The Pakistani military equipped with tanks and all their infantry weapons suddenly launched a crackdown on sleeping unarmed civilians, populations of what they called their own country East Pakistan on the March 25, 1971 black night.
The memoirs of the invading personnel and their commanders suggest that the generals and the subordinate officers remained entirely impersonal ahead of and during the crackdown but were led by sense of rage visibly like psychopaths.
Two commanders — Major General Khadim Hussain Raja and Major General Rao Farman Ali — who were particularly tasked respectively to conduct the infamous Operation Searchlight in Dhaka and elsewhere in East Pakistan even watched a movie at the garrison hall at the cantonment ahead of launching the cleansing campaign.
The records and evidence suggest that the officers made them comfortable lying out on easy chairs and sofas in their safe abode inside the Dhaka cantonment as tea and coffee were served while their colleagues carried out the massacre in Dhaka and other major towns in line with their operational design.
A Bengali scientist serving the then Atomic Energy Commission incidentally managed to intercept their wireless communications, which indicated the Pakistani troops virtually wanted to kill as many people as they could on that night and the subsequent day.
The top commander, appeared to be General Tikka Khan, was heard repeatedly asking over army wireless the officers engaged in cleansing campaign how many Bengalis they could kill as the crackdown was underway.
"I believe only in one thing . . . . That's much easier (to kill the Bengalis), . . . nothing (will be) asked . . . you don't have to explain anything . . . what you think there would be the approximate number of casualty . . . shabash . . . that's quite well done," the Pakistani commander was heard saying at different times in intercepted messages.
Atomic Energy Commission's Bengali scientist Professor Dr MM Hussain tape recorded the radio interceptions in a now obsolete single spooled "gruding audio tape".
Years later with his younger sister Monira Hossain's assistance, he partially prepared its transcript which came out in a booklet titled "Tikka Khan from the Control Room".
BSS, coinciding with the father of the Nation's Birth Centenary and Independence Golden Jubilee celebrations, prepared the nearly full transcript.
Following is the transcript along with the original audio tape beginning at 1.30 am on March 25/26 night:
: That is with them and getting good result; it will take time because of the nature of the area. Over.
:77, how do you hear me? Over
Readable. Have you anything for me? Over. Correction. 77, wait Karen, unko… who Khod call Karenge.
Control: Hello 99-suggest you keep turned in because otherwise 26 and others will have to give situation twice. Just stay tuned in. There is nothing fresh yet reserve line (1) secured and University area still fighting going on. out.
: Wait for Imam.
:For 99, Imam idhar aye hue hain, aur unke sath who jo mera Imam hain who busy hain, is liye abhi main kuch nehin bata sakta hun. Over. [Imam came here, or the man who is with him is my Imam and he is busy, that's I cannot not be able to say anything].
Control: Control information mang rahen hain keh keya progress hain, aap patah karke khodhi pass kar den. Over. [Control is asking for information about what progress have been made.
Please, let me know after you become aware of updates].
: Wait. Out to you, hallo, 77. Imam listening, send your message. Over.
: 77, Latest from 88 that he is making progress but there are so many buildings that he has to reduce each one in turn. He has so far suffered no casualty. But there is firing against him.
He is using everything he has got. Over.
: Roger: Tell him that his Big Brothers (tanks, units?) will also be coming shortly. I hope, so these can be utilised for knocking down the buildings. Now, on the other side I think Liaquat (BUET students dormitory) and Iqbal (Zahoorul Haque Hall) is now quiet, am I correct ? Over.
: 77, Have not heard the completion report. But they are much happy about those two. Over.
Control: That is jolly good. Now let the boys keep on announcing in the streets about the curfew, that is number one. Number two, they will keep on saying that all Bangladesh flags will be brought down, and any house which has the Bangladesh flag, the owner will be responsible for the consequences. There will be no black flag, and there will be no Bangladesh flag visible anywhere in the city. And if they are not pulled down them, then the consequences will be really, really severe. This must be made clear to everyone. Roger? over.
: 77, Roger, over.
:77, Secondly, it must be announced also about the road blocks. Any person seen putting up road blocks will be shot on the spot-No. 1, No 2,-road block put up in any locality-people from that locality will be prosecuted and will be held responsible and the houses left and right-I repeat-houses left and right block will be demolished. This must be made clear to all and to the people themselves. And this must be announced on these speakers through the night and till the morning and also tomorrow morning through whole day. Over.
: Wilco. Out to you, Hello 41, did you receive from Imam? over.
: 41, is Imam listening? Over.
:41 from Imam. Number one, all black flags . . . these flags must be brought down by the owners of various buildings; Anyone seen flying these flags will be prosecuted. This should be persecuted (sic) and their buildings demolished. This should be announced on your public address system.
:41, Similarly all road blocks created anywhere will be a criminal offence. Anybody found doing so will be shot on sight. Owners of buildings on either side of the road block will be persecuted and their buildings demolished. This should also be announced by your roving patrols. Over
: 41, Out to you. Hello 88. Progress? Over.
: 88, Imam on set. Send your message. Over.
: From Imam. Regarding all Bangladesh flags or black flags owners of building flying these must be warned to remove them at once otherwise they will be persecuted, correction prosecuted. Roger so far? Over
:88, Wilco. over
:88, Road blocks anywhere will be a criminal offence. Anyone seen indulging in this must should be shot at sight. House and buildings on either side will be demolished. This should also be announced on your public address system by your roving patrols. Over.
: 88 Wilco. Anything else? over
: 88, Did your Imam say that you will require approximately three to four hours to complete the task? Over
: 88, Yes-approximately three to four hours to thoroughly complete the task. Over
Control: 88 Imam is now with Imam 26. If you need further assistance in any manner you can let him know. Regarding the buxer (5) elements they have started from their base position and will be able to help you immediately after first light to help demolish all the obstacles in front of you. Over.
: 88. Thank you so much. Nothing more from my side. Everything is going fine.Over.
Control: 41, Regarding the escape routes, west of the railway line, escape routes west of railway line that is in your area, hope that necessary blocks have come into position so that elements that are facing 26 and 88 in the campus do not pull out westwards. Over.
: 41, We are very extensively patrolling the area. Every minute we are passing through and we are on the watch. Over.
Control: 41, Roger. I was certain that you would be in full command. The elements of 26 have also sorted out our friends (!) of the Daily People. That should please you. Out.
Control: Hello, 99 for 88. Highest control (6) wants to know as to what type of fire came from the other side. Over.
: 88 for 99, wait. I called to my Imam and then you will talk to him.
: 88 for 99. My Imam listening. Send your message. Over.
: 99 for 88. Highest control wants to know as to what type of opposition has been faced in areas Jagannath, Iqbal and Liaqat. Over.
: 88 for 99. Initially lot of fire was received from Jagannath and Iqbal halls. Roger, so far. over.
: Roger. Over.
: 88, once we opened with Romeo, Romeo we ever heard any fire. But we have
disposed off a few. Roger. so far. Stop.
: 99 for 88 Roger.over.
: 88 for 99. Stop. Now I am going to Liaqat (hall) because their set is out of order. I do not know their progress. Stop. After checking up that then I will let you know. Over.
: 99 for 88. Please let us know as to whether there was any automatic fire whether there was any automatic fire from other side and were there any grenade etc. thrown. Over.
: 88 for 99. Lot of three-knot -three fire we have not heard automatic nor we have heard any grenade. Over.
: 88 Roger. Out. : Markhore (9) on set. Send your message. Over.
: 99 for 26 Please let us know as to what all objective have captured by now. Over.
: 26 for 99 Two thousand (10) captured, then Ramna p.s. captured, Kamlapur RS.\ Sculptured TV/Radio under control Exchange captured. All first phase ya Ali. Over.
: 99, From our position in Commissioners officers we could see lot of fire in the area Purana Paltan. If it the Head office (11) or some other office. Over.
: 26 for 99. The area two thousand is on fire. I say again area two thousand is on fire. Over.
:99 for 8.8 What about People's Daily (12). Over.
:26 for 99.Blasted. I say again blasted. Our two men seriously wounded have been evacuated to CMH and two minor injuries. Over.
:99 for 26 Any approximation of the other side casualties? Over.
:26 for 99 No-it's difficult to judge at the moment. Places are at fire or have been completely destroyed. It is not possible at this moment to say anything. Over.
:99 for 26 Have you done away with police Lines also? Over.
: 26 for 99 Yes I say two thousand police line are on fire. Over.
: 99 for 26. Good show. Out.
: 55. Loud and clear. : 55. Markhor listening. Send. Over.
: 55. Send your message. Over.
: 55. Aapne call kiya tha. Message send koren. Markhor listen kar raha hain. (You called. send your message. Markhor is listening) 55, send your
: 55 . . .
: 55 say again. Over.
: 55 . . .
: 26 for 88. Send progress. Over.
: 55. Roger. where exactly have these been contacted? Over.
: 26 for 88. Aapki awaz phat rahi hain aur Jagannathke bare me progress batayenge. Jagannathke bare me. (Your sound is being disrupted, now tell over
the progress of Jagannath Hall
: . . . to report to you. Over.
: 26 for 88. Roger. Out.
: 55. I say again, on our . . . front there was a road block and we are removing it and . . . other elements. Over.
: Control, 88, roger. Out to you, hello 41, message. Over.
: 55. Jolly good show. Your elements are expected at 26. They will be
particularly helpful to 88 who is having some difficulty. keep coming. Out.
: 55. re-net. yeh. Aapni netting check koren set ki. samajh nehi ati aap keya
kah rahe. 55, 55, 55, 55, 55 . . . (Pls check your netting, I cannot listen
: 55, 55. How do you hear me? Over.
: 55, 56, 56 . . . over. : 55: Abhi tak whistle a rahi hain. Transmitter to
do-barah net karo (Still getting two whistles, Pls net the transmitter
: 55, 55. 55, 55. hear netting call. net now. netting call ends.
: 55. How do hear me? Over.
: 55 . . .
:55. Roger. Mikeko thora dor rakh kar bola karen. 55, Nothing more. Out. (Pls, speak keeping the mike a little far)
: Message. Over.
: 26 for 28, 26 for 28, message. Over.
: 88 for 26. We are moving . . .
: 26 for 88. Report progress of Jagannnath, I say again Jagannath. Over.
: 88 for 26. My Imam is moving. . . : 26 for 88. Roger. Out.
: Markhor to Markhor. Over.
: 16. wait. Out. : What was the casualties suffered by the other side? Over.
: 16 . . . four killed.
: Roger. Have the wounded been given necessary medical aid? : . . . EPR Hospital. Over.
: 16. Very good. Out to you, hello 26, hello 26, hello 26, message. Over.
: 55. Location. Over.
: 55. Location. Over.
: 55, I am (short) in front of Farm gate and we are now removing the road blocks with explosion and other materials. We are still at the same place. Over.
: 55. Roger. Hope nobody has dared come out against you. Over.
: 55. We deployed Cheetah all around. Negative so far. Over.
: 55. Roger. The dozer and recovery elements with you? Over.
: 55. Yes. The dozer is now moving forward on to the spot to remove .. .. .. in strength, and they are also helping us. Over.
Control: 55. That's excellent. Keep coming. We are at this original building area. You may try and avoid any unnecessary damage to the roads that can be saved. Out.
:. . . . . Over.
: . . . for 77, 16 for 77. Message. Over.
: 16, fetch Markhor. Over.
: 16, fetch Markhor. Over.
: 16 . . .
: 16, as discussed earlier, the Imam of your original force will carry out the necessary drill and sort out the various categories according to which they will re-organise. Suggest until the first light or until the Imam of your (host) force appears you stay put. Over.
: 16. Wilco. out. :. . . . for Imam. Over.
: . . . Wait. Out. : Imam listening. Send your message. Over.
: 41, Position regarding the Physical Training Institute and the Police Stations of your area. Over.
: 41, Physical Training Institute not thoroughly searched; but we have armed troops posted. There is no Police Station in the area. Over.
: 41. Thank you. Out.
: 41. We have a large number of people who have laid a number of road blocks, collected and being used for clearing. Will they be required back to you, or can they be disposed off? Over.
: 41. That is a good use of labor. Suggest you use them for the present and retain them until we get it cleared from Imam. Then accordingly, you can either let them off or we will take them away. Over.
: 41. Roger. Out.
: 88. Message. Over.
: 88. Send your message. Over.
: 88. Jo aapka ek element Romeo Sierra Uniform (RSU) (14) ke saath hain uske through puchiye keh aya RSU dariya (15) main patrolling kar raha hain ya nehi. Over. (Ask Romeo Sierra Uniform whether he is doing his patrolling properly)
: 88. Roger. Over.
: 88. Out. : . . . Just wanted to remind you that your element with Romeo Sierra Uniform should ask them to carry out patrolling in the river boats. Patrol the river as discussed by Imam. Over.
: 88. We have already started that, I say again, we have already started that. Over.
: 88 . . . I will extend to him all . . .
: 88. Very good. Keep it up. Out.
: Hallo 26. Over.
: 26. Send. Over.
: 26. Did you manage to pick up anybody important from the Daily people? over.
: 26 no, negative. But our troops have gone for some other important persons and we are waiting for their progress. over. Control
: 26. Roger. Has the office of ALPHA LIMA (16) been occupied so far? Over.
: 26. No. Target has been left for the early morning. Over
: 26. Roger. Except that any records and papers might already been burnt or destroyed by the occupants. However, do as you are planning, and you are making excellent progress. Let us know every little thing that happens. out.
: Hallo 99, 99. Markhor. Fetch Chota. Over.
: 99. Wait. Out. : Send your message. Over.
: Out to you, hallo 26, 26, message from 77, Markhor ko inform kare keh Imam ne Kaha hian, first light se pahle pahle Jitne yeh dead bodies hai who clear ho jani chahye; aur sab concerning ko batah de. Over. (The Imam has instructed through Markhor to remove all the bodies before dawn and also ask not to be concerned over other things)
: 26. Roger. Aap apne Imam ko aur Markhor ko ye Khabar de deh. out to you, hallo 41, hallo correction, hallo 16, hallo 41, hallo 88, did you receive? over. (Pls give the information to Markhor and your Imam also).
: 16. Wilco. Out. : Out to you, hallo 88, did you receive this message which 41 just now read back? Over.
: 88. . . disposed off. Over.
: 88. Yes, arrange to dispose them. You can use local labour and dispose them off away from the public places. Over.
: 88. When can you give us an estimate of casualties suffered by other side? Nothing more. Out.
Control: Out . . . necessary detachments for orders-these result are being awaited -suggest you can draft your SITREP on the lines of what has occurred since about 0100 hours this morning, over.
: 99. Hallo 99, since 0100 hrs for about half an hour we were not in contact with you, and after that we had to shuttle in between the telephone and this place which is quite some distance. So we missed of most of the transmission. Over.
Control: 99, subsequently these were repeated to you starting from the Belal's Boy's (17) when they "caged the main bird" (18) and subsequently the two telephone exchanges, the Police Station at Ramna, People's Daily, the Reserve Line, then the action that is still continuing in the area of University plus the houses in Gulshan, correction, houses in Dhanmandi, the occupants of which had, were not traceable. Over.
: About the last transmission, which are the (occupants) officers who (were) are not traceable from Dhanmandi? Over.
:99 — regarding Tajuddin and Bhuiyan, they were not found at their places, similarly this place, the physical Training Institute which was supposed to have arms has not so far revealed any. Over.
: Is it the same physical Institute in Mohammadpur area? Over.
: 99, yes. So there is nothing at that end yet. We will also take care of the Malkhana and the Lalbagh Fort. But that will follow. So, you have most of the gift (gist). Over.
: 99, we have heard everything from the call signs 26 and 88, but what about the other call signs? Over.
Control: 99, 16 (had) has very little resistance in which they killed 4 and wounded about 10, after that they were in full control of the opposition (Peelkhana of the East Pakistan Rifles, now Bangladesh Rifles) within about half-an-hour of H-hour. As regards 41, their operation regarding (to) Tajuddin and Bhuiya and the Training Institute, they captured some other people, but the main targets had packed up and left much earlier. Apparently they have all panicked and started leaving the city from some time yesterday. So they have blocked all the roads and secured the Second Capital Exchange, and have also set up block for any people trying to escape from Campus towards the west across the railway lines. Over.
: 99. Roger. Over.
Control: 99. Hope you are comfortable with your hostages. over.
: 99. I am thinking as to how to feed them now. Over.
Control: 99. It will do then no harm it they don't see food for a while. So they can adopt the same policy that you have been doing for the last so many weeks. Out. (He is referring here to the policy of non-cooperation followed by Bengalis towards the west Pakistani soldiers during the first three weeks of March 1971 when food etc for them had to be air-lifted from West Pakistan, or taken by force locally).
: Wait kare, oh aadmi bolane kiliye gaya hai. Wait. Out. (Wait, he went to call the man)
: Markhor dur hainm who nehi a sakte, aap message bata de, hum pass kar denge. Over. (Markhor is far away, he cannot come. You better give me the message, I will inform him)
: Message. Over.
: 99. Send. Over.
: 99. Romeo India Alpha Zulu, usko wapis kis location par bhejna hain. Jo bhi vehicle available hain abhi jane wali, us se usko wapis bhejna hain. Over. ( Where I will send Romeo India Alpha Zulu. Send him the location of which vehicle is available)
: 99. Kownsi set ko wapis bhejnahain? Over. (Which set would be sent back?)