16 December 1971 is a significant day not only for India but also for our neighbour Bangladesh. Refusing to accept the domination and brutal atrocities of Pakistani armed forces, citizens of East Pakistan rose in unison under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to claim what was rightfully theirs - freedom and democracy. 'Mukti Bahini', the guerrilla force of East Pakistan took up arms against the Pakistani military and fought hard alongside Indian armed forces till they achieved victory and liberation. India not only provided moral and military support to East Pakistan and 'Mukti Bahini' but also repulsed simultaneous attacks by Pakistani armed forces on its Western and Eastern fronts.

Indian armed forces fought under the leadership of Chief of Army Staff Field Marshal (then General) SHFJ Maneskshaw, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral SM Nanda and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal PC Lal. It was perhaps the first time that all three armed forces of India fought a war in unison. This decisive and crisp war of 13 days (03-16 Dec 1971) is considered one of the shortest wars in the history.

More than 93,000 Pakistani soldiers led by Lt General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi of Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini in Bangladesh in the presence of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command of Indian Army. Lt Gen AAK Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender on 16 Dec 1971 in Dhaka resulting in the culmination of the war, surrender of the Pakistan Army and formation of a new nation, Bangladesh. It was also the largest military surrender after World War II.


The 'Mukti Bahini' which directly translates to ‘Freedom Fighters’ or 'Freedom Army' was the guerrilla resistance movement consisting of civilians and uniformed personnel who were earlier serving in Pakistani armed forces and para-military forces but deserted to fight for and save the honour of their motherland. The 'Mukti Bahini' was organized in two distinct groups — the Niyomito Bahini (regular army) and the Gano Bahini (the people’s army). Their leadership, sacrifices and gallantry were the major factors that drove Pakistani armed forces away. The 'Mukti Bahini' exemplified how courage and determination with righteous intentions always emerge victorious. The sacrifices made by the 'Mukti Bahini' are written in golden words in the history of Bangladesh and will be remembered by India and Bangladesh forever.