“Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
India. A nation. A rhythm. Home to countless hearts beating as one. If diversity could be nationalized, India would be it. The civilization that dates back as one of the oldest, our nation has seen a plethora of different times. From ancient trade to powerful empires, to raids, and finally independence, it’s been a roller-coaster. However, unlike everyone thought, our troubles were not yet over. Post-independence has had its own mishaps, like the frequent collisions with our very friendly (not) neighbor- Pakistan. India’s fought several wars with the IRP, each of them with their own significant consequences, but none as huge as the formation of another country. Let’s dive headlong into the Indo-Pak war of 1971:
There’re many factors that caused the war, but since this isn’t a history lesson, we’ll cut it short.
- Initially, the war was between West and East Pakistan, formed out of India after the Partition, ongoing from March-December 1971. It sprung out of West Pakistan (actual Pakistan, FYI) suppressing the Bengali Hindu population of East Pakistan through genocide, torture, physical exploitation of women.
- India decided to intervene when millions of East Bengalis took refuge in West Bengal and the PAF launched airstrikes across 11 Indian airfields-despite being warned against it by the USSR- marking the official beginning.
On 16th December morning, the Indian troops (3,000) led by Lt. Gen JFR Jacob were given a simple order by Indian Gen Sam Manekshaw to “go, get a surrender.”
- After its major defeat, not only by the army but also at the hands of Indian Navy around 8-9 December (Karachi port annihilation) and the IAF with 4,000 sorties, Pakistan barely had another choice.
- Lt. Gen Niazi (East Pak Governor), wanted to call it a “ceasefire” since surrender would be too mortifying.
- After Jacob gave Niazi 30 minutes to respond, met with silence, Jacob took it “as a yes”.
- Eastern Commander Lt. Gen JS Aurora accepted Niazi’s surrender- in public view at the race course- making it final.
- East Pakistan was liberated, renamed as independent Bangladesh.
- West Pakistan gave up 90,000 prisoners of war to India.
- Casualties on both ends were close to 10,000. Pakistan lost a huge chunk of its then population along with its soldiers.
The combat ended in India’s favor, but it was combat. Bloodshed inspired bloodshed. If it weren’t for the grandeur of the Indian armed forces, the coming together of plans to obliterate enemy defenses, the collaboration with Mukti Bahini and sticking to a noble cause, the casualties would’ve been far greater than just those of warfare. In a world where the ‘world’ is ending, there needn’t be any more catastrophes. War is just that- catastrophic. The past cannot be hinged, the future can. If none other works, a battle must, but how did man get to battle, one wonders. They say ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, pray tell, then what brought us to the sword?
Written by: Shriya Singh Rawat