Lauding the Indian Air Force (IAF) for its crucial role in the 1971 war, country's foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla noted that the heroics of India's fighter pilots provided some of the most inspiring moments of the war.
"The Indian Air Force played a crucial role in supporting the valiant struggle of the Mukti Bahini during the 1971 war, including setting up of an airbase in Dimapur. The heroics of our fighter pilots provided some of the most inspiring moments of the war, which are legendary," Shringla said while speaking at the Swarnim Vijay Varsh Conclave: 2021 on "Humanitarian, Political and Diplomatic Facets of the 1971 War", according to Ministry of External Affairs statements.
The Foreign Secretary, who has served in Bangladesh, said: "I have heard many brave accounts of the dogfights that IAF pilots engaged in over Dhaka, which greatly inspired the Bangladeshi people watching this from their rooftops."
Underlining that the 1971 war was as much a moral and political victory as it was a decisive military victory for India, Shringla said: "We stood on a high moral and ethical ground and history proved us right as the people of Bangladesh vindicated their self-respect and honour and won their fight for freedom and human rights. 1971 was indeed a war for justice over cruel tyranny, a quest for hope in the midst of despair and a catharsis achieved through Dharmayudh."
Shringla noted that on December 3, 1971, India was unwittingly drawn into a war that was not of its own making. He also conveyed his deepest respect for all those brave hearts who fought in the war and made supreme sacrifices.
He emphasised that he considers India's humanitarian response to the refugee issue to be one of the most sophisticated and empathetic in contemporary history.
Highlighting that the then UN Secretary-General U Thant had condemned the atrocities and asked the international community to support India in giving refuge to those fleeing persecution by Pakistan in East Bengal, Shringla stressed the political atmosphere was charged in India and there was full political consensus on the need to extend support to the people of East Bengal.
"Some of us would recall Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's March 26, 1971 declaration of independence of Bangladesh broadcast over Akashvani and the massive 'Recognise Bangladesh' marches that it spontaneously led to," he said.
Shringla emphasised that a few days after the independence declaration, a resolution was moved in Parliament condemning the killings by the Pakistani Army as "genocide". India had earlier, in March itself, banned PIA aircraft from using Indian air space, thus posing logistical challenges for the PAF.
Emphasising that contemporary India-Bangladesh relations have taken great strides forward, he said: "Two major pillars of Indian diplomacy - Neighborhood First and Act East policies - find expression in our vibrant ties with Bangladesh."
Source: The Times of India
BDST: 1625 HRS, OCT 23, 2021