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Who Were The Razakars?


Recently, Six members of ‘Razakar Bahini’, a locally recruited paramilitary force that collaborated with the Pakistan army during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, were sentenced to death for ‘crimes against humanity’ by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who were the Razakars?
  2. Fate after the Liberation War

Who were the Razakars?

  • The Razakars were an auxiliary force of the Pakistan army during the 1971 Bangladesh War.
  • Composed of mostly pro-Pakistani Bengalis and Biharis from Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), the approximate 50,000 Razakars assisted the army in raids against the local population and were accused of committing horrific atrocities.
  • Razakar literally means ‘volunteer’ or ‘helper’ in Persian and Urdu, but has come to mean ‘collaborator’ and is associated with betrayal in Bangladesh.
  • Razakars mostly consisted of Urdu-speaking Bihari Muslims and religious parties that opposed the separation of East and West Pakistan, like Jamaat-e-Islami, Al Badr and Al Shams.
  • The nationalist struggle in Bangladesh was brutally suppressed by the Pakistani army and the allied Razakars, with a death toll being pegged at anywhere from 300,000 to 3 million civilians, rape of 100,000 to 400,000 women and 25,000 to 195,000 forced pregnancies.

Fate after the Liberation War

  • After Bangladesh achieved independence in December 1971, the newly formed government very quickly banned organisations that collaborated with Pakistani state forces, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, and many of its influential leaders escaped to Pakistan.
  • The Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order was passed in 1972 and in the following year, the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s government introduced the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act in 1973, to investigate and prosecute those that committed atrocities during the war.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024