Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vijay Diwas – Bangladesh Liberation War

GS Paper 1


Source: Indian Express

 Context: Vijay Diwas or Victory Day is commemorated on December 16, marking the end of the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the liberation of Bangladesh. India declared victory on this day 51 years ago after Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender.

 What led to the 1971 Indo-Pak War?

After the partition of India following the end of British rule in 1947, two independent countries were formed – India and Pakistan. The latter consisted of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan).

 Issues within Pakistan:

  • Geographical disconnect between them.
  • Cultural conflict. For instance, when Urdu, used in West Pakistan, was made the official language of the country, it was seen as an imposition on the culture of the people in the East (Bengali-speaking majority).

 Background of the war:

  • In the first-ever free and fair elections in Pakistan in 1970, Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from East Pakistan came to power. However, Military General Yahya Khan did not accept the result and started “Operation Searchlight”, committing genocide to cleanse the land of Bengali and Hindu populations and political distracters.
  • China gave its support to Pakistan against India, while the US believed a victory for India would be considered an expansion of Soviet hegemony in South Asia.
  • In the background of large-scale genocide, looming refugee crisis, and threat to internal security. India felt strategically isolated. Therefore, India and the Soviet Union inked the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation to neutralize the emerging US-China–Pakistan axis and defend their vital geopolitical interests.


India’s role in the 1971 War

  • Launched Operation Jackpot, an operation to recruit, train, arm, equip, supply and advise Mukti Bahini fighters engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan military.
  • When the Pakistan Air Force launched pre-emptive strikes towards Western India (including Amritsar, Pathankot, Srinagar, Avantipura, Ambala, Sirsa and Agra), India formally declared war on December
  • An important figure in this war was India’s Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who is often evoked in relation to it. His planning and strategy helped secure one of the quickest victories in recent military history.


Shimla Agreement:

  • The Agreement was a peace treaty signed between India and Pakistan on 2 July 1972 in Shimla, the capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh
  • The agreement converted the cease-fire line of 17 December 1971 into the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan and it was agreed that “neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations”.


Insta Curious:

Don’t get confused with Shimla Convention:

The Simla Convention, officially the Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet, was ambiguous concerning the status of Tibet negotiated by representatives of the Republic of China, Tibet and Great Britain in Simla in 1913 and 1914.


Insta Links:

Vijay Diwas 2020

Mains Link: UPSC 2013

Q. Critically examine the compulsions which prompted India to play a decisive role in the emergence of Bangladesh.