With Pakistan's invasion of India on December 3, 1971 and a joint command of Indian Army and Bangladesh Mukti Bahini put up against that since that date, Bangladesh Liberation War entered into a new phase.
The Indian Ministr of Defense, Mr. Jagjivan Ram informed the Indian Lok Sabha on 4th December, 1971 about how it started with "pre-emptive air strikes on our fields from 5.45 P.M. yesterday." The Indian Minister further informed as follows:
The Indian Air Force has carried out air strikes on the airfields controlled by the Pakistani Air force in Bangladesh. So far, 8 Pakistani Sabre jets have been shot down, four near Dacca and 3 near Jessore. We lost 2 Hunters.
On December 6th, 1971, the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi made an important statement in the Indian Rajya Sabha, in course of which she declared Indian Government's recognition to Ganoprajatantri Bangladesh. In her speech, she placed an overview of the whole situation developing into the Liberation War of Bangladesh.
She began by saying, "Sir, the valiant struggle of the people of Bangladesh in the face of tremendous odds has opened a new chapter of heroism in the history of freedom movements."
About the latest situation of Pakistan's invasion of India, she said, "Now that Pakistan is waging war against India, the normal hesitation on our part not to do anything which could come in the way of a peaceful solution, or which might be constructed as intervention, has lost significance.
The people of Bangladesh battling for their very existence and the people of India fighting to defeat aggression now find themselves parties in the same cause." Finally, she said, "I am glad to inform the House that in the light of the existing situation and in response to the repeated requests of the Government of Bangladesh, the Government of India have, after the most careful considerations, decided to grant recognition to the GANAPRAJATANTRI BANGLADESH, "It may be mentioned that Bhutan extended recognition to Bangladesh on 4th December, 1971. Some prominent leaders of Bhutan including Mr. Lionpo Uge N. saying had worked at that time at the camps of Bangladesh refugees.
Taking part in a discussion in the U.S. senate on 7th December, 1971, Senator Edward Kennedy blasted the U.S. government's policy towards countries South Asia. He severely lambasted the Administration's silence and inactivity at the tragic happenings in East Bengal since March, 1971, "Throughout this period our national leadership watched this tragedy in silence, at no time has any official of our Government including the President, condemned the brutal and systematic repression of East Bengal by the Pakistan army-a represent carried out in part with American guns and bullets and aircrafts. "Senator Kennedy then raised the other question of the U.S.
Administration's move to condemn situation on its eastern border- a situation which our Nation calculatedly ignored."Senator Kennedy, defending condemnation, asked, "What should we condemn? and said, "We should condemn, Mr. President, the silence of our leadership. Are we so insensitive is what our country stands for the our Government can actually support as well as apologise for a military regime's brutal suppression of democracy? Are we so blind that we can ignore a government that jails a political leader whose only crime was the winning of a free election?"
On December 9, 1971, Congressman Paul N. Mc Closkey issued one statement from his Washington office to say, "The United States, it appears to me, must ultimately recognize Bangladesh as a new nation." Mr. Mc Closkey observed that it "there are enough survivors of the 167 delegates chosen in their free elections last year to run a government….then it seems to me this nation should follow its anti-colonial heritage and recognizer Bangladesh as anew nation."
On December 14, the Soviet Union used its third veto in nine days in the Security Council to thwart the Nixon Administration's efforts to freeze the military situation in the Indian subcontinent to President Yahya's benefit. The U.S. resolution called for cessation of military hostilities but not calling for a simultaneous political deal acceptable to the elected representatives of Bangladesh. Mr. Jacob Malik was the Permanent Representative of the USSR at that time at the UNO.
On December 15, 1971, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, Wrote a letter to Mr. Richard Nixon, the U.S. President. In her letter, Mrs. Gandhi presented an analysis of what she called the "origins of the tragedy which is being enacted." She began it reminding Mr. Nixon of one great moment of history, the Declaration of Independence by the United States of America. She pointed out how "all unpracticed persons objectives surveying the grim events in Bangladesh since March 25 have recognized the revolt of 21 million people, a people who were forced to the conclusion that neither their life, nor the liberty, to say nothing of the possibility of the pursuit of happiness was available to them." In her letter, Mrs. Gandhi placed her understanding of the failure of the great leaders of the world to address the concerned issue and the "reality of the situation."
She expressed her utter frustration at no effort having been made for the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which she felt could have gone a long way in averting the war. She great out her other feeling that only "lip service was paid to the need for a political situation"
The Daily Anandabazar of 16th December, 1971, published from Kolkata, ran a report about the arrival in the Bay of Bengal of the Seventh Fleet of the USA. The same news item informed readers of the arrival of 20 Soviet naval ships in the Indian Ocean. There were such Soviet ships as could throw missiles. The daily quoted official sources in New Delhi to be saying that the U.S. fleet had no jurisdiction of removing the occupation forces from Bangladesh. The Pak Army there was then logged in a war with the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, these sources gave out.
On 16th December, 1971, the Hindustan Standard published a report entitled "Niazi was given a few Hours to Surrender." The report was that Gen. Niazi, Commander-in-Chief of the West Pakistan occupation forces in Bangladesh, had requested "India for a cease fire.
"The report added, "General Manckshaw, Chief of the Indian Army staff, has again called for a surrender of the occupation army and gives Lt. Gen. Niazi time till 9 a.m. tomorrow to accept the surrender call." The report further added that as a token of his good faith, General Manekshaw had informed Lt. Gen. Niazi that India had suspended direction taken against his forces with effect from 5 p.m. that day till 9 a.m. the following day.
Lt. Gen. Niazi request for a cease-fire in Bangladesh reached General Manekshaw through the courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi at 12-30 p.m., 15th December, 1971. In his reply, the Indian General gave Lt. Gen. Niazi two assurances: (A) "safety of all your military and para-military forces who surrenders to me in Bangladesh", (B) Complete protection to foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and personnel of West Pakistan origin, no matter who they may be."
The above kind of reports in the Indian and other foreign media indicated that the ground was finally set for the victory in the War of Bangladesh Liberation from the occupation forces of Pakistan. Another report, published in the Kolkata Bangla daily Jugantor of 17th December, 1971, gives us glimpses of how the actual surrender of the Pakistan forces in Bangladesh was like. The report gives Lt. Gen. Niazi, the chief of Pakistan forces in Bangladesh, to have signed the document of their surrender to the chief of the Allied Forces composed of Indian forces and Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh, L. Gen. Aurora.
The documents were signed at 4-31 in the afternoon. Declaration to this effect was simultaneously made in the Indian Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha by the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandi and Defense Minister, Mr. Jagijvan Ram. Message about the unconditional surrender of Pakistani forces in Bangladesh was conveyed by Lt.Gen. Niazi marginally before 9a.m. Lt. Gen. Aurora flew to Dhaka for the purpose at noon. All arrangements for the program of surrender were made by the Chief of Staff of the Indian Eastern Command, Maj. General J.F.R. Jacob.
Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army, told a conference of Indian and foreign journalists in Kolkata on 4th December, 1971 that the air of his soldiers was to force the Pakistani Army to surrender in Bangladesh.
Their campaign, he said, would continue until the Pakistan Army fighting in Bangladesh stops to do that and surrenders. General Aurora guessed the number of Pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh to be between 70 to 80 thousand. He gave out that their campaign in Bangladesh would be mostly an offensive one, and it would be one of teaching lessons.
That's why they would enter into Bangladesh, and resistance from the part of Pakistani soldiers was a matter of the past. General Aurora gave out that fierce battle was going on in Agortala and some other areas. But there was no information with him of Pakistani soldiers' crossing of border and entering into India. He assured that Indian planes were not damaging runways or targeting any object of economic importance to Bangladesh.
The writer is a freedom fighter,
former ambassador and professor
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