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The Razakar (Bengali language: রাজাকার

Urdu language
رضا کار

, literally "volunteer") was the paramilitary force organized by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Since the 1971 war, it has become a pejorative term in Bangladesh due to the many suspected acts of violence which the Razakars committed and/or facilitated during the war. The Razakar force was composed of mostly pro-Pakistan Bengalis and Urdu-speaking migrants who lived in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) at the time.[1]


Journalist Azadur Rahman Chandan describes his book that Abul Kalam Mohammad Yusuf, Nayeb-e-Ameer of Jamaat-e Islami, first formed the Razakar force in Khulna. He was also the convener of the Peace Committee in the district. Under his leadership, 96 Razakar members used to torment freedom fighters and pro-Liberation War people at nine torture cells in the town. They were later taken to four killing grounds and executed. A minister in the Dr Malek cabinet, AKM Yusuf also campaigned at home and abroad against the war.[2]

The East Pakistan Razakar Ordinance promulgated on 1 June 1971 by the Governor of East Pakistan, Lieutenant General Tikka Khan.[3] The Ordinance stipulates the creation of a voluntary force to be trained and equipped by the Provincial Government. This was to add to the government's forces to suppress the rebellion of people who wanted independence for the region. It is also alleged that Razakars were recruited by the Shanti Committee, which was formed by several pro-Pakistani leaders including Nurul Amin, Ghulam Azam and Khwaja Khairuddin.[4] The first recruits included 96 Jamaat party members, who started training in an Ansar camp at Shahjahan Ali Road, Khulna.[5][6]


Together with the Al-Badr and Al-Shams paramilitary forces, the Razakar were under Pakistani Army command and also trained by them (see external link section).[7][8] In September 1971, the Razakar force was placed under the command of Major General Mohammed Jamshed.[9] Organisational command of the Razakar was given to Abdur Rahim who was trained at the Office of Public Safety. (This organisation had been assisted by USAID.)[10] The Razakar force was organised into brigades of around 3000-4000 volunteers, mainly armed with Light Infantry weapons provided by the Pakistani Army. Each Razakar Brigade was attached as an auxiliary to two Pakistani Regular Army Brigades, and their main function was to arrest and detain nationalist Bengali suspects. There were allegations that such suspects were tortured during custody[citation needed]. The Razakars were trained by the Pakistan Army.[8] While formed as a paramilitary group, the Razakars served as the local guides for the Pakistan army. Both organisations were later accused of having violated Geneva Conventions of War by raping, murdering and looting the locals.[citation needed] The have also frequently killed many Indians during the war. On August 5, 1971, six Indians were killed by the Razakars in Panti village under Kumarkhali sub-division.[11] They killed 3 Indians in Sylhet and 19 Indians in Jessore, Gopalganj and Chittagong hill tracks.[12][13]

Quoting a declassified US secret document Azadur Rahman Chandan writes, the "Rasikars" are a destabilizing element — living off the land, able to make life and death decisions by denouncing collaborators and openly pillaging and terrorizing villagers without apparent restraint from the Army.[14]

The Razakars were also paid for their activities for the defense of united Pakistan.[15] There were urges from Amin to Yahya Khan to increase the number of Razakars and given them more arms to continue their atrocities on East Pakistan.[16] Towards the end of 1971, increasing numbers of Razakars were deserting, as the end of the war approached with Bangladesh having achieved independence.[17]


Following the surrender of the West Pakistan army on 16 December 1971 and the proclamation of independence of Bangladesh, the Razakar units were dissolved. The Jamaat party was banned, as it had opposed independence. Many leading Razakars fled to Pakistan (previously West Pakistan)[citation needed]. Waves of violence followed the official end of the war, and many lower-ranking Razakars were killed in reprisals by the winning side.[citation needed] The government rounded up and imprisoned an estimated 36,000 men suspected of being Razakars. The government ultimately freed many of those held in jail, both in response to pressure from the United States and China, who backed Pakistan in the war, and to gain cooperation from Pakistan in releasing people held there. It was holding 200,000 Bengali-speaking military and civilian personnel who had been stranded in West Pakistan during the war.[18]


In 2010 the Bangladesh government, led by the Awami League, set up an International Crimes Tribunal based on based on International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973 to prosecute the people who committed war crimes and crimes against humanities during the liberation war in 1971.[19][20][21] Several trials were concluded in early 2013: Abul Kalam Azad was convicted of eight charges and sentenced to death in January 2013.[22] Abdul Quader Mollah was convicted of five of six charges and sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2013.[23][24] Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the Nayeb-e-Ameer of Jamaat, was convicted of eight charges of war crimes and sentenced to death for two of them in February 2013.[25] However, the trial process has been termed as "politically motivated" by its critics, while the human rights groups recognized the tribunal as falling short of international standards.[26]

External links

See also


  1. A. R. Siddiqui, East Pakistan - the Endgame: An Onlooker's Journal 1969-1971, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 171.
  2. Chandan, Azadur Rahman (February 2011) [2009]. একাত্তরের ঘাতক ও দালালরা [The Killers and Collaborators of 71] (Revised 2nd ed.). Dhaka: Jatiya Sahitya Prakash. pp. 48–54. ISBN 984-70000-0121-4. 
  3. The Dacca Gazette Extraordinary, 2 August 1971. Available at
  4. The Wall Street Journal, July 27, 1971; quoted in the book Muldhara 71 by Moidul Hasan
  5. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". May 25, 1971. 
  6. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". May 26, 1971. 
  7. Sheikh Hasina, speech in Parliament on Golam Azam and the public tribunal, 16 April 1992, transcript in DOCUMENTS ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED BY PAKISTAN ARMY AND THEIR AGENTS IN BANGLADESH DURING 1971 137, (1999–2002)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". July 18, 1971. 
  9. Siddiqui (2004), p. 171.
  10. L. Lifschultz, Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution, Zed Press, 1979, p. 123.
  11. "Six indians killed by Razakars". August 6, 1971. 
  12. "Razakars kill indian agents". October 22, 1971. 
  13. "Razakars kill 19 indian agents". November 2, 1971. 
  14. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". September 28, 2010. 
  15. "Razakar's pay revised upwards". November 20, 1971. 
  16. "Increase number of Razakars". November 7, 1971. 
  17. US Department of State, "Sitrep," 5 October 1971, cited in R. Sisson and L. E. Rose. Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh, University of California Press, 1990, p 308.
  18. Dr. Mohammad Hannan, History of Liberation War of Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের ইতিহাস- ড: মোহাম্মদ হান্নান)
  19. "THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMES (TRIBUNALS) ACT, 1973". Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  20. "Bangladesh to Hold Trials for 1971 War Crimes", Voice of America, 2010-03-26
  21. "Bangladesh sets up 1971 war crimes tribunal", BBC, 2010-03-25
  22. "Azad gets death for war crimes". 21 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  23. "Summary of verdict in Quader Mollah case". 6 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  24. "Bangladesh politician jailed for war crimes". 5 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  25. "Gallows for Sayedee". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  26. "Bangladesh war crimes trial: Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to die". 28 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 

^ Chandan, Azadur Rahman (February 2011) [2009]. একাত্তরের ঘাতক ও দালালরা [The Killers and Collaborators of 71] (Revised 2nd ed.). Dhaka: Jatiya Sahitya Prakash. pp. 48–54. ISBN 984-70000-0121-4.

  • volunteers and Collaborators of 1971: An Account of Their Whereabouts, compiled and published by the Center for the Development of the Spirit of the Liberation War.

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