Hatiar dal do

Hatiar dal do (হাতিয়ার ডাল দো):
A tribute To Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Ajoy Roy

Published on July 01, 2008

The call of surrender

That was the repeated call of the then General Manekshaw, Army Chief of the Indian Military, to Pakistani soldiers fighting against Mitrabahini in the occupied territory of East Pakistan during the period 12-15the December 1971 as the Indian Army and Bangladesh army hand in hand penetrating deeper and deeper in Bangladesh territory In the mean while well fortified Jessore garrison fell in 7th December without serious fight by the Pakistanis. Mitrabahini and Bangladesh Army were fast approaching Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh, last fortress of General Neazi, commander of the Pakistan Army in Eastern front from all sides west, north, north east.

The strategy of the combined force was to offer least resistance to well fortified position of Pakistani army, such as Hilly, Comilla Cantonment etc and by pass those strong holds and rush to Dacca. However the resistance offered by Pakistanis on way of advancement of the Mitrabahini was totally and drastically wiped out.

At this stage General Manekshaw opened a psychological war front to further demoralize the morale and courage of fighting spirit of the already demoralized Pakistani soldiers by calling Neazi and his soldiers to surrender to the combined India-Bangladesh force in eastern front. The call was `surrender unconditionally’ to Mitrabahini immediately. In Urdu the call was simply `Hatiar dal do’. General Manekshaw assured the Pakistani occupation force that their lives and security would be guaranteed and Geneva convention would be applied to POWs.

Field Marshal Manekshaw was a great friend of Bangladesh. But his professionalism has never been overshadowed by sentiments and emotion. He was a cool thoughtful man and wonderful military strategist, totally committed to his professionalism as military personnel. The following narration illustrates his strict principle of professionalism and capability of distance vision. In an interview in 1996, he disclosed that some time in mid April General was summoned in a cabinet meeting attended by apart from PM Indira, Jagjivan Ram (defence minister), Sardar Sharan Singh (foreign minister) and Y, B. Chyavan (finance minister). At that time a large number of refugees started pouring in Tripura, Asam and West Bengal. PM Indira, showing a telegram of chief minister of Assam that expressed concern over it and if some thing positive was not done to prevent the refugee flux, a grave situation might develop in north-east region of India that might go beyond the control of the state government, asked the General `What are you doing ?’ Sam replied, `nothing’, and what am I to do?’ PM said that the government wanted that you march in. Sam’ rely was vey amusing and materialistic at the same time. This meant a war against Pakistan. ‘Are you ready ? Honestly speaking I am not.’ ‘In a few weeks time, monsoon will set in Bangladesh would turn into an ocean. And you can not move not to speak of fighting fortified Pakistanis’, continued the General., ‘we wiill be restricted to only land roads. The Air force will be of little use.’ In such a condition we cannot win against Pakistanis. More over our armament division is not fully equipped for shortage of tanks’, was the straight answer of Manekshaw. When the meeting was over and all left, PM asked to Sam to sit down. Sam thought that PM probably got annoyed with him and would ask him to resign. On the contrary PM asked him if that what he said were the true picture. Manekshaw convinced Indira that not only militarily, but even the condition and people were not prepared, the international situation was also not in India’s favour in marching against Pakistan at this stage. He then point balank asked the PM, ‘Are you yourself prepared Prime Minister?’ He finally concluded to PM, ‘My job is to win a war. And I want to do this in my opportune time when every thing would be in our favour. I give you hundred percent assurance of victory. He concluded by saying, ‘But I need unitary command.’ No body will interfere with your actions, assured Indira Gandhi. Thanking Indiara Sam said, ‘I give you hundred percent guarantee of our success.’ This was Sam Manekshaw. . . .

Field Marshal was suffering from lung problem and some old age complexity. A few days back he was taken to in Wellington Military hospital in Tamilnadu in a stage of coma, where he breathed his last on last Friday morning, June 27, 2008. He was 94.

General Manekshaw was the main architect of planning the India Pakistan war in western front and India-Bangladesh vs. Pakistan in eastern front i.e. in occupied Bangladesh. In this grand strategy theory of by passing strongholds of Pakistani and rushing fast to Dacca’s fall like a roped mango posts that will panic the Pakistani forces and would have no option but to surrender Manekshaw was the chief architect in which PM of India and PM of Bangladesh and military strategist led by Air Vice Marshall AK Khandakar all contributed. Manekshaw clearly stated the PM Indira Gandhi, PM Tajuddin and military leadership of Bangladesh that if we want to win the war against Pakistan the military force of Indian army in eastern command under Lt Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora and Bangladesh army including the guerillas must be brought under a unified joint command. The joint will force a defeat on the demoralized and already harassed Pakistani occupation force by the guerillas. The defeat in East Pakistan would a sure victory in western front too. How prophetic he was. With the surrender of Pakistanis in eastern front the Indian government declared unilateral ceasefire in western front. And defeated Pakistanis readily accepted it without murmuring that `we will fight for thousand years, even if have to chew grass. The end of war came within 13 days and Bangladesh emerged as a free independent state. What a glorious victory for all of us, the Bengalis, the Indians and the people of the world who morally and materially supported the cause of Bangladesh. Sam Manekshaw must have been the happiest man in the world. He shared the glory of liberating a country with his proud Indian army colleagues particularly hose who were involved in the eastern front including the chief of joint command Lt. Gen. Jagjit Sing Aurora. Jagjit and Sam both our great friends in our crisis are no more with us, but their memory will remain ever green in our memory century after century.

Brief sketch of the Field Marshal

Manekshaw was awarded the highest military title of Indian army, the Field Marshall in 1973. He was also decorated with civil award `Padma Bibhusan’ He was popularly known as Sam Bahadur, who joined Indian army in 1934. His bravery was mythical in war fields. During his long military career he showed infinite courage in five wars. He also took part in the Second World War as a member of the British Army in Burma front. He was decorated with military cross for his glorious role in Burma front. He became army chief of Indian army in 1969. He retired from Indian Army as field Marshall in January 15, 1973. Manekshaw was born in 1914 in Amritsar in Punjab. His full name was Sam Hormushji Fremji Jamshedji Manekshaw.

Personal remembrance

I saw the general perhaps some time in end of July, 1971 in Fort William, the military head quarter of the eastern front, Calcutta. He held a press conference with the foreign and Indian journalists. Some Bangladeshi journalists were also invited. A few Bangladeshi intellectuals among whom myself, as secretary of Bangladesh Teachers Assocation and Dr, Belayet Hosain, joint secretary of Liberation Council of Bangladesh Intelligentsia and Dr. Mozaharul Haque, Professor of Bengali, Rajshahi University and few others, I don’t remember now. were also invited at the press conference as the general wanted exchange views on Bangladesh problems with some Bangladesh intellectuals after the press conference. The invitation was sent through the office of the Vice Chancellor, Calcutta University, who was the president CU Bangladesh Sahayak Samity, a sister organization of ours, as Bangladesh Teachers Association’s office was at the Dwarbhanga Building. Prof. Dilip Chakaravorty, secretary of CU Bangladesh Sahayak Samity accompanied us to Fort William. We were intercepted at the entrance of the conference room for pass, which we didn’t have. We identified ourselves that General intends to meet us after the conference. We were politely asked to wait, and five minutes later the same man in uniform took us to a specified area in the second row where I found Dr. Mazharul Haque and some others. The conference has already started a few minutes back. I saw many high military officials were sitting in the first row, among whom Lt. Gen. Aurora was also there, a tall slim hand some man in uniform. I saw Lt. Gen Aurora too when Prof Chakravorty showed me. He was tall and slim having impressive appearance. The room was crowded with hosts of journalists. Most questions were of military nature and Indian army’s plan and what would be its military strategy in case Bangladesh’s liberation war turned into India’s war against Pakistanr. I found the general most intelligent and pragmatic man. He ruled out the possibility of Indo Pakistan war on Bangladesh issue. He point blank said that `I don't think Pakistani military would be that foolish to force war on us. Then it would be a disastrous for Pakistan, but Indian people would have to be prepared for extreme sacrifice. He added to a Bangladesh journalist, that ‘it is your war; you have to fight it out. Under the circumstances we could help you only as your friend and well wisher. The policy our government adopts we, would follow to materialize.’ Regarding a question of recognition to Bangladesh government by India he plainly said, as far as I remember, it is a political matter and Indian military has nothing to do it. The long press conference when ended, a man in uniform announced that because of general’s time constrain he could not meet the Bangladesh intellectuals for which he apologized. We stood up in disappointment. The general waved his hand towards us saying `my apology. We will meet some time later.’ That some time later never came. Alas !.

Published at Muktomona

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