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Tathagata Bhattacharya, ibnlive.com / Posted on Aug 26, 2011 at 07:49pm IST.
Sarmila Bose's latest book, Dead Reckoning - Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War, is possibly the most nuanced and non-partisan attempt to gauge the extent and magnitude of atrocities committed during the war.
Till now, most works on the subject have been by Bangladeshi authors, who have mostly given in to their emotions than reason.
Bose spent years travelling throughout the length and breadth of Bangladesh, went to numerous villages, spoke to thousands of people to draw an evidence-based conclusion which is credible.
Bose's work demolishes the narrative every Bangladeshi or Indian (specially if you are a Bengali) have been hearing for ages now: That the Pakistan Army (Khan Sena in Bangladeshi parlance) systemically massacred millions of Bangladeshi people.
Bose shows that the total number of human fatalities in the war was to the tune of 1, 00, 000. This includes Indian and Pakistani war dead, fallen Bangladeshi guerrilla fighters and civilians.
Before training guns on Bose, it is important to know that she is a Bengali woman who traces her ancestral roots to Bangladesh and comes from a family whose nationalist credentials are beyond dispute. She happens to be the granddaughter of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Bose's book is not an attempt to exonerate the Pakistani armed forces. It's unfortunate that a section of Bangladeshi and Indian people have regarded her work as a betrayal of a kind.