2 January 1971

The second Ibrox disaster kills 66 fans at a Rangers-Celtic association football (soccer) match

1971 Ibrox disaster
The 1971 Ibrox Disaster Memorial (geograph 5756553).jpg
A memorial to those who died in the disaster, including a statue of then-captain John Greig, unveiled in January 2001
Date2 January 1971 (1971-01-02)
LocationIbrox Park, Glasgow, Scotland
Coordinates55°51′13″N 4°18′25″W / 55.853727°N 4.306996°W / 55.853727; -4.306996Coordinates: 55°51′13″N 4°18′25″W / 55.853727°N 4.306996°W / 55.853727; -4.306996
Non-fatal injuries> 200

The 1971 Ibrox disaster was a crush among the crowd at an Old Firm football game, which led to 66 deaths and more than 200 injuries. It happened on 2 January 1971 in an exit stairway at Ibrox Park (now Ibrox Stadium) in Glasgow, Scotland. It was the worst British football disaster until the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield, England, in 1989.

The stadium's owner, Rangers F.C., was later ruled to be at fault in a sheriff's judgement on one of the deaths.[1] Rangers did not dispute this ruling, and was sued for damages in 60 other cases brought by relatives of the dead.[2]


The first disaster at Ibrox occurred during a 1902 home international match between Scotland and England. The back of the wooden West Tribune Stand collapsed due to heavy rainfall the previous night, causing 25 deaths and more than 500 injuries.[3]

Ibrox Park in 1910, with the Copland Road exit at the far corner of the stadium. An equivalent staircase can be seen descending the nearest corner.

During 1963, concerns were raised about the safety of the stairway adjacent to passageway 13, colloquially known as Stairway 13, the exit closest to Copland Road subway station.[4] It was documented that the stairs provided very little freedom of movement due to crowd pressure; many were lifted off their feet by the crowd and had no choice in which lane they were going to use, or at what pace.[5]

On 16 September 1961, two people were killed in a crush on the stairway.[6] In 1967, eight spectators were injured when leaving the stadium. In 1969, 26 were injured in an accident on Stairway 13 during egress.[7] No steps were taken to consult a professional firm to discuss the potential dangers from crowds on Stairway 13 following these events. Subsequent to the 1961 accident, Rangers had by then spent a total of £150,000 (equivalent to £2,500,000 in 2019) on improvements to Ibrox, a very significant sum of money for the time.[8]


The disaster occurred on Saturday, 2 January 1971, when 66 people were killed in a crush as supporters tried to leave the stadium. The match was an Old Firm game (Rangers v Celtic) and was attended by more than 80,000 fans.[9][10][11] In the 90th minute, Celtic took a 1–0 lead through Jimmy Johnstone, but in the final moments of the match, Colin Stein scored an equaliser for Rangers. As thousands of spectators were leaving the ground by stairway 13, it appears that someone may have fallen, causing a massive chain-reaction pile-up of people.[12][6]

The loss included many children, five of whom, Peter Easton, Martin Paton, Mason Phillips, Brian Todd and Douglas Morrison, were schoolmates from the same town of Markinch in Fife. The loss also included 31 teenagers, including the only female victim Margaret Ferguson of Maddiston in Falkirk, age 18. The youngest child to die was Nigel Patrick Pickup of Liverpool, age 9.[6] Most of the deaths were caused by compressive asphyxia, with bodies being stacked up to six feet deep in the area. More than 200 other fans were injured.

Initially there was speculation that some fans left the ground slightly early when Celtic scored, but then turned back when they heard the crowd cheering when Stein scored the equaliser, colliding with fans leaving the ground when the match ended.[13] The official inquiry into the disaster indicated that there was no truth in this hypothesis, however, as all the spectators were heading in the same direction at the time of the collapse.[13]

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, then a Celtic player, was in the stands when the tragedy occurred.[14] Dalglish was also present at the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters in 1985 and 1989, respectively.[15]


Sixty-six people died on the day at the stadium as a result of injuries incurred during the disaster. Over 200 people were reported to have suffered injuries.[16]


Of those who died, all were aged under 50, 61 were under 40, 49 were under 30, 33 were under 20 and 1 was aged under 10.

Age range Males Females Total
0–9 1 0 1
10–19 31 1 32
20–29 16 0 16
30–39 12 0 12
40–49 5 0 5
Totals 65 1 66


The disaster spurred the UK government to look into safety at sports grounds. In February 1971, Scottish judge Lord Wheatley was asked to conduct an inquiry.[17] His findings, published in May 1972, formed the basis for the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide), first published in 1973.

Exterior view of all-seater Ibrox Stadium, with Stairway 13 corner in the foreground (2008)

A fatal accident inquiry had been held in Glasgow which opened on 15 February 1971.[18] It lasted 7 days, although the jury of four men and three women had been instructed not to make recommendations around safety precautions at football grounds, because an inquiry led by Lord Wheatley would be examining this.[19]

The 1971 disaster led to a huge redevelopment of the Ibrox ground, spearheaded by the then-manager Willie Waddell, who visited Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion for inspiration.[20] After three years' reconstruction work, three-quarters of the ground being replaced by modern all-seater stands, Ibrox was converted to a 44,000-capacity stadium by 1981.[21] Further work in the 1990s increased the stadium capacity to 50,000, and Ibrox was subsequently awarded UEFA five-star status.

The Scottish folk singer-songwriter Matt McGinn (1928–1977) wrote a song called "The Ibrox Disaster" as a tribute to the people who died in the tragic event.

For some years after the 1971 disaster, there was only a small plaque at the corner of the ground where it happened. However, in 1995, Rangers announced plans to commemorate the 66 fans killed in the 1971 disaster.[22][23] On 2 January 2001, the 30th anniversary of the tragedy, a larger monument was unveiled at the corner of the Bill Struth Main Stand and the Copland Road Stand. The monument contains blue plaques displaying the names of each person killed in all three incidents. A statue of John Greig, the Rangers captain at the time of the 1971 disaster, stands atop the monument.

In 2011, the 40th anniversary of the disaster was commemorated before the Old Firm game on 2 January 2011 when a one-minute silence was observed before the game. Both teams wore black armbands as a sign of respect and were led out by John Greig and Billy McNeill – the respective club captains at the time of the disaster (although Billy McNeill had not played due to injury).

Damages claims

Sheriff James Irvine Smith, in his damages statement, ruled: "The said accident was due to the fault and negligence of the defenders, Rangers F.C.".[1] Smith found Rangers F.C. guilty on four counts in the case of the death of Charles Dougan, a 31-year-old boilermaker from Clydebank who died, as did 56 others, from traumatic asphyxia.

After hearing of the series of accidents on Stairway 13 including September 1961 when there were 70 people injured and two deaths, September 1967 when 11 people were taken to hospital, and January 1969 when 29 people were injured, Sheriff Irvine Smith stated,

So far as the evidence is concerned, the Board never so much as considered that it ought to apply its mind to the question of safety on that particular stairway [...] and would appear – I put it no higher – to have proceeded on the view that if the problem was ignored long enough it would eventually go away [...] Indeed it goes further than this because certain of their actions can only be interpreted as a deliberate and apparently successful attempt to deceive others that they were doing something, when in fact they were doing nothing.

— Sheriff Irvine Smith, damages statement.[1]

In the case of Charles Dougan and a further 60 cases brought by relatives of the dead, Rangers F.C. did not dispute the findings of Sheriff Irvine Smith and instead merely disputed the calculation of the damages as can be seen from the appeal judgement of the Sheriff Principal.[2][6]

In his book, Irvine Smith states that almost 40 years after his decision, he was viewed with disapproval by some Rangers-supporting friends, who accused him of "disloyalty".[24][6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Source: National Records of Scotland, Ref: SC36/1972/1/3 Interlocutors (viewing by appointment only).
  2. ^ a b Source: National Records of Scotland, Ref: SC36/1972/1/3 Interlocutors (viewing by appointment only)
  3. ^ (November 1998). "The fatalities at the Ibrox disaster of 1902" (PDF). The Sports Historian. British Society of Sports History. 18 (2): 148–155. doi:10.1080/17460269809445801. Retrieved 17 May 2007.
  4. ^ "OS 1:1,250, 1944–1967". Explore georeferenced maps. National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  5. ^ Dickie, JF (1995). "Major Crowd Catastrophes". Safety Science. 18: 315.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hodgman, John (3 December 2020). "'Singing and dancing to their deaths': football's forgotten tragedy". The Guardian. pp. 6–8.
  7. ^ Dickie, JF (1995). "Major Crowd Catastrophes". Safety Science. 18: 315.
  8. ^ Murphy, James (23 February 1971). "Directors evidence on stairway safety". The Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  9. ^ Harris, Daniel (4 September 2014). "The forgotten story of … Rangers' 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup win". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Rangers 1 — 1 Celtic, Scottish League (02/01/1971) [Rangers team]". Fitbastats. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Rangers 1 — 1 Celtic, Scottish League (02/01/1971) [Celtic team]". Fitbastats. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  12. ^ "On this day — 2 January — 1971: Disaster at Ibrox". BBC. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  13. ^ a b "1971: Sixty-six die in Scottish football disaster". BBC. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  14. ^ "Kenny Dalglish: Hillsborough families are magnificent". Liverpool Echo.
  15. ^ "Kenny Dalglish on Liverpool – the club, the fans, the city, and Hillsborough". BBC.
  16. ^ Williams, Craig (2 January 2020). "The names of the 66 killed in the 1971 Ibrox disaster". Glasgow Live. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Wheatley heads safety inquiry". Glasgow Herald. Glasgow. 5 February 1971. p. 1"."
  18. ^ "Ibrox disaster inquiry opens to-day". The Glasgow Herald. 15 February 1971. p. 1. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  19. ^ Murphy, James (24 February 1971). "Rangers urged to seek advice on stairway". The Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  20. ^ Crampsey, Bob (22 December 1999). "Imperious Ibrox is a ground for celebration". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  21. ^ Inglis, Simon (1996). Football Grounds of Britain. Collins Willow. p. 468. ISBN 0-00-218426-5.
  22. ^ "Memorial to Ibrox disaster planned". The Herald. 21 December 1995. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  23. ^ Ryan, Paul (29 November 2000). "Rangers plan memorial to victims of Ibrox disaster". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  24. ^ Smith, Irvine (2011). Law, Life and Laughter; A personal verdict. Black & White publishers. ISBN 978 1 84502 356 0.

External links

14 December 1971

Over 200 of East Pakistan’s intellectuals are executed by the Pakistan Army and their local allies. (The date is commemorated in Bangladesh as Martyred Intellectuals Day.)

Bangladesh Liberation War
Part of the Indo-Pakistani conflicts and the Cold War
Clockwise from top left: Martyred Intellectuals Memorial; Bangladesh Forces howitzer; Lt. Gen. Amir Niazi signs the Pakistani Instrument of Surrender to Indian and Bangladeshi forces in the presence of Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh;[1] the PNS Ghazi.
Date26 March – 16 December 1971
  • Indian–Bangladeshi victory[2][3][4]
  • Surrender of Pakistani forces
  • Territorial
    East Pakistan secedes from Pakistan as the People's Republic of Bangladesh

    Provisional Government of Bangladesh


    (Govt. of East Pakistan)

    Paramilitary Forces / Militias:

    Commanders and leaders

    Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
    (President of Provisional Government of Bangladesh)
    Tajuddin Ahmad
    (Prime Minister of Provisional Government of Bangladesh)
    M. A. G. Osmani
    (Cdr-in-C, Bangladesh Forces)
    Maj. K. M. Shafiullah
    (Commander, S Force)
    Maj. Ziaur Rahman
    (Commander, Z Force)
    Maj. Khaled Mosharraf
    (Commander, K Force)
    Gp Capt. A. K. Khandker
    (Second-in-Command, Bangladesh Forces)

    V. V. Giri
    (President of India)
    Indira Gandhi
    (Prime Minister of India)
    Gen Sam Manekshaw
    (Chief of Army Staff)
    Lt Gen J. S. Arora
    (GOC-in-C, Eastern Command)
    Lt Gen Sagat Singh
    (GOC-in-C, IV Corps)
    Maj Gen Inderjit Singh Gill
    (Dir., Military Operations)
    Maj Gen Om Malhotra
    (COS, IV Corps)
    Maj.Gen J. F. R. Jacob
    (COS, Eastern Command)
    Maj.Gen Shabeg Singh
    (Cdr Training of MB)
    V.Adm Nilakanta Krishnan
    (FOC-in-C, Eastern Naval Command)
    AM Hari Chand Dewan
    (AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command)

    Yahya Khan
    (President of Pakistan)
    Nurul Amin
    (Prime Minister of Pakistan)
    Abdul Motaleb Malik
    (Governor of East Pakistan)
    Gen. A. H. Khan
    (Chief of Staff, Army GHQ)
    Lt. Gen. A. A. K. Niazi Surrendered
    (Commander, Eastern Command)
    Maj. Gen. Rao Farman Ali Surrendered
    (Mil. Adv., Govt. of East Pakistan)
    Maj. Gen. Khadim Hussain Surrendered
    (GOC, 14th Infantry Div.)
    Rr. Adm. Mohammad Shariff Surrendered
    (FOC, Eastern Naval Command)
    Capt. Ahmad Zamir Surrendered
    (CO, Pakistan Marine Corps, East)
    Cdr. Zafar Muhammad  
    (CO, PNS Ghazi)
    Air Cdre. Inamul Haque Surrendered
    (AOC, Eastern Air Command)
    Air Cdre. Zafar Masud
    (AOC, Eastern Air Cmnd. (1969–71))

    Syed Khwaja Khairuddin
    (Chair, Nagorik Shanti Committee)
    Ghulam Azam
    (Emir of Jamaat-e-Islami)
    Motiur Rahman Nizami
    (Leader, Al-Badr)
    Maj. Gen. Mohd. Jamshed
    (Commander, Razakar)
    Fazlul Qadir Chaudhry
    (Leader, Al-Shams)
    ~365,000 regular troops (~97,000+ in East Pakistan)[5]
    ~25,000 militiamen[7]
    Casualties and losses
    ~30,000 killed[8][9]
    1,426–1,525 killed[10]
    3,611–4,061 wounded[10]
    ~8,000 killed
    ~10,000 wounded
    90,000—93,000 captured[11] (including 79,676 troops and 10,324—12,192 local militiamen)[10][12][13]
    Civilian deaths:[9] Estimates range between 300,000 and 3 million.

    The Bangladesh Liberation War[note 1] (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ, pronounced [mukt̪ijud̪d̪ʰə]), also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh, was a revolution and armed conflict sparked by the rise of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement in what was then East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. It resulted in the independence of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The war began after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan on the night of 25 March 1971. It pursued the systematic elimination of nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel. The junta annulled the results of the 1970 elections and arrested Prime minister-designate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The war ended on 16 December 1971 after West Pakistan surrendered.

    Rural and urban areas across East Pakistan saw extensive military operations and air strikes to suppress the tide of civil disobedience that formed following the 1970 election stalemate. The Pakistan Army, which had the backing of Islamists, created radical religious militias — the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams — to assist it during raids on the local populace.[16][17][18][19][20] Urdu-speaking Biharis in Bangladesh (an ethnic minority) were also in support of Pakistani military.[clarification needed] Members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias engaged in mass murder, deportation and genocidal rape. The capital Dhaka was the scene of numerous massacres, including Operation Searchlight and the Dhaka University massacre. An estimated 10 million Bengali refugees fled to neighbouring India, while 30 million were internally displaced.[21] Sectarian violence broke out between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking immigrants. An academic consensus prevails that the atrocities committed by the Pakistani military were a genocide.

    The Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from Chittagong by members of the Mukti Bahini—the national liberation army formed by Bengali military, paramilitary and civilians. The East Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles played a crucial role in the resistance. Led by General M. A. G. Osmani and eleven sector commanders, the Bangladesh Forces waged a mass guerrilla war against the Pakistani military. They liberated numerous towns and cities in the initial months of the conflict. The Pakistan Army regained momentum in the monsoon. Bengali guerrillas carried out widespread sabotage, including Operation Jackpot against the Pakistan Navy. The nascent Bangladesh Air Force flew sorties against Pakistani military bases. By November, the Bangladesh forces restricted the Pakistani military to its barracks during the night. They secured control of most parts of the countryside.[22]

    The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was formed on 17 April 1971 in Mujibnagar and moved to Calcutta as a government in exile. Bengali members of the Pakistani civil, military and diplomatic corps defected to the Bangladeshi provisional government. Thousands of Bengali families were interned in West Pakistan, from where many escaped to Afghanistan. Bengali cultural activists operated the clandestine Free Bengal Radio Station. The plight of millions of war-ravaged Bengali civilians caused worldwide outrage and alarm. India, which was led by Indira Gandhi, provided substantial diplomatic, economic and military support to Bangladeshi nationalists. British, Indian and American musicians organised the world's first benefit concert in New York City to support the Bangladeshi people. Senator Ted Kennedy in the United States led a congressional campaign for an end to Pakistani military persecution; while U.S. diplomats in East Pakistan strongly dissented with the Nixon administration's close ties to the Pakistani military dictator Yahya Khan.

    India joined the war on 3 December 1971, after Pakistan launched preemptive air strikes on North India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War witnessed engagements on two war fronts. With air supremacy achieved in the eastern theatre and the rapid advance of the Allied Forces of Bangladesh and India, Pakistan surrendered in Dacca on 16 December 1971.

    The war changed the geopolitical landscape of South Asia, with the emergence of Bangladesh as the seventh-most populous country in the world. Due to complex regional alliances, the war was a major episode in Cold War tensions involving the United States, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. The majority of member states in the United Nations recognised Bangladesh as a sovereign nation in 1972.


    Map of the British Raj in 1909 showing Muslim majority areas in green, including modern-day Bangladesh in the east and Pakistan in the west.

    Prior to the Partition of British India, the Lahore Resolution initially envisaged separate Muslim-majority states in the eastern and northwestern zones of British India. A proposal for an independent United Bengal was mooted by Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy in 1946, but was opposed by the colonial authorities. The East Pakistan Renaissance Society advocated the creation of a sovereign state in eastern British India. Eventually, political negotiations led, in August 1947, to the official birth of two states, Pakistan and India,[23] giving presumably permanent homes for Muslims and Hindus respectively following the departure of the British. The Dominion of Pakistan comprised two geographically and culturally separate areas to the east and the west with India in between.[24] The western zone was popularly (and for a period, also officially) termed West Pakistan and the eastern zone (modern-day Bangladesh) was initially termed East Bengal and later, East Pakistan. Although the population of the two zones was close to equal, political power was concentrated in West Pakistan and it was widely perceived that East Pakistan was being exploited economically, leading to many grievances. Administration of two discontinuous territories was also seen as a challenge.[25] On 25 March 1971, after an election won by an East Pakistani political party (the Awami League) was ignored by the ruling (West Pakistani) establishment, rising political discontent and cultural nationalism in East Pakistan was met by brutal[26] and suppressive force from the ruling elite of the West Pakistan establishment,[27] in what came to be termed as Operation Searchlight.[28] The violent crackdown by the Pakistan Army[29] led to Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declaring East Pakistan's independence as the state of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971.[30] Most Bengalis supported this move although Islamists and Biharis opposed this and sided with the Pakistan Army instead.[31] Pakistani President Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan ordered the Pakistani military to restore the Pakistani government's authority, beginning the civil war.[30] The war led to a substantial number of refugees (estimated at the time to be about 10 million)[32][33] flooding into the eastern provinces of India.[34] Facing a mounting humanitarian and economic crisis, India started actively aiding and organising the Bangladeshi resistance army known as the Mukti Bahini.

    Language controversy

    In 1948, Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared that "Urdu, and only Urdu" would be the federal language of Pakistan.[35][36] However, Urdu was historically prevalent only in the north, central, and western region of the subcontinent; whereas in East Bengal, the native language was Bengali, one of the two most easterly branches of the Indo-European languages.[37] The Bengali-speaking people of Pakistan constituted over 30% of the country's population. The government stand was widely viewed as an attempt to suppress the culture of the eastern wing. The people of East Bengal demanded that their language be given federal status alongside Urdu and English. The Language Movement began in 1948, as civil society protested the removal of the Bengali script from currency and stamps, which were in place since the British Raj. The movement reached its climax in 1952, when on 21 February, the police fired on protesting students and civilians, causing several deaths. The day is revered in Bangladesh as the Language Movement Day. Later, in memory of the deaths in 1952, UNESCO declared 21 February as International Mother Language Day in November 1999.[38]


    Although East Pakistan had a larger population, West Pakistan dominated the divided country politically and received more money from the common budget.

    Year Spending on West Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees) Spending on East Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees) Amount spent on East as percentage of West
    1950–55 11,290 5,240 46.4
    1955–60 16,550 5,240 31.7
    1960–65 33,550 14,040 41.8
    1965–70 51,950 21,410 41.2
    Total 113,340 45,930 40.5
    Source: Reports of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 1970–75, Vol. I,
    published by the planning commission of Pakistan.

    East Pakistan was already economically disadvantaged at the time of Pakistan's creation yet this economic disparity only increased under Pakistani rule. Factors included not only the deliberate state discrimination in developmental policies but also the fact that the presence of the country's capital and more immigrant businessmen in the Western wing directed greater government allocations there. Due to low numbers of native businessmen in East Pakistan, substantial labour unrest and a tense political environment, there were also much lower foreign investments in the eastern wing. The Pakistani state's economic outlook was geared towards urban industry, which was not compatible with East Pakistan's mainly agrarian economy.[39]

    Bengalis were under-represented in the Pakistan military. Officers of Bengali origin in the different wings of the armed forces made up just 5% of overall force by 1965; of these, only a few were in command positions, with the majority in technical or administrative posts.[40] West Pakistanis believed that Bengalis were not "martially inclined" unlike Pashtuns and Punjabis; the "martial races" notion was dismissed as ridiculous and humiliating by Bengalis.[40] Moreover, despite huge defence spending, East Pakistan received none of the benefits, such as contracts, purchasing and military support jobs. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 over Kashmir also highlighted the sense of military insecurity among Bengalis, as only an under-strength infantry division and 15 combat aircraft without tank support were in East Pakistan to thwart any Indian retaliations during the conflict.[41][42]

    Ideological and cultural differences

    Language movement memorial

    In 1947 the Bengali Muslims had identified themselves with Pakistan's Islamic project but by the 1970s the people of East Pakistan had given priority to their Bengali ethnicity over their religious identity, desiring a society in accordance with Western principles such as secularism, democracy and socialism.[43] Many Bengali Muslims strongly objected to the Islamist paradigm imposed by the Pakistani state.[44] Most members of West Pakistan's ruling elite shared a vision of a liberal society, but nevertheless viewed a common faith as an essential mobilising factor behind Pakistan's creation and the subsuming of Pakistan's multiple regional identities into one national identity.[44] West Pakistanis were substantially more supportive than East Pakistanis of an Islamic state, a tendency that persisted after 1971.[45]

    Cultural and linguistic differences between the two wings gradually outweighed any sense of religious unity. The Bengalis took great pride in their culture and language which, with its Bengali script and vocabulary, was unacceptable to the West Pakistani elite, who believed that it had assimilated considerable Hindu cultural influences.[43][46] West Pakistanis, in an attempt to "Islamise" the East, wanted the Bengalis to adopt Urdu.[43] The activities of the language movement nurtured a sentiment among Bengalis in favour of discarding Pakistan's communalism in favour of secular politics.[47] The Awami League began propagating its secular message through its newspaper to the Bengali readership.[48]

    The Awami League's emphasis on secularism differentiated it from the Muslim League.[49] In 1971, the Bangladeshi liberation struggle against Pakistan was led by secular leaders[50] and secularists hailed the Bangladeshi victory as the triumph of secular Bengali nationalism over religion-centred Pakistani nationalism.[51] While Pakistan's government strives for an Islamic state, Bangladesh was established secular.[45] After the liberation victory, the Awami League attempted to build a secular order[52] and the pro-Pakistan Islamist parties were barred from political participation.[53] The majority of East Pakistani ulama had either remained neutral or supported the Pakistani state, since they felt that the break-up of Pakistan would be detrimental for Islam.[54]

    Political differences

    Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of East Pakistan, and later Bangladesh

    Although East Pakistan accounted for a slight majority of the country's population,[55] political power remained in the hands of West Pakistanis. Since a straightforward system of representation based on population would have concentrated political power in East Pakistan, the West Pakistani establishment came up with the "One Unit" scheme, where all of West Pakistan was considered one province. This was solely to counterbalance the East wing's votes.

    After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan's first prime minister, in 1951, political power began to devolve to the new President of Pakistan, which replaced the office of Governor General when Pakistan became a republic, and, eventually, the military. The nominal elected chief executive, the Prime Minister, was frequently sacked by the establishment, acting through the President.

    The East Pakistanis observed that the West Pakistani establishment would swiftly depose any East Pakistanis elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, such as Khawaja Nazimuddin, Mohammad Ali Bogra, or Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Their suspicions were further aggravated by the military dictatorships of Ayub Khan (27 October 1958 – 25 March 1969) and Yahya Khan (25 March 1969 – 20 December 1971), both West Pakistanis. The situation reached a climax in 1970, when the Bangladesh Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 313 seats in the National Assembly. This gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government. However, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (a former Foreign Minister), the leader of the Pakistan People's Party, refused to allow Rahman to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.[56] Instead, he proposed the idea of having two Prime Ministers, one for each wing. The proposal elicited outrage in the east wing, already chafing under the other constitutional innovation, the "One Unit scheme". Bhutto also refused to accept Rahman's Six Points. On 3 March 1971, the two leaders of the two wings along with the President General Yahya Khan met in Dacca to decide the fate of the country. After their discussions yielded no satisfactory results, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for a nationwide strike. Bhutto feared a civil war, therefore, he sent his trusted companion, Mubashir Hassan.[56] A message was conveyed, and Rahman decided to meet Bhutto.[56] Upon his arrival, Rahman met with Bhutto and both agreed to form a coalition government with Rahman as premier and Bhutto as president.[56] However, the military was unaware of these developments, and Bhutto increased his pressure on Rahman to reach a decision.[56]

    On 7 March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (soon to be the prime minister) delivered a speech at the Racecourse Ground (now called the Suhrawardy Udyan). In this speech he mentioned a further four-point condition to consider at the National Assembly Meeting on 25 March:

    • The immediate lifting of martial law.
    • Immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks.
    • An inquiry into the loss of life.
    • Immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting 25 March.

    He urged his people to turn every house into a fort of resistance. He closed his speech saying, "Our struggle is for our freedom. Our struggle is for our independence." This speech is considered[by whom?] the main event that inspired the nation to fight for its independence. General Tikka Khan was flown into Dacca to become Governor of East Bengal. East-Pakistani judges, including Justice Siddique, refused to swear him in.

    Between 10 and 13 March, Pakistan International Airlines cancelled all their international routes to urgently fly "government passengers" to Dacca. These "government passengers" were almost all Pakistani soldiers in civilian dress. MV Swat, a ship of the Pakistan Navy carrying ammunition and soldiers, was harboured in Chittagong Port, but the Bengali workers and sailors at the port refused to unload the ship. A unit of East Pakistan Rifles refused to obey commands to fire on the Bengali demonstrators, beginning a mutiny among the Bengali soldiers.

    Response to the 1970 cyclone

    The 1970 Bhola cyclone made landfall on the East Pakistan coastline during the evening of 12 November, around the same time as a local high tide,[57] killing an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people. Though the exact death toll is not known, it is considered[by whom?] the deadliest tropical cyclone on record.[58] A week after the landfall, President Khan conceded that his government had made "slips" and "mistakes" in its handling of the relief efforts due to a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the disaster.[59]

    A statement released by eleven political leaders in East Pakistan ten days after the cyclone hit charged the government with "gross neglect, callous and utter indifference". They also accused the president of playing down the magnitude of the problem in news coverage.[60] On 19 November, students held a march in Dacca protesting the slowness of the government's response.[61] Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani addressed a rally of 50,000 people on 24 November, where he accused the president of inefficiency and demanded his resignation.

    As the conflict between East and West Pakistan developed in March, the Dacca offices of the two government organisations directly involved in relief efforts were closed for at least two weeks, first by a general strike and then by a ban on government work in East Pakistan by the Awami League. With this increase in tension, foreign personnel were evacuated over fears of violence. Relief work continued in the field, but long-term planning was curtailed.[62] This conflict widened into the Bangladesh Liberation War in December and concluded with the creation of Bangladesh. This was one of the first times that a natural event helped trigger a civil war.[63]

    Operation Searchlight

    Location of Bengali and Pakistani military units during Operation Searchlight, March 1971

    A planned military pacification carried out by the Pakistan Army—codenamed Operation Searchlight—started on 25 March 1971 to curb the Bengali independence movement[28] by taking control of the major cities on 26 March, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military,[64] within one month. The Pakistani state claimed to justify starting Operation Searchlight on the basis of anti-Bihari violence by Bengalis in early March.[65]

    Before the beginning of the operation, all foreign journalists were systematically deported from East Pakistan.[66]

    The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid-May. The operation also began the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. These systematic killings served only to enrage the Bengalis, which ultimately resulted in the secession of East Pakistan later in the same year. Bangladeshi media and reference books in English have published casualty figures which vary greatly, from 5,000 to 35,000 in Dacca, and 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole,[67] although independent researchers, including the British Medical Journal, have put forward the figure ranging from between 125,000 and 505,000.[68] American political scientist Rudolph Rummel puts total deaths at 1.5 million.[69] The atrocities have been referred to as acts of genocide.[70]

    According to the Asia Times,[71]

    At a meeting of the military top brass, Yahya Khan declared: "Kill 3 million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands." Accordingly, on the night of 25 March, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Searchlight to "crush" Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able-bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down.

    Although the violence focused on the provincial capital, Dacca, it also affected all parts of East Pakistan. Residential halls of the University of Dacca were particularly targeted. The only Hindu residential hall—Jagannath Hall—was destroyed by the Pakistani armed forces, and an estimated 600 to 700 of its residents were murdered. The Pakistani army denied any cold blooded killings at the university, though the Hamoodur Rahman Commission in Pakistan concluded that overwhelming force was used at the university. This fact, and the massacre at Jagannath Hall and nearby student dormitories of Dacca University, are corroborated by a videotape secretly filmed by Professor Nurul Ula of the East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology, whose residence was directly opposite the student dormitories.[72]

    The scale of the atrocities was first made clear in the West when Anthony Mascarenhas, a Pakistani journalist who had been sent to the province by the military authorities to write a story favourable to Pakistan's actions, instead fled to the United Kingdom and, on 13 June 1971, published an article in The Sunday Times describing the systematic killings by the military. The BBC wrote: "There is little doubt that Mascarenhas' reportage played its part in ending the war. It helped turn world opinion against Pakistan and encouraged India to play a decisive role", with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself stating that Mascarenhas' article has led her "to prepare the ground for India's armed intervention".[73]

    Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Pakistani Army. Yahya Khan appointed Brigadier (later General) Rahimuddin Khan to preside over a special tribunal prosecuting Rahman with multiple charges. The tribunal's sentence was never made public, but Yahya caused the verdict to be held in abeyance in any case. Other Awami League leaders were arrested as well, while a few fled Dacca to avoid arrest. The Awami League was banned by General Yahya Khan.[74]

    Declaration of independence

    The violence unleashed by the Pakistani forces on 25 March 1971 proved the last straw to the efforts to negotiate a settlement. Following these incidents, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signed an official declaration that read:

    Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dacca. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between E.P.R. and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla [May Bangladesh be victorious].

    Sheikh Mujib also called upon the people to resist the occupation forces through a radio message. Rahman was arrested on the night of 25–26 March 1971 at about 1:30 am (as per Radio Pakistan's news on 29 March 1971).

    An iconic poster by Quamrul Hassan on General Yahya Khan, representing the Pakistani military junta as demons.[75]

    A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's declaration reached some students in Chittagong. The message was translated to Bengali by Dr. Manjula Anwar. The students failed to secure permission from higher authorities to broadcast the message from the nearby Agrabad Station of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. However, the message was read several times by the independent Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro Radio established by some rebel Bangali Radio workers in Kalurghat. Major Ziaur Rahman was requested to provide security of the station and he also read the Declaration on 27 March 1971.[76] Major Ziaur Rahman broadcast announcement of the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    This is Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangobondhu Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that Independent People's Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken the command as the temporary Head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalees to rise against the attack by the West Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our motherland. Victory is, by the Grace of Allah, ours. Joy Bangla.[77]

    The Kalurghat Radio Station's transmission capability was limited, but the message was picked up by a Japanese ship in the Bay of Bengal. It was then re-transmitted by Radio Australia[78] and later by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    M. A. Hannan, an Awami League leader from Chittagong, is said to have made the first announcement of the declaration of independence over the radio on 26 March 1971.[79]

    26 March 1971 is considered the official Independence Day of Bangladesh, and the name Bangladesh was in effect henceforth. In July 1971, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi openly referred to the former East Pakistan as Bangladesh.[80] Some Pakistani and Indian officials continued to use the name "East Pakistan" until 16 December 1971.

    Liberation war


    At first, resistance was spontaneous and disorganised, and was not expected to be prolonged.[81] However, when the Pakistani Army cracked down upon the population, resistance grew. The Mukti Bahini became increasingly active. The Pakistani military sought to quell them, but increasing numbers of Bengali soldiers defected to this underground "Bangladesh army". These Bengali units slowly merged into the Mukti Bahini and bolstered their weaponry with supplies from India. Pakistan responded by airlifting in two infantry divisions and reorganising their forces. They also raised paramilitary forces of Razakars, Al-Badrs and Al-Shams (who were mostly members of the Muslim League and other Islamist groups), as well as other Bengalis who opposed independence, and Bihari Muslims who had settled during the time of partition.

    On 17 April 1971, a provisional government was formed in Meherpur District in western Bangladesh bordering India with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was in prison in Pakistan, as president, Syed Nazrul Islam as acting president, Tajuddin Ahmad as prime minister, and General Muhammad Ataul Ghani Osmani as Commander-in-Chief, Bangladesh Forces. As fighting grew between the occupation army and the Bengali Mukti Bahini, an estimated 10 million Bengalis sought refuge in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.[82]


    The eleven sectors during the Bangladesh Liberation War
    Advertisement for former Beatle George Harrison's "Bangla Desh" single, released in July 1971 to raise international awareness and funds for the millions of Bangladeshi refugees.

    Bangladesh forces command was set up on 11 July, with Col. M. A. G. Osmani as commander-in-chief (C-in-C) with the status of Cabinet Minister, Lt. Col., Abdur Rabb as chief of Staff (COS), Group Captain A K Khandker as Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) and Major A R Chowdhury as Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS).

    General Osmani had differences of opinion with the Indian leadership regarding the role of the Mukti Bahini in the conflict. Indian leadership initially envisioned Bengali forces to be trained into a small elite guerrilla force of 8,000 members, led by the surviving East Bengal Regiment soldiers operating in small cells around Bangladesh to facilitate the eventual Indian intervention,[83] but with the Bangladesh government in exile, General Osmani favoured a different strategy:[84][85]

    • Bengali conventional forces would occupy lodgment areas inside Bangladesh and then the Bangladesh government would request international diplomatic recognition and intervention. Initially Mymensingh was picked for this operation, but Gen. Osmani later settled on Sylhet.
    • Sending the maximum number to guerrillas inside Bangladesh as soon as possible with the following objectives:[86][87]
      • Increasing Pakistani casualties through raids and ambush.
      • Cripple economic activity by hitting power stations, railway lines, storage depots and communication networks.
      • Destroy Pakistan army mobility by blowing up bridges/culverts, fuel depots, trains and river crafts.
      • The strategic objective was to make the Pakistanis spread their forces inside the province, so attacks could be made on isolated Pakistani detachments.

    Bangladesh was divided into eleven sectors in July,[88] each with a commander chosen from defected officers of the Pakistani army who joined the Mukti Bahini to conduct guerrilla operations and train fighters. Most of their training camps were situated near the border area and were operated with assistance from India. The 10th Sector was directly placed under the Commander in Chief (C-in-C) General M. A. G. Osmani and included the Naval Commandos and C-in-C's special force.[89] Three brigades (11 Battalions) were raised for conventional warfare; a large guerrilla force (estimated at 100,000) was trained.[90]

    Three brigades (eight infantry battalions and three artillery batteries) were put into action between July and September.[91] During June and July, Mukti Bahini had regrouped across the border with Indian aid through Operation Jackpot and began sending 2000–5000 guerrillas across the border,[92] the so-called Monsoon Offensive, which for various reasons (lack of proper training, supply shortage, lack of a proper support network inside Bangladesh) failed to achieve its objectives.[93][94][95] Bengali regular forces also attacked BOPs in Mymensingh, Comilla and Sylhet, but the results were mixed. Pakistani authorities concluded that they had successfully contained the Monsoon Offensive, which proved a near-accurate observation.[96][97]

    Guerrilla operations, which slackened during the training phase, picked up after August. Economic and military targets in Dacca were attacked. The major success story was Operation Jackpot, in which naval commandos mined and blew up berthed ships in Chittagong, Mongla, Narayanganj and Chandpur on 15 August 1971.[98][99]


    Major battles

    Bangladeshi conventional forces attacked border outposts. Kamalpur, Belonia and the Battle of Boyra are a few examples. 90 out of 370 BOPs fell to Bengali forces. Guerrilla attacks intensified, as did Pakistani and Razakar reprisals on civilian populations. Pakistani forces were reinforced by eight battalions from West Pakistan. The Bangladeshi independence fighters even managed to temporarily capture airstrips at Lalmonirhat and .[5] Both of these were used for flying in supplies and arms from India. Pakistan sent another five battalions from West Pakistan as reinforcements.

    Indian involvement

    Illustration showing military units and troop movements during the war

    All unprejudiced persons objectively surveying the grim events in Bangladesh since March 25 have recognised the revolt of 75 million people, a people who were forced to the conclusion that neither their life, nor their liberty, to say nothing of the possibility of the pursuit of happiness, was available to them.

    — Indira Gandhi, Letter to Richard Nixon, 15 December 1971

    Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had concluded that instead of taking in millions of refugees, India would be economically better off going to war against Pakistan.[100] As early as 28 April 1971, the Indian Cabinet had asked General Manekshaw (Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee) to "Go into East Pakistan".[101] Hostile relations in the past between India and Pakistan added to India's decision to intervene in Pakistan's civil war. As a result, the Indian government decided to support the creation of a separate state for ethnic Bengalis by supporting the Mukti Bahini. RAW helped to organise, train and arm these insurgents. Consequently, the Mukti Bahini succeeded in harassing Pakistani military in East Pakistan, thus creating conditions conducive for a full-scale Indian military intervention in early December.[100]

    The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched a pre-emptive strike on Indian Air Force bases on 3 December 1971. The attack was modelled on the Israeli Air Force's Operation Focus during the Six-Day War, and intended to neutralise the Indian Air Force planes on the ground. The strike was seen by India as an open act of unprovoked aggression, which marked the official start of the Indo-Pakistani War. As a response to the attack, both India and Pakistan formally acknowledged the "existence of a state of war between the two countries" even though neither government had formally issued a declaration of war.[102]

    Allied Indian T-55 tanks on their way to Dacca

    Three Indian corps were involved in the liberation of East Pakistan. They were supported by nearly three brigades of Mukti Bahini fighting alongside them, and many more who were fighting irregularly. That was far superior to the Pakistani army of three divisions.[103] The Indians quickly overran the country, selectively engaging or bypassing heavily defended strongholds. Pakistani forces were unable to effectively counter the Indian attack, as they had been deployed in small units around the border to counter the guerrilla attacks by the Mukti Bahini.[104] Unable to defend Dacca, the Pakistanis surrendered on 16 December 1971.

    Air and naval war

    The Indian Air Force carried out several sorties against Pakistan, and within a week, IAF aircraft dominated the skies of East Pakistan. It achieved near-total air supremacy by the end of the first week, as the entire Pakistani air contingent in the east, PAF No.14 Squadron, was grounded because of Indian and Bangladesh airstrikes at Tejgaon, Kurmitolla, Lal Munir Hat and Shamsher Nagar. Sea Hawks from the carrier INS Vikrant also struck Chittagong, Barisal and Cox's Bazar, destroying the eastern wing of the Pakistan Navy and effectively blockading the East Pakistan ports, thereby cutting off any escape routes for the stranded Pakistani soldiers. The nascent Bangladesh Navy (comprising officers and sailors who defected from the Pakistani Navy) aided the Indians in the marine warfare, carrying out attacks, most notably Operation Jackpot.[105]

    Surrender and aftermath

    Pakistani Instrument of Surrender
    Signing of Pakistani Instrument of Surrender by Pakistan's Lt.Gen. A. A. K. Niazi and Jagjit Singh Aurora on behalf of Indian and Bangladesh Forces in Dhaka on 16 Dec' 1971

    On 16 December 1971, Lt. Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, Chief Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan and Commander of Pakistan Army forces located in East Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender. At the time of surrender only a few countries had provided diplomatic recognition to the new nation. Over 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the Indian forces and Bangladesh Liberation forces, making it the largest surrender since World War II.[11][106] Bangladesh sought admission in the UN with most voting in its favour, but China vetoed this as Pakistan was its key ally.[107] The United States, also a key ally of Pakistan, was one of the last nations to accord Bangladesh recognition.[108] To ensure a smooth transition, in 1972 the Simla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. The treaty ensured that Pakistan recognised the independence of Bangladesh in exchange for the return of the Pakistani PoWs. India treated all the PoWs in strict accordance with the Geneva Convention, rule 1925.[109] It released more than 93,000 Pakistani PoWs in five months.[11] Further, as a gesture of goodwill, nearly 200 soldiers who were sought for war crimes by Bengalis were also pardoned by India.[110] The accord also gave back 13,000 km2 (5,019 sq mi) of land that Indian troops had seized in West Pakistan during the war, though India retained a few strategic areas;[111] most notably Kargil (which would in turn again be the focal point for a war between the two nations in 1999). This was done as a measure of promoting "lasting peace" and was acknowledged by many observers as a sign of maturity by India. However, some in India[112] felt that the treaty had been too lenient to Bhutto, who had pleaded for leniency, arguing that the fragile democracy in Pakistan would crumble if the accord was perceived as being overly harsh by Pakistanis.

    Reaction in West Pakistan to the war

    Reaction to the defeat and dismemberment of half the nation was a shocking loss to top military and civilians alike. Few had expected that they would lose the formal war in under a fortnight, and there was also unsettlement over what was perceived as a meek surrender of the army in East Pakistan. Yahya Khan's dictatorship collapsed and gave way to Bhutto, who took the opportunity to rise to power. General Niazi, who surrendered along with 93,000 troops, was viewed with suspicion and contempt upon his return to Pakistan. He was shunned and branded a traitor. The war also exposed the shortcomings of Pakistan's declared strategic doctrine that the "defence of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan".[113][114]


    Rayerbazar killing field photographed immediately after the war, showing dead bodies of intellectuals (image courtesy: Rashid Talukder, 1971)

    During the war there were widespread killings and other atrocities—including the displacement of civilians in Bangladesh (East Pakistan at the time) and widespread violations of human rights began with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971. Members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias from Jamaat e Islami killed an estimated 300,000[73] to 3,000,000 people and raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[115][116][117] During the war, a fatwa in Pakistan declared that the Bengali freedom fighters were Hindus and that their women could be taken as "the booty of war".[118]

    A large section of the intellectual community of Bangladesh were murdered, mostly by the Al-Shams and Al-Badr forces,[119] at the instruction of the Pakistani Army.[120] Just two days before the surrender, on 14 December 1971, Pakistan Army and Razakar militia (local collaborators) picked up at least 100 physicians, professors, writers and engineers in Dacca, and murdered them, leaving the dead bodies in a mass grave.[121]

    Memorial for freedom fighters

    Many mass graves have been discovered in Bangladesh.[122] The first night of war on Bengalis, which is documented in telegrams from the American Consulate in Dacca to the United States State Department, saw indiscriminate killings of students of Dacca University and other civilians.[123] Numerous women were tortured, raped and killed during the war; the exact numbers are not known and are a subject of debate. The widespread rape of Bangladeshi women led to birth of thousands of war babies.[124][125][126] The Pakistan Army also kept numerous Bengali women as sex-slaves inside the Dacca Cantonment. Most of the girls were captured from Dacca University and private homes.[127] There was significant sectarian violence not only perpetrated and encouraged by the Pakistani army,[128] but also by Bengali nationalists against non-Bengali minorities, especially Biharis.[129] In June 1971, Bihari representatives stated that 500,000 Biharis were killed by Bengalis.[130] R. J. Rummel gives a prudent estimate of 150,000 killed.[131]

    On 16 December 2002, the George Washington University's National Security Archive published a collection of declassified documents, consisting mostly of communications between US embassy officials and United States Information Service centres in Dacca and India, and officials in Washington, D.C.[123] These documents show that US officials working in diplomatic institutions within Bangladesh used the terms "selective genocide"[132] and "genocide" (see The Blood Telegram) for information on events they had knowledge of at the time. Genocide is the term that is still used to describe the event in almost every major publication and newspaper in Bangladesh,[133][134] although in Pakistan, the accusations against Pakistani forces continue to be disputed.

    International reactions

    French minister Andre Malraux vowed to fight alongside the Mukti Bahini in the Liberation War.[135][136]

    Following Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's declaration of independence in March 1971, a worldwide campaign was undertaken by the Provisional Government of Bangladesh to drum up political support for the independence of East Pakistan as well as humanitarian support for the Bengali people.

    Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi provided extensive diplomatic and political support to the Bangladesh movement. She toured many countries in a bid to create awareness of the Pakistani atrocities against Bengalis. This effort was to prove vital later during the war, in framing the world's context of the war and to justify military action by India.[137] Also, following Pakistan's defeat, it ensured prompt recognition of the newly independent state of Bangladesh.

    United Nations

    Though the United Nations condemned the human rights violations during and following Operation Searchlight, it failed to defuse the situation politically before the start of the war.

    Following India's entry into the war, Pakistan, fearing certain defeat, made urgent appeals to the United Nations to intervene and force India to agree to a ceasefire. The UN Security Council assembled on 4 December 1971 to discuss the hostilities in South Asia. After lengthy discussions on 7 December, the United States made a resolution for "immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of troops". While supported by the majority, the USSR vetoed the resolution twice. In light of the Pakistani atrocities against Bengalis, the United Kingdom and France abstained on the resolution.[102][138]

    On 12 December, with Pakistan facing imminent defeat, the United States requested that the Security Council be reconvened. Pakistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was rushed to New York City to make the case for a resolution on the cease fire. The council continued deliberations for four days. By the time proposals were finalised, Pakistan's forces in the East had surrendered and the war had ended, making the measures merely academic. Bhutto, frustrated by the failure of the resolution and the inaction of the United Nations, ripped up his speech and left the council.[138]

    Most UN member nations were quick to recognise Bangladesh within months of its independence.[137]


    As the Bangladesh Liberation War approached the defeat of the Pakistan Army, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan became the first state in the world to recognise the newly independent country on 6 December 1971.[139] Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh visited Bhutan to attend the coronation of Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King of Bhutan in June 1974.

    US and USSR

    Senator Ted Kennedy led US congressional support for Bangladeshi independence

    The US government stood by its old ally Pakistan in terms of diplomacy and military threats.[140] US President Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger feared Soviet expansion into South and Southeast Asia. Pakistan was a close ally of the People's Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement and which he intended to visit in February 1972. Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of West Pakistan would mean total Soviet domination of the region, and that it would seriously undermine the global position of the United States and the regional position of America's new tacit ally, China. To demonstrate to China the bona fides of the United States as an ally, and in direct violation of the US Congress-imposed sanctions on Pakistan, Nixon sent military supplies to Pakistan and routed them through Jordan and Iran,[141] while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan. The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the genocidal activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram.[142]

    The Nixon administration was widely criticised for its close ties with the military junta led by General Yahya Khan. American diplomats in East Pakistan expressed profound dissent in the Blood Telegram.

    Nixon denied getting involved in the situation, saying that it was an internal matter of Pakistan, but when Pakistan's defeat seemed certain, Nixon sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal,[143] a move deemed by the Indians as a nuclear threat. Enterprise arrived on station on 11 December 1971. On 6 and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of ships, armed with nuclear missiles, from Vladivostok; they trailed US Task Force 74 in the Indian Ocean from 18 December until 7 January 1972.[144][145][146]

    The Soviet Union supported Bangladesh and Indian armies, as well as the Mukti Bahini during the war, recognising that the independence of Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals—the United States and the People's Republic of China. It gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, the USSR would take countermeasures. This was enshrined in the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty signed in August 1971. The Soviets also sent a nuclear submarine to ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise in the Indian Ocean.[147]

    At the end of the war, the Warsaw Pact countries were among the first to recognise Bangladesh. The Soviet Union accorded recognition to Bangladesh on 25 January 1972.[148] The United States delayed recognition for some months, before according it on 8 April 1972.[149]


    As a long-standing ally of Pakistan, the People's Republic of China reacted with alarm to the evolving situation in East Pakistan and the prospect of India invading West Pakistan and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. On 10 December 1971, US President Nixon instructed Henry Kissinger to ask the Chinese to move some forces toward the frontier with India. Nixon said, "Threaten to move forces or move them, Henry, that's what they must do now." Kissinger met with Huang Hua, China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, later that evening.[150][151][152] The Chinese did not, however, respond to this encouragement, because unlike the 1962 Sino-Indian War when India was caught entirely unaware, this time the Indian Army was prepared and had deployed eight mountain divisions to the Sino-Indian border to guard against such an eventuality.[102] China instead threw its weight behind demands for an immediate ceasefire.

    When Bangladesh applied for membership to the United Nations in 1972, China vetoed their application[153] because two United Nations resolutions regarding the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners of war and civilians had not yet been implemented.[154] China was also among the last countries to recognise independent Bangladesh, refusing to do so until 31 August 1975.[137][153]

    Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka saw the partition of Pakistan as an example for themselves and feared India might use its enhanced power against them in the future.[155]:7 Despite the left wing government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike following a neutral non-aligned foreign policy, Sri Lanka decided to help Pakistan in the war.[156][157] As Pakistani aircraft could not fly over Indian territory, they would have to take a longer route around India and so they stopped at Bandaranaike Airport in Sri Lanka where they were refuelled before flying to East Pakistan.[158]

    Arab World

    As many Arab countries were allied with both the United States and Pakistan, it was easy for Kissinger to encourage them to participate. He sent letters to both, the King of Jordan and the King of Saudi Arabia. President Nixon gave permission for Jordan to send ten F-104s and promised to provide replacements.[141] According to author Martin Bowman, "Libyan F-5s were reportedly deployed to Sargodha AFB, perhaps as a potential training unit to prepare Pakistani pilots for an influx of more F-5s from Saudi Arabia."[159] Libyan dictator Gaddafi also personally directed a strongly worded letter to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accusing her of aggression against Pakistan, which endeared him to all Pakistanis.[160] In addition to these three countries, an unidentified Middle Eastern ally also supplied Pakistan with Mirage IIIs. However, other countries such as Syria and Tunisia were against interfering describing it as an internal matter of Pakistan.[161]


    During the course of the conflict, Iran also stood with Pakistan politically and diplomatically.[162]:78–79 It was concerned with the imminent break-up of Pakistan which, it feared, would have caused the state to fractionalise into small pieces, ultimately resulting in Iran's encirclement by rivals. At the beginning of the conflict, Iran had helped Pakistan by sheltering PAF's fighter jets and providing it with free fuel to take part in the conflict, in an attempt to keep Pakistan's regional integrity united.[162]:80[verification needed] When Pakistan called for unilateral ceasefire and the surrender was announced, the Shah of Iran hastily responded by preparing the Iranian military to come up with contingency plans to forcefully invade Pakistan and annex its Balochistan province into its side of Balochistan, by any means necessary, before anybody else did it.[162]:79[verification needed]

    In popular culture

    See also


    1. ^ This war is known in Bangla as Muktijuddho or Shwadhinota Juddho.[14] This war is also called the Civil War in Pakistan.[15]


    1. ^ "Instrument of Surrender of Pakistan forces in Dacca". www.mea.gov.in. The Pakistan Eastern Command agree to surrender all Pakistan Armed Forces in Bangladesh to Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding-in –chief of the Indian and Bangladesh forces in the eastern theatre.
    2. ^ Rizwana Shamshad (3 October 2017). Bangladeshi Migrants in India: Foreigners, Refugees, or Infiltrators?. OUP India. pp. 119–. ISBN 978-0-19-909159-1.
    3. ^ Jing Lu (30 October 2018). On State Secession from International Law Perspectives. Springer. pp. 211–. ISBN 978-3-319-97448-4.
    4. ^ J.L. Kaul; Anupam Jha (8 January 2018). Shifting Horizons of Public International Law: A South Asian Perspective. Springer. pp. 241–. ISBN 978-81-322-3724-2.
    5. ^ a b c d "India – Pakistan War, 1971; Introduction By Tom Cooper, with Khan Syed Shaiz Ali". Acig.org. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
    6. ^ Pakistan & the Karakoram Highway By Owen Bennett-Jones, Lindsay Brown, John Mock, Sarina Singh, Pg 30
    7. ^ p. 442 Indian Army after Independence by KC Pravel: Lancer 1987 ISBN 81-7062-014-7
    8. ^ Thiranagama, Sharika; Kelly, Tobias, eds. (2012). Traitors : suspicion, intimacy, and the ethics of state-building. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812222371.
    9. ^ a b "Bangladesh Islamist leader Ghulam Azam charged". BBC. 13 May 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
    10. ^ a b c Figures from The Fall of Dacca by Jagjit Singh Aurora in The Illustrated Weekly of India dated 23 December 1973 quoted in Indian Army after Independence by KC Pravel: Lancer 1987 ISBN 81-7062-014-7
    11. ^ a b c Khan, Shahnawaz (19 January 2005). "54 Indian PoWs of 1971 war still in Pakistan". Daily Times. Lahore. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
    12. ^ Figure from Pakistani Prisoners of War in India by Col S. P. Salunke p. 10 quoted in Indian Army after Independence by KC Pravel: Lancer 1987 (ISBN 81-7062-014-7)
    13. ^ Orton, Anna (2010). India's Borderland Disputes: China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Epitome Books. p. 117. ISBN 9789380297156.
    14. ^ Historical Dictionary of Bangladesh, Page 289
    15. ^ Moss, Peter (2005). Secondary Social Studies For Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. p. 93. ISBN 9780195977042. OCLC 651126824.
    16. ^ Schneider, B.; Post, J.; Kindt, M. (2009). The World's Most Threatening Terrorist Networks and Criminal Gangs. Springer. p. 57. ISBN 9780230623293.
    17. ^ Kalia, Ravi (2012). Pakistan: From the Rhetoric of Democracy to the Rise of Militancy. Routledge. p. 168. ISBN 9781136516412.
    18. ^ Pg 600. Schmid, Alex, ed. (2011). The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-41157-8.
    19. ^ Pg. 240 Tomsen, Peter (2011). The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers. Public Affairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-763-8.
    20. ^ Roy, Dr Kaushik; Gates, Professor Scott (2014). Unconventional Warfare in South Asia: Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781472405791.
    21. ^ Totten, Samuel; Bartrop, Paul Robert (2008). Dictionary of Genocide: A-L. ABC-CLIO. p. 34. ISBN 9780313346422.
    22. ^ Jamal, Ahmed (5–17 October 2008). "Mukti Bahini and the liberation war of Bangladesh: A review of conflicting views" (PDF). Asian Affairs. 30. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
    23. ^ "Britain Proposes Indian Partition". The Leader-Post. 2 June 1947. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
    24. ^ "India Partition with Present Many Problems". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 8 June 1947. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
    25. ^ "Problems of Partition". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 June 1947. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
    26. ^ "Gendercide Watch: Genocide in Bangladesh, 1971". gendercide.org. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
    27. ^ "Bangladesh – The Zia Regime and Its Aftermath, 1977–82". countrystudies.us. Archived from the original on 13 November 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
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    Further reading

    • Ayoob, Mohammed and Subrahmanyam, K., The Liberation War, S. Chand and Co. pvt Ltd. New Delhi, 1972.
    • Ayub, Muhammad (2005). An Army, its Role and Rule: A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil 1947–1999. Pittsburgh: RoseDog Books. ISBN 0-8059-9594-3.
    • Bass, Gary J. The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide. Vintage, 2014. ISBN 0307744620
    • Bhargava, G.S., Crush India or Pakistan's Death Wish, ISSD, New Delhi, 1972.
    • Bhattacharyya, S. K., Genocide in East Pakistan/Bangladesh: A Horror Story, A. Ghosh Publishers, 1988.
    • Blood, A. K. (2005). The cruel birth of Bangladesh: Memoirs of an American diplomat. Dhaka: University Press.
    • Brownmiller, Susan: Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Ballantine Books, 1993.
    • Choudhury, G. W. (April 1972). "Bangladesh: Why It Happened". International Affairs. Royal Institute of International Affairs. 48 (2): 242–249. doi:10.2307/2613440. ISSN 0020-5850. JSTOR 2613440.
    • Choudhury, G. W. (1994) [First published 1974]. The Last Days of United Pakistan. Dhaka: University Press. ISBN 978-984-05-1242-3.
    • Govt. of Bangladesh, Documents of the war of Independence, Vol 01–16, Ministry of Information.
    • Hitchens, Christopher, The Trials of Henry Kissinger, Verso (2001). ISBN 1-85984-631-9
    • Kanjilal, Kalidas, The Perishing Humanity, Sahitya Loke, Calcutta, 1976
    • Johnson, Rob, 'A Region in Turmoil' (New York and London, 2005)
    • Malik, Amita, The Year of the Vulture, Orient Longmans, New Delhi, 1972.
    • Matinuddin, General Kamal, Tragedy of Errors: East Pakistan Crisis, 1968–1971, Wajidalis, Lahore, Pakistan, 1994.
    • Mookherjee, Nayanika, A Lot of History: Sexual Violence, Public Memories and the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, D. Phil thesis in Social Anthropology, SOAS, University of London, 2002.
    • National Security Archive, The Tilt: the U.S. and the South Asian Crisis of 1971
    • Quereshi, Major General Hakeem Arshad, The 1971 Indo-Pak War, A Soldiers Narrative, Oxford University Press, 2002.
    • Raghavan, Srinath, 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh, Harvard Univ. Press, 2013.
    • Rummel, R. J., Death By Government, Transaction Publishers, 1997.
    • Salik, Siddiq, Witness to Surrender, Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 1977.
    • Sisson, Richard & Rose, Leo, War and secession: Pakistan, India, and the creation of Bangladesh, University of California Press (Berkeley), 1990.
    • Stephen, Pierre, and Payne, Robert, Massacre, Macmillan, New York, (1973). ISBN 0-02-595240-4
    • Totten, Samuel et al., eds., Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views, Garland Reference Library, 1997
    • US Department of State Office of the Historian, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971
    • Zaheer, Hasan: The separation of East Pakistan: The rise and realisation of Bengali Muslim nationalism, Oxford University Press, 1994.
    • Raja, Dewan Mohammad Tasawwar (2010). O GENERAL MY GENERAL (Life and Works of General M. A. G. Osmani). The Osmani Memorial Trust, Dacca, Bangladesh. ISBN 978-984-8866-18-4.

    External links

    5 December 1971

    Battle of Gazipur: Pakistani forces stand defeated as India cedes Gazipur to Bangladesh.

    Battle of Gazipur
    Part of the Bangladesh Liberation War
    Date4–5 December 1971
    Gazipur Tea Estate
    Result Indian-Bangladeshi victory[citation needed]
    Gazipur ceded to Bangladesh
     India (formally Joined the war on 3 December 1971)
    Commanders and leaders
    Bangladesh Major Ziaur Rahman
    Units involved
    5 Gorkha Rifles, parts of the and other unknown forces
    Unknown Unknown

    The Battle of Gazipur (Bengali: গাজীপুরের যুদ্ধ) was a military engagement on 4 and 5 December 1971, during the Bangladesh liberation war. It took place at the Gazipur Tea Estate near Kulaura, in the Sylhet District of what was then East Pakistan. The advancing Mitro Bahini (comprising Mukti Bahini and Indian Army) attacked the 22 Baluch Regiment of the Pakistan Army. This battle was a prelude to the Battle of Sylhet.[1]


    By the evening of 4 December 1971, the 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) had fortified themselves at , a town close to the border opposite the Kulaura/Moulvibazar Sector of the Sylhet Division of East Pakistan. Small-scale attacks were planned to be employed to capture enemy territory. The 59 Mountain Brigade was to operate as a part of the 8 Mountain Division plan, possibly for thrust to Sylhet. The area had rolling hills with tea gardens dotting the area along the border. Further west, inside East Pakistan, low hills obscured most observations, and provided an excellent defensive and observational point into the Indian side of the border. The hills tapered off just east of Kulaura and the plains of the Sylhet division started from here. Kulaura was a communications center and rail head ten kilometers in depth, and was connected to Moulvibazar; along the Dharmanagar–Gazipur–MoulvibazarSylhet axis.


    The task given to the 8 Mountain Division at this stage was:

    • The 59 Mountain Brigade was to capture the border posts along Dharmanagar–Gazipur-Kulaura and Dharmanagar-Jurithe axes
    • The 81 Mountain Brigade was to capture the border posts along the Shamshernagar-Fenchuganj-Moulvibazar axis
    • The rest of the division was to launch a multi-pronged attack against Sylhet

    Pakistan's 313 Infantry Brigade, part of Pakistan's 14 Infantry Division, was located at Moulvibazar. Its 202 Infantry Brigade had moved to Sylhet, while its third brigade was covering Bhairab Bazar and the Ashuganj area further south. The 22 Baluch was defending the area near , Gazipur, Kulaura, and Juri with additional companies consisting of reconnaissance forces and troops. One of this battalion's companies was deployed along the Dharmanagar-Juri axis with couple of border posts. Additional forces at that time included a border outpost of platoon size plus and unknown number of regular troops and EPCAF troops at Sagarnal, and a company at Gazipur with a platoon of scouts and a platoon of EPCAF troops. Lastly, there was the battalion headquarters at Kulaura and small reserve force at Moulvibazar.[citation needed]

    The Indian 59 Mountain Brigade plan detailed capture of the Sagarnal border outpost by 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) as a preliminary operation. The 9 Guards were to capture Juri, and the 6 Rajput was to capture Gazipur and advance up to Kulaura. The 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) would then act as reserve for the 6 Rajput's operation and be given additional orders as the battle progressed. It was planned that once Kulaura was secured, both brigades would once again have a single objective, to be determined later.[citation needed]


    At Gazipur, the Dharmanagar–Kadamtal–Sagarnal–Gazipur–Kulaura road passed through the area occupied by the Gazipur Tea Factory manager's bungalow and was overlooked by hills to the Southeast. The rows of the tea plantation created a maze and these alleys were covered by automatic fire. To its North was high ground with good observation of the area, with bunkers located around it. On 3 December 1971 around 21:00 hours, 6 Rajput attacked Gazipur but was met with stiff resistance. Before dawn it was apparent that the attack had failed and it was too late to employ reserves.[citation needed]

    At this stage the 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) were given orders to capture of Gazipur the next night; 4/5 December 1971. The 4 December was used for reconnaissance. With the attack launched the previous night, the Pakistanis were sensitive in the area, but had reorganized their defenses to prepare for an attack from any direction and were also supported by artillery guns. They also received reinforcements from Pakistan's 22 Baluch Company. In addition there was also a platoon-sized force supporting them in reserve. The Pakistani defenses were based on a built up area and well prepared bunkers. The 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) planned to capture localities in phases, with Kela-Ka-Bagicha taken by Delta Company, the manager's bungalow by Alpha Company, and the factory by Bravo and Charlie Company. CO 2, Major was made overall commander of the factory assault by Bravo and Charlie Company.[citation needed]

    Delta Company was the first to reach its objective. By about 20:30 hours the advancing column reached the height immediately North of Kela-Ka-Bagicha and were attacked by Pakistani artillery and machine gun fire. Soon after this the company charged at about 20:45 hours. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued and casualties were taken on both sides. Delta Company succeeded in the fighting and captured Kela-ka-Bagicha. However, the company commander was injured during the attack. The next objective, the manager's bungalow, had been turned into a fortress with bunkers strewn around the structure. The firing was on fixed lines, covering gaps in the tea plantation rows and the approach from Kela-Ka-Bagicha. Because of a loss of radio contact Alpha Company's progress was not known and as such Bravo Company was tasked to capture the manager's bungalow. Alpha Company didn't know about Bravo Company being employed in its place from the planned direction. Luckily Alpha had taken a slight detour and angled their thrust on the rear side while Bravo targeted it from the Kela-Ka-Bagicha side. Casualties were suffered which included Commander Coy of Bravo Company, however Alpha and Bravo Companies succeeded in capturing the bungalow. However, during the assault, Major Shayam Kelkar was shot in the head and died while leading a charge.[citation needed]

    See also


    1. ^ "Battle of Sylhet". defenceindia.com. Archived from the original on 10 August 2007.[self-published source]

    4 September 1971

    Alaska Airlines Flight 1866 crashes near Juneau, Alaska, killing all 111 people on board.

    Alaska Airlines Flight 1866
    Boeing 727-193, Pacific Air Lines JP6858513.jpg
    N2969G, the aircraft involved in the accident, seen at San Francisco International Airport in 1967, while still operating with Pacific Air Lines
    DateSeptember 4, 1971 (1971-09-04)
    SummaryControlled flight into terrain due to navigational error and pilot error
    SiteHaines Borough, Alaska
    58°21′42″N 135°10′12″W / 58.361666°N 135.170000°W / 58.361666; -135.170000Coordinates: 58°21′42″N 135°10′12″W / 58.361666°N 135.170000°W / 58.361666; -135.170000
    Aircraft typeBoeing 727-193
    OperatorAlaska Airlines
    IATA flight No.AS1866
    ICAO flight No.ASA1866
    Call signALASKA 66
    Flight originTed Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Anchorage, Alaska
    1st stopoverMerle K. (Mudhole) Smith Airport, Cordova, Alaska
    2nd stopoverYakutat Airport, Yakutat, Alaska
    3rd stopoverJuneau International Airport, Juneau, Alaska
    Last stopoverSitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Sitka, Alaska
    DestinationSeattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, Washington

    Alaska Airlines Flight 1866 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight operated by Alaska Airlines from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seattle, Washington, with several intermediate stops in southeast Alaska. On September 4, 1971, the aircraft operating the flight crashed into a mountain in Haines Borough, about 18 miles west of Juneau, Alaska while on approach for landing. All 111 people aboard were killed.[1] It was the first fatal jet aircraft crash involving Alaska Airlines, and remained the deadliest single-aircraft accident in United States history until June 24, 1975, when Eastern Air Lines Flight 66 crashed.[2]

    Flight Crew

    The Captain of the flight was Richard C. Adams, age 41. Adams had 13,870 flight hours, including 2,688 hours on the Boeing 727. Piloting the aircraft at the time of the accident was First Officer Leonard D. Beach, age 32. Beach had 5,000 flight hours, with 2,100 of them on the Boeing 727.[3]:46James J. Carson, age 30, was the Second Officer and had 2,850 flight hours, including about 2,600 hours on the Boeing 727.[3]:46 Beach and Carson were both hired by Alaska Airlines in 1966, and Adams had been with the airline since 1955.[3]:46 The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) later determined that all three flight crew members were current and qualified to operate the flight, and there was no evidence of any conditions which would have adversely affected the performance of their duties.


    The aircraft was a Boeing 727-100 with U.S. registry N2969G[4] manufactured in 1966 as c/n 19304 (Manufacturer's Serial Number 287). It was initially operated by Pacific Air Lines, which later became part of Hughes Airwest. On April 8, 1970, ownership of the aircraft was transferred to Hughes. Shortly thereafter, on September 25, 1970 Hughes leased it to Alaska Airlines. It had accumulated 11,344 flight hours at the time of the accident.[3]:48[5] The aircraft was powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7B turbofan engines.[2] The NTSB determined that the aircraft and engines were properly maintained and in good working order at the time of the accident.[3]

    Accident flight

    On September 4, 1971, Alaska Airlines Flight 1866 (Air Traffic Control call sign "Alaska 66") was scheduled to depart Anchorage, Alaska (ANC), with intermediate stops in Cordova (CDV), Yakutat (YAK), Juneau (JNU), and Sitka, Alaska (SIT) before continuing to Seattle, Washington (SEA). The flight departed ANC on time at 9:13 a.m. and the first stop at CDV was uneventful, apart from a minor issue with a cargo door which caused a short delay. The aircraft departed CDV at 10:34 and landed at YAK at 11:07. The next leg of the route to JNU, the accident flight, departed YAK at 11:35 a.m. with 104 passengers and 7 crew aboard.[3]:3

    At 11:46 the crew contacted Anchorage air traffic control and reported they were at Flight Level 230 (FL230 or 23,000 feet), 65 miles (104 km) east of Yakutat. The controller issued a clearance to descend at pilots' discretion to cross the PLEASANT intersection at 10,000 feet, and gave them a clearance limit of HOWARD intersection. The controller then gave them the current altimeter setting at JNU and requested they report passing 11,000 feet in the descent.

    At 11:51 the crew informed the controller they were leaving FL230 descending to be level at 10,000 feet at PLEASANT intersection.[3]:3

    At 11:54 the controller instructed the crew to stop their descent at 12,000 feet and changed the clearance limit to PLEASANT intersection where they could expect to hold. They reported level at 12,000 feet less than a minute later. The controller explained that he had to change the clearance due to another aircraft in the airspace near JNU. A Piper PA-23 Apache, N799Y, had departed JNU at 11:44 en route to Whitehorse and had reported in the vicinity of HOWARD intersection. The Piper's altitude was unknown and there was some confusion as to the route it was supposed to be flying. Flight 1866 acted as a communication relay between the controller and N799Y for several transmissions.[3]:3–4

    At 11:58 the flight reported passing PLEASANT and entering the holding pattern there. The controller acknowledged the report and re-cleared them to HOWARD intersection. He then asked them to confirm they were still level at 12,000 feet and asked if they were "on top" of the clouds at that altitude. The crew replied they were level at 12,000, but in the clouds and "on instruments".

    At 12:00, the controller repeated the new clearance limit to hold at HOWARD, and told them they could expect to hold there until 12:10. At 12:01 the crew reported entering the holding pattern at HOWARD at 12,000 feet.

    At 12:07, the controller asked for their current location in the holding pattern, and direction from HOWARD. The crew reported they were turning on the inbound leg of the hold, joining the localizer course inbound towards HOWARD. The controller then cleared the flight for the straight-in LDA approach to Runway 8 and instructed them to cross HOWARD inbound at or below 9,000 feet. The crew acknowledged the clearance and reported leaving 12,000 feet. The LDA approach consisted of a localizer providing horizontal guidance to the crew. Vertical guidance was provided by instructions on the approach chart; the procedure involved descending to various published altitudes upon crossing specific intersections between the localizer and a nearby VOR station. The localizer was not equipped with distance measuring equipment at the time of the accident.

    At 12:08, the Anchorage controller asked them to report their current altitude and the crew responded, "...leaving five thousand five... four thousand five hundred." The crew was then instructed to contact Juneau Tower. The crew acknowledged the transmission and changed to the tower frequency. The flight checked on to the tower frequency, reporting over BARLOW intersection. The tower controller replied, "Alaska 66, understand...I didn't copy the intersection...," and continued his transmission, giving them the current weather conditions and runway in use, and asked them to report over BARLOW. Part of this transmission was recorded on the CVR of the flight, however the recording ended partway through the transmission. There were no further transmissions from Flight 1866.[3]:4

    At approximately 12:15 the aircraft struck the eastern slope of a canyon in the Chilkat Range of the Tongass National Forest at the 2500-foot level, 18.5 miles west of Juneau. The aircraft exploded on impact. According to the CVR and FDR, there was not even "a last-second awareness" among the crew that a collision with terrain was imminent.

    When the crew stopped responding JNU tower notified local authorities in Juneau, who immediately began a search for the aircraft. A few hours later, the wreckage was located on the eastern slope of the Chilkat ridge, west of Juneau airport at the coordinates 58°21′42″N 135°10′12″W / 58.36167°N 135.17000°W / 58.36167; -135.17000. There were no survivors.[3]:4–5[6]

    Two witnesses in the area of the Chilkat Mountains stated that they heard a low-flying jet aircraft, but could not see it because of clouds and low visibility, which they estimated at 200–300 feet. They described the sound of the engines as normal. A short time later they heard an explosion. A third witness in the area saw a low flying plane disappear into the clouds, but did not report hearing any sound.


    The U.S. NTSB investigated the accident. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) were recovered from the crash site and read out. The wreckage was inspected, and pertinent items were removed for further study by both the NTSB and the various manufacturers. After determining that there were no apparent issues with the crew's qualifications or the aircraft, their investigation focused on the navigational equipment and techniques used for the approach. Both navigation radio receivers on the aircraft were found to be in good working order, and all ground-based navigation stations were likewise operating properly. From the CVR recording it was determined that the crew did not use the audio identification features of the navigation radios. Further, they did not use all available navigational aids to help determine their position, though it is noted that the approach they were performing did not specifically require the use of those facilities. In addition the NTSB found there was potentially a lack of crew coordination between the two pilots in their navigation radio tuning procedures. Based on the crew's conversation and the flight's erroneous position report over BARLOW intersection, the NTSB noted that the Captain's navigation radio had apparently presented the crew with consistently false information at several points along the approach path. No reason for the false indications could be determined. The NTSB also found that ATC had used proper procedures in handling flight 1866. The small aircraft that entered the airspace during their descent might have been a distraction for both the controller and the pilots.

    The NTSB Final Report was released on October 11, 1972. The investigation found that the following factors contributed to the accident:


    # The aircraft was certificated, maintained, and loaded properly and there was no failure or malfunction of the aircraft, powerplants, or control systems.

    1. The crew was certificated and qualified for the operation.
    2. Air traffic control handling of AS66 was appropriate and in accordance with prescribed procedures and standards.
    3. The issuance of an incorrect clearance to N799Y caused this aircraft to stray into airspace where its presence caused an additional traffic control workload from a separation as well as communications standpoint.
    4. Involvement in the N799Y activities and awareness of the uncertainty about that aircraft's whereabouts and intentions might have created a distraction for the crew of AS66.
    5. The crew did not use audio identification procedures when tuning in the pertinent navigational facilities.
    6. It could not be established that effective crew coordination took place when the first officer changed his VHF navigational frequency from the VOR to the localizer and requested the captain to tune in the VOR.
    7. The crew was subjected to seemingly correct but erroneous navigational information which led to a premature descent into obstructing terrain.
    8. There was no altimetry system malfunction.
    9. The display of the intersections that delineate the Juneau localizer approach were displaced about 35°- 40° counterclockwise, based on the recorded callouts by the crew.
    10. The captain's VOR receiver was tuned to the Juneau localizer at impact, and the associated frequency selector had been manipulated just prior to impact.
    11. There was no evidence indicating that the crew used all available navigational facilities to check the flight's progress along the localizer.
    12. Flight tests and other research failed to disclose a Sisters Island VOR malfunction which would have accounted for a large bearing error on the day of the accident.
    13. Examinations and tests of the recovered aircraft's avionics equipment revealed no evidence of other than normal operation.
    14. Research into the compatibility of Doppler VOR transmitters and the existing aircraft that would indicate any discrepancy in this navigational receivers revealed no information area.
      — NTSB final report

    The probable cause of the accident was the following:[3]:41

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was a display of misleading navigational information concerning the flight's progress along the localizer course which resulted in a premature descent below obstacle clearance altitude. The origin or nature of the misleading navigational information could not be determined. The Board further concludes that the crew did not use all available navigational aids to check the flight's progress along the localizer nor were these aids required to be used. The crew also did not perform the required audio identification of the pertinent navigational facilities.

    — NTSB final report


    The NTSB investigation examined the idea that some sort of military radio jamming technology could have contributed to the apparent false indications of the navigational radios before the accident. The report found no evidence that such interference had taken place and it was discounted as a possible cause. Interestingly, this type of problem is used as a plot device in famed aviation writer Ernest K. Gann's 1973 novel Band of Brothers.[7] In the book a Boeing 727 crashes after receiving false navigational information as a result of military radio jamming.

    See also


    1. ^ "Alaska Airlines - HistoryLink.org". Retrieved January 14, 2017.
    2. ^ a b Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
    3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Aircraft Accident Report - Alaska Airlines, Inc., B-727, N2969G, near Juneau, Alaska, September 4, 1971" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. October 13, 1972. NTSB-AAR-72-28. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
    4. ^ "NTSB Identification: DCA72AZ003". www.ntsb.gov. National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
    5. ^ "Pacific Air Lines Boeing 727-169 N2969G (c/n 19304)". Retrieved October 9, 2014.
    6. ^ "Advanced Search Result". B3A Aircraft Accidents Archives. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
    7. ^ Gann, Ernest K. (June 12, 1977). Band of Brothers. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-345-25849-6.

    External links

    13 May 1971

    Over 900 unarmed Bengali Hindus are murdered in what became known as the Demra massacre.

    Demra massacre in Bangladesh was the massacre of unarmed Hindu residents of the villages under Demra Union in present-day Faridpur Upazila in Pabna District by the occupying Pakistan Army aided by local collaborators on 13 May 1971. It is estimated that 800–900 people were killed in a single day. Rape and plunder were also carried out, and mosques, temples, schools and houses were set on fire.

    When the Pakistani occupation army spread out from Dhaka towards the districts as a part of the Operation Searchlight, the people began to flee their homes. The Hindus began to flee Bangladesh and take refuge in neighbouring India. On their way they had taken shelter in the remote village of Baushgari in Demra union.

    The Pakistani occupation army, led by the local collaborators entered the area through the Boral river and then cordoned off the Baushgari and Rupsi villages. One collaborator named Asad led the Pakistani troops to the Baushgari village. In the nightfall, the men were dragged out of their houses and made to stand in a line, while the women were raped in front of them by the Pakistani troops with the help of the collaborators. After that both the men and women were shot to death and their houses were set on fire. A few survivors interred the charred remains of the bodies in a mass grave the next morning. Around 350 Hindus were killed in Baushgari village.

    An 11-member team from the International Crimes Tribunal investigated the Demra massacre in 2010. The team was led by Sayed Rejaur Rahman, one of the prosecutors of the tribunal. The investigators visited the killing spots in Baushgari village and interviewed the witnesses to the war crimes. In their investigation they found Motiur Rahman Nizami guilty of masterminding the massacre. Nizami was convicted and executed by hanging in 2016

    15 February 1971

    The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.

    On 15 February 1971, known as Decimal Day, the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.
    Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence denoted by the letter d for Latin denarius and now referred to as “old pence”, with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.

    The loss of value of the currency meant that the “old” penny, with the same diameter as the US half-dollar, had become of relatively low value.

    The Coinage Act of 1792 had officially authorized the United States as the first English-speaking nation to have decimalised currency, although Tsar Peter the Great used the concept for the Russian ruble close to a century earlier, in 1704, while China has used such a decimal system for at least 2000 years. The United Kingdom’s Parliament rejected Sir John Wrottesley’s proposals to decimalise sterling in 1824, which was prompted by the introduction in 1795 of the decimal French franc. After this defeat, little practical progress towards decimalisation was made for over a century, with the exception of the two-shilling silver florin worth 1/10 of a pound first issued in 1849. A double florin or four-shilling piece was a further step in that direction but failed to gain acceptance and was struck only from 1887 to 1890.

    The Decimal Association was founded in 1841 to promote decimalisation and metrication, both causes that were boosted by a realisation of the importance of international trade following the 1851 Great Exhibition. It was as a result of the growing interest in decimalisation that the florin was issued.

    In their preliminary report, the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage considered the benefits and problems of decimalisation but did not draw any conclusion about the adoption of any such scheme. A final report in 1859 from the two remaining commissioners, Lord Overstone and Governor of the Bank of England John Hubbard came out against the idea, claiming it had “few merits”.

    In 1862, the Select Committee on Weights and Measures favoured the introduction of decimalisation to accompany the introduction of metric weights and measures.

    The decimalisation movement even entered fiction. In Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels, Plantagenet Palliser is a passionate advocate of decimalisation, a cause the other characters seem to find intensely boring. Palliser’s scheme would have divided the shilling into ten presumably revalued pennies. This would have changed the threepence into 2 1/2

    new pence, the sixpence into fivepence and the half crown into a two shilling, five pence piece. It would also have required the withdrawal and reissuance of the existing copper coinage. At the end of the fifth book in the series, The Prime Minister, Palliser muses that the reform will not be accomplished, since it can only be done by a Chancellor of the Exchequer sitting in the House of Commons, and the Duke now sits in the House of Lords.

    The Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage, chaired by Lord Emmott, reported in 1920 that the only feasible scheme was to divide the pound into 1,000 mills but that this would be too inconvenient. A minority of four members disagreed, saying that the disruption would be worthwhile. A further three members recommended that the pound should be replaced by the Royal, consisting of 100 halfpennies.

    In 1960, a report prepared jointly by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, followed by the success of decimalisation in South Africa, prompted the Government to set up the Committee of the Inquiry on Decimal Currency in 1961, which reported in 1963. The adoption of the changes suggested in the report was announced on 1 March 1966. The Decimal Currency Board was created to manage the transition, although the plans were not approved by Parliament until the Decimal Currency Act in May 1969. Former Greater London Council leader Bill Fiske was named as the Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board.

    Consideration was given to introducing a new major unit of currency worth ten shillings in the old currency: suggested names included the new pound, the royal and the noble. This would have resulted in the “decimal penny” being worth only slightly more than the old penny this approach was adopted, for example, when South Africa, Australia and New Zealand decimalised in the 1960s, adopting respectively the South African rand, Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar equal in value to 10 shillings. But Halsbury decided, in view of the pound sterling’s importance as a reserve currency, that the pound should remain unchanged.

    Under the new system, the pound was retained but was divided into 100 new pence, denoted by the symbol p. New coinage was issued alongside the old coins. The 5p and 10p coins were introduced in April 1968 and were the same size, composition, and value as the shilling and two shillings coins in circulation with them. In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced, with the 10s note withdrawn on 20 November 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on Decimal Day and meant that the public was already familiar with three of the six new coins. Small booklets were made available containing some or all of the new denominations.

    The old halfpenny was withdrawn from circulation on 31 July 1969, and the half-crown followed on 31 December to ease the transition.

    There was a substantial publicity campaign in the weeks before Decimalisation Day, including a song by Max Bygraves called “Decimalisation”. The BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes, “Decimal Five”, to which The Scaffold contributed some specially written tunes. ITV repeatedly broadcast a short drama called Granny Gets The Point, starring Doris Hare, the actress in On The Buses, where an elderly woman who does not understand the new system is taught to use it by her grandson. At 10 am on 15 February itself BBC1 broadcast ‘New Money Day’, a ‘Merry-go-Round’ schools’ programme in which puppet maker Peter Firmin and his small friend Muskit encountered different prices and new coins when they went to the shops.

    Banks received stocks of the new coins in advance and these were issued to retailers shortly before Decimalisation Day to enable them to give change immediately after the changeover. Banks were closed from 3:30 pm on Wednesday 10 February 1971 to 10:00 am on Monday 15 February, to enable all outstanding cheques and credits in the clearing system to be processed and customers’ account balances to be converted from £sd to decimal. In many banks the conversion was done manually, as most bank branches were not yet computerised. February had been chosen for Decimal Day because it was the quietest time of the year for the banks, shops, and transport organisations.

    Many items were priced in both currencies for some time before and after. Prior to Decimal Day the double pricing was displayed as e.g. 1s; from Decimal Day the order was switched to 5p . For example, this order was used on most football programmes during the 1970–71 season. High denomination 10p, 20p, and 50p stamps were issued on 17 June 1970. Post offices were issued with very simple training stamps in the same colours as the upcoming decimal stamps.

    Exceptions to the 15 February introduction were British Rail and London Transport, which went decimal one day early, the former urging customers, if they chose to use pennies or threepenny pieces, to pay them in multiples of 6d. Bus companies at that time many state-owned by the National Bus Company were another exception, going decimal on Sunday 21 February.

    8 February 1971

    The NASDAQ stock market index opens.

    The New York Stock Exchange has been around for a long time – it was officially formed in 1792, and is home to many of the world’s biggest and most successful companies. For a long time, it was the Big Daddy of American – indeed, world – stock exchanges. But at the beginning of the 1970s, it found itself with an upstart competitor.

    America’s National Association of Securities Dealers was a body set up to regulate the OTC market ‘over the counter’ securities which were not traded on traditional stock exchanges.

    To enable investors to trade more efficiently, it set up its own speedy and transparent trading system – the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or Nasdaq. It began trading on this day in 1971, providing trading for over 2,500 securities. It was a very different beast to the venerable old stock exchanges of yore. It didn’t have a big building full of men in silly coats shouting at each other. This was the future – this was an electronic exchange.

    It expanded rapidly, and soon gained a reputation where tech stocks would list. And while it is very tech heavy, it counts car hire firms, airlines, banks and food companies among its listings.

    It trades around two billion shares a day – more than any other exchange. Since the millennium it has overseen over a thousand stockmarket flotations. It is the second-largest exchange in the world by market capitalisation. With companies including Apple and Google – each with a market cap of some $500bn – and Microsoft, with a market cap of over $400bn, that’s hardly surprising.

    Its flagship index, the Nasdaq Composite, began life at 100 in 1971, shot up to over 5,000 before the spectacular dotcom crash of 2000, when it lost some 78% of its value. It peaked again in the summer of 2015. It is currently some 15% below its peak.

    5 February 1971

    Astronauts land on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.

    HOUSTON, Friday, Feb. 5 1971 —Two astronauts of Apollo 14—the fifth and sixth human beings ever—landed on the moon early this morning.

    Capt. Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Comdr. Edgar D. Mitchell of the Navy steered the four?legged landing craft named Antares to a smooth touchdown at 4:18 A.M., Eastern standard time, on the moon’s highlands.

    Their landing, the third made by American astronauts, came after a four?day, 250,000?mile voyage across the void of space. It came a year and a half after man’s first landing, Apollo 11’s pioneering visit to the Sea of Tranquility.

    The four other men on the moon were Neil A. Armstrong, the first to set foot on the lunar surface — on July 20, 1969 — and Col. Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. of the Air Force, from Apollo II, and Comdr. Charles Conrad Jr. and Comdr. Alan L. Bean of the Navy, from Apollo 12.

    In a Level Valley

    The Apollo 14 astronauts brought their 16?ton landing craft down on a fairly level valley in the Fra Mauro highlands, a cratered and rockstrewn area where the astronauts should be able to find rocks as old as the solar system itself. They plan a 33½hour visit.

    Continue reading the main story
    While Maj. Stuart A. Roosa of the Air Force was scheduled to pilot the command module Kitty Hawk in a watchful orbit overhead, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell would take two long excursions outside their landing craft to set up a nuclear?powered scientific station and get rock samples.

    The descent engine on the lunar module fired at 4:05 A.M., at which time Captain Shepard declared:

    “It’s a beautiful day in the land of Fra Mauro.”

    And just before Antares touched down on the moon, Commander Mitchell exclaimed:

    “There it is. Right on target. Beautiful. Right out the window. Just like you said it would be.”

    Comments From Moon

    When the craft set down—two minutes behind schedule—the first words were those of Captain Shepherd, who said:

    “We’re on the surface. We made a good landing.”

    After Mission Control acknowledged the success, tho astronaut added:

    “That was a beautiful one. We landed on the slope. But other than that, we’re in great shape—right on the landing site.”

    The first of their moon walks, which would last up to five hours each, was to begin around 9 AM. today. Captain Shepard would take the first steps down the ladder, followed a few minutes later by Commander Mitchell.

    All their activities should be seen on earth through a color television transmission from Antares. The second moon walk, scheduled for early tomorrow morning, also was scheduled to be televised.

    Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell were cleared shortly before midnight to begin the landing maneuver. Mission Control issued the goahead for “undocking.”

    At 11:51 P.M., on Apollo 14’s 12th revolution of the moon, Antares and Kitty Hawk separated. The docking mechanism that had given the astronauts trouble early in the flight unlatched without flaw.

    “You’re moving out,” Major Roosa radioed from Kitty Hawk. After a pause, Major Roosa said:

    “Okay, we seem real steady. I’m going to back off from you.”

    Major Roosa then fired maneuvering rockets on the command ship and moved back to a safe distance, flying higher than Antares.

    Later at 1:10 A.M., Kitty Hawk’s main rocket fired a short burst to gather speed and move into a more circular orbit, about 70 miles above the moon. At that altitude, Kitty Hawk was in a favorable position to link up with Antares after its return from the moon.

    As Kitty Hawk moved away, Antares followed an orbit ranging from about 69 miles on the far side of the moon to about 10 miles as it passed over the landing path.

    For the final descent, following a long, curving trajectory from 10 miles to touchdown, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell needed an 11?minute firing of the rocket in the lunar module’s lower stage. The descent was carefully plotted by radar, computer and the experienced eyes of the astronauts.

    A problem with mysterious abort signals in the guidance computer on Antares caused concern as Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell prepared for the landing. Strange signals monitored on the ground indicated that an “abort command” was showing up in the computer, perhaps because of contamination in the abort switch.

    New Instructions

    If this had happened during a lunar?module rocket firing, it would have caused an unintentional abort of the lunar landing.

    Consequently, mission control gave the astronauts a new set of instructions to be fed into the computer immediately after the descent rocket firing was begun. The new procedure would, in effect, tell the computer to ignore such an unintentional abort signal.

    The astronauts got about six hours of sleep during a 10?hour rest period before their long and critical night began.

    In making Apollo 14’s first status report of the day to Mission Control, Major Roosa said:

    “We went to bed all healthy and we’re getting up the same way.”

    At about 9 o’clock last night, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell donned their heavy space suits, opened the hatch and crawled through the connecting tunnel into the attached lunar module.

    One of their chief concerns during the inspection tour, was the condition of one of the two storage batteries in the lunar module’s ascent stage. When it was tested two days ago, it was found to have lost about three?tenths of a volt from its level at liftoff.

    Had it further degraded, indicating problems in more than one cell, flight controllers would have had to call off the landing attempt.

    But when the batteries were powered up, the astronauts reported their condition “exactly as it was last night.” The landing, in short, was still “go.”

    Apollo 14 reached lunar orbit early yesterday morning and by 9 P.M. had looped the moon 11 times, traveling at a speed of about 3,500 miles an hour.

    Target for Landing

    Each time Apollo 14—the combined command ship and lunar module—swung around the face of the moon and swooped down to within 10 miles of the surface, the astronauts could see the rugged features of Fra Mauro.

    It was early dawn at the time there, giving the astronauts the ideal lighting conditions for their landing. Their arrival was timed so that the astronauts would have the sun low on the horizon and behind their backs as they made the tricky descent to the moon.

    The hills of Fra Mauro rise along the eastern rim of the Ocean of Storms, just south of the lunar equator. The landing area is about 110 miles east of where Apollo 12 touched down in November, 1969.

    The precise landing target was set in a narrow valley between two clusters of craters that the astronauts nicknamed Triplet and. Doublet.

    Some of the nearby hills and ridges rise as much as 8,000 feet high, seemingly even greater than a similar elevation on earth because the moon is roughly one?fourth the size earth.

    Scientists believe that on this rugged terrain is material dating back 4.6 billion years to the creation of the moon. Analysis of the samples could determine much about the processes of the moon’s origin.

    The goal for the first walk was to deploy instruments to record moonquakes, to measure electrically charged particles on the lunar surface and to collect imprints of solar particle bombardment.

    The nuclear?powered scientific station was designed to operate more than a year. The Apollo 12 seismometer is still returning data.

    On the second walk—EVA for extravehicular activity—the objective was hiking to a feature known as Cone Crater. The crater is situated at the top of a gentle hill that arise: about 330 feet above the relatively level landing site.

    Cone Crater Objective

    Rocks around the lip of the crater are thought to have been tossed there from the impact that formed the crater. They would thus come from much deeper inside the moon than any samples previously returned by astronauts.

    Getting into position for the landing attempt took a two?step maneuver.

    First, the Apollo 14 astronauts fired the spaceship’s main rocket to swing into a wide looping orbit of the moon. After two revolutions, they refired the same rocket, which is at the stern of the spaceship, to lower the orbit.

    Both rocket firings cut off fraction of a second early, but that did not significantly throw the spaceship off its intendedi orbit.

    In the lower orbit, Apollo I dipped as low as 12 miles fro the surface over the front ski: and then swung out to about 67 miles high while over the far side of the moon.

    On previous missions, the lower orbit was achieved by the lunar module’s descent rocket after the two ships had separated. The change on this mission’ saved enough lunar module fuel to allow the astronauts an additional 15 seconds to hover at the last moment before touchdown.

    While orbiting the moon, awaiting the landing attempt, he astronauts described the desolate world they saw below.

    “It looks like a plaster mold that somebody has dusted vii grays and browns.” Commander Mitchell radioed.

    “It has all the grays, browns, whites and dark craters ever body’s talked about before.” Captain Shepard added. “lt’s really quite a sight.”

    6 December 1971

    Pakistan cuts off diplomatic relations with India, initiating the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

    The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which led to the commencement of hostilities with Pakistan and Indian entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.

    During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western fronts; the war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, East Pakistan had earlier called for its secession from the unity of Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately 90,000 to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army, which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of the Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan. The remaining 10,324 to 12,500 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators. It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh. As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.

    During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias called the Razakars raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.

    Unlike the 1965 war, the Navy NHQ staffers and commanders of the Pakistan Navy knew very well that the Navy was ill-prepared for the naval conflict with India. The Pakistan Navy was in no condition of fighting an offensive war in deep sea against the Indian Navy, and neither was it in a condition to mount serious defence against Indian Navy’s seaborne encroachment.

    In the western theatre of the war, the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command under Vice Admiral S.N. Kohli, successfully launched a surprise attack on Karachi port on the night of 4/5 December 1971 under the codename Trident. The naval attack involving the Soviet-built Osa missile boats sank the Pakistan Navy’s destroyer PNS Khaibar and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz while PNS Shah Jahan was also badly damaged. Pakistani naval sources reported that about 720 Pakistani sailors were killed or wounded, and Pakistan lost reserve fuel and many commercial ships, thus crippling the Pakistan Navy’s further involvement in the conflict. In retaliation, the Pakistan Navy submarines, Hangor, Mangro, and Shushuk, began their operations to seek out the major Indian warships. On 9 December 1971, Hangor sank INS Khukri, inflicting 194 Indian casualties, and this attack was the first submarine kill since World War II.

    The sinking of INS Khukri was followed by another Indian attack on Karachi port on the night of 8/9 December 1971 under the codename Python. A squadron of Indian Navy’s Osa missile boats approached the Karachi port and launched a series of Soviet-acquired Styx missiles, that resulted in further destruction of reserve fuel tanks and the sinking of three Pakistani merchant ships, as well as foreign ships docked in Karachi. The Pakistan Air Force did not attack the Indian Navy ships, and confusion remained the next day when the civilian pilots of Pakistan International, acting as reconnaissance war pilots, misidentified PNS Zulfiqar and the air force attacked its own warship, inflicting major damages and killing several officers on board.

    In the eastern theatre of the war, the Indian Eastern Naval Command, under Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan, completely isolated East Pakistan by a naval blockade in the Bay of Bengal, trapping the Eastern Pakistan Navy and eight foreign merchant ships in their ports. From 4 December onwards, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed, and its Sea Hawk fighter-bombers attacked many coastal towns in East Pakistan, including Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. Pakistan countered the threat by sending the submarine PNS Ghazi, which sank en route under mysterious circumstances off Visakhapatnam’s coast.

    Due to high number of defections, the Navy relied on deploying the Pakistan Marines – led by Rear Admiral Leslie Mungavin – where they had to conduct riverine operations against the Indian Army, but they too suffered major losses, mainly due to their lack of understanding of expeditionary warfare and the wet terrain of East Pakistan.