December 16, 2016, marks the 45th anniversary of Vijay Diwas or Victory Day, the day Indian Army registered a decisive victory over neighbouring Pakistan.
Every year, December 16 is celebrated as Vijay Diwas to commemorate India’s defeat of Pakistan in the 1971 war and to pay homage to all those heroes who lost their lives during the war.
Back in March 1971, the Pakistani army’s onslaught on people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) led approximately eight to ten million people to flee from the country and seek refuge in neighbouring India.
India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave sanctuary to the Bangladeshi government-in-exile and helped train Mukti Bahini, the face of Bengali resistance.
While India was not directly involved in the war till then, Pakistani air attacks on eleven Indian airbases on 3 December 1971, lead to the commencement of hostilities with West Pakistan and Indian entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bangladeshi nationalist forces.
On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka after their defeat in the war.
Special programmes are being organised at the headquarters of the Eastern Command at the Fort William in Kolkata to celebrate the day. Led by Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, a 72-member delegation of war veterans and Mukti Joddhas from the neighbouring country will take part in Vijay Diwas celebrations.
As the nation pays tribute to the bravehearts who laid down their lives during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, here’s a look at 20 images from the period leading to the victory and thereafter.