How India Operated & Liberated Bangladesh

While most of us are familiar with “Bangladesh Liberation War”, it’s a tragedy that we have no inkling about the relevance it holds, even to this day. The great courage of the Indian troops and how they resisted and crushed West Pakistan’s domination of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and made them surrender will forever stay etched in the pages of history.

The conflict went on for more than eight months. And finally on December 16, 1971, a new nation, Bangladesh was born.

“Aamar desh, Tomar desh, Bangladesh! Bangladesh!”

The Liberation of Bangladesh is the most memorable war in the brief history of Bangladesh. The contribution of Indian government and the citizens of India is an important part of that history. Without mentioning the involvement of India, the history of Bangladesh’s liberation is incomplete.

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the time helped Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (aka Mujib) to achieve his ultimate goal and safe guarded India’s borders. With this, India achieved its biggest military and political victory. Indian government and the people of India extended their help and stood by the people of Bangladesh.

By the end of April, 1971, violence and genocide in East Pakistan had driven nearly ten-million refugees into India resulting in failure of national economy rapidly. There were indications that millions of others civilians were ready to cross over. Despite India’s own difficulties, India arranged refugee camps for them and provided food and shelter. But Pakistani Militia and their leader Yayah Khan had denied the fact that those refuges were infiltrating from East Pakistan.

Meanwhile in East Pakistan, local population were up in arms against the Pak-administration and were brutally subjugated by the Pakistani army. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was aware that the situation was going in a direction when India might have to intervene more forcefully and tactically.

It all started with the Operation Searchlight, a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army under the guidance of General Tikka Khan that started on March 25, 1971. He arrived to curb the Bengali nationalist movement by taking control of the major cities, and eliminating all operations, political or military, within one month. The same night Mujibur Rahman was arrested and sent off to a secret location. Pakistani Army began a large scale of brutal crackdowns, targeting the Awami League leaders and Bengali intelligentsia.

India started to provide political, diplomatic and moral support to the Mukti Bahini (guerrilla resistance movement formed by the Bangladeshi rebels). Indira Gandhi told General Sam Manekshaw to prepare for the war. General Sam Manekshaw borrowed a few months time from Mrs. Gandhi and prepared his force for the war. It was under Sam Manakshaw’s command that the Indian forces conducted victorious campaigns against Pakistan in the Indo-Pak War of 1971 which led to the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971.

On December 16, 1971 at around 4.30 P.M. (IST) Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi Lieutenant General and in-charge of Eastern contingent of Pakistan attached his signature to a one-page document accepting pakistan’s surrender. One-minute later, Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Commander-in-Chief Indian forces in Bangladesh accepted the surrender with a stroke of his pen. Around 1500 kilometres away in Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi announced in the Parliament:

“Dhaka is now the free capital of a free country.”

– By Pritika Datta, Content Editor, iLEAD Publication.