The Two Nation Theory based on religion identity got defeated. Religion could no longer remain the binding force for two Pakistans to remain united. Bengalis living in East Pakistan declared themselves independent from West Pakistan
Children do you know that December 16th, is the 45th anniversary of the 1971 India–Pakistan war. The only war that the independent Indian Army planned, executed and carried out with precision and captured 93,000 prisoners. The 1971 war gave birth not only to Bangladesh but Pakistan was forced to sign the Shimla Pact laying down the peace principles governing Indo-Pak relations. The Accord also converted the 1949 UN Ceasefire Line into the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. Only two such surrenders have happened in the world, one in Leningrad and another one in Bangladesh.All this happened because our army heroes. Far from home and loved ones, these heroes sacrificed their own lives so the entire nation can sleep in peace. The stories of their courage and passion are larger than life. Children they are legends and their tales will not just make your chests swell with pride, but will also leave your eyes moist.
A lot of soldiers took part in the war and sacrificed their lives. We salute their indomitable spirit and valour. Following are two soldiers of the Indian army who are remembered for their sterling performance in the war.
Major General Ian Cardozo, who has many achievements to his name, will always be known for his immense courage shown in the 1971 war. He was, at that time, a young major with 5 Gorkha Rifles. During the war, he stepped on a landmine and severely injured his leg. When even the doctor could not cut his leg, Cardozo asked for a khukri (the Gorkha knife) and cut his own leg off, saying, “Now go and bury it!”The incident did not deter Cardozo from going on to serve his country. Through sheer willpower and determination, he continued to perform his duties as a soldier and became the first disabled officer in the Indian Army to command an infantry battalion and a brigade. In spite of not being physically at par with other officers, he defeated many ‘two-legged’ soldiers to come first in many fitness tests during his stint in the army.
2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal of the 17 Poona Horse regiment is yet another braveheart who died at the age of 21.Born in Pune ,he died in the Battle of Basantar during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, where his brave actions earned him the ParamVir Chakra posthumously. Khetarpal showed immense courage and strong will when Pakistani armour, which was superior in strength, counterattacked at Jarpal, in the Shakargarh sector, in December, 1971. Though Khetarpal was in a different squadron, he rushed to help, moving towards the enemy, overrunning the defences with his tanks, and capturing Pakistani infantry and weapons.When the commander of his troop was killed, Khetarpal continued to attack the enemy fiercely until the latter’s tanks started pulling back. But the enemy reformed their armour and prepared for a second attack. This time they targeted the sector held by Khetarpal. The attack was severe and swift. Khetarpal was wounded but managed to hit ten enemy tanks. He was asked to abandon his tank but realised that if he left it the enemy would break through. He fought courageously and destroyed another enemy tank. But then his own tank received another hit, which resulted in the death of this courageous officer.
Why is it important to remember 1971?
India’s image plummeted considerably after the 1962 debacle. The focus on economic development became diluted. The obsession with victory and defeat in war revived atavistic notions. It reminded the people that India had never won a major war throughout her long history. She had been a perpetual loser in all encounters. Then the ’71 war happened. All three forces Army, Navy and Air force played a stellar role in executing a pre-planned campaign. The liberation of Bangladesh did several things for India. It removed any residual feelings of inferiority about Indian Army’s fighting powers. It was the first time that the Indian leadership decided to take a decisive action on moral grounds. It was the first time that India violated the UN charter. It was the first time that India handled pressure from US, China and Europe. It was the first time that India decided that an error made by the British in division needed to be corrected by force. It was the first time that India decided that the Bangladeshi immigrant problem could only be addressed if the country was given its legitimacy.
The 1971 Indo-Pak war was one of those rarest of rare occasions in our history when India took the military initiative.OPERATION EAGLE was the code name for India’s undeclared War on Pakistan that began on November 03, 1971 with military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts.Politically, the war began in April 1971 when Pakistan pushed nearly nine million refugees into India through a campaign of rape, murder and terror that statistically comes close to Hitler's genocide of Jews in the Second World War, in scale and brutality.Military force remained the only option when it became clear that the rest of the world had decided to ignore this crime. India bided its time till the winter snows closed the Himalayan passes, rendering Chinese intervention difficult.Around November 26, 1971, India began to nibble at East Pakistani territory. Pakistan, instead of cutting its losses and calling quits, in a desperate gamble escalated the conflict by launching air/ground attacks in the West on December 3, 1971. By escalation, it hoped to rope in China and the US in widening the conflict and hoped for a UN intervention a la Kashmir.The Indian Air Force achieved remarkable success when within the first 48 hours it achieved complete air superiority in the Eastern theatre of war. This enabled the advancing army columns to move without any fear of detection even in daytime.With supply from the air assured, the army did not have to be dependent on opening of roads, which were heavily defended by the Pakistanis. The five division-strong Indian forces advanced from three directions and secured choke points well in the rear.The bypassed Pak forces had no option but to up stick and attack the Indian troops in order to go back to Dhaka. This was a classic case of 'offensive strategy' and ‘defensive tactics’ devised by the indomitable General J F R Jacob.These tactics were reminiscent of the Israeli tactics of 1967 war when they bypassed the Egyptian forces in front and seized the passes in the rear (the Mitla and Giddi passes in the Sinai mountains).The Indian Army in Bangladesh similarly bypassed the Pakistani forces on the border and headed for the river ferries/crossings/bridges in the rear. The Eastern sector led by Lieutenant General Sagat Singh found a chance opening and exploited it. In 24 hours, 12 small helicopters of the air force ferried brigade strength across a mile wide Meghan river.The Pakistani defenders were totally taken aback and Indian troops reached Dhaka by December 13-14. The navy had blockaded the sea and All India Radio constantly drummed into the Pak soldiers that they had no choice but to surrender.It is interesting to note that the Indian troops had less than 1:2 superiority and were on the offensive. Normally that means more casualties. But it is tribute to Indian general-ship that the Indian loss was 2,000 men as against that of Pak at 6,000.Credit for this goes to the efficiency of the three services.