How Bangladesh's Mukti Bahini vanquished the Pak Army in 1971 India-Pakistan war

Bangladesh's Mukti Bahini(freedom warriors) was instrumental in fighting a  guerrilla war against the Pakistan Army as a paramilitary force during the war of liberation in 1971.

Mukti Bahini: Bangladesh's freedom warriors

Bangladesh's Mukti Bahini(freedom warriors) was instrumental in fighting a guerrilla war against the Pakistan Army as a paramilitary force during the war of liberation in 1971.

The valiant fighters targeted Pakistan's key military and economic installations in a sabotage operation before the India-Pakistan war broke out in December, 1971. 

The homegrown network conducted intelligence and undercover operations blunting the Pakistan forces as atrocities by Pakistani forces increased in the run-up to the 71 war.

(Photograph:AFP)

Liberation of Dhaka

Mukti Bahini was the precursor to the formation of the Bangladesh defence force. As a fighting unit during the war, it carried out operations as a  Bengali guerrilla army playing a key role in the battle of Sylhet, Garibpur and Boyra.

The Mukti Bahini forces were at the forefront of the liberation of Dhaka as Pakistani generals surrendered to the valiant fighters as the battle for the capital came to an end in mid-December, 1971.

(Photograph:AFP)

Muhammad Ataul Goni Osmani

The Mukti Bahini was led by ex-Pakistan military leader Muhammad Ataul Goni Osmani from April 1971. 

A veteran of the Burma campaign for the British forces in World War II, Osmani organized the local militia into a fighting unit working tirelessly to overcome a much superior Pakistani army on the field.

Osmani as commander-in-chief led from the front taking on various combat sectors inside the then East Pakistan. Osmani divided the newly formed army into battalions deploying regular forces and freedom fighters as they took on the Pakistani Army.

(Photograph:AFP)

Pak suffers

Osmani organized the new recruits into the regular army even though lack of equipment and training hampered him initially but later it excelled in ambush operations destroying railway and power lines including bridges which were vital for the movement of the Pakistan army in the months leading up the to war.

The Mukti Bahini forces took on the Pakistani army in the border areas infiltrating across the lines even as it suffered huge casualties in the pre-December period. 

(Photograph:AFP)

'Go into East Pakistan'

Osmami also known as Bongobir (Hero of Bengal) owned his allegiance to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the forces fought for their independence in the face of a brutal onslaught by Pakistan.

Osmami-led forces played a crucial role during the October-November period in 1971 as war between India and Pakistan became inevitable over the influx of refugees into India from the east into Assam and West Bengal even as India's then PM Indira Gandhi contemplated to "go into East Pakistan".

(Photograph:AFP)

Protracted battle

The three brigades of Mukti Bahini fighting alongside the Indian forces played a vital role in overcoming the Pakistani forces due to their knowledge of local conditions and their experience of having fought the Pakistanis in a protracted battle during the first half of 1971.

Osmani was given control of key control of forward posts along the border as he amassed a large, well-trained guerrilla force.

(Photograph:AFP)

Monsoon offensive

During the crucial June to July period as war clouds loomed in the subcontinent, Mukti Bahini under the leadership of Osmami sent thousands of guerrilla fighters surprising the Pakistanis in a monsoon offensive, although the results were mixed but it allowed the locals to take on Pakistani's on their turf which was to prove crucial when all-out war finally broke out in December, 1971.

(Photograph:AFP)

Bangladesh Liberated

Mukti Bahini's contribution in the "resistance war" was unique in South Asia as it was able to win the confidence of the people and was led by locals in a well-organized battle against its aggressors.

The local army successfully sabotaged Pakistan's intent who in end did not have enough firepower to take on firebrands even though they won their independence through hard fought, ground battle against a force which had carried out large scale civilian atrocities as it collapsed into oblivion.

(Photograph:AFP)

Read in App