Final days of the war

Joint command established. Col. Osmani C in C of Mukti Fauj was being sidetracked by the Indian counterpart.

In the month of November the intensity of the war accelerated. More and more major encounters were reported from all the sectors. Indian government had already given instruction to its army to move inside Bangladesh if necessary to support the Mukti Bahini in their operations. ‘Joint Command’ of the Mukti Fauj and Indian army was formed. In that joint command due to the influence of the huge and overbearing Indian army Col. Osmani and his command structure virtually became useless and in-effective. The Indian army high command almost unilaterally drew up plans for all joint operations. Col. Osmani had to give his formal approvals just to complete the formalities. Getting the war signal President Gen. Yahya Khan sent Mr. Bhutto as his special envoy to China to muster support in any kind of confrontation or engagement with India. But in Beijing the Chinese leadership told Mr. Bhutto in no uncertain terms that, China considered the problem in East Pakistan as the internal affairs of Pakistan. They further said that Indian interference into the internal affairs of Pakistan was an evil design to dismember Pakistan and P R C will stand by Pakistan if an armed conflict breaks out. However, at the same time the Chinese leadership tried to communicate to the Pakistani rulers through Mr. Bhutto their considered opinion that the government of Pakistan should try to find out a political solution to the present crisis according to the aspiration of the people of East Pakistan. That would be the only way to save Pakistan from disintegration and thus the unity of Pakistan could still be maintained. This crisis could not be solved militarily. From this, one thing becomes clear. People’s Republic of China in one hand gave a friendly advice to the junta to find out a political solution to the crisis considering the aspirations of the Bengali people on the other hand warned their friends against the design of the expansionist India to dismember Pakistan. This position of the people’s Republic of China was most objective. But on his return Mr. Bhutto twisted the version of the friendly advice that was given by the Chinese leaders to President Gen. Yahya Khan. He said that China would stand by Pakistan in any military confrontation with India and China will even consider fighting alongside Pakistan if required. He did not mantion anything about the advice that was given by the chinese authorities to seek a political solution. Such misinterpretation heightened the war phobia among the hawkish generals of the junta. On the other hand India understood People’s Republic of China was in favour of an acceptable political solution of the crisis. They were also sure that in view of ‘Indo-Soviet treaty of Security and Friendship’. People’s Republic of China will find it very difficult to get physically involved in favour of Pakistan should India goes to war with Pakistan. Under such circumstances India decided for a blitz-krieg intervention in East Pakistan and make Bangladesh independent within days. Indian government took this decision after taking all necessary preparations, political, diplomatic and military. The context of this war was completely different from the previous two wars. This time the world opinion was against the brutal genocide of the military junta. India was on a stronger footing because they were supporting a just cause. To upstage any military retaliation from USA or PRC it had also strengthened it’s position by signing the treaty with the Soviet Union.

Whole of Bengali population at that point of time was against Pakistan. The guerrillas and the freedom fighters had weakened Pakistan army substantially. The Indian Army High Command in minute details knew all necessary intelligence reports concerning the pak army gathered by the Mukti Bahani. The Mukti Bahini not only weakened the enemy, they had shattered the morale and fighting spirit of the Pak army. Due to total non-cooperation and opposition from the people their presence turned out to be unjustified forceful occupation. The enemy physically and mentally were exhausted and worn out. What was needed was a final push. And that opportunity came. On 3rd the Pakistan airforce on some targets along the border launched December at about 5:48 p.m. Surprise attacks. Simultaneously air strikes were also launched on Sree Nagar, Avantipur, Pathan Kot, Uttarlai, Jodhpur, Ambala and Agra. That time Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was addressing a public meeting at Calcutta. As she got the news of the air strikes, right at that meeting she seized the opportunity and declared war against Pakistan. The Commander of the Eastern Command was given the order for a full-fledged attack on East Pakistan before Mrs. Gandhi left Calcutta for Delhi.

There were three army corps under General Arora in Eastern Command. 4, 2 and 33 corps. There was a mobile army unit in the name of Communication Zone with the headquarters. Beside, under 2 corps. there was an additional armoured regiment, one light. armoured regiment. Commander of this 2nd corps. was Lt. Gen. T.N. Raina, headquarters at Krishnanagar. One Med Arty Regt. and one Eng. bridging unit were also placed under command of 2nd corps.

33 corps. commander was Lt. Gen. ML. Thapa. Headquarters Shiliguri. An additional light armoured Regt, one Med. Arty Regt. and one Eng. bridging unit were placed under command 33 corps.

The commander of the 101 Communication Zone initially was Lt. Gen. Gill later it was taken over by Lt. Gen. G.S. Nagra, headquarters Gauhati. Additionally one Inf Bde was placed under command. Headquarters of the 4corps. was at Agartala. Commander Lt. Gen. Sagat Singh. Additionally one Med Arty Regt, and two Lt. Armoured Regt. were placed under 4corps. Total number of Indian troops in the Eastern Theatre was more then 500,000. They were adequately equipped. They were reinforced by 200,000 freedom fighters. Required air and naval cover were also made available. Simultaneously attacks were launched through all the sectors. Freedom fighters were establishing bridge heads for the Indian advance in all the sectors. Indian army launched their attacks from all those bridgeheads and advanced towards Dhaka from all directions. Their strategy was to penetrate through then liner defence on the border and then to cut off their rout of withdrawal and engage them in isolated pockets at the same time seize Dhaka at the shortest possible time. 100000 Pakistani troops failed to resist the combined all out attacks by the Indian army and the Mukti Bahini. The combined force had 6 to 7 times superiority in numbers over that of Pakistan army. On the 12th day Pakistan army in East Pakistan was forced to surrender unconditionally.