Lt Gen JFR Jacob on how he got Pakistan to surrender in 1971 war

A short excerpt from 'An Odyssey in War and Peace'.

 |  2-minute read |   15-01-2016
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On the morning of December 16, Gen Manekshaw phoned me and said, "Jake, go and get a surrender." I asked him if I should negotiate the surrender on the basis of the draft sent to him some days earlier. He replied, "You know what to do; just go."

Also read: Remembering Lt Gen JFR Jacob, architect of Pakistan's 1971 surrender

I proceeded to Dacca accompanied by a staff officer. I took my draft of the Instrument of Surrender, which was yet to be confirmed by Army HQ. I changed helicopters at Jessore to save refuelling time. An officer ran up to me handing over a signal message from Army HQ. I expected that the message would confirm the draft I was carrying with me.

It read: "Government of India has approved of General Jacob having lunch with Gen Niazi." I proceeded on to Dacca. I entered Niazi's office... The draft Instrument of Surrender was read out. Niazi, with tears rolling down his cheeks, said: "Who said I am surrendering? You have only come to discuss a ceasefire and withdrawal as proposed by me."

fcwebvjnji-145270286_011516114925.jpg An Odyssey in War and Peace; Roli Books; Rs 305. 

Time was running out, so I called Niazi aside. I told him that if he did not surrender I could not take responsibility for the safety of their families and ethnic minorities. But if he did, I would ensure their protection... I then added that I would give him 30 minutes to reconsider and if he did not I would order the resumption of hostilities and the bombing of Dacca.

I was extremely worried. Niazi had 26,400 troops in Dacca, we had about 3,000 some 30 miles out. I was in a quandary as what to do in the event of his refusing. Aurora and his entourage were expected to land in an hour or two and the ceasefire was to expire shortly. I had nothing in hand.

Also read: Our hero of 1971 war

The Pakistan commission of enquiry report later stated: "There was Gen Jacob pacing outside, calmly puffing his pipe". Far from it, I was extremely worried and tense.

I spoke to the Pakistani sentry asking him about his family. He burst into tears saying that I, as an Indian officer, was talking to him whilst his own officers did not. After 30 minutes, I walked into the office to be met by a deathly silence, my draft surrender document lying on the table. I asked Niazi if he accepted this document, to which he did not reply. I repeated the enquiry thrice. He still did not respond. I then picked up the document, holding it high, and said, "I take it as accepted." Tears rolled down Niazi's cheeks, there were glares from those present.

(Reprinted with the publisher's permission.)

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