Why in News:
- President Ram Nath Kovind participated in the celebration to mark the golden jubilee of independence of Bangladesh and victory in the Bangladeshi Liberation War
Brief summary of the movement
- It began with the declaration of Independence by the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters) led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 26, 1971.
- Since India’s partition into India and Pakistan (including present-day Bangladesh) in 1947, residents of East Pakistan have felt that forces in West Pakistan were undermining their culture and status.
- The Language Movement began in 1948 with the goal of asserting the rights of Pakistan’s Bengali-speaking population as well as achieving equal status for Bengali with Urdu, which was declared as Pakistan’s federal language on its own.
- There were also economic disparities between the two sides. The western side received a larger share of the common budget. West Pakistan dominated the country’s industry and trade, while East Pakistan was the primary provider of raw materials, creating an uneven trading arrangement. In more ways than one, West Pakistan deprived and coerced East Pakistan.
- Discrimination was so severe that even the smallest disagreement was labelled as an enemy of Pakistan or Islam. Persecutory measures, arrests, and incarceration were the rule of the day.
- West Pakistan had a 32% greater per capita income than East Pakistan in 1959-60. which increased to 81 percent by 1969-70. West Pakistan has constantly benefited from investment initiatives, notably in educational facilities.
- A catastrophic cyclone named “Bhola” struck East Pakistan in 1970, killing 300,000 to 500,000 people. The West Pakistan government’s lacklustre response increased tensions.
- Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won a clear majority in Pakistan’s general elections in 1970. However, the Pakistani military (which had only about 5% Bengali officers) was opposed to him becoming the country’s supremo.
- Yahya Khan‘s military government was unwilling to cede power to Mujibur Rahman.
- On the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani army launched the now-infamous ‘Operation Searchlight,’ killing students, intellectuals, and civilians in Bangladesh.
- Mujibur Rahman declared the country’s independence on March 26, after it became clear that the West Pakistan authorities would not grant him legitimate power.
- Following this, a guerrilla war erupted between the Pakistani army and their collaborators known as Razakars, as well as the Bangladeshi liberation forces, known as the ‘Mukti Bahini.’
- When Pakistani forces began attacking civilians in Bangladesh, millions of people fled to India, particularly West Bengal and Assam.
- Indian forces assisted by providing arms and training to Mukti Bahini soldiers. India officially entered combat on December 3, 1971, when Pakistan attacked Indian Air Force bases.
- Operation Trident -Offensive operation launched by the Indian Navy on Pakistan’s port city of Karachi during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
- Operation Meghna Heli Bridge – Aerial operation of Indian and Bangladeshi allied forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
- Pakistan surrendered on December 16, 1971. India won the war, and Bangladesh gained independence. The signing of the Indo-Soviet Treaty in August 1971 was instrumental in this.
- In order to ensure a smooth transition, India and Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement in 1972. In exchange for the release of Pakistani POWs, Pakistan was obliged to recognise Bangladesh’s independence. All prisoners of war in India were treated exactly in accordance with the Geneva Convention, Rule 1925.
- Every year on 16 December Vijay Diwas is observed to mark India’s victory in the 1971 war on Pakistan.
- India was able to break up the then undivided Pakistan( into present day Pakistan and Bangladesh) and thus eliminated the threat of a two-front war(in the western and eastern border) in any future confrontation( as Bangladesh welcomed India’s support for its independence). Although the eastern front remained largely inactive since 1965, it tied down India’s substantial military resources that could have been deployed to greater effect in the western theatre(Present day Pakistan).
- Negating the Communal Threat: By July-August 1971, 90% of the migrants were Hindus clustered in West Bengal border regions with strong Muslim populations. As a result, if India did not move immediately to assure their return, there was a real risk of communal bloodshed.
- The triumph established India’s considerably greater influence in international affairs.
- Many countries throughout the world, including the United States, recognised that the balance of power in South Asia had moved to India.
- The 1971 war demonstrated the strength of Indian secularism, with Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs all standing together in the face of adversity.
- Large-scale migration of Bangladeshis to India to flee persecution created massive social, political, administrative, and financial challenges for India, which persist to this day.
- Massive political unrest against Bangladeshi immigrants caused a major problem in the North East regions of Assam and Tripura.
- Apart from the drain of resources caused by the war and rehabilitation efforts, various sanctions were imposed on India by nations such as the United States, the war strengthened India’s relationship with the Soviet Union (India signed a 20-year Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation with the Soviet Union)