December 18, 1971 – Address by Professor Hiren Mukherjee – All-India Radio Overseas Service – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India’s Mitro bahini forces and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca (Dhaka) on 16 December 1971. The war began with Operation Chengiz Khan’s preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which led to the commencement of hostilities with Pakistan and Indian entry into the war for independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.
During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western fronts; the war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, East Pakistan had earlier called for its secession from Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately 90,000 to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army, which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of the Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan. The remaining 10,324 to 12,500 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars).
It is estimated that members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias killed between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians in Bangladesh. As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.
During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias called the Razakars raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.
Here, in a special report from All-India Radio’s Overseas Service, is an address and comment by Professor Hiren Mukherjee, a member of India’s Parliament on the occasion of the emergence of Bangladesh and its significance in the Asian community.
Long before the days of streaming, this is shortwave and dim-distant sound in all its historic splendor.