Londoni

Pakistani officers surrender throughout Bangladesh

As a military custom each Pakistan army division, Air, Navy, para military forces surrendered separately after General Niazi. Outside Dhaka before and after 16 December, in order to save life many Pakistani units (division to company) surrendered to the advancing local joint command at public ceremonies by laying down their weapons and badges of rank and by signing the instruments of surrender. Scattered battles were still waged at various places of the country as few units ignored the surrender of General Niazi and due to communication problem, but these did not last long.

Pakistan Army 107 Brigade commander Brigadier Malik Hayat Khan with his 4,000 soldiers surrendered at a public ceremony in Khulna on 17th December. The people of Chittagong witnessed Pakistani surrender on 18 December. Four thousand Pakistani soldiers surrendered at Naogaon on 20th December. Some Bihari (paramilitary) gangs and other elements were active in pockets of Dhaka (Mirpur), North Bengal and Chittagong Hill Tracts until February 1972 and after 'negotiation' surrendered their arms.

'Free country'

Indira Gandhi informed the Indian parliament in the evening of 16 December 1971 of the Pakistani occupation forces' surrender in Dhaka.

Dhaka is now a free capital of a free country.

This House and the entire nation rejoice in this historic event. We hail the people of Bangladesh in their hour of triumph. We hail the brave young men and boys of Mukti Bahini for their valour and dedication.

Indira Gandhi announces liberation of Bangladesh in Lok Sabha immediately after surrender of Pakistani forces on 16 December 1971

Her declaration was met with deafening and prolonged applause in the Lok Sabha where members thumped tables, threw up papers in the air and shouted "Jai Bangla, Jai Indira Gandhi" in sheer ecstasy.

Hailing the emergence of the new country, she declared that the Indian Army would not remain there any longer than necessary. She remembered with gratitude, the men of the Mukti Bahini, the soldiers of the Indian Army and the Border Security Force who had fought magnificently and had laid down their lives for the liberation of the new country.

Three months later, on 17 March 1972, Indira Gandhi visited an independent Bangladesh after receiving invitation from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She announced the withdrawal of the Indian troops, and such a quick withdrawal immediately after the war was unprecedented in world history.

No one can say that our independence was a gift from anybody or, for that matter, any country. We were already an independent nation with distinct borders and national esteem, but under the forceful occupation of the enemy. Of course we recognise with earnest gratefulness that others did help us in attaining victory much earlier than it was expected to fight-out alone. In fact, nine months seem to be a considerably short period to defeat Pakistani occupation forces, which enjoyed the support of number of major powers of the world, to name China and America. May be, without an extensive and close support from our big neighbour our struggle to be free from the occupation forces could have taken longer.

The moment we achieved victory an extra responsibility befell us: to stand up as an independent nation, with dignity, honour and respect.

Ashraf Al Deen, a proud Bengali

President Yahya on the fall of East Pakistan