India's 1971 war with Pakistan that led to the birth of Bangladesh showed New Delhi's commitment to humanity and the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers was a "historic surrender" in the history of the world, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday.
He made the comments during an interaction with a group of Indian veterans and 'Mukti Jodhas' of Bangladesh who fought the war.
"This war was a 'justice war' due to which a new nation 'Bangladesh' was born. This war was a war to show India's commitment to humanity," Singh said at the event organised as part of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of India's victory in the war.
The defence minister also touched the feet of the wife of 1971 war hero Col Hoshiar Singh, who was awarded India's highest military honour, the Param Vir Chakra.
"The surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers in the Indo-Pakistani war in 1971 was a historic surrender in the history of the world. India's victory in the war proved to be one of the most important victory in world history," he said.
The group veterans comprised of 30 'Mukti Jodhas', families of all four Param Vir Chakra award winners and other awardees.
In his address, Singh paid rich tributes to the brave soldiers, sailors and air warriors who ensured the victory in 1971 war by making supreme sacrifice while displaying devotion to duty.
Terming the victory as a triumph of justice over injustice, Singh said, the war fought against the atrocities on common people showed India's commitment towards humanity.
He remembered the war heroes namely Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora (then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command), Lt Gen JFR Jacob and Air Marshal Idris Hassan Latif and others.
"These heroes included Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs and one Jew. This is a proof of India's firm belief towards giving equal respect to all religions," he said.
The defence minister also paid glowing tributes to the first President of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur-Rahman, terming him as the guiding light for the people of his country.
Singh said Bangladesh has been making giant strides in the path of development since its liberation.
Commending the Armed Forces personnel, including the veterans, for their selfless service, Singh described them as the protectors of India's unity and integrity.
"Today our country is moving forward on the path of progress uninterruptedly. This is because of our brave soldiers who are standing firm at the borders. This country sleeps peacefully because our soldiers are awake," he said.
Noting that no price can be paid for the sacrifices made by the veterans, he extended his gratitude and assured the government's all possible support to ensure their welfare.
"Our every warrior of today is a respected veteran of tomorrow. It is our duty to ensure their well-being. This government understands this very well, which is why, as soon as we came into power in 2014, we fulfilled the long-pending demand of One Rank One Pension," Singh added.