India has handed over to Bangladesh a Mi-4 helicopter and two PT-76 tanks as part of the 1971 Liberation War memorabilia. “The gifts are to be showcased at the Bangladesh army and air force museums,” a defence ministry spokesman said yesterday. He said the helicopter and the tanks were part of gifts given by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her Bangladesh visit last year.
The memorabilia included 25 weapons like pistol, rifles, machine guns and mortars alongside a large number of artefact, historical photographs, archival audio and video clipping, maps and battle records related to the 1971 Liberation War. “While most items of memorabilia have been handed over to the Bangladesh National Museum; the larger items ie PT-76 Tanks and Mi 4 Helicopter are now being handed over to the Bangladesh Army and Air Force,” Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.
The light amphibious PT-76 tanks were used by the Indian Army’s armoured regiments in 1971 which played a crucial role in crossing rivers and water bodies during the war. Analysts said these tanks often outclassed a much larger force and technically superior M34 Chafee tanks, used by the Pakistani Army in the war.
The Mi-4 transport helicopter was extensively utilised for heliborne operations by the India-Bangladesh joint forces in the eastern sector confirming early defeat of Pakistani troops in 1971.
Indian air force earlier gifted Bangladesh one Hunter jet fighter, one Dakota transport air craft ahead of this helicopter while India’s navy previously gifted memorabilia of its INS Vikrant, models of ships that took part in the war and archival photographs and its army gifts included six 3.7 Howitzer Guns.
India backed Bangladesh’s Liberation War, which began after the sudden crackdown at midnight past on March 25, 1971 in the erstwhile East Pakistan by Pakistani troops. On December 16, the same year as Pakistan conceded defeat and its troops unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising the freedom fighters and the Indian Army.