The other principal target was the East Pakistan Rifles Headquarters
where 1,000 armed rebels were well entrenched. Located on high ground,
they had artfully laid their defences along the embankment with
holes and slits to facilitate small arms fire. Our troops knew the
odds and prepared a massive attack to neutralize them. The attacking
troops, approximately in battalion strength, had the support of
a naval destroyer, two gunboats, two tanks and a heavy mortar battery.
The battle raged for three hours before the defiant rebels could
be subdued. This happened on 31 March?the sixth day of operation
The next target was the Reserve Police Lines where 20,000 rifles
were reportedly stocked, to be used by an assortment of rebels.
A battalion?strength attack was launched there, too, but the defenders
proved less dogged than the East Pakistan Rifles personnel and soon
withdrew towards the Kaptai Road.
The key role in neutralizing these points of resistance was played
by Brigadier Ansari. His gallant services were later recognized
by the award of the Hilal?i?Juratl and promotion to the rank of
Major General (although earlier he had been superseded).
The main operations in Chittagong were over by the end of March,
but the mopping up action continued until 6 April. The other two
towns where the rebels had an upper hand were Kushtia and Pabna.
Let? us see how our troop fared there.
Kushtia, about 90 kilometres from Jessore, is an important road and rail junction. Our troops were not permanently located there but, on the D?day, 27 Baluch (Jessore) had sent one of its companies just to establish our presence there'. For want of proper briefing the company carried only small arms, a few recoilless rifles and a limited quantity of ammunition. They thought that they
were going on normal internal security duty, which usually did not involve heavy fighting.
The company commander distributed his manpower in small groups and assigned them the task of guarding the telephone exchange and V.H.F. station. He also sent small parties to arrest the local Awami League leaders?but they had all left. He established his presence, after killing five rebels on the first day (26 March). Thereafter it was only enforcement of curfew and collection of arms from the civilians. Two days passed peacefully.
Page # 82-83
On the operational side, he obtained a brief from the out?going G.O.C. and followed it till 10 May, when the last border town (Cox's Bazar) was reached by the troops. Major?General Rahim Khan, reputedly one of the Yahya regime's finest Generals, replaced General Khadim Raja. General Niazi now had three fresh divisional commanders: Major?General Rahim (14 Division), Major?General Shaukat Riza (9 Division) and Major?General Nazar Hussain Shah (16 Division). He divided East Pakistan into three zones and made each general responsible for one of them. Broadly, 9 Division got the entire eastern border; 16 Division, northern Bengal; and 14 Division the rest of the province.
With these troops, it did not take General Niazi very long to break the backbone of the Bengali resistance. He secured all major towns by the end of April. The following month was devoted to minor operations aimed at clearing the suspected pockets. But this period of relative peace and absolute control was not used for launching any constructive campaign to win over the Bengalis. Instead their wounds were continuously abraded by the invasion of private houses in what were known as `sweep operations'.
Page # 92
Jessore Sector: 9 Division under Major?General M.H. Ansari with headquarters at Jessore.
107 Brigade with headquarters at Jessore; 57 Brigade with headquarters at Jhenida; two field regiments of artillery; one reconnaissance and support (R&S) battalion.
North Bengal: 16 Division under Major?General Nazar Hussain Shah with headquarters at Nator.
23 Brigade with headquarters at Rangpur; 205 Brigade with headquarters at Bogra; one field regiment of artillery; two mortar batteries; one R&S battalion; one armoured regiment?the only one in East Pakistan.
Eastern Border: 14 Division under Major?General Abdul Majid Qazi, with headquarters at Dacca.
117 Brigade with headquarters at Comilla; 27 Brigade with headquarters at Mymensingh; 212.Brigade with headquarters at Sylhet; one field regiment of artillery; two mortar batteries; four tanks.
Chittagong Sector: 93 Independent Brigade under Brigadier Ataullah with headquarters at Chittagong.
In addition to these regular troops, each Division was given E.P.C.A.F. personnel, Mujahids and Razakars to augment their strength. They were employed with army personnel to `thicken the defences'. They proved the weakest link during the war.
As the clouds of war began to gather, General Niazi attempted another big bluff. He suddenly created two ad hoc divisional headquarters and four ad hoc brigade headquarters. The divisional headquarters were located in Dacca and Chandpur under Major General Jamshed, Director General, E.P.C.A.F., and Major General Rahim Khan, Deputy Martial Law Administrator, respectively. Jamshed got two infantry battalions, shed from 27 Brigade, which had moved from Mymensingh to Bhairab Bazar while Rahim was given 53 Brigade which had been earmarked for
Dacca 117 Brigade (Comilla) was taken out of 14 Division and placed under Rahim. The ad hoc brigades, their location and role will be discussed in subsequent chapters.
General Niazi was very proud of this 'creation'. 'You see, the enemy will be flabbergasted to see these additional headquarters. He will mentally multiply our strength accordingly. It will certainly be a deterrent to him.' He often boasted in this vein in my presence but the creation of these ad hoc formation headquarters could not compensate for the inadequacy of troops and, by the middle of November, General Niazi had to send Major?General Jamshed and Brigadier Baqar Siddiqui, his Chief of Staff, to Rawalpindi to plead for additional troops. By that time pressure on the borders had increased, most of the salient had been lost and many areas in the interior had fallen into enemy hands. The team presented its case to G.H.Q, arid asked for two more divisions. It got a promise of eight infantry battalions. Five of them arrived by the last week of November; the remaining three battalions never came. The fresh battalions, on arrival, were divided into companies and dispatched to the areas under extreme pressure. They thus lost their identity as cohesive fighting units.
Page # 126-127
was the PRO of Pakistan Army and posted in Bangladesh from January 1970 till December 1971 ending as a P.O.W.