Razakar (Pakistan)

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CountryPakistan Pakistan (1971)
TypeInternal Security, Law Enforcement
Garrison/HQKhulna, Bangladesh
Nickname(s)Razakar Bahini
EngagementsBangladesh Liberation War
AKM Yusuf

Razakar Urdu: رضا کار, literally "volunteer"; Bengali: রাজাকার) was an East Pakistani paramilitary force organised by General Tikka Khan in then East Pakistan, now called Bangladesh, during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Since the 1971 war, it has become a pejorative term (implying traitor) in Bangladesh due to the atrocities allegedly committed by the Razakars during the War. The Razakar force was composed of mostly anti-Bangladesh and pro-Pakistan Bengalis and Urdu-speaking migrants who lived in Bangladesh at the time.


The East Pakistan Razakars Ordinance was promulgated on 2 August 1971 by the Governor of East Pakistan, Lieutenant General Tikka Khan.[1] The Ordinance stipulated 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.[2] The first recruits included 96 Jamaat party members, who started training in an Ansar camp at Khan Jahan Ali Road, Khulna.[3]

During the 1971 Bangladesh genocide by the Pakistani Army and its supporting militias (Razakar) killed an estimated 300,000[4] to 3,000,000 people,[5] and raped 200,000–400,000 Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[6][7]


The Razakars had two branches they were Al-Badr and Al-Shams paramilitary forces.[citation needed] Students from Madrasahs were inducted into Al-Badr for specialised operations while Al-Shams was tasked with protection of important strategic locations.[8] The Razakar were under Pakistani Army command and also trained by them (see external link section).[9] In September 1971, the Razakar force was placed under the command of Major General Mohammed Jamshed.[10] Organisational command of the Razakar was given to Abdur Rahim.[11]

The Razakar force was organised into brigades of around 3000–4000 volunteers, mainly armed with light Infantry weapons provided by the Pakistan 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. Suspects were tortured during custody and killed.[12][13][14] The Razakars were trained by the Pakistan Army.[15] While formed as a paramilitary group, the Razakars also served as 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.[16] Razakars also allegedly killed Indian civilians during the war. On 5 August 1971, six Indians were killed by the Razakars in Panti village under Kumarkhali sub-division.[17] They killed 3 Indians in Sylhet and 19 Indians in Jessore, Gopalganj and Chittagong hill tracts.[18][19]

Quoting a declassified US document Azadur Rahman Chandan wrote, "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".[citation needed]

The Razakars were paid by the Pakistan Army and Provincial Government.[20] Leading supporters of a united Pakistan urged General Yahya Khan to increase the number of Razakars and given them more arms to extend their activities in East Pakistan.[21]

Towards the end of 1971, increasing numbers of Razakars were deserting, as the end of the war approached and Bangladesh moved towards independence.[22]


Following the surrender of the East Pakistani troops 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).[23]

Waves of violence followed the official end of the war, and some lower-ranking Razakars were killed in reprisals by Mukti Bahini militia.[24][self-published source?] 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 co-operation from Pakistan in obtaining the release of 200,000 Bengali-speaking military and civilian personnel who had been stranded or imprisoned in West Pakistan during the war.[25]

In Bangladesh today, razakar is used as a pejorative term meaning "traitor" or Judas.[26]


In 2010 the Bangladesh government, led by the Awami League, set up an International Crimes Tribunal based on the International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973 to prosecute the people who committed war crimes and crimes against humanities during the liberation war in 1971. People of Pakistan who were not aware of their crimes due to censorship by Yahya regime , have now openly welcome their trials and even support their public execution. [27][28][29]

Several trials were concluded in early 2013: Abul Kalam Azad was convicted of eight charges and sentenced to death in January 2013.[30] Abdul Quader Mollah was convicted of five of six charges and sentenced to death in December 2013.[31][32] 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.[33] However, the trial process has been termed as "politically motivated" by its critics, while the human rights groups recognised the tribunal as falling short of international standards.[34]

List of war crimes[edit]

The Razakar forces violated Geneva Conventions of War by killing, raping, murdering and looting the Civilians.[35][36][37][38]

Notable confirmed Razakar members[edit]

On 16 December 2019, the Government of Bangladesh published the names of 10,789 Razakars who collaborated with Pakistan's Army in carrying out atrocities against the Bengalis during the 1971 Liberation War.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The East Pakistan Razakars Ordinance, 1971, An Ordinance" (PDF). The Dacca Gazette Extraordinary. 2 August 1971. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013 – via International Crimes Strategy Forum.
  2. ^ The Wall Street Journal, 27 July 1971; quoted in the book Muldhara 71 by Moidul Hasan
  3. ^ "Razakar was launched with 96 Jamaat men". The Daily Star. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Bangladesh war: The article that changed history". BBC News. 25 March 2010.
  5. ^ White, Matthew, Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century
  6. ^ Sharlach, Lisa (2000). "Rape as Genocide: Bangladesh, the Former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda". New Political Science. 22 (1): 92–93. doi:10.1080/713687893. S2CID 144966485.
  7. ^ Sajjad, Tazreena (2012) [First published 2009]. "The Post-Genocidal Period and its Impact on Women". In Totten, Samuel (ed.). Plight and Fate of Women During and Following Genocide. Transaction Publishers. p. 225. ISBN 978-1-4128-4759-9.
  8. ^ Roy, Kaushik; Gates, Scott (2014). Unconventional Warfare in South Asia: Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-4724-0579-1.
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Siddiqui, A. R. (2004). East Pakistan – the Endgame: An Onlooker's Journal 1969–1971. Oxford University Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-19-579993-4.
  11. ^ Lifschultz, Lawrence (1979). Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution. Zed Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-905762-07-X. The following summer [1971], ... [Abdur] Rahim chose to return voluntarily to East Pakistan and take up active duty on the side of the Pakistan authorities ... Rahim took organizational command of the notorious Razakar paramilitary forces.
  12. ^ "Charges pressed against 5 Kishoreganj 'Razakars'". The Daily Star. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Razakars killed doc on Yusuf's order". The Daily Star. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  14. ^ Khan, Tamanna. "V for a mother". The Daily Star. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  15. ^ Khuram Iqbal (2015). The Making of Pakistani Human Bombs. Lexington Books. p. 38.
  16. ^ a b Shaon, Ashif Islam. "Forkan Razakar's verdict any day". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Six indians killed by Razakars". The Pakistan Observer. 6 August 1971.
  18. ^ "Razakars kill indian agents". The Pakistan Observer. 22 October 1971.
  19. ^ "Razakars kill 19 indian agents". The Pakistan Observer. 2 November 1971.
  20. ^ "Razakar's pay revised upwards". The Pakistan Observer. 20 November 1971.
  21. ^ "Increase number of Razakars". The Pakistan Observer. 7 November 1971.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Govt publishes list of Razakars". The Daily Star. 16 December 2019.
  24. ^ "'Tui Razakar!' – Picturing Revenge and Reprisal in Bangladesh". The Khichuri. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013.
  25. ^ Dr. Mohammad Hannan, History of Liberation War of Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের ইতিহাস- ড: মোহাম্মদ হান্নান)
  26. ^ Mookherjee, Nayanika (2009). Sharika Thiranagama; Tobias Kelly (eds.). Traitors: Suspicion, Intimacy, and the Ethics of State-Building. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8122-4213-3.
  27. ^ "The International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973". bdlaws.minlaw.gov.bd. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  28. ^ "Bangladesh to Hold Trials for 1971 War Crimes". Voice of America. 26 March 2010.
  29. ^ "Bangladesh sets up 1971 war crimes tribunal". BBC News. 25 March 2010.
  30. ^ "Azad gets death for war crimes". bdnews24. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  31. ^ "Summary of verdict in Quader Mollah case". The Daily Star. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  32. ^ "Bangladesh politician jailed for war crimes". Al Jazeera. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  33. ^ "Gallows for Sayedee". The Daily Star. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  34. ^ "Bangladesh war crimes trial: Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to die". BBC News. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  35. ^ "Forkan Razakar's verdict any day". Dhaka Tribune. 14 June 2015.
  36. ^ "Why is the mass sexualized violence of Bangladesh's Liberation War being ignored?". Women In The World. 25 March 2016.
  37. ^ "Discovery of numerous Mass Graves, Various types of torture on Women" and "People's Attitude" (PDF). kean.edu.
  38. ^ "Crimes Against Humanity in Bangladesh". scholar.smu.edu.
  39. ^ "Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leader dies in prison". World Bulletin. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  40. ^ "Govt publishes list of Razakars". The Daily Star. 16 December 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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.

External links[edit]