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10 Things to know about Vijay Diwas , when Indian Army Bifurcated Pakistan and liberated Bangladesh in 1971 war

December 16: On this day in 1971, Indian Army liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan in one of the most heroic wars ever.

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Vijay Diwas
The most famous photograph in Indian military history! Lieutenant General A A K Niazi, the Pakistan army commander in East Pakistan, signs the Instrument of Surrender, before Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Eastern Command, December 16, 1971 (DPR Photo Division Archives)
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  • Bangladesh celebrates its Independence day on December 16 and India hails the day as Vijay Diwas
  • 16 December 1971. On this day, 46 years ago, 93,000 Pakistani troops raised white flags and surrendered to the Indian Army
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and the chiefs of the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force gathered at India Gate to pay homage to the soldiers who lost their lives in 1971 India-Pakistan war, at Amar Jawan Jyoti today
  • “On Vijay Diwas we salute the unflinching courage of all those who fought in 1971 and protected our nation diligently. Every Indian is proud of their heroism and service”, tweeted PM Modi

The India-Pakistan War of 1971 is known as one of the most heroic victories in military history. It ended with the surrender of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan, with almost 1,00,000 soldiers being taken prisoners of war. Victory of India led to liberation of Bangladesh on December 16. Vijay Diwas is celebrated on this day.

Vijay Diwas
Bangladesh Liberation (The Tribune, Archives)

Here are 10 things to know about Vijay Diwas, 16 December 1971, the day when Indian Army liberated Bangladesh from Islamic Republic of Pakistan

  1. On 16 December 1971, the Governor of East Pakistan Lt General Niazi and his 93,000 troops admitted defeat to the joined forces – the Indian Army and East Pakistan’s Mukti Vahini – led by Lt General Jagjit Singh Arora. The surrender was signed at Ramna Race Course in Dhaka.
  2. In just 13 days, Indian forces, which included the Air Force, Para Troopers, Ground Force and Navy, made Dhaka independent.
  3. The war was a result of genocide by the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which led to the migration of lakhs of refugees into India and humanitarian crisis. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made many attempts to gather international action against Pakistan and support to India to look after the refugees, but it did not happened. Only way ahead for India was to liberate Bangladesh.
  4. The genocide earned General Tikka Khan the nickname ‘Butcher of Bengal’ because of the widespread slaughters he had committed.
  5. Sri Lanka helped Pakistan in the 1971 War by allowing its aircraft to refuel at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.
  6. US supported Pakistan in this war. A long standing ally of Pakistan, China was encouraged by US to mobilise its armed forces along its border with India.
  7. The war lasted for few days but we lost 42 Indian fighters and 81 tankers as opposed to 86 aircrafts and 226 tankers of Pakistan.
  8. The war stripped Pakistan of more than half of its population and with nearly one-third of its army in captivity.
  9. Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, Major Hoshiar Singh and Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal were awarded with Param Vir Chakra for their selfless service in the 1971 India Pakistan war.
  10. In 1972 the Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. India returned the POWs to Pakistan along with certain captured areas. In return, Pakistan recognized Bangladesh as an Independent country.
Vijay Diwas
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw during 1971 India-Pakistan war (DPR Photo Division Archives)

In his book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier’s Narrative Pakistani Major General Hakeem Arshad Qureshi a veteran of this conflict noted:“We must accept the fact that, as a people, we had also contributed to the bifurcation of our own country.” The Hamoodur Rahman Commission, which was set up to investigate the causes of defeat of Pakistan, laid the blame squarely on Pakistani generals, accusing them of debauchery, smuggling, war crimes and neglect of duty.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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JAmmu and Kashmir
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)