Published:  01:37 AM, 16 December 2017

The fall of a nation and the birth of a new nation

The fall of a nation and the birth of a new nation Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora looks on while Lieutenant General Niazi, Commander of the Pakistan Army in the East signs the Instrument of Surrender

Lt. Gen. Jacob landed at Dacca by helicopter around 1 p. m. on 16th Dec. 71. He brought a copy of the surrender document along for discussion with Lt. Gen. Niazi. Having finalized the terms and conditions for the surrender around 02.45 p. m., Gen. Jacob informed Gen Aurora that the Instrument of surrender had been accepted and initialed by Gen. Niazi. The official surrender ceremony was set to take place at the historic Race Course Maidan at 4.30 p. m.

It was from this very place where nine months earlier Sheikh Mujib had raised the banner of revolt against the Pakistan Government before his arrest. The Race Course Maidan was packed with hundreds of Bangladeshis, who were in a festive mode waving Bangladesh flags and shouting "Joy Bangla", "Joi Hind", "Joi India". A guard of honour of contingents from 2 Para, 13 Guards and the Pak Army were lined up.

 A large table was laid. Soon the architects of the victory started arriving to take their designated place behind the table to witness the surrender ceremony. Among them besides myself were Air Marshal Dewan, Vice Admiral Krishnan, Lt. Gen. Sagat Singh, Maj. Gen. Gandharv Nagra, Brig. Sant Singh, Group Capt. Khondkar Chief of staff Mukti Bahini. Brig. Sant Singh escorted Gen Niazi to the designated place for the solemn ceremony. Gen. Aurora along with Mrs.

Aurora, arrived at the appointed time. While Mrs. Aurora stood to one side, Gen. Aurora inspected the Guard of Honour. Meanwhile Mrs. Aurora was mobbed by the local enthusiasts. Seeing this I left my designated place behind the table and walked up to Mrs. Aurora and managed to get the locals cleared from that place. After the inspection of the Guard of Honour, Gen. Aurora took his place at the table.

 To his left sat Surajit Sen of the All India Radio who was reporting on the ceremony. Gen. Niazi then signed the surrender and presented it to Gen. Aurora, who accepted this document by putting his signature. Gen. Niazi then stripped off his epaulet of rank from his right shoulder, unloaded his revolver and handed over the weapon and bullets to Gen. Aurora. He then pressed his forehead to that Gen. Aurora, as an act of humble surrender and submission. The instrument of surrender signed by Gen Niazi and accepted by Gen Aurora broadly stated that:-

1.    Pakistani forces would lay down their arms and surrender at places where they were currently located to the nearest Indian Army troops.

2.    The Pakistan Eastern Army would come under the orders of Gen. Aurora, as soon as the Instrument of surrender was signed. Disobedience of orders would be regarded as a breach of the surrender terms and would be dealt with in accordance with the accepted laws and usages of war.

3.    Pakistani prisoners of war (PSOW) who surrendered would be treated with the dignity and respect that soldiers are entitled to, in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention. Protection would also be provided to foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and personnel of the West Pakistan region by the forces under the command of Gen Aurora.

The Race Course Maidan was over flowing with a mass of Bangladeshis, who had achieved freedom, were waving Bangladesh flags and shouting slogans. They lifted Gen. Aurora on their shoulders and hugged every officer and Jawan present at the scene. 

The sun set on 16th Dec. 71 at the Race Course brought to an end the gory drama that was orchestrated by the Pakistani villains, Gen. Yahya Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Thus Bangladesh took birth from the ashes of East Pakistan. For India the credit of the happy ending went to the maturity of Indian political leadership and men of the Indian Army who brought it about with their lives.

While Niazi had surrendered on 16th Dec., we still had a horde of armed enemy personnel in Dacca, who were to be disarmed. HQ Eastern Command had set up an Advance HQ at Dacca under the charge of Maj. Gen. Sarkar with a team of Bengali speaking officers and men. The next morning, I was summoned to this HQ and informed me that I was being appointed the Commandant of all PSOW. At that time we had only one battalion in Dacca.

                                      The writer discussing plans with Nagra

The other 3 would take another day to reach. It was a major problem to guard such a large command in capacity. Sarkar passed back on to me certainly a gigantic task. Now that the noose had been passed on to me, I set about tackling the problem as best as I could. I convened a conference of all captured unit Comdrs., and informed me them that they would be housed in the accommodation, presently occupied by them.

They would be allowed to keep their weapons and ammunition as a safe guard from any external threat. They were however warned in the most stringent terms, that they were not to misuse this facility. This arrangement was to continue till I was in a position to bring in all my troops, to safe guard their security. 

(The above chapter has been taken from 12 Days to Dacca by Major General H. S. Kleer MVC, AVSM)

The writer was brigade to Tura for the 1971
operations and then onto Dacca.                                           ------Major General H. S. Kler MVC, AVSM

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