16 December is celebrated in India to commemorate conquer of allied Indian and Bangladesh armed forces over Pakistan army (West Pakistan). Valour and vigour of Indian defence forces and mukti vahni sena bound 93000 Pakistani troops to surrender and made Bangladesh an independent country (Bangladesh Liberation War). The Bangladesh liberation force was comprised of not only trained guerillas it also has the people from every stratum of society: peasants, the farmers, students and women.
The war was fought under the leadership of Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, who was Joint Commander of Indian and Bangladesh Forces for this operation. Chief of Pakistan forces Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi signed the instrument of surrender after nine months of genocide in Bangladesh, unconditionally. The surrender was observed in Ramna Race Course, now Suhrawady udhyan in Dhaka, Pakistan on 16 December 1971. This day is locally known as “Bijoy Dibos” in Bangladesh.
Air Commodore A. K. Khandker, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, and Lieutenant General J F R Jacob of the Indian Eastern Command, acted as witnesses to the surrender.
16 December is observed as a national holiday in Bangladesh and people celebrate this day with great joy. Homage is paid to martyrs of the war, who fought relentlessly and gained freedom. All the people enjoy this day with parades and paying respect at the National Memorial at Savar.
The history behind the war
British rule set India free after the ruling and ruining it for almost 200 years. Landmark development took place since the bifurcation of India in 1947, which left behind a trail of destruction and hatred everywhere. Partition came up with mass displacement of more than 14 million people across the boundaries and blood-shedding of 200,000 to 2 million people. British rule dissected the Pan- India into two regions on the basis of Hindu (Dominion of India) and Muslim (Dominion of Pakistan) religion. After 1950, Dominion India became Republic of India and Dominion of Pakistan became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956.
Division of Pakistan into East Pakistan and (East Bengal before 1947) and West Pakistan was the most unnatural division. These two regions had the people following Islam religion, but geographically placed poles apart. East Pakistan layover 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away, which greatly hampered any attempt to integrate the Bengali and the Pakistani culture.
West Pakistan tried to suppress Bangla speaking Muslims in East Pakistan. West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan on the night of 25 March 1971 for Bangla genocide. This massacre cropped up a mutiny amid people of East Pakistan. East Pakistan’s leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the independence of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971 with the onset of the Bangladesh Liberation War. After this, Sheikh mujibar and many elite people were incarcerated by the Pakistani Army on March 27. Operation Barisal was a code-name of naval operation conducted by Pakistan Navy intended to free the city of Barisal, East Pakistan from Mukti Bahinis and the dissidents of the Pakistan Defence Forces. It was the part of Operation Searchlight. On 26 March 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman of Pakistan Army declared the independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
The war continued for nine months, during this time Bangladeshi freedom fighter fought bravely. For first eight months, India helped the people of Bangladesh in their fight for freedom by providing shelter to more than 10 million helpless refugees and by providing training and ammunition to the Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh during the 9-month long guerrilla war.
On the evening of 3 December, at about 5:40 pm, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched surprise pre-emptive strikes, known as Operation Chengiz Khan on eleven airfields in north-western India. India officially declared war on Pakistan on December 3rd, 1971 after Pakistan attacked eleven Indian air bases.
Indian forces joined the Freedom Fighters to help them achieve victory after 9-month long resistance. It is a matter of fact that without India’s support, Bangladesh achieved freedom faster (16th December).
On 19 January 1972, Mujib was inaugurated as the first President of Bangladesh, later becoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in 1974.
War always comes with massive devastation for everyone. Both sides suffered huge losses. Pakistan: About 9000 killed, 34,000 surrendered, 75 jets destroyed, Karachi beach damaged. 6 ships and 7 gunboats destroyed, PNS Ghazi/ Submarine destroyed in a terrible accident. Airfields were destroyed.
India: About 2000-4000 killed, 45 jets destroyed. Massive damage to western Indian airfields was done by Pakistani Sabres bombing them out. 1 Naval aircraft were destroyed.
It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh. As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.