For the latest edition of PIC Adda, we hosted Lt. Gen. Shamsher Singh Mehta, Trustee, PIC, for a talk on “Liberation of Bangladesh 1971: A Golden Jubilee Perspective,” on 20th March. The session was moderated by Dr. Sangeeta Kale, Member, PIC. Mr. Abhya Vaidya, Associate director, PIC introduced Lt. Gen. Mehta to the audience.
Lt. Gen. Mehta kicked off the session by paying homage to the Indian and Bangladeshi warriors who had laid down their lives in the 1971 War. He shared his experiences and views on the liberation of Bangladesh, in which he had personally participated. He noted that there were no other recorded incidents where a country had gone out of the way to help its neighbouring country in distress. He also noted that unfortunately, the humanitarian assistance carried out during that period was not well recorded. The assistance provided to rescue Bangladesh was never highlighted internationally or even nationally. Lt. Gen. Mehta highlighted four facts of the war – that it was a victory of democracy over military rule, that it was a victory of manoeuvre over attrition, that it highlighted the importance of unity and togetherness and established the importance of liberation over occupation. He noted that 30,000 Pakistanis had surrendered to 3,000 Indians at Dhaka. Battlefield transparency was provided to the Indian Army by the Muktibahini. He also emphasised in closing that the principle of ‘responsibility to protect’ passed by UN Resolution No. 1674 in 2005 did not exist in 1971, but India did abide by this principle by assisting a state that was unable to protect itself.