Monday 29.03.71

Yesterday passed quietly – it did not seem like a Sunday as I spent most of the morning at the office. Steve (another volunteer) came at 11 and stayed overnight – the curfew which was originally lifted for 5 hours was extended to 10 during the morning but we did not go out. A few people called – all reports were bad.

This morning it is really too early to say but there are indications of non-cooperation. From all reports very few people turned up to Government offices, one estimate from David’s secretary at FAO, who are based in the Government offices was about 2%, another about 5% – let’s hope it’s true. Many many people have left and are leaving for the countryside. It seems that Chittagong is still fighting it out. They say the situation there “is improving” which being translated means, it is far from under control! I saw an army transport plane leave in that direction this morning so maybe they are ferrying troops there. No one knows about the other centres of population like Khulna, Comilla, Sylhet, Rangpur etc. I have no idea how many troops they have in these areas and whether they are W. Pakistani or majority Bengali, in which case they could already be in the hands of the people.

More bad reports this morning, especially from the University. The counterpart to one of our UN chaps killed and 2 others from the department at the office this morning begging for our help almost with tears in their eyes. “If you can’t do anything here then tell the world” was their request. It is pathetic. Iqbal Hall, one of the student hostels, was really badly shot up and most of them inside. Many medical students at the medical college shot. One of the WHO people went there this morning and said that they had just emptied their guns into the residential quarters. A number of senior lecturers and professors were also shot up…… so the stories go on and the death toll seems to rise.

I was interested to hear review of the British Press on the radio today. The sketch seemed to have hit the mark – steady firing here all of a sudden. The sketch said that during the floods they did nothing (true) and then after the cyclone they did nothing (also true) the army was not brought in (although it is undoubtedly the most efficient thing in Pakistan) only the E. Pakistan Rifles were involved in relief, apart from transport planes. But when it comes to elections and the people vote for a party that wants to give them autonomy then the army comes in full strength and terrorises the people.

The situation may be said to be “under control” in Dacca but it is far from normal. Food is scarce, bazaars are not functioning, fuel is almost finished. This is good reason if nothing else for people too leave for their villages. Now we are certainly pleased we got dependants (of UN staff) out.

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