Military & Aerospace

Liberation of Bangladesh: War in Northern Sector - II
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Lt Col Sultan Mahmood, Commanding Officer 31 Baluch Battalion, who was responsible for the area, explained when questioned after surrender that he withdrew his troops from Bakhshiganj to build up sufficient strength to give battle mainly on the Brahmaputra obstacle at Jamalpur. Although Bakhshiganj was captured in the early hours of 5 December, Kler was not able to resume his advance till the next day, thus allowing the withdrawing Pakistanis to fall behind the river unhindered. The delay in resuming the advance was caused by the time taken to move the logistic columns forward with the opening of the maintenance axis after the capture of Kamalpur, the change in command of the sector and Kler’s accident.

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Kler’s plan envisaged that 13 Rajputana Rifles Battalion Group would pursue the withdrawing Pakistani force along the main Bakhshiganj-Panchargarh-Jamalpur axis and secure the river line on the northern bank to allow the deployment of the supporting artillery following the group. 13 Guards, by now relieved from Kamalpur, were to advance along the Bakhshiganj-Kurna-Sherpur-Jamalpur axis to protect the flank of 13 Rajputana Rifles as well as to facilitate the advance along the main axis by dividing the Pakistani troops in delaying positions. The third battalion of 1 Maratha Light Infantry was to move cross-country on a manpack and bullock cart basis to the Shyampur area, about six miles west of Jamalpur, where country craft mustered by the Mukti Bahini were to ferry them across the Brahmaputra.

“¦Kler was not able to resume his advance till the next day, thus allowing the withdrawing Pakistanis to fall behind the river unhindered.

The battalion was to use more bullock carts gathered by the Mukti Bahini workers on the far bank to advance and establish roadblocks on the Jamalpur garrison’s escape routes. The battalion was required to traverse about 22 kilometres up to the river bank at Shyampur, and then another 12 kilometres south of the river to its objectives. After 1 Maratha Light Infantry Battalion had established the blocks, 13 Guards were to be brought up after release from the Sherpur axis to attack the defended locality of Jamalpur. Nagra, the new sector commander, approved this plan although it suffered from an initial lack of adequate strength south of the river line. In any event, the rate of build-up the plan envisaged was much too slow to administer the coup de grace to the enemy.

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