Washington Star/Evening Star

May 23 1971

Pakistani Rebels Seize River Boat, Condemn 17

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RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN.-East Pakistani dissidents have seized the passenger river steamer The Rocket and sentenced 17 of its non-Bengali passengers to death in a "people's court," diplomatic sources said yesterday. This indicated resistance is Continuing in the East despite army claims of crushing it, they added.

The sources said such incidents maintained a "climate of terror," preventing politicians from collaborating with the regime and frightening West Pakistani civil servants who have been assigned to work in the East since the army crackdown against Sheik Mujibur Rahman and his now- banned Awami League.

According to the diplomats, dissidents are also seizing barges and burning cargoes of jute on their way to market towns.

According to the informants, dissidents in early May halted the steamer which makes regular runs between Dacca and Khulna, 40 miles southwest of Dacca and the home territory of Sheik Mujib, as he is familiarly known.

They selected 17 persons to be tried at a people's court in Jaynagar High School in Gopalganj. According to one witness, 12 of the 17 sentenced to death were executed. The Rocket, which often carried foreign tourists on pleasure cruises through part of the Sunderban Jungles, was operated by a private Pakistani river service.

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