An elated Lt Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir (Retd.) who played a key role in the 1971 Bangladesh’s war of Liberation has thanked the Indian government for honoring him with the Padma Shri award.

Speaking to WION, he said,” It’s like a dream come true…I thought things are forgotten but I found Indian people, the Indian govt and your system does not forget. The small role I played, has been remembered.”

Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. Lt Col Quazi Sajjad, who was once a Pakistani soldier switched to the Indian side and thus played a key role in Pakistan’s losses in that war. He explained, “Due to financial reasons, I had to join the Pakistani army. I wanted to be a senior officer, I found out this Pakistan was not for us. They used to maltreat us, criticize us, make fun of us. They used to treat us like servants. (Naukar hai hum longon ka)”

He crossed into India with 20 Pakistani rupees, one pant, and a shirt and handed himself over to CRPF at Samba. He gives the details of Pakistani minefields, artillery position, helicopter pads to the Indian side.

He later trained Mukti Bahini. Pointing to the source of his inspiration to take the decision, he said, “We heard the call of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, calling people this time struggle is for freedom and independence.. I could train the Mukti Bahini.”

Asked about the death sentence by Pakistan on him which continues till today, he said, “The commanders started suspecting…Indian Airforce comes in and bombs and goes away. Some helicopters come, Sajjad must be sitting on them. I was not on the plans. It was my map..court-martial was ordered and I was given a death sentence. The order was to capture me alive and we would execute. We will parade u on TV, they say, Rakhey Allaha Marey Ki.”

Due to his support, the Indian Army penetrated 56 miles into Pakistan’s Shakargarh and captured the strategic town of Zafarwal. The 1971 war was the biggest defeat of Pakistan since its creation in 1947 and the war broke the country into parts.

Detailing Pakistan’s cause of failure, he said,  “Pakistan failed everywhere in 1971. Pakistani Army is so well trained, they have most murder equipment from America, China, and Europe. Their weapons were of a much higher category than India. Indians using their own manufactured weapons. But what a shame… an army that conducts genocide they can never fight. You don’t fight with weapons you fight with heart.”

93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered without a fight. He is now playing a key role in honoring the Indian soldiers who laid their lives for the liberation of Bangladesh. He has proposed to Bangladesh PM Hasina that “we must honor friends of Bangladesh”.

He said, “Indian army is liberator army for us. This liberator army, Mukhti army has gone from Bangladesh with dignity and honour. Whenever soldiers enter one country, they murder and loot. Indian army went back with dignity and honor. They should be honored.”

237 Indians from Indian sepoys to President and PM’s have been honored by Bangladesh. Bangladesh plans to honor every Indian martyr of the Bangladesh war and a monument is being built in the country’s Ashuganj. The monument is based on ribs cage and is expected to be opened in two years’ time.  (ZeeNews)