Kolkata, Dec 16 (PTI) Paying rich tributes to the Indian Army soldiers and 'Mukti Joddhas' (liberation warriors) who laid down their lives during the 1971 India-Pakistan war that led to the birth of Bangladesh, Eastern Army commander Lt Gen Anil Chouhan on Wednesday said that their martyrdom will inspire generations of soldiers and citizens.
Maintaining that there are a lot of commonalities in the Indian and the Bangladeshi perspective for the war, he said that there is a healthy respect between the Indian Army veterans and the Mukti Joddhas for each other's contribution during the war.
'Their martyrdom will continue to inspire generations of soldiers and citizens in this country as well as across the border,' the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, Lt Gen Chauhan told reporters on the 49th Vijay Diwas celebration here.
On December 16, 1971, then chief of Pakistani forces General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian Army and the 'Mukti Bahini' after the 13-day war, following which East Pakistan became Bangladesh.
Lt Gen Chauhan said that the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the day on December 16, 2021.
'Nationwide, year-long celebrations have been planned as part of Swarnim Vijay Varsh in India and Mujib Barsha in Bangladesh,' he said.
He said that four victory flames, one for each cardinal direction, will be taken across the length and breadth of the nation and in Bangladesh by a tri-services team.
Former Army chief General (retired) Shankar Roy Chowdhury, former Indian Air Force chief Air Marshal (retired) Arup Raha, the GOC in-C, Eastern Command Lt Gen Chauhan, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, Air Officer Commanding, Eastern Air Command Air Marshal Amit Dev placed wreaths at the 'Vijay Smarak'.
Members of a delegation of Mukti joddhas from Bangladesh, also placed wreaths at the victory memorial at the Eastern Command headquarters at Fort William here.
Lt Gen Chauhan said that cooperation between the Indian Army and Bangladesh Army has grown steadily over the years.
He said that the Indian Army gifted 20 fully trained military horses and 10 mine detection dogs to its Bangladeshi counterpart in November.
Asserting that the Indian Army is always prepared to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to people, he said that the force had helped the civil administration of West Bengal during the cyclone Amphan in May.
'The spontaneous and overwhelming gratitude expressed by the citizens of Kolkata is what made the mission of this nature special for the Army,' he said.
He said that the amount of respect the Armed forces draw from Kolkata and its citizens, government officials and the Kolkata Police is unparalleled.
'This is probably because these people have seen the war from very close quarters,' he said. PTI AMR NN NN