Vijay Diwas or the victory day is observed every year on December 16. It marks the victory of the Mukhti Bahini forces, assisted by the Indian Armed Forces. They defeated the Pakistani armed forces who had occupied their land and had subjugated them in their own nation. This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the victory.
On this day, a 12- day war ended with the surrender of more than 93,000 Pakistani troops and the creation of the state of Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, this day is celebrated as ‘Bijoy Dibas’.
1905– Partition of Bengal province carried out on religious lines. The province is divided into East and West Bengal. East Bengal had a substantial number of Muslims and the West had a substantial number of Hindus. This division that was announced by Lord Curzon, led to large-scale unity displayed by both the Hindus and the Muslims.
1906– A delegation led by Aga Khan and Nawab Mohsin-Ul-Mulk formed the Muslim League after receiving support from the British government in pursuance of its ‘divide and rule policy’. From this point, communal tensions increased to a great extent in the province.
1940– The Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League accepted the demand for the creation of a ‘Muslim majority Pakistan’. East Bengal was included as part of Pakistan.
1947– The Indian Independence Act, 1947 created two dominions, India and Pakistan. East Bengal became a part of Pakistan and was called East Pakistan.
1948– The government of Pakistan declared the language of ‘Urdu’ to be the national language of Pakistan. It ignored the claims of the ‘East Pakistanis’ who were predominantly, Bengali language speakers.
1956– The Bengali Language Movement is launched in East Pakistan to give importance to the use of ‘Bengali’ in the administration of East Pakistan. The movement is brutally suppressed.
1956-70– The residents of East Pakistan demanded economic and political reforms. Over 70% of Pakistan’s total exports and foreign exchange earnings accrued from its Eastern part. However, all the investments and expenditure went towards fulfilling the wishes of the ‘Punjab province’. East Pakistan was left to rot in poverty.
The East Pakistanis also resented the lack of political representation. They were finally allocated 162 out of 300 seats in the National Assembly.
1970- Elections to the National began. The Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman secured 160/300 seats and was to have been appointed as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto couldn’t accept this loss of power and refused to give up. Protracted negotiations began.
March 1971- A call for independence was made for the first time. From here onwards, the West Pakistani authorities launched a brutal crackdown on the people. Intellectuals were murdered, women were raped and more than six million people were butchered.
December 4, 1971- The Indian Armed Forces get involved in the war.
December 16, 1971- 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the Indian forces and the Mukhti Bahinis. The Republic of Bangladesh is established. The forces led by Lt. General Abdullah Khan Niazi (related to the current Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan) laid down their arms.
Role of India
India was pulled into this conflict without her actual involvement initially. Due to the massive human rights violations by the Pakistani Armed Forces, an estimated ten million refugees escaped and entered India.
India’s External Intelligence Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) trained the Mukhti Bahini rebels who were common civilians and also Bengali personnel in the Pakistan armed forces who were disillusioned with their Punjabi bosses.
India entered the war on December 4th and the war ended in 12 days. This surrender by the Pakistanis is recognized as one of the fastest surrenders in the world.
The three arms of the armed forces, the intelligence agencies and every entity of the government helped liberate and establish the Republic of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh adopted “Amar Sonar Bangla” composed by Rabindranath Tagore as their national anthem.