Nearly four decades after he escaped the jaws of death as a young Bangladeshi officer who deserted Pakistani army during the 1971 war, visiting Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruque Khan has expressed his gratitude to a retired Indian army officer who had saved his life and treated him like his “son.”
Mr. Khan sent a gift of ceramic coffee set made in Bangladesh to Lt Gen (Retd) K K Singh, who lives in Noida, and spoke to him over phone, recalling how the latter had helped him when he tried to cross over into India along the Sialkot - Samba border in December 1971 during the war and expressing his gratitude.
Mr. Singh, 93, one of the oldest living officers of Indian army, was touched by Mr. Khan’s gesture and told him in a lighter vein that “you were not only brave in 1971 but brainy too because you have become a minister.”
Mr. Khan told PTI here that as a young Second Lieutenant he had defected from Pakistani army when the Bangladesh liberation war broke out in December 1971.
He belly-crawled through the thick bushes on a mist-covered December morning along the border with Jammu and Kashmir in 1971 in a bid to enter India dreaming of return to his homeland Bangladesh.
Mr. Khan was oscillating between life and death every minute while shouting at the Indian troops on the other side identifying himself as a Bengali officer expressing his desire to surrender.
Understandably the Indian troops of the 3rd Grenadier had initially refused to believe him thinking that he might be trying an ambush and opened fire, he said, adding he took shelter behind a furrow and remained there motionless for ten minutes.
There was a lull, before he rose again and signalled to the Indian troops for surrendering before them.
The minister said he could make out that the Indian troops were speaking to their battalion headquarters about his intention.
After sometime, he was allowed to walk into India with hands up and luckily for him a Bengali doctor of Indian army at the forward post certified that Mr. Khan was indeed a Bangla-speaking officer.
But a final decision on Mr. Khan was taken only after Mr. K K Singh, the then core commander of Jammu and Kashmir, flew to the forward post in a helicopter and met him personally.
Thereafter, Mr. Khan was taken to Pathankot, Delhi and Kolkata before he entered Bangladesh and joined the liberation war.
“I could have been shot dead any time by the Indian army when I was trying to cross over into India. But I am grateful to Gen K K Singh who treated me like his son. I have always remembered this,” Mr. Khan said.
The Bangladesh Commerce Minister, who had attended the Defence Staff College in the US in 1984, said he was also looking forward to meet the Bengali doctor who had certified that he was indeed a Bangladeshi officer of Pakistan army.