Vijay Diwas is celebrated on December 16 every year to honour the victory of Indian armed forces over Pakistan in the 1971 war. On the day, India pays homage to all the soldiers who defended the nation.
On December 16, 1971, India had won the war against Pakistan after fighting for 13 days. The chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi surrendered to the joint forces of Indian Army and Bangladesh's Mukti Bahini, along with 93,000 Pakistani troops.
It was also the biggest-ever military surrender after World War II.
What led to the war?
The war was triggered by a rebellion in East Pakistan against the Islamabad government. Pakistani forces were committing atrocities on the Bengalis and minority Hindu population in East Pakistan. It is estimated that between 300,000-500,000 civilians were killed by the Pakistani forces, although the Bangladesh government puts the figures at three million.
Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi then decided to provide support to erstwhile East Pakistan. She decided to give refuge to people who fled from East Pakistan. It is estimated that 8-10 million people left the country.
How did India-Pakistan war of 1971 start
The war started when Pakistan launched air strikes on 11 Indian airbases on December 3, 1971. For the first time perhaps all three forces of India fought in unison. In return, Gandhi ordered Army Chief General Sam Manekshaw to launch a full-scale war against the neighbour.
What was the aftermath of the war?
The war resulted in the birth of Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan.
The day is also observed in Bangladesh as ‘Bijoy Dibos’, marking the country’s formal independence from Pakistan.
More than 3,800 Indian and Pakistani soldiers had lost their lives in the war.
India had also held 93,000 prisoners-of-war by the end of war on December 16. Eight months after the war, in August 1972, India and Pakistan settled the Shimla agreement.
Under the agreement, India agreed to release the 93,000 Pakistani prisoners-of-war. The agreement was later criticised for failing to negotiate on India’s conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir. Critics had said that India could have held the Pakistani troops as a negotiation chip to get its way.