Bangladesh to honour 226 Indians for role in 1971 `Liberation War`

Bangladesh will honour some 500 foreigners, including 226 Indians, for their crucial support to the country`s 1971 `Liberation War`, as it marks the 40th Victory Day anniversary next year.

Dhaka: Bangladesh will honour some 500
foreigners, including 226 Indians, for their crucial support
to the country`s 1971 `Liberation War`, as it marks the 40th
Victory Day anniversary next year.

"The cabinet on Monday approved the proposal to accord
reception to distinguished foreign nationals and organisations
for their extraordinary contribution in our Liberation War,"
Abul Kalam Azad, the press secretary of Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina said to a news agency.

Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would be
conferred with a special honour for her "immense" support for
Bangladesh`s independence, officials earlier said.

Azad said a high-level committee of liberation war
affairs ministry officials and distinguished people were
preparing the list of foreigners along with citations to be
honoured in Dhaka during the Victory Day celebrations next

"Though we have already prepared a draft of the
awardees but at this moment it is difficult to say what could
be the size of the list," said Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, who
heads the committee.

A member of the committee on condition of anonymity
said they were holding meetings for the past two days to
prepare the citations and the list included 226 Indians and 40

"India backed us crucially during the Liberation War,
but we also want to acknowledge the role of Pakistanis who
defied the Pakistani junta risking their safety to support
us," he said.

Officials familiar with the process said a
sub-committee was tasked to prepare the list while another
sub-committee was tasked to finalise the modus operandi of the

"The studies found that people like Victoria Victoria
Ocampo, the great Argentinean known for her love for
Rabindranath Tagore, waged a campaign in her country for our
liberation in 1971 while she was 90," an official earlier

Asked who were the Pakistanis who had extended their
support, a member of the committee said the initial searches
found nearly 35 such Pakistanis who dared to stand for the
cause of Bengalis, exposing themselves to tortures,
imprisonments and manhunts.

Apart from the late Indian Prime Minister, then Indian
army chief, Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw and the Army
commander in India`s eastern theatre, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh
Aurora, figure in a list of eminent people to be honoured by

On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh - then East Pakistan -
declared its independence from West Pakistan.

According to official figures, Pakistani troops, aided
by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people,
raped about 200,000 women and forced millions more to leave
their homes during the bloody nine-month guerrilla war.

On March 25, the ruling Awami League government set up
a special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals" accused of
genocide and those who sided with the Pakistani military
during the 1971 `Liberation War`.

The radical party Jamaat-e-Islami, an ally of main
opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and several
other rightwing groups have been accused of helping the
Pakistani military.

Jamaat`s chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary
General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid led the so-called Al-Badr
forces, which is widely believed to have been involved in
genocide, rape and murder of frontline intellectuals in an
effort to cripple the emerging nation in 1971.

Bangladesh`s honour list includes eight Russians, 35
Britons, two Irishmen, five Australians, three Dutchmen, three
Argentinians, eight Swiss, two Germans, 13 Frenchmen, three
Butanese, 13 Japanese, two Sri Lankans and 15 Nepalese, a
committee members was quoted as saying by

Those honoured will receive a 50 gram gold (18 carat)
crest and an honourary citizenship of Bangladesh, the report

Among those expected to be honoured include former
Soviet leader Leonid I Brezhnev, former Cuban president Fidel
Castro and former Yugoslavian president Marshal Josep Broz

Former Indian prime minister IK Gujral, Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar
and painter MF Hussain are among living Indians to be

Other Indian recipients include former West Bengal
chief minister Jyoti Basu, former defence minister Krishna
Menon, former Congress leader Sachindra Lal Singha, diplomats
DP Dhar, PN Dhar, film maker Satyajit Ray, singer Manna
Dey, artist Bishnu Dey and singer Mohammad Rafi, the report

Pakistani politicians include Sindh nationalist leader
GM Sayeed and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib`s friend Sheikh Ayaz,
Master Khan Gul and Ghous Baksh Bijenjo.