19 June, 2021

Battle Cries

Previously unseen stills of the Bangladesh war from a master

Battle Cries

I took these photographs in 1971 as millions of refugees were pouring into India. The Bangladesh war of independence had just come to an end. Some 90,000 Pakistani soldiers under the command of Gen Niazi had surrendered. May I say this now, I was just five years old as a photographer in 1971, and without much experience. The sense of tragedy, the suffering of millions captured in these images, I had no clue then how it’d turn out. I was intensely involved, of course, but mostly I was trying to document the event as a faithful witness. The fallout of the war was beyond anyone’s imagination but at the time, while capturing it on camera, there was no time to think that the scale of suffering was unparalleled in the history of human tragedies.

A few of these photographs were published then but the rest were packed and sealed in a box. While shifting office (4-5 times in the last four decades), the negatives were misplaced and never saw the light of day. Suddenly, late last year my assistant pulled out a box, complete with nicely sealed and preserved negatives. I...

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