46 years ago, on 16th December 1971, a 16 year old Nazma Begam woke up to some commotion outside her barrack, early in the morning.
Before she could collect all her consciousness, a tall man in military uniform entered — flashed a torchlight around — checked the cell — counted the number of women — and signalled everyone to walk out.
Nazma was a bit surprised — usually they never allowed anyone to leave the barracks during the day — Her body, which was still in pain owing to the 8 rapes she endured last night, protested — but the mind obliged.
Outside — there were more surprises in store.
Outside, there was a team of doctors and nurses — wearing a very strange thing, that she’d almost forgotten about, in these last few weeks and months — a caring smile.
Someone gave her a packet of juice — a lady gave her a hug along with a shawl — She saw an Indian flag atop a truck — she heard someone say in broken Bengali — Aapnara Abhi Azaad — Pakistan army log yahan se bhaage Geche. (Substandard Translation: You all are free now — The Pakistani Army men have run away).
Nazma took a sip of the juice, half thinking, that it was urine as usual — she was wrong.
Months after her family was brutally murdered by the Razakars.
After she was brought to this Pakistan Army Rape Camp.
After countless nights of violation, abuse and torture.
After days spent half hoping, not to see tomorrow.
Finally, she was free, just like her new nation.
The 13 day, India Pakistan war of 1971, is remembered as the 9 month long war of Independence or Mukti Juddho in Bangladesh.
A war which among other things, saw the torture and rape of an estimated 400,000, girls and women like Nazma.
Most of these girls were never accepted by their family members and had to give away their children, born of rape, to adoption homes — having to live in dishonor and ignominy for the rest of their lives.
In 2002, as a token of gratitude, the Government of Bangladesh awarded 20,000 Takas to a few Women freedom fighters, which included Nazma Begam, seen here in the centre.
Pakistan instituted a war inquiry commission under the chairmanship of Justice Hamoodur Rahman, 10 days after the shameful surrender of over 90,000 Pakistani soldiers.
The findings were never released to the public officially.
Not a single Pakistani soldier or officer was prosecuted.
What is the significance of India-Pak war of 1971 you ask?
It was the moment when thousands like Nazma Begam started living.
It was a war, post which, a majority of Pakistanis,
dumped the Two Nations’ Theory,
and decided to rename their country
Thank you for reading.
Cheers and peace.