Islamic Terrorism and the Genocide in Bangladesh

Abul Kasem (Bangladesh)

As a young child I was brought up in a very strict Islamic way. My parents were devout Muslims, although not fanatics. I used to see them praying frequently, although at that very tender age I could understand very little of all the Islamic rituals they used to practice, like praying, fasting, paying Zakat, fitrah, and so on. My most memorable days were on the Eid day, when we used to wake up very early in the morning, wear our new dresses, eat special dishes prepared by my mum, then go to Idgah with my dad for the Eid prayer. I did not understand a single word of what the imam was saying or why the people were doing their body movements. When I asked my dad any question he used to tell me to keep quiet and that Allah will punish those kids who ask too many questions. Thus, I was introduced to the fear from the very beginning of my childhood. When I reached around seven or eight years, my father started to teach me Arabic in a very rudimentary way. He was not an expert in Arabic but had sufficient ability to read the Koran in Arabic.

After I finished learning the basic Arabic language, in about six to nine months' time, I was introduced to the Koran. I was forced to wake up every early morning and read the Koran with my older sister, who was quite good at it. My father and older sister used to guide me and correct my pronunciations. It was an unbearable tyranny to me. I dreaded waking up each morning and facing the Koran. Once in a while I used to pretend to be sick just to avoid the daily morning chore. I was beaten by my father on many occasions for this trick. I was also admonished severely for not being able to pronounce Koranic verses in the correct way. This was really a torture to me. Many a time I used to ask my sister and father about the meanings of the verses. They had no idea. They only read the Koran without understanding a single verse. I was told to memorize the verses and never ask any questions on the Koran. Allah would surely punish me if I ask any questions on the Koran or any other matter about Islam.

Then I was introduced to wudu and prayer rituals. This was another torture to my young mind. I lost my childlike enthusiasm, exuberance, and curiosity. Islam became a great burden for me to carry, although I never complained or showed my displeasure for fear of being punished for transgression. I used to follow my dad every Friday to Jumaa prayer although I understood very little of why must I do that ritual.

That was how I was introduced to Islam. I was also brainwashed by the bombardment that Islam was the only religion for humankind and that Hindus and Christians are our enemies. I believed those words, spoken by my parents and relatives, and never questioned them.

After finishing my primary education I went to high school. The high school was in a small town in Bangladesh called Chandpur. There was a sizable number of Hindu students in my class. At first I avoided mixing with them, for I remembered of what I was taught during my childhood days. To my great surprise, I found that most of these Hindu students were quite friendly and would like to play and study with me. So I started to mix with them. Those were the young and innocent days of childhood, when most of us discarded the racial/religious prejudices and embraced any one who was friendly. At this stage I started to think about what I had been programmed on Islam.


Now I am going to describe a few incidents that forced me to think about religion in general and Islam in particular.

I started to question the necessity of religion in our lives and the inhuman and illogical practices in many religions, including Islam. You might wonder what triggered my distaste for religion. It all started in my school days when I witnessed the slaughter of a dear Hindu friend of mine (along with his entire family) in Chandpur, Bangladesh. I can never erase that memory from my mind. That was a devastating experience. But more shocking was that many Muslims were actually happy about that slaughter and even went further, supporting the idea that we (Muslims) should kill more Hindus because the Muslims in India are being slaughtered, too. It was also declared by some Muslim clerics that killing of non-Muslims is an act of jihad and therefore anyone participating in jihad will be rewarded with heaven. At that tender age I knew very little of Islam and nothing about other religions. However, the little conscience inside me told me that what was being done and what was being practiced were not right. However, I had little power to change the course of events.

I personally visited the house of my slain friend and found that all the members of his family, including his parents, brothers, and sisters, were killed by axes and swords. I saw pools of blood in their kitchen and bathroom, where they hid to save their lives. The incident happened in the dead of night and no one came to help them. When I went back to my school, I was extremely ashamed in front of my Hindu friends. I was speechless and could say nothing. I feared that my Hindu friends might one day attack me. To my great surprise I found that my Hindu friends did not really bother very much and treated me as usual.


This incident involves my life itself. I nearly died when Pakistani soldiers and their fanatic supporters attacked the university residential halls on the dark night of March 25, 1971. Here is my recollection of that horrifying experience.

In 1971 I was a final-year civil engineering student at East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology (EPUET; now Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology [BUET]). We were about to graduate when the political turmoil in East Pakistan got started. As we were preparing for our final examination, the university was closed due to the unrest all around us. The events I am about to tell brought into the fore one more time the inhuman butchery and atrocities committed by the Pakistani Islamic army as I witnessed with my own eyes. This was the most horrific experience of my life and, to put it mildly, had a profound impact on my views on religion and politics.

On the evening of March 25, 1971, I was staying at Shere-e-Bangla Hall of EPUET. Just a few days before that, political problems engulfed East Pakistan as General Yahya steadfastly refused to accept the mandate of the people of East Pakistan for full autonomy. The students were on strike. But it was exam time and I was preparing for my final-year examination, as I said it before. However, due to the political unrest the examination was canceled and many students had left the residential halls and went back home. I was, though, actively involved in student politics. Therefore, I decided to stay put in the hall so that should a need arise I would be available to join the movement. A few days before March 25 there were persistent rumors in the air that the talk between Mujib and General Yahya was not progressing well and that there was the possibility of a military crackdown looming on the horizon. However, the government media cleverly played down this rumor by insisting that the talks were fruitful. Some newspapers even suggested that General Yahya was prepared to hand over the power to a civilian government, where both Bhutto and Mujib would have major roles. With this type of misleading information, many people thought that at last the Bengalis would have a chance to taste their freedom after a struggle of about thirteen years. But that did not happen. On the fateful night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani Islamic army came out from the cantonment with fury to teach the Bengalis a lesson that they would never forget. And surely they never did.

This is my very personal recount of the nights and days on and immediately after March 25, 1971.

I went to bed a bit early, around 9:00 Pmt. I had been quite tired all day and I quickly fell asleep. Suddenly, at around 11:00 P.M., my deep slumber was disturbed by the noise of constant barrage of gunfire. At first I thought that it must be firecrackers by Bengalis to celebrate their victory. But soon I realized my mistake. I opened the window. It was very dark. Not even the dim streetlights were burning. But I could barely see numerous military vehicles moving around, carrying soldiers with their automatic rifles. Occasionally, I could see very bright searchlights mounted on some of the military trucks and Jeeps. Many soldiers were running and shooting in the street. I saw that a large convoy of military vehicles had surrounded the whole of the EPUET area. As far as my eyes could go, I could see military men all around the campus. I could even hear the army people talking loudly in Urdu downstairs in our hall. I immediately knew what was going on. I thanked my lucky stars that I had switched off the room light before I went to bed. There was deafening noise from the machine guns and automatic rifles, which were not too far from where I stood. I could not believe what was going on. I was alone in the room; there was nobody to comfort me on that fateful night. Panic-stricken, I started trembling and fell down on my bed.

All of a sudden, a hail of bullets shattered the nearby window. The bullets hit the ceiling and walls and then hit the floor. A thought passed through my mind: I was going to die. Without thinking much I went under my bed to protect against stray bullets. I lay on my chest and grabbed the floor as if that was my life. The firing continued incessantly for almost the whole night. Then, suddenly, there was a lull. No machine gun or rifle sound. I thought it was over. I slowly came out from my hiding place and sat on my bed. I looked at my wristwatch. I could not see very well. It was 3:00 A.M. or so, I guessed. Suddenly, there was an extremely loud noise and the whole area was brightly lit. I could not resist looking. What I saw through the shattered window pane was utterly unbelievable. I saw a military tank throwing fire on the slums (Bastee). The slum was just next to our halls along the old railway track. I saw people running out of their hovels. As the slum dwellers came out to escape the fire, the Pakistani Islamic soldiers started shooting them with a machine gun that was mounted on a military truck. I could see only one truck with the machine gun near our hall, but I am sure there were many more on other sides as I could see the fires from these machine guns dropping like August showers in the darkness of the spring night. It was something I have seen only on TV and in movies about the Vietnam War. I could hear the desperate cries for help from those hapless victims. I closed the window, thinking that one of those bullets would be enough for me. I sat on the floor and suddenly realized that this was it. There was no escape for me.

Time passed and slowly the morning broke the silence of the eerie night. I could still see the military people from my window. I switched on my transistor radio at a very low volume to hear what was going on. The Dhaka radio station was dead. I switched to the Calcutta radio station. There was no mention of the affairs in East Pakistan, except that General Yahya Khan had left Dhaka after the final talks with Mujib. So I switched to Karachi. Now I got the news that I wanted so desperately to hear. There was a special announcement that General Yahya was going to speak to the nation. I heard him speaking. It was the voice of a heavily drunken person. I cannot recall all that he said, but there are a few words that I still remember. These words were: "Mujib's act is an act of treason. He will not go unpunished." Yahya Khan ended by saying that Mujib would be tried by a special military tribunal and punished. The news announced that Sheik Mujibur Rahman, along with Dr. Kamal Hussain, had been arrested and taken to West Pakistan for the trial. I also heard Bhutto saying, "Thank God. Pakistan was saved."

Meanwhile, the fire in the slum continued and I noticed a strange odor in the air. It took me some time to figure out that it was the smell of burning flesh. I did not hear any fire brigade siren, although there was a fire brigade office just next to our hall in the Palashi suburb. It was almost 8:00 A.M. and the fire slowly started to diminish after devouring the nearby shantytown. From my window I could see the tank moving away from our area. I again lay on my bed and started to search other radio stations for news. Suddenly, I heard soft knocking on my door. I froze. I felt that my blood circulation had suddenly stopped. In front of my eyes I saw nothing but white. I could not move from my bed. I just lay still. After a while there was another knock. Now it struck my mind that if it was the army they would not wait for my response. They would simply burst through my door and start shooting. There must be someone else, I guessed. So I went near the window close to the door and looked. I saw Monju, my next-door neighbor, crawling on his chest near my door. I gingerly opened a little of the door and asked him what was wrong. He whispered to me that something was wrong with his roommate, Ashraf. Monju asked me to follow him to his room. I opened the door silently and slowly crawled on my chest to Monju's room. I found Ashraf lying on the floor with his eyes wide open, but his mouth was shut and he was vigorously shivering. There was water all over. I asked Monju why was there so much water on the floor. Monju replied that it was not water. It was Ashraf's urine. He told me that Ashraf had urinated several times and now he could not talk. I called Ashraf very softly. He just stared at me but could not say anything. I knew what had happened. Ashraf had had a nervous breakdown. I told Monju that we should keep whispering to him that the military is gone and we are safe. Surprisingly, after we whispered to him for about fifteen to twenty minutes, Ashraf started to murmur a few words. After a while he simply whispered, "Please, please, do not leave me." I told Ashraf that whatever happened the three of us would remain together. If we died, we would die together. This assurance from us made Ashraf slowly come back to normal. All of us were very hungry and thirsty. So we ate stale bread and drank some water. Then we talked about how each of us passed the dreaded night.

It was around midday and we found that all the military personnel had left our area. There was no sound of gunfire, no sound of military trucks or vehicles. In fact, there was an eerie unbearable silence all around the campus. No buses, no rickshaws, no cars; hardly any people on the streets. We thought that it was our best opportunity to escape from the hall. We tuned our radio to AIR and heard about the indefinite curfew in Dhaka. But we decided to escape no matter what happened, even if that meant breaking the curfew and being shot at by the military. We decided that I would go to Monju's apartment at Azimpur government quarters. Both Monju and Ashraf used to live at Azimpur quarters. I crawled back to my room, put on my shoes, and grabbed my transistor radio. The three of us then slowly started to climb down the stairs, hiding ourselves as much as we could.

We went to the ground floor. To our disappointment we found the entry/exit gate was locked. The guards had locked the gate and fled. Later on, we realized that this action by the hall guards actually had saved our lives. In frustration, we came back to our rooms on the second floor. Then we decided to go to first floor and jump from the balcony. At first we thought of leaving the radios behind. Then we realized that the radio was the only means by which we would know what was going on in East Pakistan. The three of us then jumped into the garden. Luckily, the jump was a success. Then we quickly ran. While running across the hall compound, we saw the gruesome scenes of killing by the Pakistani Islamic army. In Liaquat Hall (I suppose it is Titumeer Hall now, but I'm not sure) we saw plenty of blood and a dead body, possibly the guard's. (Later, I learned that four students were killed at Liaquat Hall.) We quickly ran to the fire brigade center in Palashi. The center was very close to our residential hall. We thought of taking temporary refuge in fire brigade building before proceeding to the Azimpur colony. There was a small mosque inside the fire brigade compound. I saw four dead bodies there. All were riddled with numerous bullet holes. The floor of the mosque was flooded with blood. I thought that some fire brigade people tried to take shelter in the mosque, hoping that the Pakistanis would not commit murder in a place of worship. But how wrong they were! We saw many other dead bodies on the compound of the fire brigade. Some dead bodies were inside the fire brigade trucks and ambulance. They must have taken shelter inside these vehicles, hoping to escape the onslaught. Most likely none of the fire brigade people survived. Then we arrived at the road that separates the Azimpur colony from the Palashi. On the road we found many dead bodies scattered everywhere, mainly of rickshaw pullers.

There was a high wall at the entry of the Azimpur colony. We did not know what to do at that point. The curfew was on and if any army people saw us they surely would kill us. We had no choice but to jump over the wall. To our utter surprise, we jumped over the wall and fell on the other side of the wall. I still do not know how I did that. May be our adrenaline was running high after all that happened to us. I am sure that if I had to jump that wall again, I would fail.

After jumping inside the Azimpur colony we felt a little safer and we all heaved a great sigh of relief. Monju suggested that I go and stay with him. Ashraf was too nervous to say anything. So we escorted Ashraf to his quarters and then Monju and I headed toward Monju's apartment. When Monju's father and mother saw us they simply held us tight and started crying. We quickly went inside the bedroom and told our story. Monju's father said that they were certain that the Pakistani army had killed us as he had witnessed the army operation from the window. We realized how lucky we really were to be alive after that fateful night. Monju's mother prepared some food for us. We were extremely hungry. I finished all the food served to me. During this time we did not hear much gunfire in the area of Azimpur. But we could hear the nonstop machine gun firing in the distance. We carefully opened the window a little bit. All we saw was smoke and fire all around, a little away from Azimpur. We guessed that it was the Old Dhaka area, possibly near the Buriganga River and Sadarghat. After the liberation, it was found that the killing and destruction done by the Pakistani Islamic military was one of the worst in the Old Dhaka area. They killed virtually every person in the Hindu-dominated Shankari Patti in the Old Dhaka area. The fire and smoke were so terrible that at night the whole sky was red. In the evening we ate some food and we tried to sleep. But none of us could shut our eyelids. The whole night we searched the world on radio. At last we got news from the BBC of what was going on in East Pakistan. The Dhaka radio station was working again, playing mainly Urdu patriotic songs and Islamic verses. We were now sure that our dream of a free nation had suddenly vanished. The Pakistani army had captured us as slaves. The whole night we mostly talked about what would happen to the Bengalis since all our struggle was in vain. Finally, the morning came. At around 9:00 A.M. we heard on Dhaka radio that the curfew had been relaxed for six hours only. We found many people on the street. I suggested to Monju that I should go home and see if my family members were alive. As our house was in Nakhalpara (very close to cantonment and the airport), Monju and his parents were very reluctant that I should take the risk. However, after my constant insistence they let me go, but reminded me to return immediately to them if I had problems. I can never repay their debt. You can tell they were really concerned about me.

So I came open in the street. I found people all around me. No buses, no trucks. Hardly any rickshaws plying the street. There were occasional cars and military vehicles with fierce-looking soldiers and machine-gun-mounted trucks and Jeeps. I asked some people where were they headed to. Most of them replied that they did not know. They simply wanted to leave the city and go to villages where they felt they would be safe. Many of them headed toward Sadarghat, hoping that they could catch a steamer or a launch to go to the villages. I also did not know what to do. Since there was no transport I would have to walk all the way to Nakhalpara. I thought of going back to Monju's place. Then I changed my mind when I found that thousands of people are walking, many of them barefoot and with nothing but their clothes on. So I also started walking. Whatever happens to these people will also happen to me, I thought. The first place I came was Iqbal Hall (now Sergeant Zahurul Hall, I believe). The scene I saw in Igbal Hall was beyond any description! The whole area was like a battlefield. I knew that Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) vice president Tofail Ahmed used to live there. There were holes on the walls created by mortar shells. Those holes were visible from afar. When I arrived at the playground of the hall, I saw about thirty dead bodies all lined up for display to the public. Many of the dead bodies were beyond recognition due to innumerable bullet holes on their faces. That was a gruesome sight. Many people started crying. My friend Jafar used to live in Iqbal Hall. I did not see his body. Later I learned that his dead body was found in his bed. Needless to say, the displayed corpses were merely a small fraction of the students that Pakistani Islamic army had murdered in Igbal Hall on that dreadful night. They simply displayed a few corpses to frighten and to break the morale of all Bengalis.

Anyway, I had to hurry along. I started to walk again and came to the central Shaheed Minar.* I saw that the entire Shaheed Minar was nothing but a heap of rubble. Many people could not believe what they saw. The army had totally destroyed the Shaheed Minar using powerful explosives, I guessed. Among all the cruelties inflicted on the Bengalis that night, I think the destruction of the central Shaheed Minar was the cruelest of all. I noticed some blood on the smooth, shiny floor of the Shaheed Minar, but I did not see any dead bodies. Maybe the Pakistani Islamic army decided to remove the corpses from the street area so that their movement wouldn't be affected. I really cried when I saw the Shaheed Minar. Even the displayed corpses at Iqbal Hall could not bring tears to my eyes and make me cry. But I could not hold my tears when I saw the corpse of the Shaheed Minar. The shock was much too much for me.

I started to walk again and came to Jagannath Hall. The entire Jagannath Hall compound was like another battlefield. I saw the footprints of tractor vehicles. There were huge holes in the walls of the Jagannath Hall. I guessed that the army had used tanks in Jagannath Hall. In front of the Jagannath Hall lawn I saw a huge mass grave. The grave was so fresh and shallow that we could see some halfburied corpses. Some hands and feet were protruding from under the soil. It was a grotesque scene, to put it mildly. I do not know how many people were buried there. Judging from the size of the grave, my guess was at least a few hundred. After the liberation of Bangladesh many of us saw the video footage of this brutality of the Pakistani Islamic army. The video was taken secretly by a brave EPUET (now BUET) professor from the window of his apartment.

By the side of Jagannath Hall there was a small, narrow road. On the side of this road and on behind the back of Rokeya Hall there were a large number of washermen (dhopa) who used to live in small quarters with their families. Their number could be around fifty or more. I found that the Pak army had burned down the entire area. I could see the charred bodies of children and adults still in their burned beds. On the side of the dhopa quarter and by the side of the road, I saw another freshly dug shallow mass grave. I could see the feet and hands of children and adults sticking out from the grave, trying to tell the entire world what happened to them. All who passed by saw this terrible sight and shook their heads in utter disbelief.

After a long and tiring walk, I came to the Shahbag Hotel (now the Institute of Post-Graduate Medicine and Research). The building was intact. I looked at the Dhaka radio station. No sign of devastation, although there was heavy military guard, including tanks and armored vehicles, around the radio station. There was no damage to the Inter-Continental Hotel (now the Sheraton Dhaka). Then I came to the office of the daily newspaper the People. My friend Obaid was a subeditor with the People. Naturally I went to find his whereabouts. What I saw was unbelievable. The entire office of the People, along with a few shop houses, was burned to ashes. The place was still smoldering. When I went a little closer, I saw many dead bodies burned like charcoal. They were absolutely unrecognizable; only their shapes said that they were human. The area was filled with the smell of burned flesh. I do not know the fate of Obaid. I have still not heard anything about him, so I assume that he was burned alive in that inferno.

I came out from the ruins of the People office. As I was walking past the fashionable Sakura Restaurant (I am not sure if the restaurant is still in business or not), a car suddenly stopped near me. I was astonished to see my father, mother, and sisters all inside the car. My mother and sisters were weeping. My father asked me to get inside the car. My mother simply hugged me and started to cry loudly. I asked my father what had happened. My father said they were simply fortunate to be alive. Then he told me that we were all going to Dhanmondi to stay with our grandfather. My mother told me that she never expected to see me again, as they had heard that the army had killed each and every student in the residential halls.

Soon we arrived at my grandfather's house. My grandfather was happy to see us alive. We ate some food, then my mother narrated their fateful night of March 25.

So this was how it happened at our home on March 25, 1971. This was how Islam invaded our home and drove us out. The account was based on what I heard from my mother.

Around midnight everyone in our house woke up to noises of heavy vehicles, people marching in boots, loud shouting, bright lights, and gunfire. At first, they erroneously believed that it must be a victory celebration, because just before everyone went to sleep, there were rumors that Yahya Khan had agreed to transfer power to Mujib. However, when my folks opened the window they couldn't believe what they saw. It was shocking to see that the entire Nakhalpara area had been cordoned off by armored military trucks. Soldiers with rifles and machine guns were running all over the place. Also, there were very bright searchlights all around. My family also noticed Jeeps mounted with machine guns very close to our house. Naturally, everyone was frightened. Being nervous, my mother started praying without losing any time. A few minutes later they heard a loud banging at our front door. They were at a loss, not knowing what to do. My father summoned up the courage to open the entrance door. Four Islamic soldiers with pointed rifles immediately entered our lounge. They asked everyone to line up in the lounge. So my father, my younger brother, my brother in-law, my four sisters, my nephew and niece, and my mother all obliged by lining up in the crammed space. All of them were shivering in hot March night. Then one of the soldiers separated the males from the females. The males were ordered to remain in the lounge. All the females, including my mother, were ordered in the bedroom nearby. At that stage my mother started crying and fell down on the knees of the soldiers for their Islamic mercy. The soldiers simply dragged her to the bedroom. One soldier guarded the males while the other guarded the female quarter. The two other soldiers then started ransacking each and every item in every room, including the food in the kitchen. They even examined the newspapers and other documents, even though they did not understand a single word of Bangla.

One of the soldiers then found the shotgun that my father had always had with him. I have seen that shotgun since my birth. It was licensed and completely legal. I had seen my father go hunting with his favorite shotgun every once in a while when time permited. The soldier who found the shotgun came immediately to the male captives. He demanded to know whose shotgun was that. My father calmly replied in broken Urdu that he was the lawful owner of the gun. The soldier then pointed his automatic rifle at my father and ordered him to follow him downstairs. My father knew that he had only a few minutes to live. At that stage my younger brother stood between the rifle and my father and told the soldier that he wanted to accompany my father. The soldier became furious at the insolence shown by my brother. The soldier threw my brother on the floor and started pushing my father with his rifle toward the exit door. My father then asked the soldier to look at the license of the shotgun. But alas, the soldier could neither read nor understand the English language. So the soldier said that he had to call his officer. Another army man was called to guard while he went outside looking for the officer.

After about fifteen minutes, the soldier returned with the officer. My father was not sure what was the rank of the officer. Thank God! The officer was not as brutish as the lower-ranking jawan. The officer showed little bit of courtesy for my elderly father. He asked my father to take a seat so that he could examine the document. After a thorough examination the officer asked my father why he had not surrendered his weapon to police station. My father replied that there was no directive to that effect. The officer then rebuked my father for being so stupid to keep the weapon in the house when there were so many miscreants in the area. My father agreed with him and asked for his forgiveness. The officer then said that my father's life would be spared but that they would have to confiscate the shotgun. Then he started interrogating everyone on various matters, including our religion and political affiliation. My father became the spokesman. He answered what the army men wanted to hear: that we are all Muslims and we had no connection with the Awami League or any pro-freedom party, and so on.

The officer then asked my father how many sons he had. My father replied two. He inquired about the whereabouts of his sons. My younger brother identified himself. He told the officer that he had finished his higher secondary certificate and waiting to go to EPUET (now BUET). The officer then asked my father about me. My father replied that I was about to graduate from EPUET. The army officer then demanded to know why I was not at home. At that point my father could guess the real reason these army people are barging into our home. He carefully said that I was very studious and I preferred to study with my friends, so I had not come home for a few days. The army officer then started to note down all the details about me and told my father that as soon as I returned home my father must contact him by telephone. I was simply lucky that my father did not disclose the university residential hall in which I was staying. The officer then warned my father not to leave our house, as they may come to investigate again. My father said no problem. Throughout this ordeal, my brother-in-law did not talk much because he was actively involved in National Awami Party (a leftist political party) politics!

When the interrogation of the male members was complete, the officer entered the bedroom to view his female captives. Needless to say, my mother feared what might happen to her daughters. My oldest sister was a schoolteacher. My next two sisters were in college and only my youngest sister was still in her childhood. My mother was so hysterical that she kneeled down to the two soldiers and begged them that whatever they wanted to do let them take her daughters out of her sight. The soldiers simply laughed and taunted my mother and sister with abusive language, accusing them of being pro-Awami League. They told my sisters that very soon they would take them to cantonment. At that stage my oldest sister gathered up some courage and told them in broken Urdu that they simply could not do that without a warrant of arrest.

The soldiers laughed heartily hearing the response from my sister and said that they were not police. They were army and they could do whatever they wanted. Luckily, at that point the army officer entered the bedroom. My sister asked the army officer why they were being harassed. The officer told my sister that he had information that there were many miscreants in our area. Their duty was to catch these miscreants and take them to cantonment for punishment. He then told my sister that he had found them very gentle, polite, and cooperative and so he would let all of them go free this time. But he wanted to let everyone know that they would come again. At last he showed some respect to my mother by apologising to her and saying good-bye to her in chost Urdu. But before the officer departed he whispered something to his recruits. The two soldiers then forced my older sister to open the steel almirah (safety box). They took all the money and jewelry that were there for safekeeping. Thus, we lost most of our valuables.

After almost thirty-six hours, the curfew was lifted for six hours. My family members heard the wailing sound of bereavement all around the area. The Pakistani army had taken many people from the Nakhalpara area to cantonment that night. Most of those taken were young students. It was a sheer miracle that my family members were spared. None were taken to the cantonment. It is not known how many of those unfortunate people lost their lives, because their whereabouts are not known. Be that as it may, most of them never returned home. All the residents of Nakhalpara realized that the area was absolutely unsafe. So most residents left Nakhalpara barefoot with only the clothes they were wearing. My family also left Nakhalpara immediately after the curfew was lifted. Through the grapevine we heard that Dhanmondi was a safe area, so we went to our grandpa's house over there in to seek refuge and secrecy. A few days later we heard the dreadful news from Chittagong. Two of my uncles were killed in Agrabad Railway colony in a military operation similar to the one in the Nakhalpara operation. The army calls those "mop-up operations." To us, the Bengalis, those operations were akin to serving the death notice or something similar to that.

A few weeks later, my younger brother secretly ventured to Nakhalpara to see with his own eyes the condition of our homestead. To his horror he found that everything, including a bag of rice, had been removed or stolen. So we became destitute right away. But that hardly dampened our spirits. We knew we were not alone in this struggle. Life became Durbishoho (extremely intolerable). It was a struggle every day for the rest of the nine-month period.

For the last thirty years I have wondered why the Islamic army targeted our house and our family. It has always been a mystery to me. Now I have some clue to the answer after such a long period of time. The Islamist Ashrafuzzaman Khan (then a member of the central committee of the Islami Chatra Sangha) used to live at Nakhalpara. This piece of information I got from the Internet.

As I wrote this recount, I learned that one hunded new killing fields have been discovered all around Bangladesh. Was I surprised? No, not at all! However, I wondered, Why did it take so long? Why did we have to wait almost thirty years to know that innocent folks were butchered just as cattle? Rest assured that many more killing fields will be found. The killing fields of Cambodia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and the like, will be nothing when compared to the killing fields in Bangladesh. These are the Islamic killing fields. Let us not forget these Islamic killing fields. Let us not forget the sacrifice of 3 million people who shed enough blood to change the verdure of the monsoon-drenched land of Bengal. They certainly gave their lives so that we can enjoy the fruits of freedom from the tyranny of Punjabi masters and Pakistani Islamic oligarchy. I would ask every Bengalis not to forget the Islamic butchers of those nights and days when we remember the fallen angels of our land. The crime should never go unpunished.

What lessons have the Bengalis learned from this genocide? The answer is really pathetic: We pretend as if nothing happened in Bangladesh in 1971. We pretend that Islam had nothing to do with that genocide. Somehow or other we try to find other scapegoats, whoever that may be, except Islam. We pretend as if everything is fine and dandy with Islam. This is the biggest lie and the greatest cruelty: pretending that Islam had nothing to do with one of the most horrific genocides in human history. It pains people like me and many others who have seen and experienced the true color of Islam with their own eyes.

The Bangladesh genocide spawned the seed of deep religious distrust in my mind. At that time many of my friends also shared similar views with me. And naturally, I felt very happy that we had come to the end of religious tyranny.

But alas! As strange as it me seem now, many of those dear uni friends of mine have become fanatic followers of Islam now. Many of them I met in my overseas life. They have spent a good part of their lives in the Middle East. They openly support some of the actions by the Pakistani Islamic army and their fanatic followers. They strongly support the forced conversion of the entire world population to Islam. And only then, they say, there will be peace. Even in a country like Australia many of them dare to say "We came to Australia to rid the people of their sinful activities and convert them to Islam." One of their goals is to build a mosque in every suburb of Australia. Of course, these are laughing matters in place like Australia. Whenever I meet these old pals it really breaks my heart. When I ask them what had caused such a change in them, they readily admit that they were greatly influenced by the Arabs, even though many of them really hate the cruel treatment of them (in many cases slave treatment) by the Arabs. But nevertheless, they feel very grateful to the Arabs for giving them employment and good money. Many of these Bengalis are proud to dress like Arabs. They have literally wiped out the memory of genocide in Bangladesh, and some of them justify the genocide to purify Islam. This had led me to conclude that Islam is nothing but the preservation of Arab hegemony and the enslavement of the poor people of countries such as Bangladesh.

The strange thing is that none of these Islamists really want to migrate to any Islamic country. None of them chose to live in an Islamic society. Why? The simple truth is that none of those Arab countries want them. Those countries are for the Arabs only. Where is the Islamic brotherhood? The Arabs are very clever people. They have used Islam as a powerful bait to continue the age-old tradition of slavery in the twenty-first century. My guess is that this will continue escalating while oil prices keep soaring. These fanatics use the openness, the fairness, and the democratic institutions in countries like Australia to propagate their poisonous doctrines.

Two years after this horrifying experience I went to the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok for postgraduate study. There I saw another true color of Islam. Let me narrate that story in detail.


This account starts when I was in Thailand in 1973 to do my postgraduate studies in engineering. The institution was AIT, and as it was an international institution for postgraduate study there were students from many parts of the world, though the majority were from the Asian countries. There was a sizable number of Bangladeshi as well as Pakistani and Indian students. Bangladesh had just been liberated and most of us still had the fresh memories of the holocaust and never expected the Pakistanis to be friendly with us. But to our surprise, we found that most Pakistanis were quite nice a bunch of friendly, helpful people. They were extremely curious about what had happened in Bangladesh during that turbulent nine-month period. Many times we would have lengthy chat sessions with them. These Pakistanis were extremely religious (Islamic minded). They used to preach to us on all aspects of the last revelations of God, that is, Islam. They thought that our knowledge of Islam was incomplete, erroneous, and filled with Hindu prac tices. They used to preach to us like a priest gives sermons to his followers. Their devotion to Islam was so strong that they forced the canteen manager to open a counter for Muslim students so that they (the Muslims) can eat the food sanctioned by Islam (halal foods). Naturally, many Bengalis who were religious minded were greatly impressed by their words and practices. But a sinner like me was very skeptical about their words and actions right from the very beginning.

Then came the topic of creation of Bangladesh. Naturally, they sided with the Pakistani Islamic army, although they expressed sorrow for the lives lost. When they heard that 3 million people were massacred and that the action of the Pakistani Islamic army could not be dismissed simply as an act of restoration of peace and order, they simply laughed. The reason was that they did not believe what had happened to our people in the occupied Bangladesh. When we asked them how many Bengalis were killed, they quoted a figure of three thousand. They also insisted that those killed were mostly Hindus, so we should not bother too much about the massacre. That was to say that the killing of Hindus was all right. We pointed out that the figure of 3 million was not invented by the government of Bangladesh but the figure was from reliable foreign sources such as the Agence France Presse, Reuters, and Time magazine. We also told them that a Pakistani journalist by the name of Anthony Mascarenhas has written a book titled The Rape of Bangladesh,' where he had quoted a similar figure. The Pakistanis simply dismissed those facts and said that the foreign journalists were bribed by India to write these figures. When we asked them how did they get the figure of three thousand, they said that that figure was released by the military authorities. And what about the two hundred thousand rape cases? They were adamant that not a single woman was raped. Such is the power of Pakistani Islamic oligarchy and Pakistani Islamic military to condition peoples' minds.

Now, the interesting point was that whenever the atrocities of the Pakistani Islamic army were mentioned to them, they were all adamant that we (the Bengalis) were to be blamed for that. Why? Simply, because we were not good Muslims. How? If we were good Muslims, we would not have voted for the Awami League. They told us that the right parties to vote were Islamic parties like the Pakistan Muslim League or Jamat-i-Islami. It was no secret to guess that most Pakistanis considered us (Bengalis) non-Muslims, as almost all of us voted for the Awami League. Therefore, they opined that the genocide was not really a genocide! It was getting rid of the non-Muslims. After all, the non-Muslims are not really human beings.

Everyone knows that Thailand-especially Bangkok-has plenty of seedy joints to have fun and frolic with young women. I shall admit that I went to one of those joints along with a couple of friends of mine. Being a sinner, I did not have serious problem with those things. However, one day we got the shock of our lives when we found these Pakistani Islamists sitting comfortably and blithely at the massage parlor and ogling the scantily dressed, amorous Thai sex kittens. Then they saw us. To our surprise, they expressed no shame and they even did not try to hide their faces. They openly welcomed us and shook hands with us as, per Islamic style. We were simply stunned and at a loss for words. The Pakistanis even told us which girls were good and sexually attractive, and so on. They were not ashamed or afraid to admit that they visited those joints quite frequently. Most of them had their favorite girls with whom they had plenty of erotic fun. Those things were absolutely unbelievable to me and I thought that I must have been in Mars or another planet or that God had changed his mind on sins and virtues.

A few weeks later, an opportunity came for me to ask one of these Islamists as to what would happen to them since they had committed the sin of Zina (illicit sex/adultery). He was very surprised at me for this impertinence. He told me that they had committed no sin. What? No sin! My brain must have failed to work! I simply could not hold my breath any longer to listen to what he had to say. He told me that Thais were not Muslims, so having fun with their girls was all right. In fact, he told me that that had been the practice in Islam for centuries. Whenever the Muslims defeated the non-Muslims, they could do whatever they wanted with non-Muslims. The Muslims could use the non-Muslim women as sex slaves and please themselves as they wished. A Muslim even had the right to kill the women if he wished. In simple language, the non-Muslims were not really human beings. They were inferior even to cattle and animals. Moreover, the Pakistani told me that the Prophet had allowed sex if a man was living overseas. I could not believe what I was hearing! He then quoted from memory many verses from the Koran and Hadith to support his views. I reminded my Pakistani Islamic friend that there was a small minority of Muslims in Thailand. So, if by accident he had sex with one of the Thai Muslim prostitutes, what will befall him? He answered glibly, "No problem. When I return to Pakistan I shall have a Milad Mehfil and ask for forgiveness." Finally, the hajj is there for him to receive forgiveness. But he said that that might not be necessary because he was very sure that none of the girls he had sex with were Muslims.

A Pakistani reading this account may be greatly offended, no doubt about that. Many Pakistanis will respond that the view of one person does not mean anything. No apology will be sought. Any Pakistani can form whatever opinion he thinks is suitable. It is up to him. Let us look at the wider implications of what my Pakistani Islamist said. Was it an individual's wrong interpretations of the holy books of Islam? Was it the mindset of a mentally sick person? Do not be fooled by these thoughts. For when we look back, we see that that was the mindset of Pakistani Islamic army recruits who unleashed a reign of terror leading into the massacre of millions of Bengalis. The Pakistani army did its Islamic duty in Bangladesh! Pakistanis may differ on many matters, but when the question of Islamic superiority comes, they are unanimous. This was the work of the Oligarchy, the army and the clerics of Pakistan. These groups have rigidly programmed the vast majority of Pakistanis with the thought that they have absolute superiority in Islamic matters. And this thinking got a further boost with the detonation of an Islamic bomb in 1998. We Bengalis have no problem with their superior thinking. The only trouble is that these dangerous Islamic thoughts have cost 3 million dear Bengali lives.

So, in simple language, the Pakistani Islamic army did not kill any human beings in Bangladesh. They only cleared the field of pests, just like a farmer spreads insecticide to free his crops from devastation. So in the case of the Pakistani Islamic army. They simply eliminated the non-Muslims and the not-sogood Muslims to protect the good Muslims, those who would follow them. The question of remorse or guilt does not arise at all. You see, the Pakistani Islamic army did not rape any women. They simply enjoyed the flesh of non-Muslims, as permitted by the Islamic religion. Even if there was some excessive force applied, there is no need to feel guilty about that. The ubiquitous Milad is there; the Hajj is there, too, to remove even the slightest trace of culpability.

A serial killer is a psychologically sick person. He gets pleasure in seeing the suffering of a dying person in his hands. But deep down, the serial killer knows that what he is doing is wrong. He is surely aware of the eventual punishment if he is caught. That is why most serial killers readily admit their crime and on many occasions regret of their actions when they recover from their sickness. What about the perpetrators of a Islamic genocide? They are perfectly normal. Most of them are really very nice, polite, and soft spoken (like the Islamic Circle of North America's leader, Ashrafuzzaman Khan). But there is one trait that separates them from the rest of us, and that is their uncompromising faith in the supremacy of what they believe and their inability to accept the existence of others who do not follow the same beliefs. Any means is justified to advance their beliefs, even if that means the annihilation of an entire race. That is why very few Pakistani Islamists have ever condemned the genocide of the Bengalis. That is why Islam will do that again if an opportunity lends itself. Since no crime has been committed, the question of trial of the perpetrators of genocide does not arise at all. Isn't it so?

This is the mindset of the planners and executioners of Bangladesh genocide by the Islamists. This is the mindset of Yahya Khan, Tikka Khan, Golam Azam, Ayatollah, and Ashrafuzzaman. This why we have Auschwitz, Kosovo, Bosnia, Palestine, East Timor, and so on.

Is Islam the only religion responsible for the genocide? Surely not. Every organized religion on Earth has sanctioned murder, rape, looting, and plundering, as long as that is directed toward the nonbelievers. Religion has a cousin to go with it. That is racism. Religion and racism go hand in hand. That is why we have Adolf Hitler, Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Ratko Mladic, and so on.

Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opium of the masses." In today's world that is an understatement. If people take opium they become addicted and ruin their health.

There should not be any problem for humanity with that. Today, religion (especially Islam) has become a vermin for humanity. This cancerous virus has spread across the planet. I am not sure if we will find an antidote for this disease in our lifetime or not.

Why did I write this essay after all these years? It can be summed up by a quotation from Shakespeare. The famous bard wrote, "A little fire is quickly trodden out; Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench."2 The fire is still burning inside me, although the events of 1971 may be more like some specks of dust in the minds of Bengalis who to this day will not admit that Pakistani Islamists committed excesses in the name of religion.

It took me almost forty years to evaluate my belief in Islam and to come to a definite conclusion about its role in my life. Many times I had doubts about my feelings about Islam. Many of my Muslim friends told me that Islam is not what we see in the Pakistani army, Iran, Afghanistan, or Sudan. At some times I thought that maybe they are correct, maybe everything is fine with Islam. I thought that I could be mistaken. One billion followers can't be wrong! So I took Islam very seriously and started to read and comprehend the life force of Islam (that is, the Koran and hadith). I read the Koran several times. This time the study of the Koran was not to memorize or to use it for prayer purposes. I read each and every verse in the Koran with its translation and explanation from a few sources (Pickthall, Yusuf Ali Shakir, and Mawdudi). I studied the Koran like I studied mathematics, physics, and chemistry. I analyzed the Koran as if I was doing Ph.D. research on mathematical modeling of a scientific system. This time I found out the deepest secrets of the Koran. The secret is that the Koran can never be the words of Allah (or God). It is the monologue of a narcissistic person to catch all the attention of the world at any cost. The attention that Muhammad missed out when he was born was given posthumously to be raised by others. The more I read and try to understand the Koran the more disgusting it looks. Except a few passages, the hadith are more disgusting. It is absolutely impossible for a person with the slightest conscience to reconcile with the innumerable verses in the Koran that preaches, violence, cruelty, murder, rape, plunder, inhumanity, violation of basic human rights, and degradation of women. The Koran is absolutely against everything in humanity we consider civilized. We can probably forgive the inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and scientific blunders in the Koran, but can we forgive the Koran when we see what is being done to humanity in Islamic paradises (like Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc.)? In these countries we see the Koran in action. This is the "real Islam" in practice. If this is the "real Islam" then imagine what will happen to the entire world if the Islamists find a way to force Islam on the world. Islamists often quote "there is no compulsion in religion" (11.256) to fool people. They give the impression that Islam is like other religions such as Chritianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. This verse is applicable only to Christians and Jews who have not converted to Islam. What the Islamists never tell you is that this verse is not applicable to Muslims or to people of other faiths. Muslims are not free to choose any religion other than Islam. A Muslim has to live and die with Islam whether he likes it or not. There is no escape for him from Islam. The punishment for apostasy in Islam is death. Most Muslims idealize Islam and try to think of Islam as a perfect religion. This is a complete illusion. In reality, Islam is the perfect tragedy for its adherents.

There are many verses in the Koran and hadith that are absolutely uncivilized and completely unsuited to humanity. Here are a few samples:

• The Koran tells Muslims to kill the disbelievers wherever they find them (II. 191), to fight them and treat them harshly (IX.123), slay them (IX.5), fight with them (VIII.65), even if they are Christians and Jews, humiliate them and impose on them a penalty tax (IX.29), strive hard against them (IX.73; XXV.52; LXVI.9).

• Sinners will be choked in liquid pus (XIV.16-17; LXXIII.12-13).

• The Koran denigrates humanity by saying that humankind has always been prone to be most foolish (XXXIII.72).

• The Koran takes away the freedom of belief from all humanity and says clearly that no other religion except Islam is accepted (111.85).

• It relegates those who disbelieve in the Koran to hell (V.10) and calls them najis (filthy, untouchable, impure; IX.28).

• It orders its followers to fight the unbelievers until no other religion except Islam is left (11.193).

• It says that the nonbelievers will go to hell and will drink boiling water (XIV. 16).

• It asks the Muslims to slay or crucify or cut the hands and feet of the unbelievers, that they be expelled from the land with disgrace and that they shall have a great punishment in world hereafter" (V.38).

• "As for the disbelievers," it says that "for them garments of fire shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowls and skin shall be dissolved and they will be punished with hooked iron rods" (XXII.19-22; LXXIV.26-27).

• If a unbeliever seeks mercy she will be given melted brass to drink and to scald her face (XVIII.30).

• The Koran prohibits a Muslim to befriend a nonbeliever, even if that nonbeliever is the father or the brother of that Muslim (IX.23; 111.28).

• The Koran asks the Muslims to "strive against the unbelievers with great endeavor (XXV.52) and be stern with them because they belong to hell (LXVI.9).

• The holy Prophet demanded his followers to "strike off the heads of the dis believers"; then, after making a "wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives" (XLVII.4), acquire slaves after a slaughter (VIII.67).

• The Koran permits unlimited sex with female slaves and female captives of war (XXIII.6; XXXIII.50,52; LXX.30).

• The Koran prohibits the adoption of children by childless couples (XXXIII.4-5).

• As for women, the book of Allah says that they are inferior to men and their husbands have the right to scourge them if they are found disobedient (IV.34).

• The Koran insults women by saying that menstruation is an illness (11.222).

• It teaches that women will go to hell if they are disobedient to their husbands (LXVI. 10).

• It maintains that men have an advantage over women (11.228).

• It not only denies women's equal right to their inheritance (IV.11-12), it also regards them as imbeciles and decrees that their individual witness is not admissible in court (11.282). This means that a woman who is raped cannot accuse her rapist unless she can produce a male witness.

• Muhammad allowed the Muslims to marry up to four wives and gave them license to sleep with their slave maids and as many "captive" women as they may have (IV.3). Muhammad himself did just that. This is why any time a Muslim army subdues another nation, they call them kafir and allow themselves to rape their women. That is why Pakistani soldiers raped up to two hundred thousand Bengali women in 1971 after they massacred 3 million unarmed civilians when their religious leader decreed that Bangladeshis were un-Islamic. This is why the prison guards in Islamic regime of Iran rape the women and then kill them after calling them apostates and the enemies of Allah.

I can go on quoting verse after verse from the Koran to show how dangerous and disgusting the Koran is. This is the "real Islam."

My decision to write this essay was not taken lightly. I gain nothing from this. In fact, I am putting my safety and security at risk. Any Muslim who reads my essay will surely find it very unpalatable. That is fine. I cannot convince all the billion or so Muslims in the world of my perception of Islam. All I ask them to do is to please read their holy scriptures thoroughly again. But this time please read and try to understand with an unbiased open mind. You will be surprised at what you will discover that you thought never existed in the Koran and hadith.

Islam was (and is) suffocating. The prohibitions in Islam are unbearable. The injunctions in Islam force Muslims all over the world to be alienated. Anything pleasurable, comfortable, and enjoyable is forbidden in Islam. I feel so relieved that after almost forty years of suffocation, finally I can breathe freely.

What alternative religion do I follow? The answer is that I follow no religion. All religions are oppressive and designed to subjugate people's freedom. I am now a freethinker and an agnostic.

Islam thrives because of oil prices. Once the world finds alternative sources of energy and the price of oil falls to $1.00 a barrel, Islam will surely die. Till then the world has to go through this Islamic madness.

The tragedy of Bangladesh can be put in a nutshell in the following way: Pakistan was created as a separate state for the Muslims of the subcontinent. It had two wings, West Pakistan (the Pakistan that is left now) and East Pakistan. The two wings were separated by a physical diatance of more than one thousand miles. India was in between the these two Pakistans. The founders of Pakistan wanted to implement an Islamic ruling system. Within a few years of the creation of Pakistan the truth became very clear. The truth was that West Pakistan became the center of power and East Pakistan became a colony of West Pakistan. The East Pakistanis revolted against this kind of apatheid treatment in the name of Islam. The East Pakistanis, with the leadership of Shekh Mujib and his party, Awami League, demanded full autonomy for themselves.

The ruling elite and the military of Pakistan were 90 percent West Pakistani. They saw a great danger in the demand for autonomy for East Pakistan. They tried to brainwash peoples' minds by saying that the plan for autonomy was an Indian plan and that granting autonomy to East Pakistan would destroy Islam in Pakistan. However, the vast majority of the people of East Pakistan did not believe in the propaganda of West Pakistan. In the general election of 1971, Sheikh Mujib and his Awami League won almost all the seats in East Pakistan. It was a clear mandate by the people of East Pakistan for autonomy. The military and the oligrchy of Pakistan refused to accept this mandate of the people of East Pakistan and declared that Islam was in danger. That was why they had the military crackdown with the connivance of the Islamists (a feeble minority) of East Pakistan. It was really a sort of jihad by the Pakistani Islamic army to protect and preserve Islam. The Pakistani rulers even declared that those who wanted freedom and the breakup of Pakistan were anti-Islam and required Islamic punishment.

All the atrocities commited by the Pakistani army clearly shows that it was nothing but a religious war. When I read the Koran and compare the actions of the Pakistani army I find an absolute link between the killings and the provisions in the Koran. To the Pakistani military, the Bengalis were not true followers of Islam, but hypocrites. So they wanted to get rid of these nonbelievers (the Bengalis) as per the provision in the Koran and hadith. The whole world knows the truth. The truth is that the genocide in Bangladesh was conducted by the Islmic army of Pakistan to save Islam and to completely annihilate the unbelievers.

Even if people do not accept my analysis of the role of Islam in the 1971 genocide in East Pakistan (Bangladesh), it remains true that the terrible events witnessed by my countrymen and me made me think very deeply about Islam. The people who perpetrated these crimes were Muslims who prided themselves in belonging to a superior religion, even a superior civilization, and yet they butchered fellow Muslims in a most savage way. Where was Allah's mercy? Why did Allah allow it to happen? These supposedly superior beings acted worse than even nonbelieving barbarians.

I looked at Islam, the Koran, and the historical behavior of Muhammad, the Prophet, and found that the source of violence was the Koran, which positively pushes Muslims to kill in the name of Islam, and in the acts of cruelty and murder carried out by the Prophet.


1. Anthony Mascarenhas, The Rape of Bangladesh (Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1971).

2. Henry VI, Part Three, 4.8.7.

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