How FirstPost maligned the Indian Army with a shoddy article

In a recent article published on FirstPost, authored by Garga Chatterjee, a professor at Indian Institute of statistics, claimed that Indian Army’s official handle @adgpi was tweeting “misleading information” which, according to him, “adds to the culture of jingoistic misinformation, puts Bangladesh government in a tight spot”

He was referring to this tweet

“This is simply false” he asserts. Then he goes on and on about who all retweeted this tweet, before finally telling us why he thinks so. “The truth is, in the territory of Bangladesh, no surrender to the Indian Army took place. All the surrenders were to the Joint Command of the Indian and Bangladesh Forces in the Eastern Theatre.” He reproduces the Instrument of Surrender and claims that since “Nowhere is the term “Indian Army” mentioned”, the tweet in question is a falsehood.

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The rest of the piece is a few hundred words of sermonizing and teaching a lot of people how to do their jobs, something that the class of people he belongs to seem to be good at.

It’s astounding that someone who seems to have an alphabet soup of degrees from reputed institutions could put forth such a facetious argument. And even more astounding is that a portal like Firstpost also blindly published it without question.

It’s true that the war in the East was fought by the Eastern Command of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini together. And there has never been a lack of acknowledgement from either side for the contribution of the other. But the fact remains that the Pakistan Army surrendered before Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, who was the commander of all the forces in the Eastern Theatre including the Mukti Bahini. The General took his orders from the Indian Army headquarters, and therefore received the surrender on its behalf. In the words of Lt General JFR Jacob, who was General Aurora’s Chief of Staff, “on the morning of December 16th, Manekshaw phoned me and said “Go and get a surrender”.”

 

In the 46 years since the war, never once has the fact that they surrendered to the Indian Army ever been in doubt, not even by the Pakistanis themselves. Here’s an account from Pakistani newspaper, The Dawn, which is very clear in its language.

The fact is that the Mukti Bahini, its vital contributions to the victory notwithstanding, was till then a guerrilla organisation with no legal status. The instrument of surrender, being a legal document, could only be signed between such legal entities. If it had been otherwise, the name and signature of the Mukti Bahini commander would have been included as a signatory. Like the Instruments of surrender of Germany and Japan in WWII are signed by representatives of all the allies in the theatre. So General Aurora received the surrender on behalf of the Indian Army, which itself fought the war on behalf of the country.

So the entire piece is not just nonsense, but utterly so. And the last few paragraphs reveal the author’s purpose – essentially to bad mouth the army, the government and a host of others. But using such a lame argument only serves to undermine his understanding of anything beyond his field of specialisation. Maybe he’d do well to stick to that.

A former Army officer, now a Learning and Development consultant, Author of ‘Delhi Durbar 1911 – The Complete Story’, ‘Riding the Raisina Tiger’, ‘Brave Men of War – Tales of Valour 1965’ and ‘In the Line of Fire’. Currently also a research fellow at Ministry of Defence, engaged in writing official history of India’s participation in First World War. Blogs at swordarm.in

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