'Indira leadership, soldiers' valour led to 1971 win'

'Indira leadership, soldiers' valour led to 1971 win'

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath felicitate family members and widows of army personnel at a programme organised on the occasion of Vijay Diwas. PTI

The 1971 India-Pakistan war symbolises the bravery of the country's soldiers and also the strong leadership of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said on Monday.

On this day in 1971, over 90,000 Pakistani soldiers had surrendered before Indian troops, bringing to an end the bitterly fought war on the eastern and western fronts.

Recalling the valour of Indian forces on the occasion of Vijay Diwas, Nath paid rich tributes to the martyrs of the war, which also led to the creation of Bangladesh.

December 16 is observed as Vijay Diwas.

This war symbolises the bravery of Indian soldiers along with the strong leadership of Indira Gandhi. India was never a weak nation and same is the case today, he said, speaking at Shaurya Smarak, a war memorial here.

We should remember that all citizens, irrespective of religion, caste or creed, have a duty to safeguard and strengthen the unity and integrity of the nation.

"Always remember our martyrs and I call upon the citizens to strive for development, prosperity and maintaining peace in India, the Congress leader said.

Recalling the sequence of events 48 years ago, he said the conflict began on December 3, 1971 and ended 13 days later with the surrender of Pakistani soldiers in Dhaka.

He said in the beginning of the war, Pakistan carried out air strikes on 11 stations of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Indian Army fought with Pakistan soldiers on the eastern and western fronts and achieved victory on both, Nath said.

Recalling Gandhi's leadership during those tumultuous times, Nath said She was a unique example of nationalism. In this war, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers were forced to surrender because of her strong leadership.

Decisive leadership of the then Army chief, Field Marshal S H J F Manekshaw, also played a key role in India's victory in the 1971 war, the chief minister said.

Many Western nations and superpower America were openly threatening India and asking it not to take any action against Pakistan, Nath said.

But it was due to Gandhi's courage that a lesson was taught to Pakistan in the armed conflict, he said.

The Congress leader said the 1971 victory established India as a powerful nation in the world and the then prime minister came to be known as the country's "Iron Lady".

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