Pune: On December 16, the Indian Army will celebrate the 46th anniversary of the 1971 India-Pakistan war. On this day in 1971, the Chief of the Pakistani Forces in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Lt Gen AAK Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army Bahini, led by Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, who was the Eastern Army Commander during the war.
The surrender was executed in the Ramna Race Course, now Suhrawardy Udyan, in Dhaka, after Pakistan's defeat in the war. While it was Pakistan who initiated the war on December 3, 1971, in the next three days, half of Pakistani Air Force was grounded, in seven days, the Pakistan Navy was made ineffective and in 13 days Indian Army sealed a decisive victory, and Bangladesh was born. It was another major victory for a young Indian democracy and helped strengthen the confidence of the leadership and population. The anniversary of the victory is observed as ‘Vijay Diwas’ across India, by paying tributes to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation.
Southern Command's role
Southern Command’s contribution has been immense wherein it was able to blunt the enemy offensive in Longewala Sector and capture 90,000 square kilometres of Pakistani territory. The raid on Pakistani town of Chachro, carried out by soldiers of the renowned 10 Para Commando Battalion, commanded by Lt Colonel (later Brig) Bhawani Singh, was an action par excellence and is still fresh in the minds of all people.
Vijay Diwas celebrations
At Pune, the day will be commemorated at the National War Memorial, located next to Headquarters Dakshin Maharashtra Sub Area, Ghorpari. The event will commence with laying of wreath at the memorial by Lt Gen DR Soni, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command, and other senior Army officers. The function will include patriotic songs being rendered by school children, offering of prayers by religious teachers, laying of floral tributes by serving officers/veteran officers, Junior Commissioned Officers, other ranks, civilian officers and prominent citizens of Pune.
The National War Memorial will be open to the public from 8.30 am to 9 pm on December 16 to pay homage to the martyrs, and also to visit the museum located adjacent to the memorial. The military brass band will also be in attendance.
In the evening, a silent tribute will be given to the martyrs by lighting candles at the National War Memorial between 7 pm and 9 pm.
“The citizens of Pune are invited to visit the memorial and join the Armed Forces in paying homage to our martyrs who laid down their lives in service to the nation, in a silent lighting of candles ceremony at the National War Memorial, Ghorpari, between 7 pm to 9 pm on December 16," a press release from Defence PRO stated.