Special Feature on Vijay Diwas 16 Dec 2017
Col P N Khera, VSM
India celebrates its 46th Vijay Diwas on Dec 16, 2017 to commemorate when 93000 officers and soldiers of Pak army under the command of Lt Gen AAK Niazi surrendered to Indian Army under the command of Lt Gen JS Aurora GOC-in-C, Eastern Command. In the annals of Military History of the world it is a unique victory to the Indian Army when well garrisoned, able bodied and well armed Pakistan Army surrendered.
New Delhi – Asia Defence News International — The most glorious moment of the millenium for India was on 16 December 1971 at 16:51 hour, when Lieut Gen. A. A. K. Niazi, GOC-in-C, East Pakistan, and his 93,000 strong Army surrendered to Lieut Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, GOC-in-C Eastern Command of the Indian Army. A grateful nation celebrates that defining moment as Vijay Diwas on 16 December.
Lieut Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, who led the Eastern Command to that spectacular victory over Pakistan, vividly recalled every moment in an exclusive interview to the writer before his death.
“I was tasked to complete the operation (liberation of Bangladesh) as early as possible before international intervention. Keeping in view the terrain and enemy disposition we adopted a totally unconventional approach. We bypassed enemy’s well fortified positions and dashed towards Dhaka” the General said.
“Our strategy worked. We avoided frontal attacks on the enemy guarding the river lines and crossed up or down stream in unheld areas and appeared in the rear of the enemy, thereby turning his flanks and taking him by complete surprise”, explained the General.
Recounting the major contributory factors in this unprecedented victory, the General attributed success to the superior combat power, initiative and the time being on his side, “There was enough time to plan, prepare and deploy our forces”, felt the General.
“We had sufficient time to get people on our side,” said Gen Aurora, “The local people gave us accurate and real-time information and guided us accurately on to our objectives. The Mukti Bahini proved to be a big force multiplier”.
Being a good soldier, that he was, the General gave due credit to his opponents and said, “They prepared well, particularly alternative positions within the main defences. Some of them were hard nuts to crack. We outmaneuvered them and advanced to Dhaka at the fastest possible speed”.
Fully satisfied with the conduct of operations, the General emphasised “The lightning speed of our Army caught them by surprise. The war was fought exactly as planned by us”.
Commenting on his adversary the General stated “Niazi did not even think of defending Dhaka. He had no imagination and felt let down.” Pointing at the major handicap of Pakistan Army, Gen Aurora thoughtfully said, “Their army was isolated from the local people. The people were deeply hurt and alienated because Pakistan Army looted, raped and forcibly married the local women and wanted to take them to West Pakistan. As such they felt insecure in their own country. No army can fight under these conditions”.
The victorious Army Commander was full of praise for his men and officers, particularly commended initiative and improvisation displayed while launching first amphibious operation across the mighty Meghna River. “There was hardly any bridging resources and we had only one squadron of helicopter. Yet the boys did it”, recalled the General.
Born on 13 Feb 1916 at Kala Gujran Distt Jhelum (Pb) now in Pakistan, General Aurora remembered with nostalgia his younger days when he was commissioned on 1 January 1939 into 5 Battalion of 2 Punjab Regiment and subsequently commanded 1 Para. Initially at the IMA and later at the Staff College, Quetta, he had Gen Yahya Khan, the President of Pakistan, as his colleague. He remembered Gen Yahya Khan as a “fun-loving soldier” who “took the stupid decision of attacking India”.
When asked to define the most glorious moment of the war, the humble but proud General looked at the legendary photograph of the surrender in which the young Aurora watched Gen Niazi sign the document of surrender and said, “Of course, that was the most glorious moment, but let us not make much out of it, after all it was only a part of Pakistan, that too not a viable part” he added, with humility, the most becoming conduct of a victorious soldier.
Admiring the post-war conduct of the Indian Army the General said, “Nowhere in history an army went in and came out without taking any advantage”. On the contrary, the General said, “We helped them in reconstruction of their roads and bridges”.
Gen Aurora died at 89 this year. He was leading a peaceful and satisfied life. In a final analysis of the situation in this part of the world he stressed, “politics of the sub-continent notwithstanding, the people of Bangladesh are eternally grateful to the Indian Army for its role and contribution in their struggle for freedom”. He felt the warmth of their feeling when he re-visited Dhaka recently where he was given a warm and affectionate welcome.
This was perhaps his last interview on 10 Dec 2004 given to Editor ADNI on the eve of 33rd Vijay Diwas at his New Friend Colony, New Delhi residence. He passed awary on 03 May 2005.
Lieutenant General Aurora is no more but his memory will always live with Vijay Diwas. — (ADNI)