Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was an Indian politician and central figure of the Indian National Congress party. Daughter of Jawharlal Nehru, Indira started her educational journey from the Visva Bharati, Santiniketan,WB. Indira is the only female Prime Minister of India till today.
The political and personal role of Indira Gandhi in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 is inseparable from the country’s history. Despite the many ups and downs in Bangladesh politics, Indira Gandhi, who extended unequivocal support to the people of former East Pakistan, has been cherished by its people. Under Indira’s able leadership, India provided shelter, food and medicines to about 10 million people who fled their homes to the neighbouring West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam, to escape the marauding Pakistani army and its hoodlums.
In 2012, when Bangladesh was celebrating its 40th independence anniversary, the Sheikh Hasina government confer the Bangladesh Swadhinata Swadhinata Sammanona on Indira Gandhi posthumously for her “Outstanding contribution” to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan. Indira Gandhi, in fact, the first foreigner to be given the highest state honour in Bangladesh.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
“Our struggle is for our freedom. Our struggle is for our independence.”
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the founding leader of Bangladesh and also known as “Bangabondhu”. He served twice as Bangladesh’s President and was its strongman premier between 1971 and 1975.
It was Mujib who called for independent Bangladesh first. On March 7, 1971, Mujibur Rahman asked the people of Bangladesh (the East Pakistan) to launch a major campaign of civil disobedience and organised armed resistance at a mass gathering of people held at Race Cource Ground in Dhaka.
Mujib addressed in a gathering in Bangladesh and he had said: “The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla!..Since we have given blood, we will give more blood. God-willing, the people of this country will be liberated … Turn every house into a fort. Face (the enemy) with whatever you have.”
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, known as Mujib was also one of the founding secretaries of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (1949). Bangabondhu was a charismatic leader who organized dissent and rebellion against the British in India, led the Bengalis of East Pakistan in their resistance to the unjust actions of the post-colonial Pakistani government, and finally helped found the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.
General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, last President and Chief Martial Law administrator of pre-1971 Pakistan, was born at Chakwal in February 1971. After completing his studies from the Punjab University, Yahya Khan joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun.
He was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1938. When, in 1969, countrywide agitation rendered in Pakistan and the situation out of control, Ayub Khan decided to hand over power to the Army Chief, General Yahya Khan. On March 31, he also became President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Immediately after taking charge of the country, he started looking for options through which he could hand over power to the elected representatives. The trouble started when the results of the elections were announced. The Awami League, under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman, swept 160 out of 162 seats allocated to East Pakistan.
He used army and paramilitary forces in East Pakistan to crush the political agitation. This resulted in the beginning of the war between Pakistan and India in the winter of 1971.
Sam Homusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw MC also known as Sam Bahadur (Sam the Brave), born in a Parsi family in Amritsar.
India’s greatest military commander, Sam Maneckshaw, was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. His distinguished military career spanned four decades and five wars, beginning with service in the British Indian Army in World War II.
It was under his command, Indian forces conducted victorious campaigns against Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 that led to the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971.
D.P. Dhar was a Kashmiri politician and an Indian diplomat who is the chief architect of the Indian intervention in the 1971 war. Dhar was a close adviser of Mrs Indira Gandhi.
On the eve of 40th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence Day, this Indian politician-diplomat was honoured posthumously by Bangladesh Govt for his “Special role” in the 1971 war. Dhar was the Chairman of Policy Planning in the Indian External Affairs Ministry and played crucial role in the Indo-Pak war leading to the creation of an Independent Bangladesh.
As per a PTI report, Dhar was Chairman of Policy Planning in the Indian External Affairs Ministry and played a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war leading to the creation of an independent Bangladesh.
Dhar passed away in 1975 at the age of 57. He was India’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union and subsequently became a top policy maker of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Mohammed Ayub Khan was a President of Pakistan. He was also worked as a commander-in-Chief of the Pak-Army and Martial Law administrator.
He framed the domestic and foreign policy of Pakistan. Ayub Khan was born in the village of Rehanna (now in Pakistan). His ancestors were Pathans and his father had served as a risaldar, or a non-commissioned officer, in a cavalry unit in the Indian army.
Ayub was commissioned in 1927. He fought in Burma during World War II as second in command of his regiment. When India was partitioned in August 1947, he, like most Moslem army officers, chose to serve Pakistan. Later, he became the first Pakistani army commander in chief in 1951. Ayub announced in February 1969 that he would resign in March 1970, permitting a new president to be elected.
Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi
Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi was a general of the Pakistan Army. Niazi was the in charge of Eastern contingent (eastern command) of the Pakistani Army during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
In 1971, a period of political turmoil in Pakistan, Niazi was the most highly decorated officer in the Pakistan Army. In April 1971, he was sent to East Pakistan after a Pakistani military crackdown on Bengali intellectuals.
As wikipedia page of Gen. Niazi says, “On March 25, Operation Searchlight, planned and executed by Lieutenant General Tikka Khan and Major General Rao Farman Ali, had made the population of East Pakistan hostile to the Pakistan Armed Forces, and Pakistan was internationally condemned for its military action. Niazi publicly condemned the military operation of 25 March. During a meeting he condemned the operation after its outcomes had surfaced. In April 1971, General Niazi became commander-in-chief of the East Pakistan Army, replacing Tikka Khan. Throughout this period, Niazi headed the military operations of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan.”
Forty-five years ago, Lt. General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi surrendered his forces of nearly 93,000 men to the Indian Army at Dhaka’s Ramna Race Course on December 17, 1971.
Born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1923, Jack Farj Rafael Jacob grew up in a conservative Baghdadi Jews household under the British rule. He was originally from Iraq but later his family settled in Bengal in the mid-18th century.
It was Jacob, as the Chief of Staff to the Eastern Army Command, who formulated the plan for the swift multi-directional attack in which the Indian army would bypass the towns and head straight for Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan.
He was a natural raconteur and his two books, Surrender at Dacca, and his autobiography, An Odyssey in War and Peace were well received but had a touch of controversy arising from his criticism of Sam Manekshaw and Aurora. Unmarried and childless, Jacob who lived in a servicemen’s enclave in south Delhi, became a well-known figure in the capital circuit, known for his wit and bonhomie.
Jagjit Singh Aurora
Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora was a tireless advocate of peaceful coexistence between India and Pakistan. Born in a Sikh family, Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Eastern Army Command was the army officer, who signed the surrender treaty with Pakistani General Niazi on December 16, 1971.
Aurora was born in the Jhelum district of what is now the Pakistani portion of Punjab. He was commissioned into the 1st battalion of the Punjab Regiment in 1939, and saw second world war service in Burma.
Aurora is known as the architect of the 1971 war with Pakistan that led to the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation. He knew the cost of war, having led Indian forces to their most brilliant victory in any of the three main Indo-Pakistan wars, in 1947-49, 1965 and 1971.
Tajuddin Ahmad was a Bangladeshi freedom fighter. He served as the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh and he was one of the leaders of the wartime Provisional Government during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
He initiated and organised the first independent government of Bangladesh with the vision and courage to resist foreign aggression and occupation. On the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani Army forces went on a genocide and arrested Bangabandhu and took him to West Pakistan the next day. Liberation war of the Bengalis began. After the Pakistan Army launched “Operation Searchlight” in East Pakistan in March 1971, Ahmad made his way into neighbouring India, upon the instructions of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was also appointed member of the committee in charge of writing the Constitution of Bangladesh.
Sardar Swaran singh, a sikh from Punjab Province in North-Western India, was Foreign Minister from 1964 t0 1966 and 1970 to 1974. Born in the village of Shankar (now Punjab Province), Swaran Singh studied Physics and Law in the city of Lahore.
He practiced law and then plunged into politics. During 1971 war, he was thrust into the diplomatic limelight as spokesman for India when the country’s support for East Pakistani Secessionist guerrilla led to a brief war between India and Pakistan, which India won.
In a report, NYTimes wrote, “On Dec. 12, 1971, while the war went on, Mr. Singh addressed the United Nations Security Council for an hour and a half. An imposing turbaned figure, he said, over and over, that the root cause of the conflict was the “brutal repression” of the populace in East Pakistan by the Pakistani military Government and the forced flight of East Pakistani refugees to India.
On Dec. 16, 1971, the secessionist leaders of Bangladesh, as they called their country, took over when the West Pakistani troops there surrendered to Indians who had seized the city of Dacca in support of the guerrillas’ movement. At the United Nations, Mr. Singh called on the world to recognize “the reality of Bangladesh.”