Z Force (Bangladesh)

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Z Force
জেড ফোর্স
Active 7 July 1971 – 16 December 1971
Country Bangladesh
Allegiance Provisional Government of Bangladesh
Type Brigade
Garrison/HQ Teldhala, Tura, Meghalaya
Commanders
Commanding Officer Ziaur Rahman

Z Force, also known as Tura Brigade, was the first military brigade of Bangladesh Forces formed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 under Major Ziaur Rahman along with the consent of the revolutionary government of Bangladesh in exile. The brigade was formed with the 1st, 3rd and 8th Battalion of East Bengal Regiment on 7 July 1971. It is the first ever complete brigade formed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.[1]

Background[edit]

Bangladeshi military officers of various cantonments revolted against the Pakistani Army and started fighting against them with limited ammunition on the night of 25 March 1971 after the crackdown by Pakistani Army. But soon the military officers of Bangladesh Forces realised that such non-planned attack or resistance will not be able to create huge casualties of the foes. So they decided to form some sectors from which they can fight properly.

The guerrillas sent from the India during May–June to various sectors were ill-equipped and not properly trained and hence were unsuccessful in almost every operations. Most of the guerrillas were caught or shot dead by Pakistani Army.[2]

The lack of communication between the Sector Commanders and the Indian Military Officers also created major casualties to the guerrillas sent by the Indian officers to Bangladesh.[2] Wherever the guerrillas were caught or killed, Pakistani Army in search of the other members of them used to start arson in many villages and killed numerous innocent people to take revenge.

In this situation, senior military officers assumed that the war will continue for a long time and decided to form some brigades to fight with the Pakistani Army more effectively, especially in the frontiers.[2]

Inception[edit]

After the sector commanders' meeting held at 8, Theater Road of Kolkata, the first brigade of Bangladesh Forces was formed.[2] Major Ziaur Rahman, who was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel[3] during the Liberation War of Bangladesh was the senior most officer amongst the officers present there and he was given the command of the force.

Though the brigade was formed after the meeting, the decision to form the force was decided earlier. Chief of Bangladesh Forces MAG Osmani himself told Major Moinul Hossain about the decision on 13 June 1971.[4] But according to the gazette of the Government of Bangladesh the force is known to be formed on 7 July 1971.

The headquarters of the brigade was at Teldhala of Tura in India.[5]

Formation and training[edit]

The 'Z Force' established their camp in the remote Tura area of Meghalaya. But with massive spirit and interest for the freedom, people of various ages and occupations gathered under the brigade.[6]

'Z Force' had to organise themselves properly. It was formed with 1st, 3rd and 8th battalion of East Bengal Regiment. Of them the 1st Battalion of East Bengal Regiment, who revolted in Jessore Cantonment under Major Hafiz was unable to escape safely and after fighting a crucial battle[7] only fifty[4] of the Bengali officers and soldiers were able to reach the border. The 8th Battalion of East Bengal Regiment was a newly formed battalion with limited power. The 3rd Battalion of East Bengal Regiment also faced casualties.

In this situation, the military headquarters of Bangladesh Forces ordered Major Hafizuddin Ahmed and Major Sahriful Haq Dalim to recruit 600 youths in 1st Battalion of East Bengal Regiment and another collect 500 youths and join 'Z Force' in Tura.[7] Major Hafizuddin Ahmed recruited 600 youths from the youth camps from Khulna-Kushtia border area.[7] The total number of the members in 1st Battalion of East Bengal Regiment was 800[7] while joining the 'Z Force'. Another 500 members collected by Major Shariful Haq Dalim amplified the strength of 3rd Battalion of East Bengal Regiment. Major Moinul Hossain Chowdhury, who acted as the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of East Bengal Regiment was asked to format the battalion.[4] The command and the charge to organise the 3rd Battalion of East Bengal Regiment was given to Major Shafayet Zamil and the responsibility of 8th Battalion of East Bengal Regiment was given to AZM Aminul Haq.

After a training session of six weeks, "Z Force" turned into a valiant brigade of Bangladesh Forces.[7]

Organogram of the brigade[edit]

  • Brigade Commander – Major Ziaur Rahman
  • Brigade Major – Captain Oli Ahmed
  • D-Q Officer – Captain Sadeque
  • Signal Officer – Captain Abdul Halim
  • Brigade Medical Officer- Abdul Hai Miya

1st East Bengal Regiment[edit]

  • Commanding Officer – Major Moinul Hossain Chowdhury (June–August) and Major Ziauddin Ahmed (August–December)
  • Second-in-Command – Captain Bazlul Gani Patwary
  • Adjutant – Flight Lieutenant Liaqat Ali Khan
  • A Company Commander – Captain Mahbubur Rahman
  • B Company Commander – Captain Hafizuddin Ahmed
  • 1st C Company Commander – Lieutenant Abdul Kaiyum Chowdhury
  • 2nd C Company Commander – Lieutenant S. H. B. Noor Chowdhury
  • D Company Commander – Captain Salahuddin Momtaz (July–August) and Bazlul Gani Patwary (September–December)
  • A Company Officer – Lieutenant Wakar Hassan
  • B Company Officer – Lieutenant Anisur Rahman
  • Medical Officer – Lieutenant Mujibur Rahman Fakir

3rd East Bengal Regiment[edit]

  • Commanding Officer – Major Shafaat Jamil
  • Second-in-Command – Captain Mohsin
  • A Company Commander – Captain Anwar Hossain
  • B Company Commander – Captain Akbar Hossain
  • C Company Commander – Captain Mohsinuddin Ahmed
  • D Company Commander – Lieutenant S. I. B. Nurunnabi Khan
  • M. F. Company Commander – Lieutenant Manjur Ahmed
  • Company Officer – Lieutenant Fazle Hossain
  • Medical Officer – Wasiuddin

8th East Bengal Regiment[edit]

  • Commanding Officer – Major A. Z. M. Aminul Haq
  • Second-in-Command – Captain Kahlequzzaman Chowdhury
  • A Company Commander – Captain Amin Ahmed Chowdhury
  • B Company Commander – Captain Sadeque Hossain
  • C Company Commander – Lieutenant Modasser Hossain Khan
  • D Company Commander – Lieutenant Mahbubul Alam
  • Company Officer – Lieutenant Imdadul Haq
  • Company Officer – Lieutenant Oliul Islam
  • Company Officer – Lieutenant Munibur Rahman
  • Company Officer – Lieutenant K. M. Abu Baker

2nd Field Artillery Battery[edit]

  • Officer in Charge – Major Khandakar Abdur Rashid
  • Officer – Captain Rashed Chowdhury
  • Officer – Lieutenant Sazzad Ali Zahir

Major operations[edit]

Kamalpur Border Outpost Attack[edit]

Kamalpur was a strong Pakistani border outpost situated on the mouth of the old Brahmaputra river and on the road link with Mymensingh via Jamalpur. It contained concrete bunkers with shell-proof roofs. Communication trenches were dug in to provide communication between the bunkers. The defence had in its perimeter booby traps and minefield. The Pakistani troops used to fall back on the inner line of defence in hours of darkness.[8]

Under the command of Commanding Officer Major Moinul Hussain Chowdhury, the attack was launched on 31 July (at night on 1 August), 1971. The attack was made with two companies Delta and Bravo from the North – East of the enemy camp.

Captain Salahuddin Momtaz was in Quetta. In a desperate attempt he was successful in escaping to his motherland during early July and reported to 'Z Force'. Salahuddin Momtaz joined 1 East Bengal.

The battalion at that time was contemplating to launch a big offensive. In order to undertake such an operation, information about the enemy was vital. Salahuddin Momtaz was one of those who were sent on reconnaissance missions to collect information about the enemy. He at times conducted some very daring reconnaissance missions at Kamalpur border outpost. During one such mission he ran across an enemy patrol which indicated to the enemy the aggressive posture. Enemy strength at Kamalpur was immediately raised to two companies of 31 Baluch excluding Razakars.

The information was thus obtained and a plan was made. The attack was to be launched from the north-east of the enemy post with two companies. Delta on the left and Bravo on the right, commanded respectively by Salahuddin Momtaz and Hafiz.

They moved from the assembly area with Delta Company leading followed by Bravo Company. Next in order was the battalion orders group (O group) where in addition to Moin, the battalion commander, Zia, was also present. At H-hour own artillery was programmed to provide covering fire.

The attacking troops were absolutely raw. There was a bit of confusion at the forming up place resulting in a delay in the move. It was all due to the officers' personal example and motivation that the troops started moving on to the objective.

As they moved towards the objective the enemy artillery also opened up. The troops came under a very heavy fire and started sustaining casualties. Their movement became slow. Since the bulk of the troops did not have previous war experience they began to go to ground more frequently from the enemy shelling. Salahuddin played a heroic role at this stage in reviving the morale of his troops. They then moved on.

The outer perimeter was being vacated by the enemy. The troops entered the outer perimeter and began to cross the minefield. The enemy was bringing in effective fire from the shell-proof bunkers of the inner defence.

The battle started gaining momentum as the number of casualties started piling up. But there was no going back. Salahuddin Momtaz, who had dynamic leadership quality, was leading the troops into the inner defence. Shouting at the top of his voice, he was directing his men and chanting words of encouragement to them. An embodiment of courage himself, Salahuddin Momtaz snubbed one of his faithful soldiers saying, "Yahya Khan has not yet been able to manufacture the bullet that would kill me.[8] "

Those were not the last words. Two shells dropped in front of Salahuddin Momtaz. Twice he shook and then all was over.

Salahuddin Momtaz murmured, "If you have to die, die after killing the enemy. Die on the soil of Bangladesh." Salahuddin's body could not be retrieved. Three soldiers died in their attempt to retrieve the dead body of their beloved leader. However, his watch, sten gun and some papers were retrieved.

Hafiz miraculously escaped death. His sten gun was blown off by an enemy artillery shell splinter and was injured. Naik Rabiul ran in the face of enemy fire to evacuate Hafiz to safety. But he was mortally injured there.[8]

The death of Salahuddin Momtaz and injury of Hafiz left the two attacking companies in a state of chaos and confusion. The community centre situated behind the forming up place was getting filled with battle casualties. Ultimately at 7:30 am Moin ordered the battalion to withdraw.[8]

The lack of communication between the companies was the reason of casualties suffered by the freedom fighters in the battle. The wireless given by the India was not up to the mark in quality which was later informed to the Indian Chief of Military Forces. The heavy rain that occurred that day was also a reason of the defeat.[4]

The Pakistani Army also suffered a lot in this battle. At least 200 of them died in this battle.

Nakshi Border Outpost Attack[edit]

Nakshi Border Outpost was situated in the Sherpur District, where the Pakistan Army formed a strong position. The border outpost became a target of "Z" Force because of its geographical importance.

Soon Captain Amin Ahmed Chowdhury, the Commander of Alpha Company and Lieutenant Modasser Hossain Khan, the Commander of Charlie Company was sent to defeat the Pakistanis of that camp. The two companies with great speed ran into the area and were able to enter into the fifty yards region. With great show of courage, they attacked the position of Pakistani Army.

The Pakistanis fled from the camp and took shelter in a forest which was nearby. But soon they attacked the freedom fighters with mortar shell with field mines also interrupting the operation of the 'Z Force' companies.

In this battle Captain Amin Ahmed got injured from to machine gun bullets. Major Aminul Haque saved him, risking his life.

Battle at Ghashipur[edit]

On 10 September the Delta Company of 1st Battalion of East Bengal Regiment formed a strong defence at the Ghashipur. Ghashipur was a location near the Kamalpur Border Outpost.

Ghashipur was considered as a lifeline of the strong position of Pakistan Army in Kamalpur. Pakistani Army was anxious about their safety in Kamalpur due to the strong position of the 'Z Force' in Ghashipur. To remain safe from the sudden attack of freedom fighters Pakistan Army launched an attack on the Ghashipur Defense of 'Z Force'.

The attempt of cleansing the freedom fighters from Ghashipur went up in smoke. Pakistan Army had to flee at the end of the battle after suffering huge casualties. Lance Nayek Yousuf and Subedar Mozammel of the regiment was martyred in the battle.

Defense of liberated zone[edit]

One of the prime objectives of Z Force was to cover the liberated zones in Northern Bangladesh during the Liberation War of Bangladesh. As a part of this operations Z Force liberated many areas and set up defence to save those areas from Pakistan Army from August 1971.

Establishment of administration in Roumari[edit]

Roumari, an area from Kurigram was liberated in late August. After being acquired by the Z Force, Ziaur Rahman directed Lieutenant Lieutenant S. I. B. Nurunnabi Khan of 3rd East Bengal Regiment, to establish an administration on behalf of the Provisional Government of Bangladesh. Shafaat Jamil was asked to set up formidable defence to save the area from further invasion of Pakistan Army.

Lieutenant Nabi after getting the order, formed a committee of eminent citizens of that area to establish an administration and make it properly functional. He formed some offices and other establishments including a hospital in Roumari within 27 August. Ziaur Rahman inaugurated the first ever administration system in a liberated area of independent Bangladesh on 27 August 1971.[9]

NBC Network made a documentary that included the liberated zone of Roumari which was entitled as A country made for disaster.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "War Calendar: Chronology of events taking place during 1971". Freedom in the air. The Daily Star. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d মুক্তিযুদ্ধের পূর্বাপর : কথোপকথন-এ কে খন্দকার (in Bengali). Rokomari.Com. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  3. ^ Document for showing The Bangladesh Gazette announcing the promotion of Ziaur Rahman to Lieutenant General in the book Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood by Anthony Mascarenhas
  4. ^ a b c d এক জেনারেলের নীরব সাক্ষ্য স্বাধীনতার প্রথম দশক (১৯৭১-১৯৮১)-মে. জে. মইনুল হোসেন চৌধুরী (অব.) (in Bengali). Rokomari.Com. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  5. ^ Mahmud-Ur-Rashid (23 March 2008). "Sectors & Armed Forces of the Liberation War 1971". Star Campus. The Daily Star. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Sectors & Armed Forces of the Liberation War 1971", The Daily Star, 23 March 2008, retrieved 15 January 2015
  7. ^ a b c d e রক্তেভেজা একাত্তর-মেজর (অব.) হাফিজ উদ্দিন আহমেদ বীর বিক্রম (in Bengali). Rokomari.Com. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Mohd. Hanif (23 November 2009). "Significance of Armed Forces Day". Archive.thedailystar.net. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  9. ^ Colonel Shafaat Jamil (1998). একাত্তরের মুক্তিযুদ্ধ, রক্তাক্ত মধ্য আগষ্ট ও ষড়যন্ত্রময় নভেম্বর (in Bengali). Sahitya prakasa.

Bibliography[edit]