Mitro Bahini Order of Battle December 1971

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The Indian Army had no standby force ready in 1971 with the specific task of attacking East Pakistan, one of the many reasons why India did not immediately intervene after Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight in March 1971. Indian Army Eastern Command was tasked with defending the northern and eastern borders and fighting the insurgencies in Nagaland, Mizoram and Naxalites in West Bengal at that time.[1] Mukti Bahini, aided by the Indian army through Operation Jackpot, led the struggle against the Pakistan army while the Indian army readied for intervention. General M. A. G. Osmani, Commander in Chief Bangladesh Forces, had divided Mukti Bahini forces into 11 geographical sectors for command and control purpose. Mukti Bahini forces numbered 30,000 regular soldiers (including 3 brigades containing 8 infantry battalions and 3 artillery batteries) and at least 100,000 guerrillas by December 1971. The Indian Army Eastern Command assembled two existing infantry corps, the IVth and the XXXIIIrd, for operations in Bangladesh, and created a new corps (II)[2] besides reorganizing the 101st Communication Zone as a combat formation.[3] On 21 November 1971, Indian and Bangladesh forces were put under a joint command structure, led by Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, and this force came to be known as Mitro Bahini. In addition to 29 BSF battalions,[4] Mukti Bahini guerrillas operating near the border or awaiting deployment in camps inside India were organized into infantry companies and attached to various Indian formations. The Mitro Bahini Order of Battle on 3 December 1971 was:[5]

Indian Army Eastern Command HQ: Fort William, Kolkata[edit]

Location of Mitro Bahini and Pakistani units on December 1971. Some unit locations are not shown. Map not to exact scale

GOC (Indian Army): Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora
COS: Maj. Gen. JFR Jacob
Director Military Operations: Major General Inderjit Singh Gill, MC
Director Operation Jackpot: Lt. Gen. B.N. 'Jimmy' Sirkar
Bangladesh Forces Liaison: Group Captain A.K. Khandkar,
HQ: 8, Theater Road, Kolkata

Units attached to Eastern Command but outside Bangladesh operational area:
From IV corps:

  • 2nd Mountain division in North eastern border
  • 5th Mountain division in North eastern border

From XXXIII corps:

  • 17th Mountain division in Sikkim
  • 27th Mountain division in Kalimpong, North Bengal

Airborne forces attached to Eastern Command:

  • 50th (Indep) Parachute Brigade Cdr: Brig Mathew Thomas
  • 2 Para Bn (in airborne role) CO: Lt Col KS Pannu
  • 7 Para Bn CO: Lt Col RP Singh (KIA)
  • 8 Para Bn CO: Lt Col Afsir Karim
  • 17 Para Fd Regt CO: Lt Col Khanna
  • 60 Para Medical Company CO: Lt Col M Kumar

Eastern Command Reserve:

  • 6th Mountain division less brigade HQ: Cooch Bihar CO: Maj. Gen P.C. Reddy
    • 2 Engineer Regiments and bomb disposal group

Corps: Bengal Area[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. J.P. Chowdhury HQ: Kolkata

    • 1/3 Gurkha Battalion
    • 11 Bihar
    • 12 Garh Rifel
    • Engineers and bomb disposal units

Western Sector[edit]

Area of Operation: Khulna, Jessore, Kushtia and Faridpur districts

Corps: II[edit]

CO: Lt. Gen T.N. 'Tappy' Raina, HQ: Krishnanagar, West Bengal

    • 8th Mountain Artillery Brigade
    • 58th, 68th and 263rd Engineering Regiments

9th Infantry Division[edit]

CO Maj. Gen. Dalbir Singh

  • 32 Infantry Brigade – Brig. M Tewari
  • 42 Infantry Brigade – Brig. J. M. Jhoria
  • 350 Infantry Brigade – Brig. H. S. Sandhu
  • 9th Artillery Brigade
    • 45th Cavalry Regiment (PT-76s)
    • 102nd Engineer Regiment
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #9 – Major Jalil

4th Mountain Division[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. M.S. Barar HQ: Krishnanagar

  • 7th Mountain Brigade – Brig. Zail Singh
  • 41st Mountain Brigade – Brig. Tony Michigan
  • 62nd Mountain Brigade - Brig. Rajinder Nath
  • 4th Mountain Artillery Brigade
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #8 – Lt. Col. M.A. Manzoor

North Western Sector[edit]

Area of Operation: Rajshahi, Bogra, Dinajpur and Rangpur districts

Corps: XXXIII[edit]

CO: Lt. Gen. M. L. Thapan HQ: Siliguri, West Bengal

  • Corps Artillery Brigade
  • 471st Engineering Brigade – Colonel Suri
  • 50th Independent Parachute Brigade – Brig M. Thomas
    • 235th Army Engineering Regiment
  • MF Brigade – Brig. Prem Singh
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #7 – Lt. Col. Q.N. Zaman
  • 71st Mountain Brigade – Brig. P. N. Kathpalia
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #6 – Wing Commander Mohammad K. Bashar

20th Mountain Division[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. Lachman Singh HQ: Balurghat, West Bengal

  • 66th Mountain Brigade – Brig. G. S. Sharma
  • 165th Mountain Brigade – Brig. R. S. Pannu
  • 202nd Mountain Brigade – Brig. F. P. Bhatty
  • 3rd Armoured Brigade (63rd Cavalry (T-55s) and 69th Armored Regiment (PT-76s) – Brig G. Singh Sidhu
  • 20th Mountain Artillery Brigade
    • 13th Engineering Regiment
  • 340th Mountain Brigade Group – Brig. Joginder Singh
    • 97th Mountain Regiment

6th Mountain Division[edit]

(Eastern Command HQ Reserve) CO Maj. Gen. P. C. Reddy HQ: Kooch Bihar, West Bengal

  • 9th Mountain Brigade – Brig. Tirit Varma
  • 99th Mountain Brigade -
  • 6th Mountain Artillery Brigade
    • 51st Engineer Regiment

North Eastern Sector[edit]

Area of Operation: Mymensingh and Tangail districts

101st Communication Zone[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. Gurbax Singh Gil HQ: Guwahati, Assam

  • 312 Air Defence Brigade
  • 342 Ind. Air Defence Brigade
    • 56th Mountain Regiment plus Engineers
  • 95th Mountain Brigade – Brig. Hardev Singh Kler
  • FJ Sector Brigade – Brig. Sant Singh[6]
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #11 – Lt. Col. Abu Taher
  • 167th Infantry Brigade – Brig. Irani (allotted after 8 December 1971)
  • 5th Mountain Brigade (allotted after 8 December 1971)

Eastern Sector[edit]

Area of Operation: Sylhet, Comilla, Noakhali & Chittagong districts

IV Corps[edit]

CO Lt. General Sagat Singh HQ: Agartala, Tripura

  • Corps Artillery Brigade
  • Three Independent Tank Squadrons
    • 4th, 62nd, 234th Engineer Regiments and support elements

8th Mountain Division[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. K.V. Krishna Rao

  • Echo Force Brigade – Brig. Wadeker
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #5 – Major Mir Shawkat Ali
  • 59th Mountain Brigade – Brig C. A. Quinn
  • 81st Mountain Brigade – Brg. R. C. V. Apte
  • 2nd Mountain Artillery Brigade
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #4 – Lt. Col. C.R. Dutta

57th Mountain Division[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. B.F. Gonsalves

  • Mukti Bahini S Force Brigade – Lt. Col K.M. Shafiullah
  • 311th Mountain Brigade – Brig. Mishra
  • 73rd Mountain Brigade – Brig. Tuli
  • 61st Mountain Brigade – Brig. Tom Pande
  • 57th Mountain Artillery Brigade
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #3 – Maj. A. N. Nuruzzaman
  • Mukti Bahini Sector #2 – Maj. A.T.M Haider
    • 15th Engineering Regiment

23rd Mountain Division[edit]

CO: Maj. Gen. R.D. Hira

  • 301st Mountain Brigade – Brig. H. S. Sodhi
  • 181st Mountain Brigade – Brig. Y. C. Bakshi
  • 83rd Mountain Brigade – Brig. B. S. Sandhu
  • 23rd Mountain Artillery Brigade
  • Kilo Force Brigade – Brig. Ananda Swaroop[7] containing:
    • Mukti Bahini Sector #1 – Major Rafiqul Islam
    • Mukti Bahini K Force Brigade – Major Salek Chowdhury
    • Mizo Range Hills Brigade[8]

Indian Navy Eastern Fleet[edit]

CO: Vice Admiral N. Krishnnan HQ: Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Fleet Commander: Rear Admiral S. A. Sharma
A liaison officer from the Navy was posted at Fort William to coordinate matters with the Army Eastern Command. The fleet was at its peacetime standing when radio intercepts warned of PNS Ghazi entering the Bay of Bengal. INS Vikrant and part of the fleet was moved to the Andamans as a result.

  • INS Vikrant – Captain Sawraj Prakash (Majestic class light Aircraft Carrier)
  • INS Brahmaputra – Captain J.C. Puri (Leopard class frigate)
  • INS Beas – Captain L. Ram Das (Leopard Class Frigate)
  • INS Kamrota – Captain A.P. Awati (Petya class frigate)
  • INS Kavaratti - Captain S. Paul (Petya class frigate)
  • INS Rajput – Lt. Commander Inder Singh (destroyer)
  • INS Kalvari – (Submarine)
  • INS Khandari – Commander R. J. Milan (Submarine)
    • INS Panvel – Lt. Com. G.R. Naroha (Gunboat)
    • INS Pulikat – Lt. Com. S. Krishnnan ( Gunboat)
    • INS Panaji – Lt. Com. R. Gupta (Gunboat)
    • INS Akshay – Lt. Com. S.D. Moore (Gunboat)
      • INS Gharial – Lt. Commander U. Dabir (Landing Ship)
      • INS Gildar – Lt. Commander A.K. Sharma (Landing Ship)
      • INS Maggar – Lt. Commander AT. N. Singhal (Landing Ship)

Bangladesh Navy[edit]

Two gunboats under Indian officers and crewed by Bengali seamen were engaged in Operation Hotpants prior to 3 December 1971, harassing merchant traffic to East Pakistan and laying mines on the waterways. After 6 December, when the Indian government recognized Bangladesh as a sovereign nation, the crew wore uniforms of their respective organizations.
Squadron CO: Commander N.M Samant (On deputation from Indian Navy)

    • BNS Palash – Lt. Commander J.K. Rai Chowdhury (Indian Navy)(Gunboat)
    • BNS Padma – Lt. S.K. Mitter (On deputation from Indian Navy) (Gunboat)

Indian Air Force Eastern Command[edit]

Location of Mitro Bahini and Pakistani units on December 1971. Some unit locations are not shown. Map not to exact scale

CO: Air Marshal H. C. Dewan, Temporary advanced HQ at Fort William
Prior to 1971, Indian Air Force had two command centers dealing with the East, Eastern Command (HQ Shillong) responsible for the North Eastern Border, and the Central (HQ Allahbad), looking after areas south of the Ganges river. Air Chief Marshal P.C Lal formed an advance HQ at Fort William after consultation with Maj. Gen Jacob to coordinate operations with the army before the start of the war.

Western Sector:

  • No. 7 Squadron (Battle Axes): Hawker Hunter F. MK 56 and 2 F. MK 1 - Bagdogra (WC Ceolho, then WC Suri). The squadron was moved Chamb after 12 December.
  • No. 14 Squadron (Bulls): Hawker Hunter F. MK 56 - Kalaikudda (WC Sundersan) - Fighter
  • No. 16 Squadron (Rattlers): Canberra - Kalaikudda - (WC Gautum) - Bomber
  • No. 22 Squadron (Swifts): Folland Gnat MK 1 Dum Dum, then Kalaikudda, then Calcutta (WC Sikand)
  • No. 30 Squadron (Charging Rhinos): Mig 21 FL - Kalaikudda (WC Chudda) - Interceptor
  • No. 221 Squadron (Valiants): Su-7 BMK - Panagarh (WC Sridharan) – Fighter/Bomber
  • No. 104 (Alluitte 3) and No. 104 (Mi-4) Heli units

North East and North Western Sector: CO: Air Vice Marshal Devasher HQ: Shillong

  • No. 4 Squadron (Oorials): Mig 21 FL - Gauhati (Wing Commander JV Gole)
  • No. 15 Squadron (Flying Lancers): Folland Gnat - Gauhati then Agortala (WC Singh)
  • No. 17 Squadron (Golden Arrows): Hawker Hunter F MK 56 - Hashimara (WC Chatrath)
  • No 37 Squadron (Black Panthers): Hawker Hunter F MK 10 - Hashimara (WC Kaul)
  • No. 24 Squadron (Hunting Hawks): Folland Gnat Gauhati (WC Bhadwar)
  • No. 28 Squadron (First Supersonics): Mig 21FL Gauhati (WC Bishnu)
  • No. 105 (Mi-4) and 121 (Alouette III) Helicopter Squadrons - Agartola

Bangladesh Air Force: Kilo Flight CO: Flight Lt. Sultan Mahmud HQ: Dimapur Nagaland, then Agartala
This unit was formed by Bengali pilots and technicians defecting from the Pakistan Air Force. Flying light aircraft donated by India, they launched attacks on depots and communication lines on 2 December 1971, before the start of the war. The unit relocated to Agartala and then Shamshernagar after 3 December 1971.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jacob, Lt. Gen. JFR, Surrender at Dacca: Birth of A Nation, p60
  2. ^ Jacob, Lt. Gen. JFR, "Surrender at Dacca: Birth of A Nation’’, p75
  3. ^ Islam, Maj. Rafiqil, A Tale of Millions’’, p314
  4. ^ Salik, Siddiq, Witness to Surrender, p123
  5. ^ Jacob, Lt. Gen. JFR, Surrender at Dacca: Birth of A Nation, p191-p200
  6. ^ Islam, Maj. Rafiqul, A Tale of Millions, p313
  7. ^ Islam, Maj. Rafiqul, A Tale of Millions, p318
  8. ^ Jacob, Lt. Gen. JFR, Surrender at Dacca: Birth of A Nation, p196

Sources[edit]

  • Salik, Siddiq (1997). Witness to Surrender. ISBN 984-05-1374-5. 
  • Jacob, Lt. Gen. JFR (2004). Surrender at Dacca: Birth of A Nation. The University Press Limited. ISBN 984-05-1532-2. 
  • Qureshi, Maj. Gen. Hakeem Arshad (2003). The Indo Pak War of 1971: A Soldiers Narrative. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-579778-7. 
  • Islam, Major Rafiqul (2006). A Tale of Millions. Ananna. ISBN 984-412-033-0.