Oct 22, 2012
Forty-one years after Bangladesh won its independence in 1971 with crucial Indian help, a grateful nation acknowledges the contribution of the then Indian Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram calling him ‘instrumental’ in the ‘final assault’ against Pakistan which led to victory and the creation of a new country
Dhaka: "He was instrumental in the creation of the 'Joint Command' of Bangladesh and Indian Forces for the final assault which led to victory," read the citation as the country conferred the then Indian defence minister Jagjivan Ram with the honour as "Friend of Liberation War".
It mentioned that he had consolidated and coordinated the war strategy with great efforts by providing training, arms, and supplies to Bangladeshi freedom fighters.
But the history of politics is likely to remember him more for his historic parliamentary statement on December 16, 1971 announcing the emergence of Independent Bangladesh.
"I have an announcement to make. The West Pakistani forces have unconditionally surrendered in Bangladesh . . . Dacca (now called Dhaka) is now the free capital of a free country," he said minutes after Pakistani troops laid down weapons in Dhaka conceding defeat to the Indo-Bangla joint forces after nine months of war.
Ram's grandson and incumbent Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, Anshul Abhijit received the honour from President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Bangabandhu International Conference Hall on Saturday.
"(I am) exited, honoured and grateful . . . it is reminder of (Ram's) links to Bangladesh's independence," Abhijit, a journalist briefly expressed his feeling as he talked to BSS on the sidelines of the ceremony.
Abhijit, a student of political history and currently doing his doctoral research abroad on colonialism, recalled until his 16 years of age he found RAM as an very affectionate figure who used to tell him the contemporary Indian history not in a manner that highlighted himself.
"The remarkable thing is that he used to say he never wanted the war but nonetheless he wanted the justice to prevail as Pakistani troops carried out genocides in Bangladesh and made preemptive attacks on India," Abhijit said.
Defence analysts and military veterans previously appreciated Ram for his stewardship as the defence minister in 1971 with a crucial military figure of that time and chief of general staff in Eastern command retired lieutenant general JFR Jacob describing him as "perhaps the best Defence minister we (India) have had".
"He had an excellent grasp of military strategy. He was also an able administrator. It was Jagjivan Ram who made sure that the requirements of the three Services - manpower, weaponry equipment and infrastructural facilities - were provided, as far as possible," read the Surrender at Dacca of Jacob, who otherwise is considered a critical man in judging people.