The civil war. The myth Mukti Bahani were wining the war, is false and fabricated. As victors write history. Everyone believed it.
Sun was setting in the evening of Mar 25th. There was gloom in the air. There was intense irritation and distrust developed between West Pakistani and Bengali officers. It was due to the news of failure of Mujib, Bhutto and Government talks. We were receiving complete information as to what was happening all over the East Pakistan between March 1st to March 25.
Narrative in this article is not to give detailed description of battles during and on on set of War on Dec 3, 1971. The space does not permit. The article is to partly portray to reader what actually happened between Mar 1st to Dec to nullify the claims of Bangladeshi and Indian writers, portraying victory of Mukti Bahani. The civil war can be classified in three phases. The intrigues and backend subversion by India, their penetration into all segments of East Pakistan and preparations of rebellion in case Mujib is not handed over the power, and events up to first week of April. The second phase is up to the end of Aug / early September. The gathering of rebels and formation of Mukti Bahni. The third phase lasted till the on set of open war on Dec 3, 1971.
There were in total one infantry division, one armoured regiment and five artillery regiments and two mortar batteries. Beside, a Light A Regiment and a Commondo Battalion and Divisional support troops stationed in East Pakistan on that day. That total couple of thousand regular troops only. Division consisted four Brigades. Each Brigade had one East Bengal Regiment. I EBR was at Jessore, CO Lt Col Raza ul Jalil EP, 2 EBR at Joydapor, CO Lt Col Masoud. 3 EBR Lt Co Manzoor Ahmed, WP Officer, 4 EBR at Comilla, CO Lt Col Khizer Hayat, WP Officer, Major Khalid Musharraf as Second in Command, EP.8 EBR , CO Kt Col Rasheed Janjua, WP , at Chittagong with Maj Zia ur Rehman as Second in Command. 10 EB at Dacca was a Training Battalion, CO LT Col 2500 recruits, all EP.
East Pakistan Rifles had six sectors along the border with a strength of 16000, all were of EP. The force was over 90% WP officers with few EP officers. The police was around 45000 personals all EP. EBR Centre had over 2500 recruits.
Operation Search Light was planned by Maj Gen Farman and Maj Gen Khadim Hussain Raja, GOC 14 Division. When Yayha was indicated the expected response by Bengali elements and cost in casualties, he opined to keep the country togather cost is worth it. But he failed to realise political aspect advise was ignored. The main objectives set were, One seal off border (it failed due to lack of troops): two create conditions to ensure functioning of civil set up three restore writ of the Government fourth ensure non nationalist elements participation in new Political Set up.
Part of preparation,
2 EB companies were split at Joyadpore, Tangail , Mymensingh and Rajinderpur. Its CO, who was already posted out handed over the charge to Lt Col Raquib. Disloyalty not in his nature left the unit and never to be heard again. His 2IC, Major Saifullah rebelled and killed all WP officers and any WP soldiers. He boasted he had gathered over 3000 force trained by him. He contacted Lt Col Sinha of Indian intelligence through Capt Balwant of Indian BSF. Later he crossed over to India with his unit.
In Comilla, 4 EBR was earlier sent to Brahman Baria in aid of civil power and to control IS situation. It was not to be so CO, Col Khizer WP Officer was arrested by his 2IC Maj Khalid Musharraf, and sent to Agartala. Maj Shafat Jamil (later Maj Gen in BD), the batch mate of mine, told since Col Khizer was a fatherly figure and much respected in the unit his life was spared. Shafat later was appointed as Ambassador.
The 57 Brigade was dispersed in Dacca. Pakistan army moved out on night 25/26 which was ordered earlier not to interfere till March 25. They were abused and humiliated by Awami League militant volunteers and jeering crowds. It was action of last resort after total failure on political front for reasons explained earlier. Col ZA Khan and Maj Bilal were ordered the arrest of Mujib ur Rehman which was accomplished swiftly, he was arrested and shifted to Cantt Area and later to west Pakistan. Lt Col Zahid (later Brigadier), CO 31 Field was tasked to search the house of Mujib with orders to be civil and courteous. But wife of Mujib along with her daughter and son Kamal abused Lt Col Zahid. There was thus unpleasant situation. Reportedly she even abused Quaid Azam. Lot of Foreign Exhange and other record was taken in to custody.
Dacca University was the hub of all anti Pakistan activity and being organised as a force by Rab and Shahjahan Bria, the student leaders. Between March 1st and 25th killing of non Bengalis continued in University by the goons of Awami League. Jagannath Hall was made control centre by them. 18 Punjab supported by Artillery was tasked to clear the university. They thought it will be easy but told to be cautious and use minimum force. The resistance in the university turned out to be violent. They were vulgars in their gestures when asked to surrender and opened fire. A full fledge operation has to be launched as militants from Jagan Nath Hall were firing not only RLs but also Mortors. Artillery and even tanks has to be used. After flushing Jagan Nath Hall other halls and even Reqiaa Hall were searched. Before day light all was quite. Number of students were arrested. Brigade figures were 87 Bengali Militants died and Pak army lost four soldiers. Other sources figure quoted is over six hundred. But Awami League claim thousands died, which is not correct as university did not have that much space. Early morning Gen Tikka toured the area and was reportedly felt satisfied seeing Pak flag fluttering. All Bangladesh Desh flags had disappeared. But that night wedge created between two wings of Pakistan and two brothers was never to be bridged.
In Jassore, CO 1EB, Lt Col Raza ul Jalil rebelled. 107 Brigade Brig Durrani had to fight a pitched battle to disarm them. At one stage to support infantry 55 Field had to fire directly at Quarter Guard. 107 Brigade had 22 and 25 Baluch cleared the rebels, and around 130 Bengali soldiers were arrested. Some were killed others dispersed.
In Commila 53 Field was tasked to restore writ of the Government in Comilla city.
There was resistance in police Line Area. There were casualties of police and few 53 field troops were injured. The city was easily controlled and Comilla Airport was secured to ensure safety of incoming flights expected with reinforcements. Two Divisions from West Pakistan being airlifted less heavy equipment. At Comilla
Brigade Commander Brig Iqbal Shafi proceeded to Chittagong were situation was really bad along with FF Battalion under Col Shahpur. Chittagong was in the hands of Awami League from Mar 1 st, the goons of Awami League rounded up all Bihari population and indulged in large scale killing. Reportedly in thousands.
While Pakistan Army started operation, rebel elements were gathering and Mukti Bahni was formed.
(Tragedy of Error by Lt Gen Kamal Matinuddin) Eastern sector events, my personal participation.
(To be continued)