Kolkata, Dec 16 (IANS) The launch of a 'Race to Dhaka' and a pictorial book depicting the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war marked the 40th anniversary of 'Vijay Divas' as war veterans from both countries came together at the Indian Army's Eastern Command headquarters here.
A senior Bangladeshi politician and war veteran credited India for the victory in the war which resulted in the formation of the new nation.
The book was launched here amidst presence of Bangladesh Parliament's Deputy Speaker Shaukat Ali, India's 1971 Eastern Command chief of staff Lt. Gen. (retd.) J.F.R. Jacob, former Indian Army chief Gen. (retd.) Shankar Roychowdhury and many war veterans from both sides the border
Three serving army officers along with 22 Mukti Joddhas (freedom fighters) from Bangladesh joined their Indian counterparts for the celebrations which with the memorial service at Vijay Smarak where the Mukti Joddhas led by Ali paid floral tribute to those who had made the supreme sacrifice in the war.
An all-faith prayer meeting was organised at the venue while two helicopters showered rose petals on the martyr's column.
'Our defeat in the Chinese war had downed the morale not only of the forces but also of the whole country. But this victory enabled India to stand firmly and confidently on her feet. Since then we are totally confident,' said Roychowdhury.
The Bangladeshi leader praised India for its efforts and said his country will always remain grateful for the gesture.
'India stood beside us when we required them. They stood beside us for humanity. We shall always remember this gesture. We are so grateful.'
'I would give 100 percent credit to India for the liberation of Bangladesh. We gained Independence but India fought for it. Can this contribution be belittled?' said Ali.
'We are grateful to India since 1971 and we will continue to be so. The Indian army stood beside us and together we marched to victory and independence,' said Ashrafdaula, a Mukti Joddha who lost one of his legs in the war.
A feast was also organised at the garrison in the Fort Williams which houses the Army headquarters here.
A five day cultural extravaganza Friday began at the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission here to mark the occasion. The celebration will witness the participation of renowned cultural artistes from both sides of the border. Apart from folk music to rock music, the guests can also savour various Bangladeshi cuisines there to tantalize their taste buds.
Vijay Divas is celebrated by the Eastern Command every Dec 16 to mark India's victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan that resulted in the formation of Bangladesh.
The war commenced when Pakistan on Dec 3 launched a series of pre-emptive air strikes on India, but then everything went India's way.
On Dec 16, East Pakistan's capital Dhaka fell as Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi with 93,000 Pakistani troops under his command surrendered to the Indian armed forces headed by then Eastern Command chief, Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora.