On 13 June 1971, an article in the UK's Sunday Times exposed the brutality of Pakistan's suppression of the Bangladeshi uprising. It forced the reporter's family into hiding and changed history. Abdul Bari had run out of luck. Like thousands of other people in East Bengal, he had made the mistake - the fatal mistake - of running within sight of a Pakistani patrol. He was 24 years old, a slight man surrounded by soldiers. He was trembling because he was about to be shot. So starts one of the most influential pieces of South Asian journalism of the past half century.
Written by Anthony Mascarenhas, a Pakistani reporter, and printed in the UK's Sunday Times, it exposed for the first time the scale of the Pakistan army's brutal campaign to suppress its breakaway eastern province in 1971. Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed, but certainly a huge number of people lost their lives. Independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died. The Bangladesh government puts the figure at three million. The strategy failed, and Bangladeshis are now celebrating the 40th anniversary of the birth of their country. Meanwhile, the first trial of those accused of committing war crimes has recently begun in Dhaka.
There is little doubt that Mascarenhas' reportage played its part in ending the war. It helped turn world opinion against Pakistan and encouraged India to play a decisive role.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told the then editor of the Sunday Times, Harold Evans, that the article had shocked her so deeply it had set her "on a campaign of personal diplomacy in the European capitals and Moscow to prepare the ground for India's armed intervention," he recalled.
Not that this was ever Mascarenhas' intention. He was, Evans wrote in his memoirs, "just a very good reporter doing an honest job".
He was also very brave. Pakistan, at the time, was run by the military, and he knew that he would have to get himself and his family out of the country before the story could be published - not an easy task in those days.
"His mother always told him to stand up and speak the truth and be counted," Mascarenhas's widow, Yvonne, recalled (he died in 1986). "He used to tell me, put a mountain before me and I'll climb it. He was never daunted."
His article was - from Pakistan's point of view - a huge betrayal and he was accused of being an enemy agent. It still denies its forces were behind such atrocities as those described by Mascarenhas, and blames Indian propaganda.
However, he still maintained excellent contacts there, and in 1979 became the first journalist to reveal that Pakistan had developed nuclear weapons.
In Bangladesh, of course, he is remembered more fondly, and his article is still displayed in the country's Liberation War Museum.
"This was one of the most significant articles written on the war. It came out when our country was cut off, and helped inform the world of what was going on here," says Mofidul Huq, a trustee of the museum.http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16207201