Military & Aerospace

Liberation of Bangladesh: War in Northern Sector - II
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The Indian light guns carried by Kler’s affiliated artillery had practically no effect on the Pakistani fortfications, and so reliance had to be placed increasingly on air strikes. The Jamalpur defences could not be bypassed if any meaningful advance was to be carried out beyond. And yet how was this position to be tackled? That was Kler’s dilemma. To ensure that no enemy element escaped, the cordon of two battalions committed to the roadblocks could not be lifted.

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The third battalion was holding the northern bank and was keeping the garrison engaged frontally, and there were no more infantry troops close at hand to assault the position. Nagra had asked for more resources from Headquarters Eastern Command but did not place much hope in getting his request acceded to. The request was made only to put the record right.

Klers critics failed to realise that the troops across the Brahmaputra, a major obstacle, had moved on a manpack basis, carrying only two three-inch mortars and a minimum of ammunition.

He was toying with the idea of diverting 6 Bihar, the only other infantry battalion under his command, from the Mymensingh axis to Jamalpur. At that time, quite unexpectedly, the Army Commander released 167 Infantry Brigade to Nagra and ordered it to move from Rangiya and concentrate at Tura as fast as possible. Welcoming this gesture, Nagra ordered its leading battalion, 6 Sikh Light Infantry, to move south of the river to tackle the defences swiftly. Two companies of the battalion arrived west and southwest of Jamalpur by the first light of 11 December.

Book_India_wars_sinceMeanwhile, expediters were pouring in to hasten the clearance of Jamalpur. The higher command was getting apprehensive of the delays and could not understand why, having made contact with the fortress on 7 December, the brigade had not even made a single attack so far. There were fears that the story of Kamalpur might be repeated at Jamalpur. It was even proposed to postpone the paradrop at Tangail, originally scheduled for 11 December, as this was fraught with danger without a timely linkup. Kler’s critics failed to realise that the troops across the Brahmaputra, a major obstacle, had moved on a manpack basis, carrying only two three-inch mortars and a minimum of ammunition. According to normal army teaching, attacking troops require at least two nights reconnaissance before tackling fully prepared positions. Having put the first battalion across on 8 December and the second on 9 December without any rafting equipment, they were trying to hustle Kler into launching a half-hearted attack. In the final analysis, he was proved right in exercising caution

Notes:

  1. A battalion of an Indian parachute brigade together with its supporting arms was however dropped in the Tangail area in the afternoon of 11 December.
  2. Effectiveness of operations depends on intelligence, speed, accuracy and completeness of knowledge of the enemy target.
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