The Liberation War gathered momentum when India recognised Bangladesh as an independent state on December 6 of 1971, leading to the quick defeat of the Pakistan Army in less than two weeks' time.
People of Bangladesh, including freedom fighters, had eagerly waited for this because they considered it imperative for winning the war. However, they didn't expect victory to be so close from the day Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave a statement in parliament explaining why her government was giving the recognition, speakers said at a discussion organised by Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee at the National Museum in Dhaka yesterday.
Democracy, socialism and secularism were the principles that laid out the grounds for waging a war against the Pakistani occupation forces. India extended its support to the then East Pakistan as it had the same principles, said writer, historian and activist Muntassir Mamoon, referring to the speech given by Gandhi.
India gave shelter to 10 million refugees, the highest refugee crisis globally, from the war-ravaged country in 1971. It also trained freedom fighters and gave them arms and ammunition.
Indira Gandhi also drummed up international support for the people of the country.
India helped shape a global opinion against genocide happening in the then East Pakistan, in favour of the Liberation War, and for release of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi.
As many as 17,000 soldiers of the Indian Mitra Bahini were martyred along with 3 million Bengalis during the Liberation War. Bangladesh is thankful that India stood beside it at its hour of need, speakers said.
Pakistan had all along spread a propaganda that India was trying to intervene in internal matters of Pakistan, said Rizvi. India did not. In fact, it was providing support from within its territory until December 3. But the attack by Pakistan on India on December 3 of 1971 changed the whole scenario and paved the way for the ultimate emancipation of Bangladesh, he added.