India on Thursday celebrated the 50th anniversary of its victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war that led to redrawing of the political map of South Asia and ended the horrific violence unleashed by the Pakistani army on millions of Bangladeshi people.
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage at the Reception Ceremony of ‘Swarnim Vijay (*50*)’ to mark the 50th Vijay Diwas, at the National War Memorial, in New Delhi on Thursday. Photograph: ANI Photo
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tributes to the valour and sacrifices of Bangladeshi freedom fighters and Indian armed forces on the 50th anniversary of the occasion ‘Vijay Diwas’.
President Ram Nath Kovind attended the Victory Day Parade in Dhaka as the ‘Guest of Honour’, in reflection of India’s deep connect with the people of Bangladesh and reaffirming New Delhi’s strong ties with that country.
A 122-member strong tri-services contingent from India also took part in the grand parade watched by Bangladesh President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other senior military and civilian leaders of the country.
Addressing the Victory Day celebrations in Dhaka, President Kovind said that the 1971 struggle for freedom has a special place in the hearts of every Indian.
In his message on Twitter, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said: ‘On Vijay Diwas, I pay homage to the martyrs of the 1971 war. The nation remembers the heroic valour and unwavering patriotism displayed by our armed forces during the war.’
Their unmatched gallantry and selfless sacrifices continue to inspire every Indian, he said.
IMAGE: Army officers pay tribute to the martyrs of the 1971 India-Pakistan war to mark the 50th Vijay Diwas, at Victory memorial, in Kolkata on Thursday. Photograph: ANI Photo
India’s remarkable victory following the surrender of over 90,000 Pakistani soldiers on December 16 half a century ago resulted in the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country, marking a new beginning that came after months of mass atrocities and the death of hundreds of thousands of people.
In a tweet, Modi said, ‘On the 50th Vijay Diwas, I recall the great valour and sacrifice by the Muktijoddhas, Biranganas and bravehearts of the Indian Armed Forces. Together, we fought and defeated oppressive forces. Rashtrapati Ji’s presence in Dhaka is of special significance to every Indian.’
He also laid a wreath and paid his respects at the National War Memorial.
Four victory torches (Vijay (*50*)), which were taken across the country during the last one year, were merged into the memorial’s eternal flame by Modi at an event that was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the three service chiefs.
The victory torches, which were lighted by Modi exactly a year ago, were carried to various parts of India, including to villages of the awardees of Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra of the 1971 war.
Singh paid rich tributes to the armed forces personnel who fought the war described the victory as the golden chapter in India’s military history,
“On the occasion of ‘Swarnim Vijay Diwas’ we remember the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces during the 1971 war. The 1971 war is the golden chapter in India’s military history. We are proud of our armed forces and their achievements,” he said.
In Kolkata, martyrs of the 1971 war were remembered in a memorial service at the Eastern Command headquarters. Wreaths were laid by war veterans, next of kin of those who fought for the country, Army commanders of the three services and Lt General Manoj Pande, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command.
As buglers sounded the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Rouse’ from the rampart behind the magnificent edifice of the memorial at Fort William, the headquarters of the Army’s Eastern Command, participants observed two minutes’ silence to pay homage to all those who died in the war.
The northern command of the army on Thursday commemorated the sacrifice of its forces in the war by dedicating to them ‘Swarnim Vijay Dwar’ in Udhampur.
The defence minister shared on Twitter a number of photos relating to the war as well as an image of the ‘Pakistani Instrument of Surrender’.
IMAGE: Fire and Fury Corps personnel pays tribute to the bravehearts who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty during 1971 War on the occasion of Vijay Diwas, at Leh War Memorial in Leh on Thursday. Photograph: ANI Photo
Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the then East Pakistan army commander, signed the ‘Instrument of Surrender’ in Dhaka (then Dacca) in the presence of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-C of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command.
Several events were organised throughout the country to mark the occasion with leaders cutting across the political spectrum hailing the armed forces for the decisive victory.
Parliament also paid tributes to Bangladeshi freedom fighters and Indian armed forces with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla remembering the exemplary courage displayed by them.
“Their extraordinary sacrifices will continue to inspire future generations,” the Speaker said.
Congress members raised slogans hailing late prime minister Indira Gandhi for leading the nation during the 1971 war.
The Congress accused the government of indulging in petty politics by not remembering Indira Gandhi during the Vijay Diwas celebrations.
Senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge said it was unfortunate that the government did not recognise the role played by Indira Gandhi in the liberation of Bangladesh during the celebrations.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the BJP government of indulging in petty and cheap politics by not naming Indira Gandhi who led from the front and gave decisive leadership at the time.
‘The Modi government and the BJP will not deter from their cheap and petty politics. On the 50th Vijay Diwas of Bangladesh’s independence, the Prime Minister and the people in the government did not even take the name of Indira Gandhi, the ‘Iron Lady’ of the 1971 war, is an example of their frustrated and narrow mindset,’ Surjewala said in a tweet in Hindi, using hashtag ‘Bangladesh’.
All India Congress Committee general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said, ‘Our first and only woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi is being left out of the misogynist BJP government’s Vijay Diwas celebrations.’
She said this happened on the 50th anniversary of the day that she led India to victory and liberated Bangladesh.
Many chief ministers also hailed the sacrifices of the soldiers.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced government jobs to kin of the war martyrs from the state. He made the announcement while addressing a programme on Vijay Diwas at Amar Jawan Jyoti.
According to existing rules, any one dependent of those martyred between August 15, 1947 and December 31, 1970 is given a government job.
The new rule will extend the cut off to December 31, 1971, paving the way for appointments of the dependents of soldiers martyred in the 1971 war.