Deputy Super of Police (DSP) Quazi Azam and when security people knew this [they] sent Quazi Azam to Larkana. There he went out and met a man when they made this plan. They made the plan in a boat there. But there was somebody who was with them. I learned through him and Quazi Azam through him got the details. And when he derided Bhutto came to know of it. He wanted to suppress it thinking we would not know about that. That is how it came out otherwise it would have remained a secret. But someone was intelligent who reported and it was leaked to the papers.
Q. When did it come in the papers?
A. In those days and I think it was in February. Then they started working on that plan. The plan…..was to fight in the West Pakistan which means that in the East we would have few troops and the bulk of them would be in West Pakistan. And we [would] defeat the Indians here in West Pakistan and we will lose East Pakistan. So after the Larkana Plan they started working on it and forgot about the plan that the best luck is in the West. That plan could be implemented only with my defeat and not with my victory or any political settlement. In case of critical and political settlement politicians were to get the government. Yahya Khan could be taken to task and Bhutto will have no place because the majority of East Pakistan was there. So he whoever is left, he goes into the background. Thus the possibility of a political settlement was ruled out completely.
Q. So you were the Commander of the Eastern Command. You were aware that there was Larkana Plan.
A. No. I did not. I did come to know of these things only when I came back and was writing a book.
Q. How come that it came out in the papers here in those days and you were not aware of it?
A. Then Yahya died. Bhutto lost his power and a lot of people came [up with a] lot of things. So they started working on [their plan]. They could gain only if I was defeated. They thought guerilla warfare never failed. But I defeated the guerillas, however, in two months. I fought against the Indonesian guerillas, I fought against the Chinese guerillas in Malaya.
Q. You have mentioned that in your book..
A. Therefore, I had the power to catch a thief and set a thief in a new home. Within two months, I made a stand and it was considered a lightning campaign in the history of guerilla warfare.
Q. When did this guerilla warfare start?
A. The day I took over.
Q. Which was…?
A. 10th April of 1971. At that I was very happy. Before that they were mud-clad. But from that day they were declared a force, uniformed. Colonel Osmani was my friend and he became their chief. And now when Osmani was at GHQ (Pakistan Army headquarters), I was here. One of my titles is Tiger. So whenever he rang me up, he would say, Tiger, this is Tiger speaking.
Q. That you experience a piece of it also!
A. So I said, why you are senior to me, because he belonged to East Pakistan (East Bengal) Regiment and their sign was Tiger. So he became C-in-C. I was happy that I shall be fighting against armed people in uniform and not against some civilians.
Q. Besides Tiger, what other titles do you have?
A. Tareq bin Ziad, that was given me by a West Pakistani, and Meridonne. I was in Rajput Regiment and you know they were Rajputs of Rajputana. They are brave people and one of their heroes is called Amar Singh Rathore. And my Mussalman colleagues used to call me Amar Bahadur.
Q. You have explained the operation plan, the battle lines etc. in your book. We will be sort of asking you some other questions like on 10th April, the idea of engaging Tikka Khan was to go for a lighting campaign on 25th March i.e. Operation Searchlight, to be followed up with mopping up operations and all that so that, you know, agitation were to be quelled and then they would go for a political settlement. This was the plan. But if you, according to you, had combed the rebels, the Mukti Bahini, within 2 months, then why didn’t they go for a political settlement? Why did they opt for a military operation because it was very difficult to send you any assistance from West Pakistan over Sri Lanka?
A. I will tell you that. Yahya and Yaqub was there. Yaqub had a plan : Blitz.
Q. When was Operation Blitz planned?
A. It was in the early 70s.
Q. Early ’70s? Before the election or after the elections?
A. No. No. Even before the election. In 1969 he made the plan.
Q. You mean to say this is the plan that designed …..
A. No. No. If there was trouble, whether election or no election, if there is any sort of trouble, he made the plan to quell the rising.
Q. No. I mean Yaqub has made some response in the papers in reference to your Operation Blitz, did you see that?
A. I saw it. That is another question. Field Marshal Rommel said, no plan survives context. If the commander joins the battle according to the plan then that is good enough. How he has to fight is tactical. So plans are just outlines. If there is a plan, whatever the plan, it will be use of force. Without use of force what you want you acquire little. Mujib and his associates started committing atrocities. And he did it and kept quiet. He could have nipped the things in the bud. He had the power that time. East Pakistani troops did not mutiny yet. They were with us. There were only mobs, crowds and not very organized.
Q. When do you think he should have gone into the operations?
A. After the election. When they were asking for the handing over of power in those days…
Q. Before, you mean, 25th March?
A. In March, he should have gone into action but he did not do it. He delayed and let the game away. Then Tikka Khan went there and the Bengalis were in civil riots. Before that Urdu-speaking people were being attacked. Yaqub could have stopped it…. According to intelligence, on the very same night of 24th or 25th March, Mujib was to declare independence and take action. So they took action a couple of hours before. They used power. But that action was harsh. Too harsh.
Q. 25th night action?
A. I have mentioned already.
Q. It was too harsh?
A. Too harsh.
Q. I also say too harsh.
A. It depended on the person who was doing it. [When] under fire and the people behaved very curiously…..The result was that he said I want land not the people.
Q. It was Tikka Khan?
A. Yes. He said, I want land and not the people. So when Yahya saw it, he was horrified. So he decided to change him within 10 days. And to change a General in operation was a horrible thing. It was a death warrant. Then they worked over [it]. They asked some people …. and they said, forget the seniority and forget about rules, send a person who can do it. So I was selected although I was trailing far behind. There were 12 Generals senior to me. When I was sent 2 Generals senior to me had already failed there. I was selected. I went there and found out everything was in topsy turvy. Pakistan Army was fighting around the cantonments and cities they were holding. The rest of the province was under the control of the Mukti Bahini. Provincial government was not working. Boundaries had vanished and the Hindus were coming and going freely. When I took over, according to our sources, our troops elsewhere were surrounded. Their only communication was helicopters. Roads and river routes were cut between Dhaka and the rest of the country. So what happened was that there was a certain Field Marshal – I can’t remember his name – as the people called him. Somebody told him about the situation our troops were facing. So he said, the situation is excellent and I will attack. I [told] him the same thing: you are surrounded, your communications are cut, you have no supplies, situation is excellent, I will attack. And I attacked. And this was certainly a surprise as they were not expecting it. They had expected and planned if a guerilla killed one Pakistani soldier a day they will be finished in two months. So they were not expecting I would dare an attack on them. When I jumped I told them: reach the borders … fastest and must. This is my order. I repeat it. I went to the area commanders, nothing on wireless because I could not keep it secret, nothing on the telephones because the Bangalis were holding them. So I went there and [told] them[to] reach the border fastest and must. And they went straight up to the borders and wherever they went [they went] with everything and they started working. This was secret. And that plan that the Bengalis will be able to establish Bangladesh with guerillas they had. They had three lac men. But my total strength was 45 thousand men. Out of 45 thousand 34 thousand were regular and 11 thousand were Policemenand other ranks. So the record has it that in Vietnam the Americans used 7 lac of their own troops with 10 lac strong from the South Vietnamese Government Forces, that is, it was a total strength of 17 lac against guerillas. In Algeria, France used 10 lac troops. I had to face 4 lac guerillas with troop strength of 41 thousand and that was [a] slap on the Bangalis, Russians and Indians. Because Indians were telling and ……… Russians were telling then, 50 thousand Indian regulars were with guerillas. So that was the state when I took over. I had not the equipment required, …… no radar, no night visibility apparatus …… I asked C-in-C General Hamid: I am just on the border, allow me to enter India. But as they were expecting my defeat they got alarmed when they heard it. And before that, knowing that they may stop it…. that is why I did not tell them what I was doing. So they told me to freeze on the border, ‘don’t enter India’. Then after two days Hamid came. Again I said to him, ‘ If you allow me now, I am in their heart. They are on the run. We are cleansing them. Shooting and chasing after them. I will capture a vast chunk of Bengal on the side of Brahmaputra and Nagaland and all the things. If you give me one more permission, I will take Calcutta as well with my two divisions. I will destroy Indian Forces and take the whole area of Assam, Bengal and Bihar. India will be beaten, he said, all these are sound and I can help you. But Hamid came to see that we cannot succeed and to have a policy of open war with India. Indians have admitted in their books that had Yahya struck at that time he could have achieved very useful targets in both the wings of East and West. I would have broken into Kashmir…… and all the sites. But they did not allow me. And the Indians were not prepared at that time with all that arms build up. This was possible up to October. After October, they got concentrated and it was not possible on my side because I did not have everything complete. I …. was short of 18 heavy guns….. 74 medium range guns and about a hundred attack and anti-tank guns. I was short of it. …with all the infantry.
Q. What was the situation with the Air Force?
A. Air Force had one aircraft. They had no fighting capability. Out of six combat aircraft all were gone. I had only infantry power.
Q. This I think was quite excellent. But what about the situation within Bangladesh. Were you able to bring your own men or were you using [a] lot of these people from the civil armed forces?
A. We used some with reasons.
Q. When did you decide to recruit these civil armed forces: Al-Badar, Al-Shams?
A. How essential it was has been a matter of conjecture. When my troops were…..
Q. When was this…?
A. This was I think… at the end of May. Then I started recruiting.
Q. And they were directly under your command?
A. Yes. Some people say, it was under Jamaat-Islami. But I would not entertain that. Al-Badar and Al-Shams took the name because, the German, the ruler of the Germans called Al-Badran …
Q. In your book you said that you brought back the leaders who….
A. Some of them who were wanted by the people who were known leaders, they were known. They [would] be eliminated….
A. Because they were famous people.
Q. Who were these people?
A. They were Bengalis.
Q. Do you have any…?
A. I didn’t know because my staff knew them and supported [them].
Q. Because Jamaat-i-Islami supported in raising Razakars?
A. Even Bengalis were supporting me.
Q. Of course, the Jamaat-i-Islamis were Bengali people.
A. They were not Jamaat-i-Islami and I hate [politicians], I did not allow any body who belonged to parties to enter the cantonment. So how could I ask a political party to help in it.
Q. What was the role of Rao Farman Ali?
A. He was adviser to the Governor.
Q. So he had nothing to do with …..
A. He had nothing to do with the fighting and everything. He was only adviser. Army was between the Governor and me.
Q. You know the international press and the independent media, even they were reporting about the atrocities and other things. You see the Martial Law authority would become responsible and not the adviser. Would it be so?
A. Adviser … when Malik became Governor, Yahya told me any order from Malik will be considered as order from me. So he issued orders.
Q. You said in your book?
A. That we had been given civil armed forces and he had Police and EPR … under him. We were using them under pressure. But the men …
Q. I mean, they were under your command.
A. But they were being paid …..
Q. I mean they were under your command, wherever needed you used…
A. But they were paid by the civilian …
Q. But all these actions wanted by the Martial Law authority. They may have been indulging in activity … actually what happened they used civilian … they might have allowed Police to act, you see, to do something which the Government doesn’t want to do.
A. No. when I took over, Tikka was the Chief Martial Law Administrator. It had nothing to do with the Martial Law. Martial Law was under Tikka Khan. Farman Ali was his adviser.
Q. No. He was the Chief Martial Law Administrator.
A. I began under Tikka Khan, the CMLA. I began in September but up to September whatever it was, it was Tikka Khan …
Q. But you wrote in your book that Rao Farman Ali meticulously obeyed Tikka Khan’s order and the massacre was done as you said in your book, yes, by Rao Farman Ali and he said that he does not know anything about it.
A. But he prepared the plan, when Tikka took over he had these advantages with him – he was Martial Law Administrator, he was Governor, he was Commander of the troops … so on the night the orders were issued by him and Raja Khadem.
Q. So Tikka was the supreme commander. In Dhaka…
A. Not, this was…. He [Farman] said that the green fields of East Pakistan should be made red. He said, I think Kazi Zafar in one of his political speech in March said, whatever may be, it was written in diary : the green field of East Pakistan should get red. Whoever that was, the diary was shown to Bhutto and Mujib. They were given the diary with dates given.
Q. We are specifically asking about the killing of the intellectuals towards the end, you see, and he [Farman] denied.
A. Many intellectuals were known naturally to me but only men with weapons were my enemy …. intellectuals or no intellectuals it did not matter. But ..Altaf Gauhar has given or somebody told me that Farman has a list of intellectuals. I sent somebody who checked it and Farman deleted two names on his request. I did not know about it. But I knew it from Altaf Gauhar.
Q. So Farman was behind it?
A. It did happen I mean Altaf had noted something. I could have done anything I liked. Why I should have a list of thinkers….
Q. That is what I was saying. I mean, you had no knowledge of that because you were then…
A. And I am telling you I am so grateful to Bengalis, most of them … they were not happy with this Indian interference. They were blaming it. You think, without the help of these people I withheld 5000 men ….I am not a Fereshta.
Q. May I ask you General Niazi what was your personal feeling. I mean, you were, you know, almost abandoned as you have now discovered, after you came back —Would you say what was your feeling because there were people who were Pakistanis. They were the founder of the Muslim League- they were the founder of the Pakistan Resolution.
A. I tell you one thing…
Q. You had any doubts in your minds that they were lesser Pakistanis?
A. I still believe that they were Mussalmans.
Q. So you discovered this?
A. I discovered that. I knew them before. In 1965 War they fought with me!
Q. But the brain-washing of the troops was that these are all Hindus … you …
A. No. No. …..I have to tell you a story. Once there was a young, bright upcountry Hindu boy. It so happened one day, my guard threatened him saying, why have you come? I shall kill you! The reason for this I don’t know. The young man sought my protection and …I told him, ‘Why do you kill him?’ I gave my Chinese rifle to him … suppose I might be in his place, it is possible that you would kill me! You are killing
him finding him alone. Then come on, so kill me, brat! And now be away from here and mind your own jobs. I told you ….no. no. I have told you Hamid told three friends —for a critical political settlement the Bengalis are ready. Because Fazlul Quader Chowdhury was coming to me and asking me, if you agree to contact those people. They will listen to us now. He said, …[the] critical thing is too difficult for you…. because they did not want political settlement and because political settlement was against Bhutto, they did not want it. political settlement was possible up to November. It could happen. Political settlement was possible when Bhutto went to the United Nations…by handing over power to Mujib and then cutting relations/union with Bangladesh. There would have been no surrender, anything of the sort. But that was not going to happen. I was forced to surrender. I was not beaten. I could not be beaten. Have I had at all to make surrender I could have done so considering my overall situation. They were biding their times over there and cutting their senior role in the cities. They lost over here. They lost one Pakistan, in West Pakistan, they surrendered. Malik wrote about him warning Yahya that if General Niazi did not surrender, he will lose West Pakistan. He was the Governor, he was Martial Law Chief, and he was everything. This is he who was saying. And the Army says the same thing. And [the] order from them said, I had to surrender.
Q. What I was asking, you said that people of East Pakistan were better Mussalmans. Then what did you mean by ‘Betrayal of East Pakistan’? What does this betrayal mean?
A. West Pakistan? No, not the people of East Pakistan. But those who were in power in West Pakistan, who were at the helm of affairs – Yahya and Bhutto – not the Pakistani people. They like [Bangladeshis] and still like them. It was those greedy people [who] wanted to rule them . I don’t blame them.
Q. You wrote 3000 officers were killed and wives and daughter were raped. What is its source? Because if it had happened it would have been reported in the newspapers. We did not we have any sort of report. What is your source?
A. The sources were my colleague officers who fled and those women raped.
Q. How did you claim that figure?
A. Because we were there.
Q. If I say, it did not happen. What will you say?
A. It was a report.
Q. No. It was an assumption. Because even Farman Ali and other sources said, no this could not have happened.
A. Sources said that they did not return.
Q. But you said that the wives and daughters were raped and no such things happened. I mean, what I want to know, what is your source?
Q. No. No. I want to …
A. Because those people, the concerned officers and the women raped, they told. It is given here .. It is pathetic.
Q. So this is from your book? It comes from your book!
A. It is not that I cannot make any mistake.
Q. Then you sometimes feel that there were certain mistakes committed.
A. Yes, I say, yes. You know every Hindu is a Shivaji. [They would] try to eliminate us . It is not also difficult for them to eliminate you. Due to them we all were isolated. We get together, we had been forced ….
Q. When did you first contact the Indians?
A. On the 14th…
Q. 14th December. Not before 14th December?
A. And that was through the Americans, … when Aurora had warned, I had three or four divisions. And when they came they were Jacob and Colonel Khara. And Khara was Sikh from Risalpur— his ancestor became Mussalman during the reign of Mughal Emperors in India. So he came and met me and he said, how many troops you have got? The signal was clear. I said, we [have] got 9 battalions. I said you are
Sikh, you should be available as Sikh. I have 9 battalions with 10 thousand men. I can fight you one man, two man but not 10 thousand men. He told me, you are going to Fort William.
Q. When was this?
A. When he came. We surrendered and went to Calcutta on the 20th or something like 21st December.
Q. Were you interrogated as Prisoner of War?
A. No. General …
Q. But Rao Farman Ali, in his book…
A. He might have [written]… not me…
Q. But you have no knowledge of it?
A. No, they got me and had given me to the officers of India. Then I went farther. When you are away from here one could have leaked you what I have not told here.
Q. Could you please tell us what was your feeling on 16th December 1971?
A. Oh! That was the day we were surrendering…
Q. It was surrendering, according to you, to the Hindus.
A. I..I was that day … I was silent that day, helpless! See, the Army is practically like a horse. The same army under Yaqub had nothing to do, same Army under Tikka started killing people, the same Army afterwards, under me, fought after it was practically a fatigued horse. It behaved like the rider. If the rider is not a good rider, then it kicks. If the rider is good enough, it runs fast. Have you seen shikari kuttas(hunting dogs) to be let call shikar(game)? There is some sort of fun to open the door. Same is the case with the Army. Which way the shikari should lead he should know, he should know how and when he should release the bird from his closed fist, where he will lead [the] bulldog ….
Q. How many people were killed, you think, during this time, I mean, from April to December?
A. Our account is 30 thousand killed.
Q. What about the civilians?
A. It was 50 thousand on the night Tikka took action.
Q. And during the rest of the period?
A. Up to that time [there] were not much.
Q. I mean what could be your official record? …were you not maintaining any record?
A. Yes it is mentioned. We collected it. We had to send situation report. And in it we
had so many wounded, so many …
Q. No, this is during the war. War was declared on the night of 3rd December.
A. 21st November. They attacked us. On that day we had 13 thousand [troops].
Q. But they had complete superiority. There was no question of frontal. Basically …
A. Mukti Bahini’s casualty is given here as 30 thousand.
Q. No. I am talking about the civilian population.
A. No. We have no account of that. I never fought civilians.
Q. Are you aware that the Razakars, Al-Badar, Al-Shams— they were involved in large-scale killing?
A. No. I had 38 thousand troops. They were getting killed. So I used them to make up [for the] the deficiency. I gave those Al-Badars, Al-Shams to the divisions. They were using them for their own thing. And that they broke and got away and did something, nobody could check that. But they were put under the religion and they were being used…. They were sent to field. So it will take time to confirm. And thenthey were given weapons.
Q. And do you have any remorse on the overall situation?
A. Somebody got inducted as proposed, and then someone also came…we could have broken India if we were allowed to go ahead. India would have forgotten ….
Q. What about the action taken in Bangladesh?
A. It was wrong. The action on 25th or 26th was wrong. But there was report that Mujib was to take action that night. We were to counter that.
Q. Do you believe Mujib was going to do that?
A. Yes, he was flying high about it. He was hard. And as I said, had Yaqub controlled them, nothing would have happened. If Yaqub had done it properly and as I said had Yaqub controlled [them] then nothing would have happened. If Yaqub had done it properly, Tikka would not have come, action would not have taken, I would not have gone there, everything would have been okay there. If Mujib was given the power [that was] taken away, then things would not have happened. It was not proper not to give him power when he won the election. He could have been given the power. It was Bhutto [who] opposed [it]. He said he should not be given the power that he deserved.
Q. You have dedicated your book to the Razakars, not to soldiers, why?
A. Ours had been the duty and we were being paid but they came voluntarily!*