Dhaka, March 28: A former Indian Army general who played a key role in Bangladesh’s liberation has urged the people never to forget the killings carried out by authorities in the then East Pakistan in 1971. “Do not ever forget Operation Searchlight of March 25, 1971. Do not ever forget the genocide that took place that night,” said visiting Lt Gen (retired) JFR Jacob, referring to the military crackdown codenamed Operation Searchlight by then Pakistan President Yahya Khan.
Jacob, who planned the military campaign that led to the surrender of the Pakistani forces, including 93,000 officers and men, in December 1971, is here as part of a delegation of Indian soldiers who fought alongside the Bangladeshi freedom fighters, The Daily Star said on Friday.
His remarks, political analysts said, come at a time when the Bangladeshi military personnel and freedom fighters are campaigning to oust from the country’s public life the civilians and the Islamist politicians who aided the then East Pakistan administration in carrying out killings through 1971.
Those targeted for the killings included religious minorities, educationists, artistes and political activists.
A forum of freedom fighters and military personnel of the then East Bengal Rifles (EBR) of the Pakistan Army are currently campaigning with the Election Commission and the government against Jamaat-e-Islami, the principal Islamist party.
“It has been a great inspiration to recall the deeds of valour of the Bangladeshi people, the freedom fighters, the EBR battalions in their great struggle to achieve the liberation of the nation,” Jacob wrote in the comments book at the War Museum he visited on Thursday.
“I saw the courage of the Mukti Bahini (liberation forces). The people of Bangladesh are heroes,” Jacob told reporters.
Jacob, who was then chief of staff of the Indian Army’s Kolkata-based Eastern Command, said he drafted Pakistani general AAK Niazi’s surrender document.
Niazi surrendered publicly on Dec 16, 1971 rather than surrendering to the UN, he said, adding: “That means he surrendered to the country’s people, which is unprecedented”.