PMO Tells Defence Ministry to Laud all Forces for 1971 Victory
NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi-led government is unhappy about the haphazard way the 1971 victory over Pakistan is celebrated by the Army on December 16 as Vijay Diwas. Criticising the indifference of previous governments on the subject, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to laud the ‘glorious’ victory of the entire Indian armed forces. The scale and size have been left to the three forces to decide, but the PMO is insistent on “bringing out the concept of jointmanship” and create a spectacle worthy of the achievements.
In the 1965 victory celebrations, only the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) had played a role. For the 1971 war celebrations, the PMO now wants the Navy to participate to make the exercise a joint effort. The war was the only one India had fought, which involved the Army, Navy and the IAF.
India’s naval blockade on the Bay of Bengal trapped the Eastern Pakistan Navy, and prevented repairs on its warships. Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and warships INS Guldar, INS Gharial, INS Magar, and submarine INS Khanderi wreaked havoc on Pakistan Navy. It also sank Pakistan’s moribund submarine Ghazi. In ‘Op Trident’, the Navy used missile boats to damage Pakistani destroyer PNS Khyber and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz on the nights of December 4 and 5. Simultaneously, IAF fighter jets, some of which took off from the INS Vikrant, bombed enemy territory, and effectively wiped out Pakistan’s air capability.
On December 16, 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora.
Modi has been insistent on giving due credit to the armed forces, by glorying India’s wars. In August-September, the defence forces held 25 days of mega events to mark the golden jubilee of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. The PMO was firm that these should not only pay tributes to our war heroes but also “negate Pakistan’s incorrect” perception on the war’s outcome.
The PMO had earlier directed the Army to commemorate the centenary year of its participation in WW I. In a testimony to the Modi government’s focus on Indian military history, projects like creating a National War Memorial and a war museum have been cleared. The MoD is publishing a coffee table book on the history of India’s Republic Day parades since 1950. The ministry is also making telefilms on the wars fought by the Indian armed forces.