Vol. 5 Num 331 Wed. May 04, 2005  
Front Page

Bangladesh loses a friend

With the demise of Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, Bangladesh has lost a friend who was closely linked to its independence, leading Liberation War commanders yesterday said fondly recalling the memories of his contribution in the war.

"He was a great friend of Bangladesh and sincerely played his role during its Liberation War," said AK Khondoker, then deputy chief of staff of Bangladesh Armed Forces.

AK Khondoker represented Bangladesh Mukti Bahinee (liberation forces) when Gen Aurora, chief of Bangladesh-India joint command, signed Pakistan's surrender treaty at the Race Course in Dhaka on December 16, 1971.

"Since my acquaintance with him in May 1971 at Mukti Bahinee headquarters at Fort Williams, I met him several times and was present with General Osmany (MAG Osmany, then chief of staff of Bangladesh Armed Forces) in discussions with him. I saw him always trying to help us in all possible ways," said Khondoker, former air force chief.

Before the formation of joint forces, Gen Aurora visited Mukti Bahinee headquarters several times to discuss the mode of assistance, he said. "We learnt a lot from him."

The retired air vice marshal went on, "All those who knew him will miss the great soldier for long."

He expressed his sympathy for Aurora's family members and prayed for peace of his departed soul.

Rafiqul Islam, commander of Sector-1 (June-December) during the Liberation War, said Gen Aurora was deeply moved by the sufferings of Bangladeshis. "As a professional soldier, he could not imagine the genocide and brutality of Pakistani soldiers to our people. So, he decided to help us."

"He was sympathetic to us and committed to helping us for our cause," said Rafiq, also former home minister.

Recalling the motivation Bangladesh forces received from Aurora during the turbulent days of the Liberation War, KM Shafiullah, then commander of 'S-Force,' said, "In fact, General Aurora was a father figure for us."

The former army chief said, "We got all sorts of help from him during the war. Before the formation of joint forces, he visited our headquarters at Teliapara (in Habiganj district) in July-August (in '71) and assured us of all help."

Shafiullah was commander of Sector-3 from April to September and of S-Force from September to December.

"Although we did not have direct contact with him (Aurora), we made contact through our division. The role he played during the war make us heavily indebted to him," he said.

Shafiullah last met Aurora in Delhi at an Independence Day function organised by Bangladesh High Commission in 1998. "During his short stint in Delhi, he managed time to attend the programme," said the former army chief.

"During the time we stayed together, he (Aurora) recalled the war days very passionately," said Shafiullah.

Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan and Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina condoled the death of Gen Aurora through separate messages and recalled his remarkable contribution to Bangladesh's independence.

In a message to Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, Hasina conveyed her deep sympathy to the members of the bereaved family of Aurora and said the people of Bangladesh will always remember his contribution in their Liberation War.

She recalled the supreme sacrifice of 18,000 Indian soldiers in the war to liberate Bangladesh.

Morshed Khan, in a message to his Indian counterpart K Natwar Singh, said, "I am deeply shocked and grieved to learn the passing away of Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora."

He expressed sympathies for the bereaved family and prayed for salvation of the departed soul.

Mujibnagar and Freedom Fighter Officers and Employees' Central Welfare Association of Bangladesh also expressed profound condolence at the death of Gen Aurora.

It recalled his contribution to Bangladesh's independence, sympathised with his bereaved family and prayed for peace of his soul.