Indeed it was a great day. The Armed Forces of Bharat had won a decisive battle defeating Pakistan and dismembering that rogue state. The top General of the Pakistan Forces in the then East Pakistan, Lt General AAK Niyazi signed the surrender document, took off his badges of rank, took out his revolver from the holster and presented it to Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding of the Eastern Army of India. He, accompanied by his lady wife had specially flown from Calcutta, now Kolkata, to Dacca, Now Dhaka, to accept the surrender of the Pakistan Army based in the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. It was a historic moment for Bharat and the newly created country, Bangladesh.
In days of yore, Maryada Purshottam Shri Ram had decimated Ravana’s army and killed him before crowning Ravana’a younger brother and his devotee, Vibhishan as King of Lanka. A few centuries ago, King of Magadh, Chandragupt Maurya, ably guided by his Guru, Acharya Chanakya, had defeated the Greek Army commanded by Seleucus Nikator in Central Asia. The Greek General begged the Indian King for mercy and surrendered to him unconditionally. As a token of good faith, Selecus Nikator gave his beautiful daughter away in marriage to King Chandragupt Maurya. In recent history in the 19th century, the Hindu Dogra General, Wazir Zorawar Singh, a General of Maharaja Gulab Singh, sovereign of Jammu and Kashmir, led his Dogra army to many decisive battles and decisive victory in Central Asia in the West and Tibet in the East. The Afghans and Pathans in the West surrendered many forts and territory to Wazir Zorawar Singh. Of them Skardu was an important one that was stealthily snatched by Pakistan in the 20th century. The same story was repeated in Gilgit and Chitral.
Ladakh, now a part of J&K in Bharat was won by Wazir Zorawar Singh from the Tibetans who had fought gallantly but lost to superior tactics and high morale of the Dogra army commanded by Wazir Zorawar Singh. Today almost all important Officers Messes of the Indian Army in Ladakh display proudly a portrait of Wazir Zorawar Singh and draw inspiration from him. I am sad to say that the gallant Wazir became a martyr fighting against a large army of Tibetans when winter had set in early and snowfall had numbed the Dogras. Wazir Zorawar Singh’s Samadhi lies in a dilapidated state in Toyo in Tibet. We all must urge our Government of India to request the People’s Republic of China to direct the administration of the Tibetan Autonomous Region to repair the Samadhi of a great soldier and give it a dignified look.
INDIA’S WILL AGAINST PAKISTAN’S WILL
The officially declared war between India and Pakistan was drawing to a close around 12th December 1971 in the then East Pakistan. The morale of their officers and men was in the boots and they were looking for an escape route or a Divine intervention but none was in sight. General Yahya Khan, President of Pakistan had vowed to go to the front line and fight against “that woman”, referring to Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Unfortunately for him, it was his love of Scotch whisky that did not let him leave his comfort zone in his official residence in Rawalpindi.
No wonder that Lt Gen AAK Niyazi, had confided in Maj Gen Nagra just about surrender time and said ruefully “ Rawalpindi mein baithe un Haramzadon ne koi madad nahin ki aur humein haar ka munh dekhna pada.” Of course Niyazi had felt cut up with the unhelpful attitude of General Yahaya Khan.
Here comes the great hero of the Indian Army who negotiated the historic surrender of Pakistan Army in Dhaka and made it a reality. It was dream come true. He is Major General JFR JACOB, the then Chief of Staff of the eastern Command. Born of Baghdadi Jewish parents in Calcutta , he had joined the British Indian Army as a young man much against the wishes of his parents. Young Jacob was hell bent on fighting against the Jewish- baiter Germans but his dream remained unfulfilled. He did most of the fighting against Japanese forces in Burma. A gentleman to his finger tips and a life-long bachelor, General Jacob will be remembered by the posterity as the brave man who flew from Calcutta into Dacca without arms and brought about the surrender by Niyazi by his sheer will power and broke the will of the enemy to fight against India anymore.
General Jacob was received at the Dacca airport by a Paki Brigadier to be escorted to General Niyazi’s headquarters. Since they were travelling in a Pakistan army’s car, the Mukti Bahini pickets enroute fired on them. It was a Sikh ADC of General Jacob who ventured to stick his head out to convince the Mukti Bahini fighters of their Indian nationality.
When General Jacob reached General Niyazi’s hi-fi office, he placed that typed copy of the proposed surrender on the latter’s table. Niyazi was taken aback and blurted out “ who the hell says I am going to surrender? We are here to negotiate only ceasefire.” Now it was General Jacob’s turn to turn the table on General Niyazi. The former played the psychological card and used his moral courage to browbeat the Paki general whose sagging morale received a big blow when the Indian General said to Gen Niyazi that he had only thirty minutes to consider his surrender. Saying this General Jacob walked out of the office and started pacing up and down smoking his pipe feverishly.
After 39 minutes General Jacob entered General Niyaci’s office and said” Gen Niyazi, you are going to surrender.” General Niyazi kept mum. After repeating his sentence once more, General Jacob said” General Niyazi I take it that you will surrender” Jacob took Niyazi aside and told him firmly that the surrender would take place in the Ramna Race Course so that the public could watch. Further, the Pakis would provide a Guard of Honour to General Aurora. When Gen Niyazi pleaded his inability to do so as there were no officers available to command the Guard of Honour, General Jacob pointed to Niyazi’s ADC and said that the young man would command.
General Niyazi cried in the open in his office and tears in torrent rolled down his cheeks. This was an indication that his will was broken completely by General Jacob’s strong will. Of course, the Pakis were warned that if the surrender did not take place, Dacca would be bombed and erased from the map as a non-existent city; it would survive only in pages of history. The Pakis were assured that their life and honour would be protected and they would be treated with dignity as per the Geneva Convention.
THE SURRENDER CEREMONY
16 December 1971, 4.30 PM. Lt General J.S.Aurora, his lady wife and Lt General Niyazi arrived in the only car available there at that time. General Jacob who was the architect of the surrender had to hitch-hike in a truck but managed to reach the Ramna Race Course, Dacca in time to witness the fruits of his strong psychological game that he played so well.
General Aurora inspected the Guard of Honour. They all sat down at the table and General Niyazi signed the surrender document. Niyazi took off his epaulettes, took out his revolver from the holster and presented to General Aurora as a sign of surrender. The historic photograph taken on the occasion bears witness to the faces and thoughts going on in the minds of many present there. Tiger Siddiqi, commander of the Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh was adamant on killing General Niyazi then and there. General Jacob had to put his paratroopers on guard and he was whisked away to a safe place in a jeep.
India accepted the surrender of other Pakistani officers and soldiers at their places of deployment and the Indian Army took 93,000 Pakistani PoWs to be repatriated to India for safe custody.
It came to light later that General Niyazi had 29,400 officers and soldiers under his command in Dacca at the time of surrender. The Indian Army had only 3,000 officers and men available for fighting, if a need arose and they were at a distance of 30 miles from Dacca. However, it was the moral courage of the Indian officers and soldiers and low morale of Pakis that saved the day for Bharat.
Generally speaking the Indian Army personnel are obedient personnel and obey orders of superior authority both in letter and spirit. However, here is an example when for the cause of the country, an order issued by Army Headquarters in New Delhi asking the commanders not to attack Dacca now but go back and annihilate the Paki garrisons that they had bypassed in their onward march to Dacca. However, it was too late. The order was overlooked and General Jacob proceeded with plans to put into effect Paki surrender.
Looking back, General Jacob shudders to think: what if General Niyazi had said NO to his proposal as advised by his second-in-command, Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali. Gen Jacob just says a short prayer invoking the blessings of the Almighty as he had done while pacing up and down in the verandah outside gen Niyazi’s office.
Where there is Dharma, there is victory, so says the holy Gita in its closing lines.
Image Source: Bharat Rakshak.com