The northern sector comprised the U-shaped territory between the mighty Jamuna in the west and Meghna in the east, with the Ganga forming the base. The Brahmaputra ran diagonally from northwest to southeast dividing the sector in two, with about one-third north of the river. A large number of routes led into the sector from India, but all these arteries led to the two focal communication centres of Jamalpur and Mymensingh towns lying across the Brahmaputra. a water obstacle about 1,000 feet wide.
The roads and tracks from there onward ran from north to south and converged on Tangail, from where they led to Dacca. Terrain-wise, except for the Madhopur forest in Tangail district, the landscape was covered with paddy fields, punctuated with occasional lakes and marshes. A few villages stood here and there amid clusters of trees. Numerous streams interlaced the flat paddy lands in a zigzag manner, thus restricting free cross-country movement. Movement by wheeled and tracked vehicles off the main roads and byways was difficult except in the dry season.
“¦the role of the Indian force in the sector was to be mainly containment of the Pakistani troops deployed in the sector, while the thrust lines of the II and IV Corps converged on Dacca.
Maj Gen Gurbux Singh Gill, General Officer Commanding 101 Communication Zone Area based in Shillong, was made operationally responsible for this sector. Normally, the charter of his duties as an Area Commander was mainly confined to logistic support of the troops deployed in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram, but he was appointed to this operational command for two main reasons. Communicationwise, this sector on the Indian side was comparatively underdeveloped, and its capacity to sustain any larger forces on the existing roads over a long haul from the nearest base at Gauhati was considered inadequate, thus restricting the size of the force which could be employed. In the overall context, the role of the Indian force in the sector was to be mainly containment of the Pakistani troops deployed in the sector, while the thrust lines of the II and IV Corps converged on Dacca.
The troops allocated to the sector consisted of 95 Mountain Brigade Group, moved to the area from Nagaland in September 1971, under a colourful character, Brig Hardev Singh Kler, who was later to join in the triumphant entry into Dacca. Later, one more infantry battalion was brought in from 23 Infantry Division to augment the sector resources. Before the outbreak of hostilities, intensive Mukti Bahini guerilla activity was going on in the sector, both along the international border and in depth areas of Tangail district under the redoubtable “Tiger” Siddiqi.’
Gurbux Singh was brought in to take over these onerous tasks. He was no ordinary general who was content with a chairborne job when the country was at war. Aggressive and brusque, he welcomed the opportunity and set about his task energetically”¦
Much coordination was required to dovetail these activities with military operations in the event of war and to relieve the brigade commander from logistic duties so that he could focus his attention on purely operational tasks. Gurbux Singh was brought in to take over these onerous tasks. He was no ordinary general who was content with a chairborne job when the country was at war. Aggressive and brusque, he welcomed the opportunity and set about his task energetically, stockpiling to carry the war beyond the original objectives set by the planners. In peace, he was sidetracked by our systems and was out to prove himself in war.
It appears that Niazi had also relegated this sector to a low priority. Initially, on the induction of Pakistan 9 Infantry Division into East Pakistan, its 27 Infantry Brigade was moved to Mymensingh to control the area and later eliminate the guerilla menace. Later, on post-monsoon reorganisation, this brigade was moved out of the area and ad hoc 93 Infantry Brigade was raised under the local Martial Law Administrator, Brig A. Qadir. This formation was created by grouping two regular battalions, 31 Baluch and 33 Punjab, with the paramilitary forces, consisting of two wings of the newly raised EPCAF and some Mujahid units, and a battery of mortars.