Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers were killed in Jamalpur operation before surrender by Pak Army in 1971 war: War hero Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar
New Delhi: Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar (retd), who played a key role in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, has said that they "killed hundreds of Pakistanis" in Battle of Jamalpur in the present-day Bangladesh before the eventual surrender of Pakistan forces.
In ANI Podcast with Smita Prakash, Lt Gen Brar narrated how Pakistani forces in Jamalpur were outmanoeuvred by the surprise and decisive move of the Indian Army. He said they crossed Brahmaputra on boats and carried ammunition on bullock carts in their operation against 31st Baluch battalion which was stationed at Jamalpur in the present-day Bangladesh.
Lt Gen Brar, who was then a Lt Colonel, was decorated with a Vir Chakra for his leadership and courage in the Battle of Jamalpur.
"My job was to take the battalion from the most unexpected route into Dhaka through the Brahmaputra river, as the Pakistanis never expected that a force will come from there. But there was no bridge on the river. We had to cross the river and get behind the enemy and trap them," he said.
"We were around 600 people. We decided that the only way to get through the river is through country boats. The boats were huge in size and around 30-40 people got on a total of 20 boats. It took us 3-4 days to collect all these boats. We also collected around 40 bullock carts for putting our heavy weapons, rations and ammunition," he added.
He said they crossed the river at night and dug in paddy fields.
"We also had one person on every boat flashing the torch, as we crossed the river at night. After crossing the river, we got to the other side called Jamalpur and dug in the paddy fields. We tried to find out the exact positions of the Pakistanis and plan our attack," he said.
Lt Gen Brar said that the Pakistanis somehow got the hint that some people were sitting in the fields.
"So, the whole 31st Baluch Battalion got ready in the vehicles with their weapons. We were able to see the headlights of the jeeps coming toward us. Suddenly, they started jumping out of their vehicles and charging toward our trenches. But I had my groups ready on both sides of the road with rocket launchers and other weapons. We knocked all of them out killing hundreds of Pakistanis in the operation," he said.
Lt Gen Brar said that eventually a group of Pakistani soldiers came to Jamalpur with a white flag to signal "surrender" after which Major Nambiar was sent to accept it.
He also referred to a successful airdrop of the Indian Army's 2nd Parachute Battalion which was carried out at Tangail, in erstwhile East Pakistan.
"On the same day, the paradrop was to happen at 4 pm in Tangail. If we didn't reach there by then, Pakistan would have got ready with tanks and other artillery. I asked my officers to muster whatever transport we can, trucks, auto-rickshaws, buses, and fire engines. We mustered the vehicles and marched towards Tangail. The para rop happened at 4 pm, and by 4:15 pm, we got in Tangail," he said.
He referred to slogans of 'Bolo Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki jai' raised by Indain soldiers including from those from 1 Maratha Light Infantry.
Lt Gen Brar also talked about getting to learn about General Sam Manekshaw asking the Pakistani forces to surrender.
"We were able to hear the announcements from General Sam Manekshaw...surrender...I ask you all to surrender...we will give you Geneva convention treatment...so why do you want to give up your lives...please surrender, I actually got to hear the announcement six times," he said.
Recalling some other decisive moments, Lt Gen Brar said after the announcement for surrender as they approached the Mirpur bridge, they found it abandoned and Pakistan forces had gone back.
"...We found a telephone there... On the other side of the telephone was the Headquarters Eastern Command (Dhaka). The Brigadier from the Indian side said that Major General Gandharv Nagra would like to speak with Lieutenant General Niazi," Brar said.
"Actually, Lieutenant General (Amir Abdullah Khan) Niazi and Major General Nagra were old friends and were in college together in Lahore. General Nagra came to the telephone and told Niazi that we are at the Mirpur bridge waiting for you to come in after General Manekshaw's order for surrender. To this, Niazi replied that he has already asked his troops to go into the barracks and be ready for surrender but they are not able to inform the Indian Army about this," Brar said.
Lt Gen Brar said that it was decided that the Indian troops will reach the Pakistani side through six cars and 20-30 Pakistani troops will come with them for discussion in the operation room.
"We entered the headquarters, Eastern Command. (Maj Gen) Gandharv Singh Nagra and others walked in, He and Niazi embraced each other. 'Hello Abdullah, how are you?' Gandharv Singh Nagra asked him. He too asked a similar question," he said.
General Niazi said that they are ready to surrender, his troops are in the barrack but he doesn't know how to inform the Indian side.
"We then passed the message in Shillong to General Jacob, Chief of Staff, that General Niazi is ready to surrender. Gen Jacob came from the helicopter and a meeting was set between him and Lt Gen Niazi...."
It was decided that the surrender ceremony will take place at 4:30 pm at the race course in Dhaka.
"....Lt General Niazi handed over the revolver to Lt General Arora, and the troops put down their weapons and surrendered. Both Gen Niazi and troops were feeling sad and dejected, as they were expecting support from West Pakistan but they were let down," Lt Gen Brar said. (ANI)