India Foundation organised an event on 15th to 16th December, 2017 to commemorate the India-Pakistan War 1971 and the Liberation of Bangladesh. As an opening remark, Shri Shakti Sinha, Director, Nehru Memorial and Museum & Library, recalled the historic chain of events and mentioned that this remains an important part of history in the Indian subcontinent. Further, he touched on the significant roles played by figures like Babu Jagjivan.
Shri VK Singh, Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, who participated at this event talked briefly about the significance of the day, that is, 16 December 1971. He considered it to be a “historic and memorable day”. To him, celebrating this war of liberation brings back nostalgia. He also gave respect to those who gave up their lives for this cause and said that it is not enough to honour those brave-hearts who shed their precious lives during the war. According to him, the struggle for Bangladesh was carried out in seven different periods. There were ups and downs in the struggle but the events that unfolded in 1971 were remarkable. Shri Singh went on to mention about the refugee problem that cropped up in March of this year as a result of the crackdown. He also recalled the gradual build-up of Mukti Bahini. This war for the liberation of Bangladesh, to Shri Singh, was the greatest war in the military history of the world in several ways. It was made possible because of the joint efforts of the two forces and because of the immense support from the people of Bangladesh.
Speaking on this solemn event, Smt. Meira Kumar,former Speaker, LokSabhaproudly elucidated the spirit of patriotism and sacrifices that were made during the 1971 War. She aptly considered it to be a “movement of undiluted national pride”. Giving a personal touch in her speech, the former speaker narrated the role of her father who was India’s Defence Minister then. It took the country 17 months to prepare for the 1971 war. As a part of the preparation for the war, there were discussions regarding where the war should be fought, and it was made clear that it would be in Bangladesh. She, similarly with Shri Singh, talked of this as a “historic” event.
The importance of public support and participation in times of such crisis was emphasised by the former speaker. Smt. Kumar spoke on a very important issue, that is, the rightful duty of every Indian citizen to defend his/her country and that such task of safeguarding national interests and integrity should not be left solely to the soldiers. She concluded by saying that the human spirit and a strong sense of unity and humanity led to the victory of the mentioned war. It was, to her, indeed a “classic war”.
His Excellency,Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon’ble President of India, addressed the veterans who participated in the India-Pakistan 1971 Liberation of Bangladesh. He noted that with the able and mature leadership of Sheikh BangabandhuMujiburRahman, who is described as Father of Nation and also the helping hand provided by India under the leadership of late Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi afforded the dignity of human lives and also the basic fundamental rights of individuals to have their freedom from the oppressive, tightened rules of the military junta in Pakistan. TheHon’ble President mentioned that it was the conspiracy of the military junta, the then ruling Pakistan, to deny the legitimate right of the people of East Bengal or East Pakistan to have their own elected government. He expressedgratitude that few organizations like India Foundation,Nehru Memorial Library and Trust, Babu Jagjivan Trust and the organization of the war veterans have collaborated to organize such events. He remarked that the new generation of Bangladesh,which was born after 1971 were also Indians who are not aware of the tremendous sacrifices of their forefathers and that they should learn about it. Bangladesh, a land of rivers in whose soil large number of BangladeshiMuktiBahini and Indian soldiers laid their lives and their blood got mixed with the soil of Bangladesh, has in fact made the land more fertile for producing ideas. His Excellency further reiterated that the historic bond, which has been created by this heroic struggle, would further enhance the cooperation between India and Bangladesh. He closed his address citing the role of Rabindranath Tagore, the same poet who composed national songs for both the countries. Both the songs being sung together brings India and Bangladesh as integrated emotionally.
His Hon’ble Minister, Mr. Mofazzal Hossain Choudhury Maya, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Bangladesh humbly began his address by addressing his gratitude to the organizers, and acknowledged the citizens and the Government of India for their help, empathy, sacrifices and cordiality which accelerated the independence of Bangladesh. In his speech he remembered Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with deep respect. He also conveyed his gratitude to Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. Stressing on the help and support provided by the Government of India and Indian people, he appreciated the immense assistance in terms of arms, military training, shelter, food, medicine, friendly treatment. The Indian Government played a significant role to create international support in favour of liberation of Bangladesh. For all these supports, the Minister on behalf of the people and the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh, sincerely conveyed his heartfelt gratitude and deep respect to the people and Government of India.
Speaking of the great sacrifices, Mr. Mofazzal Hossain Choudhury Maya remembered not only the Bangladeshis who sacrificed their lives in the war, but also thousands of Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives too. He reiterated that India stood by the side of the war trodden Bangladesh when Bangabhandu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was reconstructing the country. Acknowledging the friendly relationship between India and Bangladesh, he commended that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi has taken the relationship of the two countries to a great high and dimension. Bringing context of militancy and terrorism, he strongly remarked that Bangladesh dislikes militant activities and affirmed their position against militancy. He reassured that neither Bangladesh nor India will give shelter to any terrorist and promised to work together for eradication of militancy and terrorism.
On a concluding note, the Hon’ble Minister expressed planting a new seed of stronger cooperation in the horizon of friendship between India and Bangladesh which will work against all harmful forces and calamities.