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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pathinaalu Naatkal (14 days) ~the Bangla war - letters to Editor

Upon perusing my archive of e-mails chanced upon this one written to The Hindu (it was never published though !)

Decades ago, this book titled ‘Pathinaalu Naatkal’ [14 days] impressed me most…. It was a story on Indo-bangla war … the hero is Indian pilot who gets captured and falls in the hands of a Paki general who hates India….. 

the air warfare was so wonderfully depicted with Sujatha touch of humanism….

The Indo – Pak war which liberated Bangladesh officially began on 3rd Dec 1971 when West Pakistan launched a series of pereemptive air strikes on Indian airfields. On 6th Dec 1971, India recognized East Pakistan as Bangladesh.  On 16th Dec 1971 – Pak forces surrendered to India ~ Lt Genl AAK Niazi, Supreme commander of Pak Army in East Pak surrendered to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Arora……..  The direct military conflict between India and Pak that gave rise to a new Nation – Bangladesh occurred in 1971. It is considered to be one of the shortest wars in the history.  During the course of the war, Indian and Pakistani forces clashed on the eastern and western fronts. East Pakistan officially seceded from Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Wikipedia reports that between 90,000 and 93,000 members of the Pakistan Armed Forces including paramilitary personnel were taken as Prisoners of War by the Indian Army. It is estimated that between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh, and hundred thousands of  women raped by the Pakistani armed forces. 

Officially ‘Missing 54’ is the reference to the soldiers and officers of Indian armed forces who have been given status of missing in action or killed in action in 1971 Indo-Pak war by government. Sadly many of them are believed to be alive and imprisoned in various Pakistani jails. Though Pakistan have denied existence of any Indian POW's of 1971 Indo-Pak war;  there are suggestions that they were captured alive and some or all of them still languish in Pakistani jails.

Here is a letter that appeared in The Hindu Chennai edition on 13th June 2002…….and the (unpublished) post that I made : 

POW of 1971 : Sir, — I read the letter `Congress to blame' by R.C. Chockalingam (June 10). I was amazed that he has mentioned about the capture of "100,000 Pakistani jawans" in the 1971 war. I was in East Pakistan in 1971 as a Captain, and was taken a prisoner of war. We only had three Pakistani Divisions in East Pakistan or a total of 35,000 regular soldiers; the rest of the POWs were civilians or families including women and children under protective custody. That is why we had only four Major-Generals and one Lt. General, namely Niazi. In his book, "Betrayal of East Pakistan," Gen. Niazi has stated, "I had 31000 strong, battle hardy and experienced troops". Why do the Indians keep harping on "100,000 soldiers"?  -             Arif A Khan, Lahore, Pakistan

From: "sampath kumar" <>
Sent: Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:47:50

In his letter by asking a question as to why the Indians keep harping on 100,000 soliders, Capt. Arif A Khan has tried to downplay the capture of pakistan soliders by our Indian army during 1971 war.  He and the rest of POWs (even if for argument we admit it was only 31000 held captive at Bangladesh), were treated with dignity and  could return to their homeland fattened only because they were at the hands of army of a country known for tolerance, benovelence, munificience and above all respect for War Agreements.  But can Khan and his ilk tell as to how our armymen and civilans captured  were treated.  Fear stalks  us and and our worst fears have  not been allayed that even today many POWs lurk in Pakistani prisons having brunt  the atrocities of thugs and marauders. 

Many  Indian soliders who were captured were murdered and died in chill penury.  Does  this Captain or any other  Pakisthani for that matter, say with truth, whether the Pakistani army treated Indian POWs in any acceptable manner; atleast 20% of what Geneva rules laid down; if not 20% of how we treated them.  How do such shameless, impudent  scums  have the guts to write anything  about the war and the subsequent treatment.   We cannot help feeling that perhaps we did a blunder in treating the foes in the most undeserved manner but the only way we know - the Gandhian example.

I request you to publish this and more articles against these covert mercenaries who are bent on creating disharmony  and restlessness in this great Country.

With regards …

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