Voices from the Frontlines: A Comparative Study of North-eastern Insurgency in India and Bangladesh’s War of Independence (1971)


  • Nadeem Ahmad Rather


The North-eastern insurgency in India and the Bangladesh war of Independence (1971), which resulted in the separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan, are considered two of the most devastating occurrences in South Asia, causing countless fatalities and incalculable losses in property. Since India’s independence in 1947, the North-east region has been plagued by a proliferation of separatist conflicts and violent uprisings. Although the motives and objectives behind these movements have evolved over time, the pursuit of a unified homeland has consistently remained a ubiquitous motif unifying them. Similarly, a series of egregious and prejudicial practices inflicted by West Pakistan on East Pakistan catalysed the latter’s aspiration for autonomy, culminating in a tumultuous struggle against its authoritarian rule. However, what remains unaddressed in these overarching narratives are the perspectives of those who lived or who live through the conflict: families, rebels, and marginalized groups such as women and children. A deeper understanding of war and insurgency can only be achieved by examining these voices, which are often ignored by the mainstream media. Therefore, this paper aims to critically analyze two literary works that provide perspectives from all crucial stakeholder groups, exploring themes of conflict, autonomy, accountability, and sacrifice. By examining familial bonds, affection, obligation, cultural hegemony, ethnicity, and the integrity of both the rebels and the oppressors, this study seeks to conduct a comparative analysis of these texts, building upon the premise that they offer unique insights into the complex nature of these events.