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Razakars in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war

  • Published
    1st Aug, 2022

Six members of ‘Razakar Bahini’, a locally recruited paramilitary force that collaborated with the Pakistan army during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, were sentenced to death for ‘crimes against humanity’ by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal.



  • The Razakars were an auxiliary force of the Pakistan army during the 1971 Bangladesh War.
  • Razakar literally means ‘volunteer’ or ‘helper’ in Persian and Urdu, but has come to mean ‘collaborator’ and is associated with betrayal in Bangladesh.
  • It composed of mostly pro-Pakistani Bengalis and Biharis from Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan).
  • There were approximate 50,000 Razakars who assisted the army in raids against the local population and were accused of committing horrific atrocities.

Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal:

  • The Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order was passed in 1972.
  • In 1973, the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s government introduced the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act in 1973, to investigate and prosecute those that committed atrocities during the war.
  • After Mujibur Rahman was assassinated in a coup by sections of the Bangladesh army in August 1975 and the ruling Awami League was ousted from power.
  • During the period of military rule between 1975 and 1990, General Ziaur Rehman (1975–81) became the de facto head of the state.
  • Shah Azizur Rahman, Ghulam Azam and others joined the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) (formed by General Ziaur Rehman).
  • They were associated with banned organisations (then) that collaborated with Pakistani state forces, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami.
  • In March 2010, the government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina established Bangladesh’s three-member International Crimes Tribunal to investigate and administer justice to those suspected of being involved in torture and killings during the country’s struggle for independence.
  • The ruling Awami League had pledged to prosecute war criminals of 1971 and had won a landslide victory in the 2008 general election.
  • Abul Kalam Azad (also known as Bachchu Razakar), a former leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami was the first person to be convicted by the tribunal in 2013. 
  • In 2019, government published a list of 10,789 Razakars who had collaborated with the Pakistani army in committing atrocities against Bengalis during the war.
  • It included names of 127 politicians and influential people.
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