A TRIBUTE TO RETD. LT. GEN JACOB READ INTO HIS ACCOUNT OF 1971 WAR
When Niazi said he was blackmailed by Jacob for surrender at Dhaka
On November 22, 1971, a decision was taken to move up to some 10 miles into East Pakistan to counter Pakistan artillery fire. We used this opportunity to create jumping off areas for the coming operations. This drove Yayha Khan in desperation to order on December 3 the Bombing of our airfields in the west. The war had started.
The then Army Chief General S H F J Manekshaw sent us an order to go back and capture all the towns we had by passed but not Dhaka. We told our corps commanders to ignore this order and to proceed with the offensive as planned.
On December 14 evening General Niazi and Farman Ali went to see the American consul general, Spivack with cea-sefire proposal.
The cease-fire proposal was given to Bhutto in New York on December 15 but he reject it out-rightly and sweared to fight on.
On the morning of December 16, Manekshaw phoned saying “Jake go and get a surrender” I asked if I negotiate on the draft instrument of surrender that I had earlier sent him. He said “you know what to do, just go.” I took a chopper to Dhaka. I was met by representatives of the UN who wanted to come with me to take over the government. I thanked them and declined.
Niazi had sent me a Pak. Army car with a brigadier.
There was fighting going on between the freedom fighters and the Pakistan army. We had hardly gone a few hundred yards when the Mukti (Bahini) fighters fired at the car. I jumped out. They recognized my olive green uniform and stopped firing. They wanted to kill the brigadier. I persuaded them to let us continue to Niazi’s headquarters, I had the draft instrument of surrender read out. There were snarls from the generals there. Niazi said, “Who said I was surrendering, you have only come for a cease fire.” Farman Ali said that they did not recognize the joint indo-Bangladesh command. I took Niazi aside and told him that I could not give him better terms as we had discussed this on the wireless. I added that if he did not surrender I would order the resumption of hostilities and the bombing of Dhaka cantonment. I gave him 30 minutes to answer and walked out.
I was extremely worried because he had 26,400 troops in Dhaka and we some 3,000 some 30 miles out. I had nothing in my hand. General Arora and his entourage were to land in a short time. The ceasefire was about to expire.
I went back after 30 minutes. The draft was on the table. I asked Niazi three times weather he accepted the draft instrument of surrender. He did not respond. I picked up the draft and said that I took it as accepted. There was tears in Niazi’s eyes. I told him he would have to surrender on the racecourse in front of the people of Dacca. He resisted surrendering in public but reluctantly agreed. I told him he would provide a guard of honour. He said there was no one to command it. I said his ADC would command it. We worked out the modalities for local surrenders. After lunch we proceeded in Niazi’s car to the airport to meet General Arora and his entourage. They arrived at ground at 1630 hours. We then went to the racecourse, the ceremony was basic and simple. We hardly had any troops in Dhaka.
A ceasefire was converted in the space of few hours into an unconditional public surrender the only one in history. After the documents were signed, there were tears in Niazi’s eyes. The people of Dhaka rushed to lynch Niazi.
It is pertinent to quote from the “Hamoodur ur Rehman commission of enquiry, “General Niazi, when you had 26,400 troops in Dhaka and the Indians a few thousand outside, had you fought on for even one more day the Indian’s would have had to go back, why then did you accept a shameful unconditional public surrender and provide a guard of honour commanded by your ADC”
Niazi replied, “I was compelled to do so by Gen. Jacob who blackmailed me into surrendering” This he had repeated in his books “betrayal of east Pakistan”
But I did not blackmail him.