New York Times Magazine

August 01 1971

Why They Fled Pakistan -And Won't Go Back

By Khushwant Singh

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“You see, they had heard of her. How could we suffer them to dishonor any one of our daughters? We told them that Tarabala had gone out with her friends into the fields. They did not believe us. They beat us with the butts of their guns. They stuck bayonets into our chests. They set fire to our huts. They picked six of our boys, including Tarabalals husband, Anil, tied their hands behind their backs and made them stand in a line. Then they mowed them down with their guns.

Tarabala Dasi, who has listened without showing a trace of emotion, begins to tear her hair and beat her breast. “I did it! I did it!” she screams. It was all because of me.” Her mother‐in‐law soothes the girl in her arms. The crowd pushes them back.

A young Moslem, sprouting a goatee, steps in front. He is Anees Mian, a brickmaker from the village of Bhukti in Jessore. He shows me a gash across his chest inflicted, he says, by the bayonet of a Pakistani soldier. “‘Shales! [a term of abuse insinuating that a man has had sex with his sister] You voted for Mujibur Rahman!’ the soldier shouted. ‘You are a namak harem [a person false to his salt] and haram jade. [bastard]’ With each insult he slapped me. I said I had not voted for Banga Bandhu [Bengal's friend, a term of affection for the captive East Pakistan leader, Sheik Mujibur Rahman]. That made him mad. ‘This is for your Banga Bandhu!’ And he cut me with his bayonet.”

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