Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 27, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
JiniMry 47, THI UTHMIDOI HMALD Sunanda Datta-Ray Revenge and rivalry menace Bangladesh IfHULNA, Bangladesh So littered with human re- mains is the 120-mile drive from Calcutta to this riverine port at Bangladesh recently the scene of fierce fighting be- tween the Indian and Pakistani armies death no longer evokes more than an indifferent shrug. Many of the bleached white skulls I counted over 20 in a derelict 19th century English cemetery at Jessore on the way here are of Hindus butchered in an orgy of religious frenzy in the humid days of April and May. Others belong to Bengali Muslims slaughtered by Pakis- tani soliders and the irregular troops known as the Bazakars. Book Reviews Around the garrison towns of Jesaore and Khulna lie the bodies of those who died in ac- tual combat. But the putrefying corpses shoved under stacks of hay, or protruding grotesquely from sheets of stagnant water, be- long, I suspect, to those hap- less Bihari Muslims who were uprooted from India in 1947 and who have now paid a terrible price for their complicity in Pakistan's crimes against 7j million Bengalis. If all this death and devasta- tion adds up to a coherent pat- tern, it is difficult to discern it. Twenty-four years ago the entire sub-continent constituted e single country. Out of Hie Black-white relations "when he was free and young and he used to wear silks" by Austin Clarke (House of Anansl Press, ISO pages, S7.50 cloth, pa- per back. WITH Austin Clarke, Cana- dians gain some precious yardage on the eloquent job that has already been done on back-white relations by Ameri- can writers. In 10 short stories in his new book he was free and young and he used to wear silks" the Barbados-born immi- grant to Toronto has portrayed the sometimes bitter, some- times joyous but always rich experiences of black people in this country. The richness of the book is in the vividness of the description and dialogue of people who are too new to this highly 'indus- trialized country to feel at home here. The first two stories tell of the feelings and fantasies of a little black boy in a world peo- pled by chickens and dogs, "the white people and rich black people" and a departed father and a mother who got baptised into the "Church o1 the Naza- rene because she felt its ser- vices were more like a part of her life, were more emotional, more exciting, more tragic and more happy Another story relates the troubles of a black Barbadian, Jefferson Theophillis Belle who feels Hie cold suspicion of im- migration officials and the po- lice in this new land and grows In disillusion and bitterness in bis personal life. Still another elaborates on the frustrations of dealings with Beneficial Finance Com- pany of Canada, Bell Telephone people, the Hydro people, Blue Cross, Red Cross, PSI, "doctors bills and I don't know what. While the frustrations and pains push and prick these new Canadians, they never weigh down the vitality of the telling. Mr. Clarke lived in Toronto "on the edge of immigrant life" since 1955 and Is currently lec- turing in the Department of Black Studies at Duke Univer- sity and working on his fourth novel. GREG McINTYRE. horrendous partition massacres of 1947, in which about six mil- lion people are believed to have perished, were born the two states of India and Pakistan. A third nation has now been add- ed to the list. But It would be premature to imagine either that the final shape of the sub- continent has been resolved, or that the the People's Republic of Bangla- desh, whose capital is Dacca, has emerged as a stable entity. The new nation's economic and administrative problems are formidable. Its politics are bit- terly acrimonious. The passions unleashed by the civil war ac- quire a dangerous edge from the casual ease with which pea- sants who only six months ago had wielded nothing more le- thal than a plough, now handle Chinese-made automatic rifles captured from the Pakistani army. All authority derives from the legendary leader of the Awaini League, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; but while the young men of Khulna, strolling about in drainpipe trousers with a light machine-gun tucked com- fortably under one arm, are strident in their protestations of loyalty, older heads will ar- gue that it would have been better for all concerned if the Sheikh had perished in the hour of his martyrdom. Sovereignty was accomplish- ed in his absence and without his sanction: his return means a diminution of the authority of many politicians who have climbed into the saddle in his name. Now that the euphoria of vic- tory is fading, the difficulties of the future may be seen in microcosm in the gracious colo- nial bungalow that is the offi- cial residence of the district commissioner of Jessore. Two men have been occupying the house: 35-year-old Jalaluddin Ahmed, who was appointed by the East Pakistan regime and fled when Jessore fell to the combined Indian and Mukti Ba- hini attack, and his former sub- ordinate officer, 30-year-old Waliul Islam, who has since been appointed chief civil ad- ministrator of Jessore by the Bangladesh authorities. Such rivalry extends from the post of village headman to the political leadership in Dac- ca. It is a measure of the Bangladesh government's lack of confidence that it did not return to the capital until six days after its occupation by In- dian forces. While jails are packed with Kazakars and two million Bihari Muslims are des- perately anxious to escape into India, Bengalis, eager for of- fice, are busy denouncing "col- laborators." Vengeance stirs heavily in the fetid air: from villagers who are determined to pay off old scores to politi- cians who are bent upon secur- ing the future. The 49-year-old Professor Muzaffar Ahmed leader of the radical National Awami Party, has bluntly told the prime min- ister, Tajuddin Ahmed, that the election mandate of December, 1970, is no longer valid: he de- mands an administration based on participation in the struggle for freedom. Muzaffar Ahmed enjoys Moscow's support and, at has insistence, New Delhi persuaded Tajuddin Ahmed to set up a sort of coalition war cabinet in September. The new demand is for the coalition to act as an interim government until fresh elections are held. Much depends on the U.S.S.H. to whom Bangladesh will have to look for aid. The country is in a shambles. Many of its 70 jute mills, concentrated in Na- rayangunj, as well as the oil refinery in Chittagong and the paper complex here have been badly damaged. Chittagong and Chalna harbors are out of com- mission. Roads have been breached; bridges torn from their moorings; railway lines uprooted; telephone and tele- graph wires slashed; airport Brewed from the choicest hops and matt and pure Rocky Mountain spring water Tieiiielbera PINE QUALITY HFFB Welcome to Heidelberg Welcome to the taste of Heidelberg! the choicest high prime Hallertau hops So bright, so lively, so brimful of flavour from Bavaria...and pure natural Rocky it brings more enjoyment to your drink- Mountain spring water. ing pleasure. Welcome to tne quality of Heidelberg! Heidelberg is brewed from only the best ingredients ...the finest golden barley malt, Take your thirst to Heidelberg today. You'll get a happy welcome that will never wear out because every glass of Heidelberg is as crisp and satisfying as your first. So much more to enjoy runways bombed; and houses pockmarked with artillery fire. Rows of shuttered shops belong to people who have either been killed or not yet emerged from hiding. Villages lie in charred piles of garbage. Some of the havoc has already been put right by Indian sol- diers working day and night, but the Indian Planning Com- mission reckons that recon- struction will cost over facs million. The Bangladesh gov- ernment's estimate is just over million. But there can be no recon- struction so long as a trigger- happy people roam in anarchy. In the government guest house here I watched a college stu- dent, now elevated to the rank of staff oficer, supervising the storage of an enormous mound of rifles, sten-guas, light ma- chine-guns, cans of cartridges and 25-pound mortars. The 000 men of the Mukti Bahini are sharply divided in their pol- itics, with Left and Right groups determined to fight it out with weapons that they re- fuse to surrender. The Bangladesh Students' Ac- tion Committee maintains that "the revolution has yet to be completed" in justifiction of its defiance of the government's order to disarm. They will take orders only from Sheikh Muji- bur; meanwhile, about young men have been regroup- ed into a militant anti-Commu- nist front called the Mujib Ba- hini. The self-styled Brigadier Siddiqi leads it. Clashes be- tween the Mujib Bahini and armed groups of Maoists are alrady taking place. Muzaffar Ahmed's party also has an arm- ed following that is estimated at who are equally reluc- tant to surrender either their distinct ideological entity or their bases in Rajshahi and Di- najpur. The point is that the various close-knit groups that fought for nine months under the banner of the Mukti Bahini really con- trol the Bangladesh country- side. Of the 150 senior civil ser- vants who ran the province, 40 were West Pakistan and have fled. Mnny of the others like the district commissioner of Jessore, are under a cloud, and the Bangladesh govern- ment has only bout 20 officers at its disposal. Not only is the Mukti Bahini's word law, but their sector commanders argue with irrefutable logic that they risked their lives while the poli- ticians were sitting It cm tin the comfort of exile in Calcutta. How this conflict will be re- solved remains to be seen. But the goverment's plan to use about men of the former East Pakistan Rifles and the East Boigal regiments as the nucleus for a new Bangladesh army is resented by Mukti Ba- hini irregulars who claim parity with the professional soldiers. A strong civilian administra- tion could curb these disruptive forces. But the political leader- ship is flabby and the bureauc- racy sliding already into pom- pous and dilatory ways. The evacuation of the Indian Army may witness the surfacing of oil those forces that are now held at bay. Bangladesh is rich with an- nual exports of jute, tea, hides and skins estimated at 4215 mil- lion; the fertile soil grows enough paddy to feed the entire population. But the war has left behind a ruined country. Fields along the road are either un- sown or ball with unkempt su- gar cane that no one has har- vested. There are hardly any girls left in Khulna. Almost all the young men have taken up arms. Most of the 10 million Bangla- desh refugees in India were Hindus from this district: their repatriation will not be easy. Many of there sold their lands at give away prices. Others were compelled to sign deeds of gift in return for safe con- duct. Abandoned Hindu homes have been plundered, the wood- en beams and doors and corru- gated iron roofs being taken away by Muslim neighbors. The Bangladesh government is theo- retically secular and has prom- ised full compensation, but Mu- zaffar Ahmed displays shrewd awareness of the problems in- volved in persuading people to surrender what they have gam- ed. "Our people have been taught for 24 years that India is their principal enemy and that the Hindu in East Bengal is that enemy's agent. Many Muslims genuinely believe that tlwrc is merit in killing Hindus. How do we change such a deep- rooted way of thought over- Yet Bangladesh's success as a secular, socialist democracy will depend precisely on that achievement. The new nation is in for a long period of disturbed conditions in which memories of the triumphant unity forged during the war are already re- ceding. (Written (or The Herald i and Tht Ottitrvtr, LcMm) Agriculture not a dying business Tbe OUawi Journal QNLY 6.8 per cent of Canada's popula- tion is now engaged in primary agri- culture and the exodus from the farm in recent decades has left many with the impression that agriculture is a dying business. Some indication of how false (hat im- pression is was given recently in Cobden by John Moles, general manager of the Royal Winter Fair. Some of his figures; "How many realize that there is more horsepower employed on Canadian farms than in Canadian industry, that farmers purchase nearly 30 per cent of the fuel requirements in Canada and nearly 40 per cent of the tires and a similar percentage of iron and steel? How many realize that agribusiness, meaning the total sector em- ployed in food production, transportation and marketing, together with those indus. trial complexes engaged in the manufac- ture of chemicals for farm use, employ about 33 per cent of the total Canadian labor force? In other words, one family in three derives all or part of ils income from agriculture." As for the dependence of the rest of us on agriculture, Mr. Moles sayj that Toronto alone consumes about six million pounds of food daily. That, daily ration in- cludes hogs, beef cattle, a mil- lion pounds of milk and cream, pounds of potatoes and pounds of ketchup. Each week arrives in that city 26 carloads of oranges, 13 carloads of to- matoes and 52 cii-loads of potatoes. That so few can produce so much to feed so many is, of course, the result of technological gains. Mr. Moles asserts that no other industry can match agriculture's gains in efficiency and production. If in our nostalgic way we were to com- plain of turning agriculture from a family affair into a business like any other, Mr. Moles has this Were we to return to the organic farm- ing days of 1900-1910, agricultural produc- tion would drop from a rate of one farm- er producing enough for himself and 44 other people, as he does today, to the farm- er producing enough for himself and 10 other people or less. That, he says, would leave 5Vz million Canadians unfed! Much HAS been done about weather The Great Falls Tribune "THE remark, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything which first appeared in an ed- itorial in the Hartford (Conn.) Couranl in 1890 has been attributed to both the essay- ist Charles Dudley Warner and humorist Mark Twain. No matter which one actual, ly authored it (popular sentiment is "tilt- ed" toward the fact is that much HAS been done to help man endure win- ter, even though actual weather control is still beyond his reach. The year 1890 definitely was before the automobile age with ils closed cars equipped with electric starters, heaters, and anti-freeze in the radiator. There was little central heating, none of it thermostatically controlled. When Mark Twain died in 1910, and certainly when Charles Dudley Warner died in 1900, most homes even in larger towns still lacked electricity, not to mention running water and sewage disposal. Today speedy communications systems bring advance warning of approaching storms. If Charlie Russell were painting and sketching now, there would be little likelihood of his having subject matter for his famous "Last of the although there still can be some livestock loss in a severe blizzard. There were no paved roads in even paved streets in most cities and no snowplows to break through drifts clog- ging the highway. Now there are fast jet planes and comfortable trains and buses to carry travelers over long distances if they do not wish to drive their cars at this time of year. Even the elementary practice of spreading sand at hazardous intersections and curves and on steep hills had not been thought of then. Toasters, percolators, mixers, vacuum sweepers, automatic washers, clothes dry- have taken their place in the Am. erican home in relatively recent years. Certainly a great deal has been done to lessen the impact of the weather, both win- ter and summer, since the remark appear- ed in that editorial 82 years ago. Perhaps the thing about which the least has been done K man's inclination to gripe. A fisherman's luck HAVE always maintained ermen are different from ordinary people. They may look and act the same in most ways, but once they leave the main roads and start toward a lake or stream, a change always takes place. He or she talks a different language than usual, and all their ordinary customs and manners are forgotten until the trip is over. And this fable that fishermen tell big whoppers about the fish they catch or don't catch, is just that, a fable not to be taken seriously. I'll admit you might dis- cover a fish they caught doesn't weigh quite as much as they claimed when they landed it, but you know fish dry out and lose weight being carried for miles back to camp. On various occasions they have also been known to evade telling where the big one was caught by misplacing (he exact location, but they can't be expected to give away valuable secrets of their sue. cess, any more than a businessman would advertize his best customer's address. You have to keep some things to yourself. Then as ordinary people claim, fisher- men stretch the truth about weight and lo- cation, they also say they make bad luck stories far worse than they really are. They seem to think if they upgrade their good luck, they will build their bad luck to a lower level as well. I want to point out this is just another fable. I know from experience that if a fisherman has any bad luck at all, it is so bad that he or she doesn't have to improve it to make it be- lievable. Sportsmen of other types have poor luck at times, but those that choose fishing seem to have the worst luck of all, when a streak of disfavor with lady luck strikes. I could fill pages with hard luck stories I've had trying to catch fish, but a couple stand out that happened to others I know. We were camped on the Carbondale south of Blairrcore one summer many years ago, and I had my family of wile and two kids with inc. We hiked down stream a mile to a deep canyon cut in the rock, and tried fishing in the big hole at the outlet. The kids and I had caught a few "eatin1 fish on other days, but we couldn't seem to Jatch onto any of Uie big ones we knew were there. We often saw them lying in all the deep holes, but nothing we offered suited them, and that day was the usual. My wife and I had gifcn up and were snoozing in the sun, and Jim and Shirley were still casting out into the lower end of the spot. They were quite a way from us, beyond a tangle of brush "and rocks, By Fraser Hodgson that fish- so when they hollered that Jim had one we were too far away to help in time. He was only about 11-years-old and Shirley was younger, and they were too excited to hear, even if advice would have done any good. So instead of playing the fish until it came up, he rared backwards up the steep bank, fell over a log, and be. fore Shirley could fold it in her arms, hook Came loose and it floped back in water. The kids just sat there and wept, their first big fish and it got away. It was a nice one, and to this day Jim claims that was the worst fishing disaster of hij life. Another tragic event I was told about, happened to a fishing friend while coaxing lady luck at Police Lake a few years ago. Most people afflicted with "fishing will go on a trip alone if they can't readily find a companion. They usually like com- pany, and I've known some that even take along their family if nobody else is avail- able. Les Handley took his wife Phyllis and daughter Melody, and drove to the lake in their camper one evening, with the boat tied on behind. Before his family was awake next morning, Les went out to try his luck at catching breakfast. He was do- ing well, and had seven nice Rainbow trout on a snap-stringer over the side, when he saw signs of life in camp. He pulled in to shore, and 11-year-old Melody got in, and they went back out to try for more while they were still biting. A bit later he landed a beauty, and when he got it unhooked Melody handed him a snap of the stringer, and Les fastened It on and threw it over the side into the lake. And "threw it into the lake" he really did, because the snap she gave him was the one that held the whole string to the boat. Melody didn't know so he couldn't blame her, but anyway poor Les just about jumped in himself. He dragged a gang pike-hook back and forth over the spot, or as near as he could place it, but no luck, they were gone. That took the starch out of the whole trip, and he never got another bite all day. You wouldn't have to stretch a slory like that, telling the absolute truth makes it about the most unlucky slory you could tell in an evening at any campfire. Now you know why fishing people don't always have to fib a little. I'd like to end this true story with the often repeated fisher- men's prayer. "Please Lord give me the luck lo catch a fish so big, lhat even I, when telling of it afterward wouldn't have to lie." Wrong number By Dong Walker I HAD reason to call my wife from the office awhile ago. The voice that answered wits' not the familiar one I ex- pected but thinking it might be one of tiic coffee crew 1 nsked if 1 could spcnk to Elspelh. way the lady exploded the Indicated that I had dialed a wrong num- ber so I meekly said, "I guess I haven't reached the right person." "Well, I guess was the emphatic response. I keep wondering if the emphasis was dire to the name or UK reputation associ- ated with It.