Sixteenth of December is a noteworthy day for three countries India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. On this day, in 1971, India forced the Pakistani troops to surrender that resulted in the birth of a new nation which is now known as Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan).
Partition spreads hatred
The partition of the country in 1947 and the emergence of a new nation Pakistan was a black day in the history of India. The moment it was announced by the British, India got embroiled in a bloodbath. The country lost its centuries-old unity. Neighbours slaughtered neighbours and childhood friends turned foe. Everything became topsy-turvy.
Two lakh people loss life
It is estimated that more than two lakh people were killed in the genocide and lakhs of people had to abandon their homes in 1947. Hindus and Sikhs fled to India from Pakistan and Muslims tried to turn their route towards Pakistan. Since the partition, India and Pakistan have fought four wars apart from proxy wars. Volatile tension always persists between the neighbouring nations.
Pak surrenders to India
Pakistan always tries to poke India, such as sending terrorists to India to spread violence and break the peace of the nation. Whenever India retaliated, Pakistanis had to surrender in every war. On this day, 48 years ago, Pakistan lost half of its territory, and their forces had to surrender to India. It is said to be the most significant military surrender after World War -II.
Pak began war first
The war started on 3 December 1971, when Pakistan launched airstrikes on 11 Indian airbases. At that point of time, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi shrewdly acted and all her accurate decisions had gone in favour of India.
Indira informed about the war
Indira Gandhi was in Calcutta that day and rushed to Delhi to address the nation. In her measured voice, she told the countrymen that a “War has been forced on us”.
Combined forces fight together
The critical point of this war was that perhaps for the first time, all the three forces of India fought together to thwart the Pakistani Army’s movement in the west and captured around 15,010 kilometres of Pakistan territory. Indian Army, Air Force and Navy fought valiantly and knocked out the Pakistani troops to bite the dust. Pakistan’s submarine Ghazi sank off in Visakhapatnam harbour near the eastern coast of the country; this was the first submarine casualty in the waters around the Indian sub-continent.
1971 war ends in 13 days
The war didn’t last long and ended in just 13 days. It is considered one of the shortest war in modern time. The war ended with the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops to the joint Indian Armed Forces and Bangladesh’s Mukti Bahini. General Ak Niazi signed the instrument of surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka in the presence of Lt.General Aurora. Apart from this, Niazi handed his service revolver to Indian Lieutenant-General J.S. Aurora.
Pak Army starts genocide
The reason behind the conflict was that when Pakistani Army started the barbaric genocide on innocent Bengali population, the onslaught was mainly against the Hindu population in East Pakistan. The increasing Pakistan Army’s atrocities forced the then prime minister Indira Gandhi to take action against Pakistan. She ordered Army Chief General Sam Manekshaw to go offensive and India started the war against its neighbour country. It is estimated that 10 million fled from their country and entered India as refugees.
Simla agreement and release of POW
On 2 August 1972, Simla agreement was signed between the two leaders Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi, the former prime ministers of India and Pakistan. Under this agreement, India agreed to release all the 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war (POW).
Vajpayee dubs Indira as ‘Durga’
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi got praises from all quarters. Opposition leaders of the country were not behind and applauded Indira’s deeds. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the front-ranking opposition leader of that time dubbed Indira Gandhi as ‘Abhinav Chandi Durga’ for knocking out Pakistan in the 1971 war.
Huge casualties of soldiers
But war means casualties. Over 3,800 soldiers of India and Pakistan lost their lives in the 1971war. India did a commendable job and forced the Pakistan Army to end the genocide and atrocities against the Bengali population. It provided them with not just relief from the Pak atrocities but also freedom with the birth of a separate country Bangladesh.
Credit must be given to the Indian Army for showing their fierce aggression against the Pakistan Army and winning the battle easily in the end. India made captive a massive number of Pakistani troops. Indira Gandhi had shown leadership quality and handled the situation calmly and skillfully. Therefore, she got admiration not only in India but from other parts of the world too.