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Campaign to occupy Dhaka

by endroar

On the morning of December 16, I learned through the journalists stationed with the allied forces that the Pakistan Army was going to surrender unconditionally. A little later, I got to know the truth of the news officially. My troops reached Demra on foot via Brahmanbaria and Narsingdi and fighting at various places along the way were naturally tired and weak from the long journey. So in the morning we left the heavy artillery and ammunition in a house in Demra and went up the main road to Demra. We wear khaki clothes. Because, if a wartime soldier is not in uniform and is a prisoner of war in civilian clothes, he will not get any privileges according to the Geneva Convention, but will be considered as a criminal. Apart from that regular army uniform is absolutely necessary for order and overall control. However, from Demra we were taking the right side road in khakis. On the road to the left, I see armed Pakistani forces. A major of the Pakistan Army hugged me. I know him from Pakistan Military Academy. Major Bhagan-Manorath was trying to convince me that his regiment did not act in any way oppressive to the common people. Without any reply I continued on my way towards Dhaka. A little later, Singh, a former Brigadier of the Indian Army, was driving towards Dhaka in civilian clothes with Major Haider (later killed in the November 7, 1975 coup). On the same day, Air Vice Marshal Abdul Karim Khandkar also came to Dhaka from Kolkata with the allied forces. They are also seen in pictures of surrender and ceremony in Dhaka. It may be noted that Singh, a former Brigadier, was killed inside the temple by Indian forces in the 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple clash. After his retirement from the Indian Army, he was the military advisor to radical Sikh leader Sant Bhindranwal.

We reach Dhaka in the evening. A large number of curious crowds welcomed us on the roofs of houses on both sides of the road. Many, however, are surprised to see us in khakis. Because, both our and Pakistani army's uniforms were khaki. As a result, they were a bit scared. However, it takes them some time to recognize us.

Source: 'A Decade of the Army from the Inside, 1971–81: The Silent Witness of a General', Prothom-alo1 December 1999

Major General Mainul Hossain Chowdhury (Retd.): Advisor to former Caretaker Government; Captain of the First East Bengal Regiment in the Liberation War


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