The Bangladesh war of liberation is an epic in itself. The Mukti Bahini stood up to the atrocities committed by the Pakistani army. In the later stages, the Indian army entered the war with Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
India learnt two lessons from the glorious victory. One, the United Nations failed to act for a second time on an issue of interest to it. Two, countries reacted to the critical developments strictly within the framework of their perceived interests, not on any moral or objective ground.
As a reservist of the Indian Navy, I was called to serve in the 1971 war. I was posted in the Eastern Naval Command. I distinctly remember the night of December 3, 1971 when, along with some Russians, we were trying to press INS Nistar, a submarine rescue vessel of the Russian Navy on loan to the Indian Navy, into service from the dry-dock at the Visakhapatnam port.
Just before Indira Gandhi's address to the nation on All India Radio, we heard a huge noise to the east of the harbour. INS Vikrant, the aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, was particularly targeted by the Pakistan Navy submarine PNS Ghazi, commanded by Zafar Muhammad Khan. As the Ghazi could not locate the Vikrant, it came towards the port of Vizag. INS Rajput, an R-class destroyer and decoy of INS Vikrant, reported sighting underwater objects and dropped depth charges (actually hedgehogs) that caused the sinking of the Ghazi.
Next morning, the Nistar sailed out and, through the diving bells and divers, located the Ghazi. As the submarine had its torpedoes out when the depth charges exploded, it had nosedived to the bottom of the sea.
The article “A task that's remained unfinished for 40 years” (Dec. 15) by a Bangladesh war veteran exposed not only the genocide by Yahya Khan's bloodthirsty brigade before and during the 1971 war but also the treachery of the collaborators in East Pakistan.
As an airman who took part in the 1971 war to liberate Bangladesh, I witnessed the valorous feats of the Mukti Bahini cadre who fought bitter battles against the Pakistani soldiers along with us. Their supreme sacrifice to avenge the rape of their country and culture is immeasurable. Those I met on our entry into Dacca after the war ecstatically recalled how bravely the Indian soldiers fought for the honour and liberation of their country. But the irony is that those who assassinated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of their nation, and patronised the murderers are still at large.