The National Flag flying high during wreath laying ceremony during the celebration of Vijay Diwas

AHMEDABAD: On the 50th anniversary of India's victory over Pakistan in 1971, decorated armed forces veterans from Bangladesh, who had taken part in the liberation war for their country, on Wednesday thanked India for standing by their people during the crisis. India celebrates December 16 as Vijay Diwas to commemorate its victory over Pakistan during the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

Lt Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir, a decorated army veteran from Bangladesh, said Indian soldiers should also be considered as part of Mukti Bahini, as they also laid their lives to liberate Bangladesh.

The Mukti Bahini, also known as the Bangladesh Forces, was the resistance movement consisting of the Bangladeshi military, paramilitary and civilians during the War of Liberation that transformed East Pakistan into Bangladesh in 1971.

"The two-nation theory of Jinnah proved disastrous for the people of Bangladesh. In 23 years, Jinnah's Pakistan became a Kabristan for us. Bangladesh became a colony of Pakistan and we lost everything. We were treated like Ghulams (servants) by them," Zahir said.

He was addressing a virtual event organised by the Rashtriya Raksha University located near Gujarat capital Gandhinagar on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.

He said Indian people never let Bangladeshis down when refugees started pouring into India ahead of the war.

"Millions of Bengalis went over to India. But Indian people never let them down. All Indians, government machinery and NGOs came forward to lend support. Young men from Bangladesh trained by the best Indian Army officers. Both Mukti Bahini and Indian forces made the Pakistan army surrender," Zahir said.

"I always considered Indian soldiers as part Mukti Bahini, as they also fought for the liberation. Let history say that we both won together in 1971," he added.

Another war veteran from Bangladesh, Commodore Abdul Wahed Chowdhury, hailed India as a true leader and an excellent neighbour.

"India is an excellent neighbour. A leader is the one who can lead in crisis. India is such a leader and it was proved (in 1971). India remained by my country's side, by the side of my brothers, sister and innocent refugees. India is a great nation and a great democracy," he said in his speech.