What happened on Saturday, July 17, 1971
As per the announcement at the historic conference of the Sector Commanders, the Bangladesh Navy officially began its journey. A significant number of Bengali officers and sailors left West Pakistan and came back home to form the Bangladesh Navy. The Bangladesh Navy started with two small gunboats named ‘Padma’ and ‘Palash’ from India and 49 sailors. At the risk of their lives, these sailors engaged in both frontal battles and guerrilla warfare against the enemy.
The Pak army advanced on the Monora railway bridge south of the Shalda River railway station began preparations to build a bunker around the bridge. At this time a platoon of the 4th Bengal ‘A’ Company launched a surprise attack on the Pak army with mortars. In this attack, the Pak army was completely dispersed and many Pak soldiers were killed. Failing to put up a workable resistance In the face of the freedom fighters’ bullets, the Pak army retreated to their Shalda river base.
Guerrillas of liberation forces used grenades to attack a convoy of the Pak army near Ashikati village on the Comilla-Chandpur road. Eight Pak soldiers were killed and many more wounded in this attack.
A combined company of Mukti Bahini (freedom fighters) soldiers and people’s forces attacked the Pak army’s Narsinghpur base near Hajiganj. In this attack, 13 soldiers of the Pak invader forces were killed and many others were wounded. At the end of the attack, the freedom fighters returned to their base positions safely.
A platoon led by Lt. Humayun Kabir ambushed a group of Pak soldiers on their way from Latumura to Chandrapur. Four Pak soldiers were killed and one wounded in the ambush and the rest fled back to Latumura.
On the Comilla-Daudkandi road, near the front of Putia village, a WAPDA truck under the control of the Pak army exploded on an anti-tank mine buried by freedom fighters led by Havildar Gias. The truck was destroyed and all the occupants, including a Pak soldier, two Razakars and the driver, were killed. Later a jeep and another truck of the Pak army were destroyed by an anti-tank mine. 5 Pak soldiers, 1 Pak Major and 6 Razakars were killed. Upon receiving this news, the Pak army based in Comilla arrived at the ambush spot in 30 vehicles. 6/7 soldiers were killed and many others were injured in the antipersonnel mine blast when the Pak soldiers exited the front vehicle and slowly advanced on the spot of the first explosions.
When a company of Pak Rangers and Razakars from Narimpur, north of Ramganj, advanced towards the position of the freedom fighters, a platoon of fighters led by Havildar Zakir Hossain attacked them. After a short battle, the Pak army left behind the bodies of two Razakars who had died and fled.
Freedom fighters attacked a patrol team of the Pak army at Shahpar in the Rajshahi district. In this attack, 22 soldiers of the Pak army were killed.
A fierce clash took place between freedom fighters and the Pak army at Deil Par village of Gafargaon thana. In this clash, 17 Pak soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded.
Chief of Pakistan’s Eastern Command Lt. General A A K Niazi visited the army bases at Tangail, Sherpur and Haluaghat. At Sherpur and Haluaghat, Niazi witnessed the armed training of the Razakars and instructed them to work alongside the army.
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution suspending economic and military aid to Pakistan in light of the current situation.
In an editorial in Compass, a magazine published from the Indian state of Bihar, well-respected leader Shri Jayaprakash Narayan appealed to all political parties, labor organizations and voluntary organizations in a public meeting organized by the Bangladesh Sammelan Samiti to put pressure on the Indian government to recognize Bangladesh. He said, Once Bangladesh is recognized, it will be easier for the freedom fighters of that country to deal with the invading forces of Yahya Khan by getting adequate weapons. Shri Narayan expressed the view that the war started by Yahya Khan’s army in Bangladesh has caused a great crisis in India. For this crisis, India has to pass a real political test. Amid this crisis, India will either be firmly united or it will have to face disintegration. India has to bear the burden of the war that is going on in Bangladesh today. If Bangladesh is defeated, then India will also have to accept defeat. It is important to remember that India has joined hands with the independence-seeking people of Bangladesh. India cannot wait for other nations to exert political pressure on Pakistan. India should be given the dignity of the verdict given by the people of Bangladesh. Pakistan will not shy away from the oppression and tyranny that continues in Bangladesh. And their policy will not change. In this situation, Bangladesh has to be recognized immediately. And we have to provide weapons for the fight. This has to be done in the interest of India itself. Because of the arrival of those who are taking refuge in India from Bangladesh, various complex problems have arisen in the social, political and economic spheres of this country. At present, the situation is such that India has to spend three to four times more money without a war than Pakistan’s military clique is spending on military operations in Bangladesh. If anyone thinks that the structure of Pakistan will collapse if the war continues, they will be wrong. He further said, The war that is going on in Bangladesh, one may think of it as a civil war from outside but in reality, this war is not a civil war. This war should be considered as a war of the people of a colonial state fighting for liberation from an imperialist nation. Having carried the message of Bangladesh’s war for independence to different countries of the world, he had realized that the anti-India propaganda of the Pakistani military clique abroad on the matter of Bangladesh had failed. However, two countries of the world, namely America and France, have taken a strange view on the problems of Bangladesh. The US government promised the Indian foreign minister that no more arms would be supplied to Pakistan. But later it was found that the US government had sent arms to Pakistan with six / seven more ships. Although France did not send arms directly to Pakistan, arms are being sold to the Pakistani people in the open market there. Now about 6 million refugees have come to India from Bangladesh. Shortly this number will stand at ten million. The people of Bihar have so far collected Tk 2.6 million to help the freedom fighters and distressed refugees in Bangladesh. Residents of Bihar have launched a campaign to raise taka 5 million for Bangladeshi refugees.
In the same editorial, Compass quoting former Vice Chancellor of Chittagong University, Dr. A R Mallick, said, The people of Bangladesh will never forget the role the people of Bihar played in the liberation movement of Bangladesh. Dr. Mallick further said, No force can cause a rift between Bengali Hindus and Bengalis in Bangladesh. In the end, the freedom-loving people of Bengal will win. It is important to remember that the current war in Bangladesh is a war of communalism against democracy. In this situation, if the people of democratic India take steps to recognize Bangladesh immediately, then the liberation of Bangladesh will be further accelerated.
Translated by Mohammad Towhidul Islam
Editorial contribution by Arghya Raihan
Researched, compiled & Edited by Sagar Lohani
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