>FORMER chief of the Indian army’s eastern command Lt Gen (retd) JFR Jacob yesterday said it was the freedom fighters’ gallantry that liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan occupation. He said the full credit goes to them. They have done the real job and their acts of valour won the nation independence. (Click for full report)
The man who is credited with making Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the then commander of Pakistan army’s eastern command, surrender in public on December 16, 1971, said the freedom fighters including the soldiers of the East Bengal Regiment had emerged as “terror for the Pakistani troops”.
Now leading an 11-member delegation of Indian war veterans on a visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of Chief of Army Staff Gen Moeen U Ahmed, he was talking to newsmen at the Indian high commission in Dhaka. He expressed gratitude for having them in the Independence Day celebrations.
Looking back to the days in the lead-up to December 16, 1971, he spoke about his negotiations with Niazi on the instrument of surrender and the Pakistani general’s threat of revenge and submitting another person’s revolver as his own.
He also related how his country became involved in Bangladesh’s war of independence unofficially in early April, 1971. Jack Jacob, who drafted the historic “instrument of surrender”, enlisted in the army in 1941 when it was under British command, and retired in 1978.
Recounting how Niazi insisted on holding the surrender ceremony in his office, he said: “This man really behaved badly with Bangladesh people. Their army, as you know, what they did…I don’t want to mention all that.”
He continued: “I wanted him to surrender in front of the people of Dhaka…to be harassed. He said, ‘I won’t surrender, I surrender in Dhaka office.’ I said, ‘No, you would surrender in the Racecourse Maidan [now Suhrawardy Udyan] in front of the people of Dhaka.’ It’s the only public surrender in history.”
On views that it was risky to arrange the surrender ceremony in public with not much troops mobilised, he said, “I knew we had hardly any troops outside Dhaka which was problematic for public surrender…But would it have been better to be in safety and make him surrender in his office? No. I wanted him to face the people.”
Recollecting those historic moments, the architect of surrender ceremony said, “Niazi retorted, ‘Dhaka would fall over my dead body.’ But I did it the way I thought it should be. I didn’t have any directives or instructions for it. Was it wrong, I ask you?”
In the morning of December 16, Jacob was contacted to “go and get the surrender”.
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