Historicizing 1971 GENOCID State versus Person
  About the book

Bangladesh genocide is the only genocide in modern times that resulted from a policy of deliberate containment of the democratic aspirations of its people. Other genocides have resulted from immediate racial, religious, linguistic or ethnic animosities. No such animosity could be found, at least overtly, on the part of the 9West) Pakistanis against the Bengalis. In the case of Bangladesh, what mattered most was the refusal of the Pakistan military to accept the verdict of 1970 general election and handover power to a democratically elected political party from the eastern wing of Pakistan. 25 March-the first night of genocide – is what gave birth to 26 March and the Mujibnagar Cabinet is historically correct in identifying the latter as the Independence Day. Indeed, the complex combination of the demand for democracy and the victimhood of genocide is what had composed the identity of the nation and eventually gave birth to it. Therefore, any attempt to restrict the functional and moral obligations of the two is bound to result in social instability. But genocide is as much a tale of the state as it is a tale of the person. As epicenter of 1971 genocide, Dhaka University has attained a special place in genocidal discourse, and this is as much for the reason of the state as it is for the indiscriminate, and yet killing of persons on the campus. Methodologically then it becomes meaningful to focus on Dhaka University as it had experienced a statist policy of murder and destruction while those who had survived are still in a position to narrate the painful experience of the person. In collecting the victims’ tale, however, a deliberate attempt was made to search and reach out to the subalterns, including gardeners, security guards, peons and other less recognizable office bearers of the university. A critical awareness of genocide is bound to embolden the person in the vital task of putting an end to all crimes against humanity. As the epicenter of genocide, should not the Dhaka University embark upon the noble task of establishing a Centre for Genocide Studies on a priority basis?

Imtiaz Ahmed teaches International Relations at the University of Dhaka and is Executive Director, Centre for Alternatives. He is also the Editor of Theoretical Perspectives: A Journal of Social Sciences and Arts. Aside from numerous articles in national and international journals and edited volumes, his publications include State and Foreign Policy: India's Role in South Asia (Delhi: Vikas, 1993); The Efficacy of the Nation State in South Asia: A Post-nationalist Critique (Colombo: ICES, 1998); and The Construction of Diaspora: South Asians Living in Japan (Dhaka: UPL).