The surrender: Accounts of foreign journalists
16 Dec 2015, 03:47
Dhaka: Lieutenant Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, the then commander of the eastern command of Pakistani forces, was near to tears during his troops surrender to allied forces on the Race Course Maidan in Dhaka, on 16 December 1971.
Journalist James P. Sterba of the New York Times in his report titled In Dacca, the Killings Persist Amid Revelry’ and Peter O'Loughlin of The Times of London in his report headlined ‘Pakistani General, Near to Tears, Signs at Racecourse Ceremony’ described the surrender.
The reports were published on 16 and 17 December 1971 respectively. Giving an eye account to the surrender, journalist James P. Sterba wrote in his report, ‘General Aurora produced the surrender papers and General Niazi stood up, read them carefully, sat and penned his signature.
Then the Pakistani commander, now appearing on the verge of tears, stood again, slowly unstrapped his pistol and handed it to General Aurora.’
‘Besides General Niazi walked Lietenuant Geneneral Jagjit Singh Aurora, commander of India's eastern forces, wearing a chartreuse turban. General Niazi, his face expressionless, was also cursed. General Aurora was smiling. The Indian commander's aide opened a black leather briefcase and took out a brown manila envelope,’ the report stated.
When the surrender was signed, on a wooden table on the grass, a company of Indian soldiers and a platoon of Pakistani stood with their rifles as Indian tanks rumbled by into the city, the report said.
Describing the period prior to sign the surrender document, the report also said, ‘Maj Gen Rao Firman Ali, West Pakistan's military adviser to the old civil government, stood isolated and silent as insult were barked at him by young Bengalis. ‘Butcher’. One yelled at the man who had talked privately of the fruitlessness of attempting to stop the inevitable independence of East Pakistan.’
‘All the while a young Bengali held the flag of Bangladesh just above the Pakistani general's (Niazi) head’ soon after penning the surrender papers, the report continued.
Describing the hatred of Bengalis towards the Pakistani occupation forces for their inhuman atrocities on them during the War of Liberation, James P. Sterba also wrote, ‘A Bengali, searching for the Pakistani officers, shouted, ‘Where are the killer bastards?’
Journalist Peter O'Loughlin of The Times of London in his report headlined ‘Pakistani General, Near to Tears, Signs at Racecourse Ceremony’ wrote, ‘Shooting still sounded in the background as in fading light, crowds surrounded a table set up in front of Dhaka Racecourse and Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, looking grim, signed the terms of surrender.’
‘Hundreds of Bengalis shouting Joy Bangla were kept back by Indian troops who cordoned off the Racecourse. General Niazi was near to tears as he moved away, surrounded by cheering Bangladesh people’ the report said.
Quoting Lt Col. B. P. Hikhye, an Indian officer who witnessed the surrender ceremony, he also wrote, ‘Then Aurora stripped Niazi's insignia of rank off his shoulders---it is the custom.’
‘The Pakistan troops who had arms laid them down, Aurora was raised on the shoulders of the crowd and every Indian officer was mobbed by people throwing flowers,’ the report said.