Myth Mukti Bahni’s wining Independence war
Widely propagated and believed that Mukti Bahani won the war. By end of June 1971 Rebellion was completely crushed. They were either suppressed or they fled to India. It was big setback to India whose officers of Brigadier level from all sectors, created for the purpose, directly supervised the rebellion. It was Indian outright invasion which turned the table. India attacked progressively from Sep 1971 in Jessore Sector with regular army and at the onset of war on Dec 3 attacked with superiority of 15:1. Complete IAF was at its disposal and there was total Naval Blockade. Pakistan Army engaged in civil war from last 9 months, were tired, dwindling in ordnance, and completely fatigued. They were under great stress being away from base by 1000 miles of enemy territory with no supplies and reinforcements while country side was brimming with newly reorganised Mukti Bahani under direct supervision of Indian regular army.
Indian invasion was the blatant violation of international norms, laws by attacking / violating the sovereignty of neighbouring country. The myth that Bengalis or Mukti Bahani won the war of Independence is totally absurd and greatest propaganda of 20th century. It was the out right Indian invasion. Conceived immediately after Mar/April events on seeing the success of subversion efforts of RAW in collaboration with Awami League and Mujib’s direct involvement way back from 1967 when Agartala Conspiracy was unearthed and leading to Mijib,s arrest. Reportedly Indra Ghandi was so keen to invade East Pakistan that she called Manik Shah to plan invasion. Manik Shah was a mature and seasoned soldier, he told her he needed at least 8 months.
The fact is with fraudulent election victory sweeping all seats by rigging, AL emerged sole representative. Mujib was not ready for any compromise on 6 and 11 points though before election Mujib told Yahya he is open to discussion on 6 points. But after election victory Mujib in a meeting asserted that the 6 points are the pillar of AL policy and he is now trusty of 60 million people of Bengal, yet he told Yahya these can be discussed to accommodate West’s view. Tajuddin, Khundkar Mushtaq and other hawks in AL were not ready for any compromise. Thus between Mar 1 to 23 intense parlays were held between AL Committe, Government and later were joined by legal advisors. At a point when 5 points were agreed upon, spanner was thrown both by AL hawks and Bhutto. On great insistence by President Yayha, meeting between Mujib and Bhuttos was finally held at Dacca. It did not go well each had distrust of other. President by then had made up his mind to restore the writ of the Govt. The Administration of Province had slipped in to hands AL and army confined to barracks was showing maximum restraint. Col Osmani retired had organised a force of retired and volunteers who marched in front of a make shift Dias in front of Mujib at Palton Maidan on Mar 23, which was not celebrated as Pakistan day. Hindu Jatrio Sangaht, student union of Jagan Nath Hall, Bulbul MUJAMDAR and PUREMAL CHANDER were raising slogans Jai Bangladesh, quit Bengal and Jai Hind. All the buildings on this day were fluttering with Bangladesh flag. Only Bihari population of Saidpur defied AL and raised Pakistan flags. Whereas riots and killing of non Bengali was in full swing.
Generally Yahya was initially sincere to hand over power after election but total sweep by AL and Bhutto with 87 seats in west created an impasse which was not bridged till last. Ironically both blamed army and Yayha did not trust either. In this on Mar 22 Sahibizada Yaqub briefed President any military action will be disastrous since it will usher the province in to civil war and country will be disintegrated. Even if we gain control we will loose politically. Thus last ditch effort was made and meeting held between President and Mujib Bhutto did not succeed. Again due to lack of trust by both political leaders and the climate of disobedience already prevailing time was running out fast. Even Bhashani raised the slogan of Independent East Pakistan.
Die was cast. President made up his mind to exercise Military Option. Yaqub, Ahsan and Noor Khan resigned. Bhuttos collusion with some hardline Generals made him unjustifiably adamant to sabotage transfer of power to Majib. He Surely knew the implications of what he was doing But his lust for power was intense doomed the country. He and all these generals failed to see the deep implication on the integrity of the Pakistan and what future will hold for them. It is sad none of political leaders rose to level of statesman. Thus die was cast.
Rank and file of Bengali officers till last, inspite of bitterness so caused by the events remained neutral till Crack Down occurred.
Operation SEARCH LIGHT on the night of 25/26 was advanced by day on reported intelligence information that Col Osmani was planning to seize the Airports and make West Pakistani politicians and President hostage. Though small in number Pakistan Army movements were surgical. There were two tasks disarm Bengali units disarm officers / men and restore the writ of Government. Predictably, they refused to hand over the weapons. This resulted in rioting killing in cities where Biharis lived. In cross firing to restore writ there were casualties in hundred but not in thousands as propagated. PMA trained officers by and large continued to remain loyal to state. In 31 Field Regiment Bengali officers so as in 53 Field they fought till last and surrendered with Battalion and regiments. Newly inducted battalions did not have any Bengali officers. The rebellions took place in infantry units. In this milieu a spark was needed and that came with Operation Search Light. Over night East Pakistan was engulfed in Civil War. Mukti. Bahni came into being with a strength of 137000. It included East Pakistan Rifles 16000, East Bengal regiments (ten were raised from 1948-70). 4/5 were in East Pakistan totalling 5000. Razakars 50000 and Police 45000. This was a force many time larger than Army regulars on Mar 25. British always mixed different ethnic and religious troops in units and battalions after 1857 war experience. Pakistan unfortunately did away this practice when EPR and East Bengal Regiments were raised by Gen Ayub when was GOC in Rast Pakistan. This proved very costly when they rebelled. It was a serious Mistake.
With only 8/9000 troops a tall order was given to restore order. They were fighting alone till two partial divisions were air lifted by 1st week of April. The total strength after airlifting troops was not more than 18000. At the time full fledge invasion came there were not more than 22000regular Pakistan troops. They were devoid of heavy equipment, armour and full component of Artillery. The supply depots were under great pressure and the 2nd line technical support was missing.
With sheer courage Pakistan Army quelled the rebellion and whole province was under control by end June.
To be Continued…