THE YEAR 1971 has gone down as a momentous year in the history of independent India. This was a glorious period for India where her diplomacy, statesmanship, power projection, strategy and military might were synergised to great advantage.
It resulted in the division of Pakistan and creation of a new nation. Lt Gen Sher Amir Singh, who retired as Quarter Master General (QMG) in the Indian Army and is now settled in Mhow, was a Major of 2 Dogra Regiment during the 1971 operations.
Busy chasing Naga insurgents in the forests of Nagaland, he received movement orders for the vibrant and potentially exciting military environment that prevailed along the border with what was the then East Pakistan.
Recalls Lt Gen Singh, “I found myself alongside men who had revolted against the oppressive and cruel regime of Pakistan led by General Yahya Khan. A large number of officers and men of the East Bengal Regiment had crossed over to India into West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. I had close interaction with these officers of Pakistan and one of them was General (then Major) Zia-ur-Rehman, who later became the president of Bangladesh.
The war officially started on December 3, 1971 and what followed is probably one of the biggest achievements of the country and the Indian armed forces.
“I was there as a small part of a glorious event. I was witness to the birth of a new nation and also to the frenzy in Dhaka when a meek, disgraced and crestfallen Gen Niazi signed the surrender document. Later, I witnessed the arrival of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman, affectionately referred to as Banga Bandhu, who was to be brutally killed in 1975.”
While still in Bangladesh, I saw the change in attitude of the Bangladeshis from gratitude to lack of warmth towards India and the Indian Army. Our government was wise and the Indian Army pulled out by March 1972. We came back as a victorious army with 93,000 POWs in tow, an unmatched military feat.
However, this event was a watershed and high mark. The world started taking note of India and the only other event, which can eclipse this, is the current surge in our economy and what lies ahead by way of progress.
Shooting star …
AFTER LT Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who won an Olympic silver medal, another name is making headlines in the shooting ranges of Mhow. Allen Daniel Peoples.
Till a couple of years back, Danny (22), was known only as the son of Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) commanding officer Col I J Peoples. He started shooting at the age of 18. He qualified for the All-India G V Mavlankar Shooting Championship in New Delhi (2002) and established a new meet record in skeet shooting (32/50).
Winning a silver in the National Shooting Championship (juniors), he followed it up with a bronze in the Hyderabad nationals in 2003. In November 2005, he won gold medals in both junior and senior categories.
This was the first time that a junior had won gold medal in the senior category as well. The Sports Authority of India gave him a scholarship for one-month-long training in Peru in July 2005.
He also participated in the World Cup in Brazil (senior category despite being a junior) in August 2005. Though he did not get any medal here, he made his mark with a record 117 points (in junior category).
In December, he won a silver medal in nationals at Hyderabad and represented India at Doha Asiad. In the Commonwealth Games, held in Australia in March 2006, he won four medals in various events.
Now what? “Olympic gold,” Danny replies. And he is putting in hours of practice everyday to achieve it. He is getting medical advice from Army sports medical officer Lt Col Gopal Singh and professional training from Vladimir Andreev (Russia) & Juangiah (Peru).