KENDRAPARA: Bhikari Charan Mohanty considers himself lucky to have survived the Bangladesh Liberation War, 45 years back, when he fought the Pakistani Army. The 82-year-old war veteran, who was a Junior Commissioned Officer of 55 Engineering Regiment of Indian Army, belongs to Piolo village in Kendrapara district.
Having been part of the war in parts of Khuluna, Rajasahi and other areas in Bangladesh, he recounts how the Indian Army fought against Pakistanis with the help of Mukti Bahini.
“This battle was a major victory for Indian soldiers and the Indian Army managed to enter Dacca (now Dhaka) after defeating Pakistanis. The war caused thousands of casualties on both sides. Pakistani Army blew up many bridges to prevent the Indian Army to reach Dacca and other places. We managed to repair and build many platoon bridges over the rivers for the smooth arrival of Indian Army in many areas of Bangladesh”, he recalled.
The war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistani Armed Forces signed the Instrument of Surrender on December 16, 1971 in Dacca, marking the liberation of the new nation of Bangladesh. “We all danced along with locals in Khuluna the day Bangladesh was born,” said Bhikari, who had joined the Indian Army in 1954 as at the age of 20. During his three-decade service, he fought three wars, including the Bangladesh Liberation War. The others are 1962 Indo-China war and 1965 war with Pakistan.
At present, Bhikari lives with his wife Santilata, son Anil, grandsons and daughter-in-law in his village. “My son Anil is also an ex-serviceman who retired from Indian Army three years back”, said Bhikari.