Defence of Kamalpur

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Defence of Kamalpur
Part of the Bangladesh Liberation War
Date14 November – 4 December 1971[1]
Location
Kamalpur-border area in Northern Bangladesh
Result Pakistani troops were ordered to surrender on the radio after defending the area for 21 days
Belligerents
India India
 Indian Air Force
Bangladesh Bangladesh
Pakistan Pakistan
Commanders and leaders
India Brigadier Hardev Singh Kler
India Maj Gen Gurbax Singh
Bangladesh Major MA Taher
Pakistan Captain Ahsan Malik
Units involved
  • 31 Baloch company
  • Strength
  • 4,000 soldiers
  • Unknown number of Mig-21
  • 140 soldiers (70 regular soldiers + 70 para-military soldiers)[2][3]
    Casualties and losses
    heavy light[3]

    The defence of Kamalpur was a battle fought at Kamalpur near the border between India and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in the Bangladesh Liberation War. Kamalpur, a hamlet on the border, was defended by 140 regular and paramilitary Pakistani soldiers under the command of Captain Ahsan Malik. The company sized Pakistani unit fought against a brigade of Indian soldiers and Mukti Bahini. The Indian military made several unsuccessful attempts to overrun the Pakistani positions.[4] After defending the area for 21 days, the besieged Pakistani troops were ordered by their superiors to surrender.[2]

    The defending Pakistani troops suffered hardly any casualties, despite being subjected to repeated Indian artillery bombardment and air strikes.[3]

    Battle[edit]

    Attacks against Pakistani border outposts in the north began in July. These were mounted by Mukti Bahini, mainly former members of East Pakistan's regular forces, but failed to make any impression. Further attacks on Kamalpur, a kilometre from the border, came on 22 October and 14 November, the latter being made by the Indian Army's 13th Battalion, Brigade of the Guards (of Kler's brigade), which established blocking positions to the south. Malik was cut off and his CO, Lt. Col. Sultan Ahmed tried to relieve him and the other two outposts (Naqshi and Baromari, to the east) without success. On 29 November Major Ayub of 31 Baloch tried to resupply Malik's tiny garrison but failed.

    Kler tried to take Kamalpur on the run, using Mukti Bahini troops, and failed.[2] Kler made two unsuccessful attempts to overrun the Pakistani troops positions in Kamalpur.[4] He then decided to mount an attack by the 1st Battalion, Maratha Light Infantry on the forty men and four 120mm mortars of 83 Mortar Battery belonging to Pakistan Army. 1st Battalion of Maratha Light Infantry successfully overran them, suffering one casualty. Kler then 'decided to lay siege to Kamalpur and break down its will to resist', according to Gen. Sukhwant Singh.[5] After laying the siege, Kler launched a third attack on Pakistani positions in Kamalpur. However, the third attack met the same fate as previous two unsuccessful attacks. Failure of third attack and resultant casualties had dispirited the attacking troops, and the higher command had developed second thought about Kler ability to handle live operations.[4] Getting wary because of casualties, successive failures and demoralisation among the attacking troops, Kler decided to starve out the garrison by a prolonged siege.[2]' Sukhwant Singh knew that there was no Pakistani artillery in this sector, only two troops of mortars, but states that Kler was '... further handicapped inasmuch as one of his battalions had just been reorganised from (a unit) raised initially for counterinsurgency with no support elements. In tackling a weak platoon post, another battalion brought out some weaknesses of leadership under fire. The battalion reached its objective with relatively few casualties. As expected, the enemy turned mortar fire on the objective. A mortar bomb landed on the trench occupied by four men close to the commanding officer (Colonel). He saw limbs fly and lost his nerve.'[6]

    At about 0930 on 4 December, after withdrawing his troops from close siege, Kler 'hammered the post with seven sorties of MiG-21s firing rockets and cannon and this was repeated twice later in the day'.[7] Maj. Gen. Gurbux Singh (commander of the north region) himself entered affairs by sending Capt. Malik a note via a Mukti Bahini courier: " whatever you decide to do we have every intention of eliminating Kamalpur post. It is to save you and our side casualties this message is being sent to you ". He sent another note after a further air strike and this was met, as had been the other messages, by increased firing by Malik's men. But it could not go on, Malik received the order by radio to surrender, which he did at 1900 that day.

    Sukhwant Singh stated, 'He had put up a courageous stand ... and surrendered after holding a brigade of besiegers for 21 days ... Sam Manekshaw sent a personal congratulatory message to Malik commending his defiant stand.' and wrote 'Militarily his performance was excellent'.[8][9]

    Maj. Gen. Gurbux Singh decided to meet Malik personally but, while being driven towards Kamalpur by Kler, their jeep went over a mine and he was badly wounded.[2]

    When Capt. Malik's force was taken in, it was found that his company was nearly out of ammunition, barring a few hand grenades and a few bullets each. They were ready to fling themselves on the enemy with daggers and bayonets if it came to that, until they realised that the piece of territory they were defending was already a different country.

    Awards[edit]

    From: Capt Retd ALi Muhammad Bangash, ex engineer officer, 31 Baloch, Jamalpur Cantt.

    See also[edit]

    Reference[edit]

    1. ^ A. S. M. Nasim (2002). Bangladesh fights for independence. Columbia Prokashani. p. 255. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
    2. ^ a b c d e Brian Cloughley (2002). A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars And Insurrections Second Edition With A New Chapter On The Kargil Issue. Lancer. p. 202. ISBN 978-81-7062-283-3. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
    3. ^ a b c Singh, Maj Gen Sukhwant. India's Wars Since Independence The Liberation Of Bangladesh, Volume 1. Lancer Publishers. ISBN 978-1-935501-13-8. He had put up a courageous stand throughout the siege and had surrendered after holding a brigade besiegers for 21 days with a company strength of a mixture of regular, rangers totalling about 140 men. Hardly any casualties had been suffered as result of the Indian artillery bombardment and air strikes.
    4. ^ a b c Singh, Maj Gen Sukhwant. India's Wars Since Independence The Liberation Of Bangladesh, Volume 1. Lancer Publishers. ISBN 978-1-935501-13-8. The third attack met the same fate. The failure of two successive attacks and the resultant casualties dispirited the attacking troops, and the higher command developed second thoughts about Kler's ability to handle live operations
    5. ^ Sukhwant Singh (19 July 2009). India's Wars Since Independence. Lancer Publishers. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-935501-13-8.
    6. ^ Economic and political weekly. Sameeksha Trust. 1977. p. 1325. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
    7. ^ Lachhman Singh (1991). Victory in Bangladesh. Natraj Publishers. p. 151. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
    8. ^ Sukhwant Singh (19 July 2009). India's Wars Since Independence. Lancer Publishers. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-935501-13-8.
    9. ^ Times of India (1971). OFFICIAL 1971 WAR HISTORY (PDF). History Division, Ministry of Defence, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2012.

    Books[edit]

    • Sukhwant Singh (1981). India's wars since Independence-The Liberation of Bangladesh, Vol. 1. Vikas Publishing House. ISBN 0-7069-1057-5.
    • Brian Cloughley (2006). A history of the Pakistan Army - Wars and Insurrections Third Edition. Ameena Saiyid, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-547334-5.