'Surrender, or...': Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's message to Pakistan - This and 10 other facts about 1971 war
File Photo

India is celebrating Vijay Diwas to commemorate the 1971 victory of the Indian Armed Forces and the Mukti-Bahini over Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The historic military victory was recorded after the chief of the Pakistani forces, General AA Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered unconditionally before the Indian forces. This was the largest military surrender after the World War II and paved the way for the creation of Bangladesh.

The surrender came on the heels of a tough warning by Indian Army Chief Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as Pak forces were surrounded. On December 13, 1971, Manekshaw issued a stern warning to Pakistan: "You surrender or we wipe you out."

Here are 10 other facts about 1971 victory of India over Pakistan:

1. The conflict was sparked by the Liberation War of Bangladesh following West Pakistan’s ill-treatment of the people and undermining the election results in East Pakistan. India opened its borders for the Bengali refugees and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi expressed full support to Bangladeshis' independence struggle. The call for secession was officially raised on March 26, 1971, by East Pakistan.

2. The Indo-Pak war effectively began after preemptive aerial strikes by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) across airfields in north-western India, including Agra as part of its Operation Chengiz Khan. The Taj Mahal, which glowed in the moonlight, was camouflaged using twigs and leaves to hide it from the enemy aircraft.

3. In response, the Indian Air Force flew about 4000 sorties in the western front and close to two thousand in the east. PAF could offer little in retaliation with around 2800 and 30 sorties on the two fronts. IAF continued to raid forward air bases in Pakistan till the end of the war.

4. The Indian Navy's Western Naval Command successfully conducted a surprise attack on Karachi port under the codename Trident on the night of December 4-5.

5. Pakistan had also mobilized its troops along the western front. The Indian Army retaliated and captured several thousand kilometers of Pakistani territory.

6. Pakistan suffered the maximum casualty with about 8000 dead and 25,000 wounded, while India lost 3000 soldiers and 12,000 were wounded.

7. The Mukti Bahini guerrillas in East Pakistan joined hands with the Indian forces to fight against Pakistani troops in the east. They received weapons and training from the Indian Army.

8. The Soviet Union sided with India in the war. On the other hand, the United States, under the presidency of Richard Nixon, supported Pakistan. The US went as far deploying a naval task force - Task Force 74 led by aircraft carrier USS Enterprise - in the Bay of Bengal as a show of support to Pak troops.

9. As India triggered a clause of 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, USSR dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers from Vladivostok to Bay of Bengal. These Soviet ships trailed US Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from December 18, 1971 until January 7, 1972.

10. At the end of the war, around 93,000 Pakistani troops led by General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi surrendered to the allied forces. They were returned as part of the Shimla Agreement of 1972.

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Free Press Journal