The civil war up to Sep 1971. The myth Mukti Bahani won the war is wrong and fallacy.
It was out right Indian aggression against a sovereign neighbour to settle the score of 1947, and that our Bengali brothers got played in their hands. Today, this realisation has dawned. Remaining and getting exploited on the hands of Hindus for centuries they erred in trusting them ignoring Hindu mindset. The forgot it was Bengali leadership in the van guard.
By end May most of the cities were under control and civil administration was restored. Gen Tikka khan, the Governor, was also a compassionate person, though famous as hard man in Baluchistan. Strict instructions were issued to restore Civil administration. As second in command, later A / CO during war, of artillery unit I was solely responsible for the entire sector from Chittagong to Sylhet. We had only Eighteen 105 mm Field guns, battery less of 120mm and about a dozen 2nd WW 2 vintage small calibre, 3.7″ calibre guns manned by Bengali Razakars. With this scanty artillery we made life of the enemy miserable. Later additional artillery units arrived by June and order of battle was changed. We were looking after Comilla, Brhamanbaria Feni Sector after June. Our small artillery setup consisted some of the Gems I shall always be proud of. What we achieved in that turbulent year is story of valour, courage, sacrifice, professional competency of these officers and men. My Commanding Officer, Lt Col Yaqub was extremely brave and bold officer. His planning and tactics made rebels to run to India across the border between March and May. Some of his bold action drew lot of ire from Bengalis and Indian. One charge, that he was too merciless when he dealt with rebels. Let me catagorilly say this is absolutely not correct. Criticism is easy in hindsight, mostly influenced by propaganda unleashed by rebel units and Indians. The fact remain, Bengali Awami League Goons had started killing Urdu speaking Biharis who had migrated to East Bengal in 1947, any one non Bengali. Just between March and April, when Pakistan army commenced operation Search Light, over three hundred thousand people were killed. In Comilla by Awami League and rebels. We were in self Defence after 3 Commondo Battalion left for special tasks, and FF was to restore writ of Government in Chittagong. There were remnants of EBR and support units, mostly Bengali. Intelligence information was pouring in thousands of Mukti Bahi were gathering outside Cantt. There was time we fearing a mob of half a million gathered by Awami League. They planned to storm the Cantt. We had to deploy guns on road axis. There were information Mukti Bahni and rebels were planning to join. It was decided by Brigade Major Sultan (Later Brigadier) and A / Comd Lt Col Yaqub to disarm Bengali troops to avoid losses. Major Bilal and two Commando officers were given task to disarm the troops. We were to secure Comilla Airport. In battles that followed there were certainly many casualties. It was impossible to recognise friend and foe. There was extremely tense situation. All families were moved to safe locality within Cantt. Throughout East Pakistan complete localities were wiped out except who managed to hide. West Pakistan origin officers, soldiers, in EBR Regiments and EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) were killed. Women were raped and killed. Pregnant mothers were torn apart. This was the state of affair all over East Pakistan. When our troops entered Chittagong the CO of FF regiment leading the advance embraced Shadat, the first senior casualty of Operation Search Light. Later. CO of the Commondo Battalion was hit when clearing and taking of reinforcement in Chittagong Port Area. Earlier Lt Col Akhtar Raja CO 10 EBR was killed in his office on order of own Second In Command on March 25, Maj Zia ur Rehman. It is he who declared Bangla Desh from Chittagong Radio Station. It was picked up by International media. Zia later became Bangladesh President in a Coup. On his assassination his wife also became President after defeating Awami League.He was killed in a counter Coup.
I had excellent set of officers whom I would say have no parallels in valour and courage. One of My Battery Commander, Capt later Major Zaman was a Bengali Officer. He fought till end later after repatriation heroes to the Rank of Brigadier in Pakistan Army. Later as Commander Artillery in Gilgit his services were commendable. My observer officers, Capt Khalild Kidwai (later Lt Gen and Chairman SPD), Capt Perwaiz Raja (later Brigadier), Lt Kiani (later Major), Capt Tufail (later Lt Col), Capt Ghani, Capt Siddiqui, while Capt Bukhari, Capt Kufait embraced Shadat. Lt Shahid (later Lt Col). All of them were gems. The braced hardships for nine months and till the end did not lay arms until ceasefire was ordered. They displayed unparalleled courage and bravery and never allowed enemy to assess we were just a regiment. After cease fire when GOC 4 Indian Division enquired from me about Commander Artillary, he was amazed when I told him we were just a regiment. He was full of praise for the gunners.
As Indians realised Mukti Bahni and rebel troops stand disintegrated, defeated and lost all area under control. India Eastern Command decided to take control of the situation directly. All East Pakistan rebel troops and Mukti Bahni was reorganised and brought under command. Hundred of Bengali Hindu of East Pakistan and Indian Origin were being recruited and organised in Mukti companies and being trained in camps in India. There were seven camps spread in India where serving Brigadiers were incharge to train recruits of Mukti Bahani. Some Bengali elements were also sent to Moscow for training.
With reorganisation the Indian intrusion in Bangladesh increased in June onwards. All along the border sabotage, ambushes and attacks on communication infrastrure increased.
Major Barkat of EPR was ambushed near Titas river in July. Similarly 33 Baluch CO Lt Col Qayum was ambushed in Salda Water lane (Salda Nadi) along with guards, Battery Commander, and RMO. I was Battery Commander with his Battalion. I was on leave to West Pakistan, in my absence Capt Bukhari was accompanying as Acting Battery Commander. They went in three boats against my advice as they were new to area. This was a fatal error and cost them with their lives. Enemy allowed the boats to pass in the jungle, on way back they were ambushed. Capt Bhukari, a gem of Officer, very brave embraced Shadat.
In Sep Mukti rebels along with Indian soldiers near Salda Nadi again intruded in to a village and killed scores of innocent people and blame was laid on Pakistan Army by Indian media. It was decided by CO 12 FF to punish intruders next time, an ambush was laid by Maj Salim and Capt Kidwai. The force successfully eliminated intruded rebels and Indians, it was Aug, 1971, near Brahaman Baria. Most, probably Indians suffered around 30 casualties, a platoon Strength. For over a month Indian media was propagating innocent Bengalis were killed. Dacca then displayed their badges of rank. Ambushes became every day affair, similar was the situation all along East Pakistan border.
The most tragic was Chandla incident near Agartala border. Prior to that in the same area I conducted an air strike. I had to forge through water and jungle to reach a spot from where I could see the target just on zero line. It was first of Ramzan as I was fasting the day was toughest in my life. We reached back at our Gun Position by midnight. In Chandla, another tragic encounter occurred between a company plus force of 12 FF in an island namely Chandla, the area is close to border and was a frequent route of Indians in the guise of Mukti Bhani. It was decided to block this route by Maj Khattak, Acting CO. Although it was September yet water had not receded. The force under Maj Naeem Khan (later retired as Federal Secretary), 12 FF, went in boats. They underestimated the enemy who was keeping close watch in the area. They allowed the force to disembark from boats. The sun was setting and there was some darkness. The island was tricky and full of marshes. We were in contact with Maj Neeem when they safely landed on the island. They were just orientating themselves when enemy opened heavy and intense fire coupled with mortar fire. The troops were exposed and had not even started making defences. The fire was so intense that within minutes our four jawans embraced shadat. There were scores who were seriously injured. Even Maj Naeem khan received half a dozen bullets in his body. The company was in shambles after so many casualties. The boat carrying cooking material and rations was sunk with food and whatever medical supplies they had. They were trying to dig but without any picks and shovels their nails were helpless. Yet injured Maj Naeem gathered his men to retaliate in whatever manner they could do. It was pitch dark now and men were fighting back valiantly hitting back any spark of fire. It went on till dawn and Maj Neem was sending SOS messages. Maj Khattak gathered another company as reinforcement but in the darkness there was danger this may also land in an ambush. He asked me what Artillery can do. My gun position officer Capt Khalid Kidwai (later lieut. General) sat in the map and created a circle around the besieged company. I asked Kidwai to make a wall of fire forcing enemy to withdraw and stop firing. We fired around four hundred artillery rounds making enemy to step back. By dawn our reinforcements reached, I accompanied. We evacuated the dead and injured to Comilla. Maj Naeem and other injured were operated and later shifted to Dacca. Naeem was sent to CMH Rawalpindi, he survived. My wife regularly visited him in hospital. That was the comradeship and love we had within our men and officers. Later he was transferred to civil on medical grounds. He rose to become Federal Secretary.
Thus by Sep 71war in fact had commenced though unannounced.
Pakistan was trying to reach to Awami League for political settlement. But Indians had kept a watch on them. They were not allowed to meet any Pakistani diplomats. All efforts were in vain. Yahya and Bhutto had committed historical error of judgment by ordering Operation Search Light against political solution and all saner advise given to them internally and internationally.
To be Continued…
The civil war up to Sep 1971. The myth Mukti Bahani won the war is wrong and fallacy.