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Bangladesh Liberation war I | UPSC

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UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper I – History

Sub Theme:  Endeavour, leadership and then story of a nation

Context: The ultimate accolade for India’s role in creating Bangladesh is that today, it is a relatively prosperous country.

Bangladesh Liberation War Background

  • since partition of India the residents of East Pakistan felt their culture and status were being undermined by the forces in West Pakistan.
  • The Language Movement, 1948
  • Disparities in the economic status of both sides
  • The Bengali attempt to increase their status and earn respect for their language was met with severe suppression from the authorities.
  • In 1970 elections, Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won a clear majority. But, the military in Pakistan was opposed to him becoming the country’s supremo.
  • Yahya Khan’s military government was unwilling to give up power to Mujib.
  • 25th March 1971, the Pakistani army started the infamous ‘Operation Searchlight’
  • West Pakistan authorities would not give legitimate power to Mujib, he declared the country’s independence on 26 March.
  • Guerrilla war started between the Pakistani army and their collaborators who were called Razakars and the Bangladeshi liberation forces ‘Mukti Bahini’.
  • Pakistani forces started attacking civilians in Bangladesh, millions of refugees came to India
  • Many Bengali soldiers from the Pakistan army defected to the Bengali side to fight for independence.
  • Indian forces were helping by giving arms and training to the soldiers of the Mukti Bahini.
  • India entered into combat officially on 3 December 1971 when Pakistan attacked Indian Air Force Bases.
  • 16 December 1971, Pakistan surrendered. India won the war and Bangladesh became a free country.
  • India played a key part in Bangladesh achieving recognition from other countries of the world.
  • PM Indira Gandhi had toured several countries to publicise the atrocities conducted by the Pakistani military in Bangladesh. This ensured that India’s entry into the war did not cause international rebuke and also helped the new nation gain quick international recognition.

To ensure a smooth transition, in 1972 the Simla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. The treaty ensured that Pakistan recognised the independence of Bangladesh in exchange for the return of the Pakistani PoWs. India treated all the PoWs in strict accordance with the Geneva Convention, rule 1925. It released more than 93,000 Pakistani PoWs in five months.


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