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Jagjit Singh Arora (1916 - 2005)

Discussion in 'Sikh Personalities' started by Admin Singh, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Admin Singh

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    Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora (February 13, 1916 – May 3, 2005) was the commander of the Indian army in the Eastern front in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh. He was born in Jhelum, British India (now, Pakistan) and died in New Delhi, India.

    Jagjit Singh Arora was born into a Sikh family, he was the son of an engineer in Jhelum, in what is now Pakistan. He was commissioned into the 2nd Punjab Regiment in 1939 after his graduation from the Indian Military Academy, and went on to command it during the 1947-1948 hosilities with Pakistan in Kashmir. He had reached the rank of brigadier by the time he was involved in border hostilities with Chinese troops in 1961.

    In 1971, Arora was made commander of Indian forces in the east, and he was responsible for hostilities in East Pakistan. In less than two weeks, the Indian Army advancing along four fronts defeated or bypassed Pakistani forces and captured Dhaka, forcing the Commander-in-Chief of East Pakistan, Lieutenant General A.A.K. Niazi to surrender his forces. Instead of attacking Pakistani positions head-on, Arora had ordered his troops to bypass them wherever possible and head straight for Dhaka.

    Pakistan lost 55,000 square miles (140,000 km2) of its territory and 70 million of its people, after the eventual intervention by India into the Bangladesh Liberation struggle, in an operation meticulously prepared months in advance by Arora and others. Arora had also been involved in training and equipping the Mukti Bahini, an independent and effective guerrilla force that had been formed by the Bangladeshis. This guerilla force and the newly formed regular Bangladesh Army had already been fighting the Pakistanis for eight months prior to the arrival of the Indian army. Arora had helped to oversee the logistical preparations for the coming battles, including the improvement of roads, communications and bridges, as well as the movement of 30,000 tons of supplies close to the border of East Pakistan.

    On December 16, 1971, a day familiar to every Bangladeshi, Aurora accepted on behalf of the Allied Indian and Bangladeshi force, the surrender of Pakistani forces led by General Niazi. The signing of the document ended the war, and led to the formation of Bangla Desh, the name of the new country (later reduced to a single word) was used in the Instrument of Surrender, which declared: “The Pakistan Eastern Command agree to surrender all Pakistan armed forces in Bangla Desh to Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Arora, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian and Bangla Desh forces in the Eastern Theatre.” Aurora accepted the surrender without a word, while thousands cheered. He was hoisted on soldiers’ shoulders amid shouts of Joi Bangla (victory to Bangla).

    Niazi then had to be swiftly spirited away when crowds began calling for him to be lynched. Back home, he was widely criticised for submitting to such humiliation. More than 90,000 Pakistani personnel were taken prisoner after the ceremony. The total number of uniformed personnel consist of about 46,800 of which 35,000 are Army, 5,000 are of paramilitary and 5,000 are civilian police personnel. In addition, about 800 PAF and 1000 Pakistani Navy personnel 1. In honour of his contribution to Bangladesh liberation, Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Arora was awarded the 'Bir Pratik' gallantry award by the newly formed Bangladesh nation.

    After his retirement Arora spent several years as an MP in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) for the Sikh party, the Akali Dal.

    He fiercely opposed the 1984 army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, to flush out armed Sikh militants who had taken up positions inside. He was also active member of Citizen's Justice Committee which was helping pro bono the victims of 1984 Anti-Sikh massacre in Delhi in 1984, which followed the assassination of the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh bodyguards.

    He died on May 3, 2005, aged 89. He is survived by a son and daughter. After his death, the gratitude of Bangladesh to General Arora was emphasised in a message to India, from Morshed Khan, the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, stating: “Arora will be remembered in the history of Bangladesh for his contribution during our war of liberation in 1971, when he led the allied forces.” The site of the Pakistani surrender is being converted into what will be called Independence Square, with an eternal flame.
     

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  3. Admin Singh

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    lt_gen_j_s_arora_1971_bangladesh_independence_hero001.jpg

    Lt. Gen. Niazi (right) signing the documents of surrender after the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, December 16, 1971. To his right is Lt. Gen. J.S. Arora.

    lt_gen_j_s_arora_1971_bangladesh_independence_hero002.jpg
     
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