Nearly 50 years ago, the Indian Armed Forces came together as a team to present a multi-theatre war that resulted in the Pakistan Army’s surrender on December 16, 1971.
It was a victory that resulted in the birth of a nation. A victory for the Indian Armed Forces, intelligence agencies, diplomacy and for the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
On this historical day, Pakistan army commander of East Pakistan Lt Gen. AAK Niazi surrendered before Lt Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, who was then the general commanding-in-chief of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army, in Dhaka.
Lt Gen. Niazi took off his badges of rank, lanyard and pistol and signed the surrender document that brought to an end the 13-day war.
The war was a perfect example of the three armed services — the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force — and the intelligence agencies working in perfect sync with the Iron Lady.
When Indira asked the then army chief Gen. Sam Manekshaw to move immediately in April 1971, he said the army wasn’t prepared. The force did not want to get bogged down by the monsoon.
Lt Gen. JFR Jacob, who played a crucial role in the victory and forcing Niazi to surrender, maintained the advancing columns hit Dhaka by bypassing all Pakistani garrisons.
The IAF, which had supremacy over the eastern skies, destroyed airfields in the then East Pakistan to deny any other country even a chance of thinking of landing their troops there.
The navy not only blockaded Karachi but also denied the Pakistan Navy the chance of using the Bay of Bengal.
The war was also credited with many firsts, as India used the lessons from the 1962 China debacle and the 1965 Indo-Pak war while carrying out its operations.
The firsts included the biggest airdrop at Tangail, first amphibious assault at Cox Bazaar, first heli-bridge over the Padma river and the complete air supremacy in skies.
Also, the Indian Army used 19 divisions for the liberation. The country has never used so many soldiers in any operation before or after the 1971 war.
India broke Pakistan’s morale by dominating them in land, air and sea.
The soldiers of Bangladesh’s Mukti Bahini also played an active and in depth role in the war.
With only 3,000 soldiers, the Indian Army surrounded Dhaka and forced the 20,000 heavily armed Pakistan Army troops to surrender.
The whole war was for the genesis of a new nation — Bangladesh.