Today, India marks 50 glorious years of victory against Pakistan in the 1971 war. The war fought in the midst of the Bangladesh Liberation period, had lasted for 13 days, ended up changing the international map of Southern-Asia forever.
We also honour the valour of the 3,900 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives, while 9800 wounded, in the war.
Apart from India’s victory, this day also reminds us of the iconic surrender of Pakistan, where the former losing country’s general Niazi along with his 93,000 soldiers surrendered to India.
When did the war begin?
The war began when Pakistan did Operation Chengiz Khan’s preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which led to the commencement of Indian entry into the war for independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces. This furthered the existing conflict with Indian and Pakistani forces engaging on both eastern and western fronts.
The Indo-Pakistani conflict was sparked by the Bangladesh Liberation War, a conflict between the traditionally dominant West Pakistanis and the majority of East Pakistanis. The series of conflicts that followed were; the popular language movement in 1950; mass riots in East Bengal in 1964; and the mass protests in 1969.
The country was going through a lot, there were economic disparities between the two regions, and the power helmed by west Pakistan had created tensions. As violence started erupting, many refugees began entering India. early March 1971, approximately 300 Biharis were slaughtered in riots by Bengali mobs in Chittagong alone.
The Government of Pakistan used the “Bihari massacre” to justify its deployment of the military in East Pakistan on 25 March, when it initiated its military crackdown. President Yahya Khan called on the military – which was overwhelmingly led by West Pakistanis – to suppress dissent in the East. After several days of fighting the massacre with locals, the Pakistani military, led by Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan, cracked down on Dhaka on the night of 25 March 1971.
India’s Involvement :
After the resignations of Admiral S.M. Ahsan and Lieutenant-General Yaqub Ali Khan from the Pakistan Army, the Pakistani military widespread genocide against their Bengali citizens, particularly aimed at the minority Bengali Hindu population. This led to approximately 10 million people seeking refuge in the neighbouring states of Eastern India.
The Indian government after repeatedly appealing to the international community, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 27 March 1971 lent full support for the independence of people of East Pakistan. After 13 days of the war on three fronts led by all three wings of the defence force, the Instrument of Surrender of Pakistan Eastern Command stationed in East Pakistan was officially signed between Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-C of Indian Eastern Command and Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi, the Commander of the Pakistan Eastern Command.
This proved to be an extremely historical moment as it confirmed the independence of Bangladesh.