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India remembers its heroes and Mukti Jodhas of Bangladesh on 1971 war anniversary

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with the Mukti Jodhas of Bangladesh in New Delhi on Tuesday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@RajnathSingh)

The victory over Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 showed India's committment to humanity as well as its success in forging national unity to fight for a common cause, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said. 

Singh made these remarks while interacting with the Indian war veterans and Mukti Jodhas of Bangladesh in New Delhi on Tuesday. The two countries are celebrating 50 years of the birth of Bangladesh, following India's historic victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

The gathering comprised 30 Mukti Jodhas, families of all four Param Vir Chakra and other awardees as well as war veterans. The Mukti Jodhas have been invited to participate in Swarnim Vijay Varsh events to honour the bravehearts who took part in the 1971 war.

Terming the victory as one of the most important events in world history and a triumph of justice over injustice, Singh said that the war fought against the atrocities on common people showed India's commitment towards humanity.

In his address, he paid rich tributes to the brave soldiers, sailors and air warriors who ensured the victory in 1971 war by making supreme sacrifice while displaying devotion to duty.

Mukti Jodhas

He remembered the heroes of the Indian Army who ensured a historic victory, including General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora (then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command), Lt Gen JFR Jacob and Air Marshal Idris Hassan Latif and others.

"These heroes included Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs and one Jew. This is a proof of India's firm belief towards giving equal respect to all religions," he said, adding that all these brave soldiers belonged to different states, however, it was the feeling of Indianness which made them as one.

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The minister also paid glowing tributes to the first President of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur-Rahman, terming him as the guiding light for the people of his country. He appreciated the fact that Bangladesh has been making giant strides in the path of development since its liberation.

On the occasion, the soil collected from different locations of major battles fought during the war was mixed by the Defence Minister to commemorate the golden jubilee of 1971 war victory. He described it as a symbol of 'Unity in Diversity'. The collected soil will be used in the construction of a proposed memorial dedicated to the 1971 war victory.

Singh also released a coffee table book titled ‘The 1971 War: An Illustrated History’. The book has been compiled in six chapters and includes some first-hand experiences of the war veterans. The book comprises tales of valour of four Param Vir Chakra, 76 Maha Vir Chakra and other Gallantry award winners along with anecdotes of war veterans.

Chief of the Army Staff General MM Naravane, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar; Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, other senior civil and military officers of Ministry of Defence; families of the veterans and members of Bangladesh delegation were present on the occasion.