MY dear Abdullah, I am here," read the message to the general in beleaguered Dacca. "The game is up. I suggest you give yourself up to me and I'll look after you." The author of that soothing appeal was India's Major General Gandharv Nagra. The recipient was Lieut. General A.A.K. ("Tiger") Niazi, commander of Pakistan's 60,000 troops in East Bengal and a onetime college classmate of Nagra's. Minutes before the expiration of India's cease-fire demand, Niazi last week bowed to the inevitable. By United Nations radio, he informed the Indian command that he was prepared to surrender his army unconditionally.
Less than an hour later, Indian troops rode triumphantly into Dacca as Bengalis went delirious with joy. "It was liberation day," cabled TIME Correspondent Dan Coggin. "Dacca exploded in an ecstasy of hard-won happiness. There was wild gunfire in the air, impromptu parades, hilarity and horn honking, and processions of jammed trucks and cars, all mounted with the green, red and gold flag of Bangladesh. Bengalis hugged and kissed Indian jawans, stuck marigolds in their gun barrels and showered them with garlands of jasmine. If 'Jai Bangla!' (Victory to Bengal!) was screamed once, it was screamed a million times. Even Indian generals got involved. Nagra climbed on the hood of his Jeep and led the shouting of slogans for Bangladesh and its imprisoned leader, Sheik Mujibur Rahman. Brigadier General H.S. Kler lost his patches and almost his turban when the grateful crowd engulfed him."
Late that afternoon as dusk was beginning to fall, General Niazi and Lieut. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, commander of India's forces in the East, signed the formal surrender of the Pakistani army on the grassy lawn of Dacca's Race Course. Niazi handed over his revolver to Aurora, and the two men shook hands. Then, as the Pakistani commander was driven away in a Jeep, Aurora was lifted onto the shoulders of the cheering crowd.
Thus, 13 days after it began, the briefest but bitterest of the wars between India and Pakistan* came to an end. The surrender also marked the end of the nine-month-old civil war between East and West Pakistan. Next day Pakistan's President Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan reluctantly accepted India's cease-fire on the western border. It was a complete and humiliating defeat. The war stripped Pakistan of more than half of its population and, with nearly one-third of its army in captivity, clearly established India's military dominance of the subcontinent.
Considering the magnitude of the victory, New Delhi was surprisingly restrained in its reaction. Mostly, Indian leaders seemed pleased by the relative ease with which they had accomplished their goalsthe establishment of Bangladesh and the prospect of an early return to their homeland of the 10 million Bengali refugees who were the cause of the war. In announcing the surrender to the Indian Parliament, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared: "Dacca is now the free capital of a free country. We hail the people of Bangladesh in their hour of triumph. All nations who value the human spirit will recognize it as a significant milestone in man's quest for liberty."