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1971 battle: When world woke as much as Pakistani terror and India’s endeavour to save lots of humanity in Bangladesh


The Bangladesh liberation battle united the multitudinous progressive forces in all continents in an aspiration for a greater world

“Bangladesh Bangladesh, When the Sun Sinks in the West…” my technology nonetheless remembers the crystal-clear voice of Joan Baez, the youth icon of the ‘flower generation’, supporting an motion to save lots of the thousands and thousands of Bengalis fleeing their homeland after Pakistan’s generals unleashed terror on the populace of the land which might quickly develop into Bangladesh.

The start of this new nation was to develop into an occasion noticed by your entire planet; the months which preceded the ‘birth’ are engraved into world historical past.

50 Years Later

Joan Baez had written ‘The Story of Bangladesh’ in March 1971, quickly after the Pakistani Army crackdown on sleeping unarmed Bengali college students at Dhaka University on 25 March 1971, an occasion which triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War eight months later.

This month, the planet celebrates the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh by the Indian Army. For many, the occasions of December 1971 symbolise an awakening of the world consciousness to the injustice and cruelty of Pakistan’s state politics in direction of the individuals of East Pakistan.

It additionally stays an episode that united the multitudinous progressive forces in all continents in an aspiration for a greater world. Many nations performed a particularly adverse position, at the beginning being the United States of America and China.

Many sides to start of Bangladesh

In this context, it’s unlucky that in 1971, the United States, for its personal petty political pursuits (primarily to develop into mates with Mao’s China) gave its assist to the Pakistani dictator and this regardless of the ‘Blood Telegrams’ despatched by Archer Blood, the US Consul General in Dacca, informing Washington of the atrocious massacres being dedicated by the Pakistani Army.

There are quite a lot of different points to the Bangladesh liberation, a few of which have been uncared for by historians. Obviously, for India and prime minister Indira Gandhi, it was a battle that turned a convincing victory for the Indian Army and its chief, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

In some ways, it washed away the scars of the crushing defeat of 1962 in opposition to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. For the Indian defence forces, it was proof that with good, sound, down-to-earth and on the similar time decisive political and navy management and coordinated cooperation between the three Services (Army, Air Force and Navy), “India can do it”. The ‘job’ was executed in 13 days (3-16 December 1971). It was an immense psychological enhance for India.

The finish of Panchsheel coverage

One subject which isn’t usually highlighted is that the liberation of Bangladesh noticed the top of the sacrosanct Panchsheel coverage. By intervening inside Pakistan’s territory, India confirmed that the suitable to self-determination can prevail over different rules.

The mandarins of South Block have all the time most well-liked ‘not to rock the boat’ and the Five Principles (primarily ‘non-interference’ in different’s affairs) have been one of the best ways to keep away from crimes dedicated within the neighbourhood (bear in mind the invasion of Tibet in 1950?).

This time the diplomats did solely intervene after the battle was over (to botch up the navy successes and provides Zulfikar Ali Bhutto no matter he wished).

The Tibetan participation

The Indian intervention in East Pakistan defined the nervousness of communist China which had simply been admitted to the UN: Would India sooner or later ‘liberate’ Tibet, prefer it was within the technique of doing for Bangladesh? This was actually a problem for the management in Beijing that violently opposed India’s navy actions. It was compounded by the participation of the Tibetan commandos in navy operations.

The participation of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), a unit composed of Tibetans, which had been created in November 1962 and was underneath the duty of Brig (later Maj Gen) Sujan Singh Uban, an officer specialised in guerilla warfare, shouldn’t be well-known. This pressure performed a vital position in chopping off the retreat of the Pakistani troops towards Burma (at the moment Myanmar) and neutralising the Mizo insurgents supporting Pakistan.

The Tibetan operations within the Chittagong Hills are essential for various causes: It had the non secular backing of the Dalai Lama, the temporal and non secular chief of Tibet, and likewise as a result of China, an ally of Pakistan, realised for the primary time that the SFF was a pressure to reckon with and that sooner or later, the SFF is likely to be utilized by India for operations inside Tibet.

The data of the actions of the Mukti Bahini, the Bangladesh Liberation Force, additionally skilled by Gen Uban, are nonetheless troublesome to search out (even after 50 years), however their actions are value remembering.

Intellectual and non secular points

But there may be extra to the liberation of Bangladesh. Many intellectuals, thinkers and well-known personalities joined of their condemnation of the crimes by the Pakistani generals, who have been supported by the US and Chinese management. The collusion of those two governments in opposition to primary human values is properly documented.

The instance of André Malraux, the Culture Minister of General Charles de Gaulle, who was extraordinarily lively within the mental and political sphere in assist of the brand new state of Bangladesh, is value mentioning. At a complicated age, he was eager to hitch the Mukti Bahini to assist Mujibur Rehman, the Bengali chief who had gained the Pakistani elections held earlier within the yr, to ‘liberate’ his nation from the tyrannical Pakistani rule.

It is fascinating to notice that in 1971, the Indian Army was commanded by a General of the Parsi religion (Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw), the Army Commander in Eastern Command (Gen JS Aurora) was a Sikh, whereas the Chief of Staff (Gen JFR Jacob) was of the Jewish religion; and naturally, a number of senior officers have been Hindus. Apart from the truth that this mix is a novel trait of the Indian Army, all these representatives of various faiths defended their Muslim brothers of Bangladesh. The liberation of Bangladesh additionally meant the survival of a pluralistic world, the place freedom of religion, speech and democracy can thrive.

Sri Aurobindo’s imaginative and prescient

In this context, it’s value mentioning the non secular angle, significantly the deep non secular involvement of the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram within the Liberation War.

During his total life (together with after his so-called ‘retirement’ in Pondicherry), the Rishi of Pondicherry felt extraordinarily involved in regards to the happenings in Bengal (in each its western and japanese components) and till his passing away, he would repeatedly be briefed in regards to the ‘politics’ of Bengal.

Already initially of World War II, the sage had superbly commented upon the battle between two worlds, one primarily based on violence and authoritarianism (or fascism) and the opposite on a extra human strategy. He argued that it was of utmost significance to assist the latter.

In 1940, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “The struggle that is going on is not fundamentally a conflict between two imperialisms — German and English… It is in fact a clash between two world forces that are contending for the control of the whole future of humanity. One force seeks to destroy the past civilisation and substitute a new one; but this new civilisation is in substance a reversion to the old principles of dominant force and a rigid external order and denies the established values, social, political, ethical, spiritual, altogether. Among these values are those which were hitherto held to be the most precious, the liberty of the individual, the right to national liberty, freedom of thought; even religious liberty is to be crushed and replaced by the subjection of religion to state control.”

In some ways, the truth that the trigger célèbre for the liberation of Bangladesh attracted so many various voices the world over, is a reminder that if India and the world had accepted the diktats from Pakistan (and their mates in Washington and Beijing), a extra barbaric world would have flourished, not less than on this a part of the world. The Indian armed forces needs to be proud to have been the primary would possibly behind this victorious multifaceted endeavour.

The author is a famous writer, journalist, historian, Tibetologist and China knowledgeable. The views expressed are private.​

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