David Bergman has rightly put forward a question on the accountability and accuracy of the number of those felled in the 1971 war (“Questioning an iconic number,” April 24). It’s shocking to know that no value is attached to the death of a person. Even in India, one can raise the same question of “indifference towards the dead” after riots and clashes. The article makes it clear that we need to have a structural and functional set-up in the form of an organisation equipped with tools such as surveying capability, manpower, forensic science and so on to ensure an accurate statistical account.
The article is a classic example of how governments come forth with a figure when they find themselves at the receiving end. Ask them to quote a number, say for example after a natural calamity or an operation to stem anti-government feeling, and you will be given an estimate which is way off the mark. More than it being a question of accuracy, it is about letting human rights bodies estimate the number of those dead. The 1971 war is probably the most important chapter in Bangladesh’s history. One hopes that the Awami League will allow a transparent inquiry.