Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War come alive in Army museum
Kolkata: To keep alive the memory of Indian Army`s partnership with the Mukti Bahini in achieving the liberation of Bangladesh, the Eastern Command has archived and displayed declassified documents, rare photographs and war trophies in a museum here.
Inside the headquarters of Eastern Command at Fort William in Kolkata, the museum, which is rarely opened to civilians, takes visitors down the memory lane with its historical collection.
The 1971 war had culminated in the historic surrender of over 93,000 Pakistani soldiers to the Indian armed forces and liberation of the then East Pakistan from the oppressive rule of Pakistan.
The 42nd anniversary of the war, which formally ended on December 16, 1971 with the surrender of Pakistani soldiers, was being celebrated today as Vijay Diwas with a delegation of Mukti Jodhas and senior Bangladeshi armed forces officers coming to Kolkata.
The prototype of a rocket pod and twin-barrelled auto canon used in the MiG-21 combat fighter aircraft that bombed the Governor`s House in Dhaka which proved to be the decisive turning point in the war is also a part of the museum.
Another rare document is the instrument of surrender signed by Lt Gen Niazi, Commander of the Pakistani Forces in East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh), on December 16, 1971.
"The Pakistan Eastern Command agrees to surrender all Pakistan armed forces in Bangladesh to Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-charge of the Indian and Bangladesh forces in the eastern theatre," reads the declaration of defeat.
"The surrender includes all Pakistani land, air and naval forces as also all para-military forces and civil armed forces," the declaration states.
After signing the document at about 4.30 PM, the Pakistani Commander handed over his personal pistol and lanyard to Gen Aurora and removed his badges of rank.
With that a cheer went up in the Dhaka race course and Dhaka became the free capital of a free country, Bangladesh.
The museum is full of collections of memorabilia, rare photographs, documents and other exhibits of the 1971 War. Here a visitor can understand the operations, protagonists and the historic surrender by the Pakistani Army.
A rare picture of Pakistani troops lined up and laying down weapons is a special attraction.
War trophies captured by the Indian army like flags, etc, are also on display.
Other sections in the museum have photographs of the Burma campaign, Operation Rhino, Sino-Indian conflict in 1962 besides ongoing operations.
The weapons gallery and ammunition replenishment system thrills visitors with antique weapons and canon balls of World War-II era.
To delight philatelists and stamp collectors, the museum has stamps issued to celebrate different landmark moments in military history.
Motivational posters prepared by the US Army during WW-II are also a part of the rich archive.
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