Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today met an Indian army officer, who rescued the family members of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in December 1971.
Colonel (retd) Ashok Kumar Tara rescued the Bangabandhu’s family members from their Dhanmondi-32 residence December 17, 1971.
They met at Manekshaw Convention Centre at Delhi Cantonment where 1661 Indian soldiers, who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 Liberation War, were honoured.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also recalled the outstanding courage of Tara who was then a young Major, according to a tweet of the Indian prime minister’s office.
Ashok Kumar Tara confronted nearly 10 armed Pakistani soldiers, who had orders to wipe out Bangabandhu’s family and convinced them to surrender to him. Here is a compilation of media reports on the bravery the Indian army officer showed.
How Major (retd) Tara saved Bangabandhu’s family in 1971
About a dozen armed Pakistani soldiers with rifles and light machine guns had orders to eliminate the family members of Bangabandhu who were held hostage in their Dhanmondi residence in December 1971.
Ashok Tara, then 29, of 14 Guards, who had awarded Vir Chakra for securing the Gangasagar railway station (near Agartala) and its surrounding areas in early December, received orders to rescue the family of Bangabandhu on December 17, 1971, a day after the Pakistani army surrendered to the joint Bangladesh-India command in Dhaka, reports Times of India.
Accompanied by only three men, as Major Tara neared to the house and saw a bullet-ridden car about 100 yards away. There was a bullet-riddled body of a man in the car. When he approached the car, a crowd surrounded him and somebody came to Maj Tara’s vehicle and told him that Pakistani soldiers who were in the house had threatened to kill whoever approach towards the house, Major Tara recalled during an interview with Tehelka.com.
Finding no way to charge the Pakistani soldiers, Tara got unarmed after handing over his weapon to his junior fellows and started walking to the car. As he passed the car, a Pakistani army man from the rooftop warned him that he would open fire if he proceeded. Tara, whose parents migrated to Delhi from Rawalpindi in 1945, understood his language. He, however, explained to the Pakistani soldiers that their army had already surrendered the previous night.
But the soldiers said they could not be able to communicate with their higher-ups. He was walking closer to the house as he shouted these words and was at the entrance when the guard in the bunker at the gates pointed the rifle at him. From inside the house, a woman voice from inside the house was also shouting. “If you do not save us, they will kill all of us, we know.”
As few Indian helicopters flew past during the 10-minute conversation, the Indian major pointed at them, saying that the Indian Army was in charge to “have a psychological advantage over them”, reports The Telegraph in India.
“I pointed to them and shouted ‘look our helicopters are flying in the sky and look behind me, our jawans are inside Dacca. You have a family with children as I do; if you lay down your arms and come out peacefully, I guarantee you a safe passage to your camp or wherever you want to go to’.”
After some time, the gates opened and around 10 Pakistani soldiers laid down their arms and moved forward. Tara ordered his men to escort them back to base and entered the house. There he found the family members of Bangabandhu. They were in a panic as they had overheard the Pakistanis talking of their plans to assassinate them before leaving the house, reported the TOI.
Delighted after being rescued, Begum Mujib embraced him and said: “You are my son who has come as God to me”, Telegraph reported as he was saying.
‘Friend of Bangladesh’
Nearly 41 years later, Sheikh Hasina invited Ashok Kumar Tara to return to Dhaka for thanksgiving.
The Bangladesh government honoured and felicitated the retired Indian army officer as prestigious 'Friend of Bangladesh' in 2012 for his courage and saving the lives of the family members of Bangabandhu.