Manekshaw’s message to Niazi assuring safety on surrender
14 December 2015, Nirapad News: On December 15 in 1971, at the fag-end of the War of Liberation, the then Indian army chief Geneneral S.H.F.J. Manekshaw sent a message to the then Pakistan army commander in the war-time East Pakistan Lieutenant General A.A.K. Niazi giving a guarantee of safety and stopping air and ground assaults on occupation soldiers’ surrender.
Minutes after Mankeshaw received a ceasefire proposal from Niazi the Indian army chief sent the message to the commander of the occupation force to surrender.
The American wire service Associated Press (AP) made the message public on the same day while the New York Times published it as a news the next day (December 16) titled “Text of Message from General Manekshaw to General Niazi”
The message started with Manekshaw assured Niazi of receiving his ceasefire proposal. “I have received your communication regarding a cease-fire in Bangladesh at 1430 hours today (Dec 15) through the American Embassy in New Delhi,” he said.
Giving assurance of safety, Manekshaw said, “I have previously informed General Farman Ali in two messages that I would guarantee safety of all your military and paramilitary forces who surrender to me in Bangladesh and complete protection to foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and personnel of West Pakistan origin, no matter who they may be.”
Calling Niazi to issue order to his soldiers to stop fighting, Manekshaw said, “Since you have indicated your desire to stop fighting I expect you to issue orders to forces under your command in Bangladesh to cease fighting immediately and surrender to my advancing forces wherever they are located.”
Assuring Niazi to follow the Geneva Convention, he also said, “I give you my solemn assurance that personnel who surrender shall be treated with dignity and respect that soldiers are entitled to and I will abide by the provisions of the Geneva conventions.”
“Further, as you have many wounded, I shall ensure that they are well cared for and your dead given proper burial. No one need have any fear for their safety, no matter where they come from. Nor shall there be any reprisal by forces operating under my command.”
Giving guarantee of stopping air attack, he reiterated, “Immediately I receive a positive response I shall direct General Aurora, Commander of Indian and Bangladesh forces. As the token of my good faith I have ordered that no air action shall take place over Dacca from 1700 hours today.”
Manekshaw, however, sounded a note of warning to Niazi saying, “I assure you I have no desire to inflict unnecessary casualties on your troops as I abhor loss of human lives. Should, however, you not comply with what I had stated you will leave me with no other alternative but to resume my offensive with utmost vigor at 0900 hours on 16 December.”
At the end of the message, Manekshaw told Niazi to make immediate communication with him to solve the issue and said, “In order to be able to discuss and finalize matters quickly I have arranged for a radio link on listening watch from 1700 hours today.”
“Frequency will be 6605 KH by day and 3216 KH by night. The call signs will be CALBACK. I would suggest to you to instruct your signalers to restore microwave communications immediately,” he said