As Republic Day nears, the Indian Army gets its first international parade group from Bangladesh to celebrate the success of the 1971 war.
On January 26, India will celebrate its 72nd Republic Day, honoring the historic date when the country completed its transition to becoming an independent republic after its drafted Constitution came into effect. Before enforcing the constitution, India was a dominion state of the British commonwealth empire, even after gaining independence from British rule on August 15, 1947. The country remained a constitutional dominion under King George VI of England, who was represented by Lord Mountbatten as the Governor-General of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed as the first Prime Minister of independent India by Lord Mountbatten after the official adoption of the Constitution on January 26, 1950. Since then, the day is celebrated as a national event with Indian armed forces hosting a large military parade and weapon showcase on Rajghat, in the capital New Delhi. This is the first time Bangladesh army will send a contingent to participate in this mammoth event of India.
A contingent totaling around 122 soldiers from the Bangladeshi armed forces departed for India to take part in the Republic Day parade, the Indian Army announced on Tuesday. Golden Jubilee celebrations memorializing the nation’s victory over Pakistan during the 1971 war, which eventually led to the birth of Bangladesh, have effectively been going on since last month.
The Indian high commission in Bangladesh also confirmed that the contingent was being brought to India in an Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III. The defense ministry confirmed last month that as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, various activities and events would be held across the nation.
Indian help to Bangladesh can be traced back even before the 1971 liberation war, when its external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), helped in the creation of the Mukti Bahini by providing training in various forms of warfare, in addition to the necessary equipment and weapons needed to conduct operations against the then East Pakistani forces.
When East Pakistan attacked India’s eastern border on the December 14, 1971, the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi immediately issued orders mobilizing the Indian armed forces to throw their full weight behind the Mukhti Baini and drive Pakistani forces out. The Indian Army was involved in land operations engaging in intense but victorious battles backed by SU-7s and Mig-21s of the Indian Air Force, whose precision airstrikes were a morale booster for fighters of the Mukhti Baini.
The Indian Navy also contributed by establishing a blockade in the Bay of Bengal via the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and her task force. This combined India-Bangladeshi force led to the war on the eastern frontier ending in just 2 weeks and culminated in the largest surrender in history, which saw Pakistani General Niazi and his 91,000 troops waving the white flag, finally bringing an end to Pakistani rule on Bangladeshi soil and the birth of the nation of Bangladesh.
Even after the war, India heavily contributed to the rebuilding of Bangladesh providing financial and military aid alike and even taking in several refugees, helping them settle down and obtain citizenship.