” Bangladesh – 50th Victory Day ” – December 16, 2021.
” Despite the many differences the fact that I am an” Indian” has been deeply entrenched in our minds inexorably linked to each other and unable to be treated separately ” – believed our Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. But, Jammu and Kashmir was separated and accorded a special status prominently attributable to the immense people popularity enjoyed by Sheikh Abdullah inducing good faith largely. Today that status also remains repealed.
In another instance,, the obstinacy and pertinacity of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that the region highly populated by Muslims should be separated creating a new Nation, Pakistan, combined with the indirect support of the British could not prevent Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, and Vallabhai Patel from the formation of the new Nation, Pakistan. It took its birth on August 14, 1947.
That Pakistan took its birth as twins ( West Pakistan and East Pakistan) separated from each other by 1600 km geographically is its exquisiteness. There was no connecting Road from West Pakistan to East Pakistan. To go from East to west or from West to East one has to cross the Indian land or Indian skies. I cannot remember any other country divided into two regions geographically in this fashion in the World.
That East Pakistan could not sustain its cooperation with West Pakistan since its foundation because of differences in language, culture, and even physical characteristics of their people is not surprising.
The total land area of West Pakistan is 8.8 lakh sqkm. Its population is 19 crores. About 97% are Muslims and only 3% constitute individuals of other religion(s). Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, and Lahore are the big cities. People speak the languages of Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi.
East Pakistan or today’s Bangladesh has a land area of 1.48 lakh sqkm. Its population is 16.2 crores. About 83% of people are Muslims and Hindus constitute 16%. People speak the following languages : Bangladesh, Chakma, Hindi, Urdu, Bawm and other.
Punjabis and Pathans constitute predominantly the West Pakistanis. In the East it is mostly Bengalis. By their looks, appearance, colour, and configuration they are however different. For Bengalis their language and not the religion is prime. For West Pakistanis religion is prime.
The population of East Pakistan is more than that of the WEST Pakistan. East Pakistan also contributes 70% of the total Pakistan Export of Tea leaves and jute. But only 10%of the opportunities were afforded to East Pakistanis in Pakistan national military. It was against this background that a revolution erupted under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It made Ayub Khan lose his power and military General Yahya Khan took charge of Pakistan. But the situation on the ground did not much change.
Historians recognised and spelt out clearly that a combination of two regions with such disparate characteristics will not be sustainable only based on religion. History also has no such record of unification of contrasting geographical land areas.
There has not been any record of formal or systematic election processes from 1947 to 1970. Democracy did not blossom either. Only West Pakistan nationals enjoyed power and fame in Governance, Administration, Justice, and Authority. East Pakistanis were treated as second grade citizens..
The Pakistan Government in 1952 pronounced Urdu as its national language. Bengali speaking East Pakistanis resisted this proclamation strongly. A revolution began against this move of the Government. Thousands of young East Pakistanis lost their lives. This became its first Internal War against the Pakistan Government. The dead youth were celebrated as martyrs.
Severe Cyclone in 1970 created huge damage to people and prosperity in East Pakistan. Lakhs of people lost their lives. Authoritarian Pakistan Government did not pay any attention to Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation. The step motherly treatment meted out to East Pakistan triggered an angry and hate filled response towards the Government.
General Elections were held in late 1970. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League party captured 167 of the 169 seats in East Pakistan. Pakistan People’s Party led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto secured the largest single party status in West Pakistan. But it was unable to form the Government due to lack of coalition success.
It became proper for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to take charge as PM of Pakistan. Bhutto refused to yield. Military leadership also played against Mujibur Rahman. Yahya Khan was the military General then and he postponed the Parliament sitting. Under the pretense of initiating diplomatic conversations he prepared for an all out attack against East Pakistan. His singular objective was to control the revolution in East Pakistan. This led to the imprisonment of Mujibur Rahman in West Pakistan.
Dhaka rally of March 7, 1971, and the flag hoisting of March 23, 1971, (flag of Bangladesh) marked the beginning of a new Nation under the Leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Pakistan army began the war on East Pakistan killing nearly 3 lakh people ; wounding nearly 5 lakh people ; destabilising about 3 crore people ; and resulting in nearly 1 crore people fleeing to India crossing the borders. There was no limit to the atrocities let loose by the Pakistan Government under the “Operation Searchlight” to curb the Bengali Nationalist Movement in East Pakistan.
It continued for 7 to 8 months. International dailies and magazines covered the brutality let loose by General Yahya Khan’s military establishment. Except for India no other country came forward to express sorrow/worries leave alone showing even lip sympathy to the people of East Pakistan.
American Consulate in Pakistan sent information to U. S. Administration. Opposition leaders like Ted Kennedy even released warning messages.. But the administration turned a deaf ear to these and even sent the military ship, ” the Seventh Fleet” to the Bay of Bengal to prevent India from taking any action to salvage the people of East Pakistan.
Closely observing and analysing the situations developing in East Pakistan, the Indian PM, Indira Gandhi, established contacts with world leaders and submitted to control and stop the atrocities meted out to the East Pakistanis. It didn’t meet with any significant effect. America and China just watched the events ; Europe remained silent ; UN establishment could not stop the killings ; Only Soviet Union stood in support of India.
China regarded India as its enemy, and Pakistan as its friend. Indian leaders were quite aware that in the event of any India-Pak war, China will be on the side of Pakistan.
PM, Indira Gandhi, met with President, Nixon, seeking to prevent this oppression and brutality by Pakistan. Nixon replied, ” You shoot anyone crossing your borders.” Implicit in his reply was the fact that he will be in support of Pakistan only. The conversation led to a verbal duel with Nixon seriously admonishing the PM, Indira Gandhi.
Returning from America, Indira Gandhi sought to initiate manoeuvres of ” peace, friendship, and cooperation” with the Soviet Union. Internally in response to JP Narayan’s query of India’s response to the brutality in East Pakistan, a neighbouring nation, Indira Gandhi politely responded with these words : ” please wait for sometime patiently”.
Indira Gandhi then called General Sam Manekshaw to know if defence services will be ready for a war. General Sam Manekshaw replied, ” Always Ready”. Indira Gandhi wanted the first attack to be from Pakistan; and the end result to be India’s victory. This is what Finally happened, ” A VICTORY FOR INDIA”.
Yahya Khan began the war expecting the support of America and China on December 3, 1971. Pakistan Airforce attacked the Indian Airforce Site. They were destroyed and driven away by the Indian Airforce. India also retaliated with defeats to the intruding Pakistan Army in Kashmir. India then entered East Pakistan with its army ably supported by the ” Mukti Bahini” forces of East Pakistan and defeated the Pakistan army clearly. Indian Military Lt General, Jagjit Singh Aurora made a call and warning to Pakistan to surrender within 48 hours. Pakistan Lt General, AAK Niyazi and his army of 93000 soldiers surrendered unconditionally making this “WAR” the greatest “VICTORY” after the Second World War in history. The war was over in just 14 days. December 16, 1971, became the Liberation Day.
Celebrating this victory, Indian PM, Indira Gandhi declared in the Parliament, ” Bangladesh is now born ; Dhaka has become it’s Capital ; Sheikh Mujibur Rahman becomes the First PM of Bangladesh ; Greetings to the PM and people of Bangladesh “. She also added, ” Our Generals of Army, Navy, and Airforce together with their soldiers, and the Border Security Forces are responsible for our Victory ; Let us all bow to their valour and sacrifices “.
It was not surprising that the Indian Opposition Leader, Atal Behari Vajpayee held Indira Gandhi as the image of, “Mother Parashakthi” for standing up firmly to thwart the sinister moves of Pakistan. The combined attack of India’s military, Navy, and Airforce alongside the “Mukti Bahini” were responsible for the creation of Bangladesh. General Sam Manekshaw stands tall in the heart of every Indian..
The history of formation of Bangladesh is not an ordinary one. Religion, Language, and Indian Cooperation makes the triad constituting the establishment of a revolutionary “BANGLADESH”.
Creation of Bangladesh enhanced the pride of India in the WORLD. Today marks the completion of 50 years of the formation of Bangladesh. Even amidst the highs and lows of our relationship in these years we cannot forget the characteristics of our people resembling them just as water changes its nature from the nature of the soil it flows..
Some of those responsible for the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have not been punished yet ; and the increasing voices against India and Hindus in Bangladesh are agonising and harrowing to say the least.
Bangladesh should prosper ; relationship between India and Bangladesh must also gain further strength.
This is the expectation of every Indian today..
” Dieu avec nous ”
Thursday, December 16, 2021 – 3.19 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Great countries are those that produce great people “. – Benjamin Disraeli.