OPERATION SEARCHLIGHT

 

 

BASIS FOR PLANNING

 

1. A.L. [Awami League) action and reactions to be treated as rebellion and those who support or defy M.L. [Martial Law] action be dealt with as hostile elements.

2. As A.L. has widespread support even amongst the E.P. [East Pakistani] elements in the Army the operation has to be launched with great cunningness, surprise, deception and speed combined with shock action.

 

BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESS

 

3. The operation to be launched all over the Province simulta­neously.

4. Maximum number of political and student leaders and extrem­ists amongst teaching staffs, cultural organisations to be arres­ted. In the initial phase top political leaders and top student lead­ers must be arrested.

5. Operation must achieve a hundred per cent success in Dacca. For that Dacca University will have to be occupied and searched.

6. Security of cantonments must be ensured. Greater and freer use of fire against those who dare attack the cantonment. 7. All means of internal and international communications to be cut off. Telephone exchanges, Radio, TV, Teleprinter services, transmitters with foreign consulates to be closed down.

8. EP tps [troops] to be neutralized by controlling and guarding kotes and ammunition by WP [West Pakistani] tps. Same for P.A.F. and E.P.R.

 

SURPRISE AND DECEPTION

 

9. At higher plane, it is requested that the President may consider the desirability of continuing the dialogue-even of deceiving Mujib that even though Mr. Bhutto may not agree he will make an announcement on 25 March conceding to the demands of A.L. etc.

 

10. At Tactical Level

 

(a) As secrecy is of paramount importance, preliminary opera­tions given below should be carried out by tps already located in the city:

 

i. Breaking into Mujib's house and arresting all present. The house is well-guarded and well-defended.

ii. Surrounding the important halls of the Universities - lqbal Hall DU [Dacca University], Liaqat Hall Engineering University.

iii. Switching off telephone exchange.

iv. Isolating known houses where weapons etc. have been collected.

 

(b) No activity by tps in the cantonment area till telephone exchange has been switched off.

 

(c) Nobody should be allowed to go out of the cantonment after 2200 hrs on the night of operation.

 

(d) On one excuse or the other tps in the city should be rein­forced in the area of the President's House, Governor's House, MNA Hostel, Radio, TV and Telephone exchange premises.

 

(e) Civilian cars may have to be used for operation against Mujib's house.

 

 

SEQUENCE OF ACTIONS

 

11. (a) H Hr-O100 hrs.

      (b) Timings for Move Out

 

i. Commando [one Platoon] -Mujib's house-0100 hrs

ii. Telephone exchange switched off-2455 hr's.

iii. Tps. earmarked for cordon University--0105 hrs.

iv. Tps from the city to Rajarbagh Police HQ and other PS [Police station] nearby--0105 .hrs.

v. Following places surrounded-0105 hrs: Mrs. Anwara Begum's House, Rd No. 29 & House No. 148, Rd No. 29.

vi. Curfew imposed-0110 hrs by Siren (arrange) by loudspeakers. Duration 30 hrs initially. No passes for the initial phase. Due consideration to be given only to cases of delivery and serious heart attack etc. Evac by Army on request. Also announce that there will be no newspapers brought out till further orders.

vii. Tps move out to respective sectors with specific missions-0110 hrs. (For tp alert a drill to be evolv­ed). Halls occupied and searched.

viii. Tps move to University area-0500 hrs.

ix. Rd blocks and riverine block estb-0200 hrs.

 

(c) Operations during the Day Time

i. House to house search of Dhanmondi suspected houses, also Hindu houses in old city (int to collect data).

ii. All printing presses to be closed down. All cyclo­

styling machines in the University, Colleges (T&T)

and Physical Training Institute and Technical Insti­

tute to be confiscated.

iii. Curfew imposed with severity.

iv. Other leaders arrested.

 

12. Allotment of Tps to Tasks Details to be worked out by B[riga]de Com[man]d[er] (see 231-4) but the following must be done:

 

(a) Kotes of EP units taken over, including Sig[nal]s and other administrative units. Arms to be given only to WP person­nel.

Explanation: We did not wish to embarrass the EP tps and did not want them to be used in tasks which may not be pleasant to them.

 

(b) Police stations to be disarmed.

 

(c) DG [Director General] EPR [East Pakistan Rifles] to

ensure security of his kotes.

 

(d) All Ansar Rifles to be got hold of.

 

13. Info Required

 

(a) Whereabouts of the following:

i) Mujib                                  ix) Oli Ahad

ii) Nazarul Islam                      x) Mrs Motia Chaudhry

iii) Tajuddin                             xi) Barrister Maudud

iv) Osmani                             xii) Faizul Haq

v) Sirajul Alam                      xiii) Tofail

vi) Mannan                            xiv) N.A. Siddiqi

vii) Ataur Rahman                  xv) Rauf

viii) Professor Muzaffar xvi) Makhan

and other student leaders.

 

(b) Location of all police stations and of Rifles.

 

(c) Location of strong points and arsenal houses in the city.

 

(d) Location of tr[ainin]g camps and areas etc.

 

(e) Location of Cultural Centres which are being used for

imparting military trg.

 

(f) Names of ex-service officers who are actively helping in­

surrectional movement.

 

14. Comd and Control-Two commands be established:

 

(a) Dacca Area

Comd-Major-General Farman

Staff -Eastern Comd Staff/or HQ ML

Tps - Loc[ated] in Dacca.

 

(b) The Rest of the Province

Comd-Major-General K H Raja

Staff -HQ 14 Div

Tps -Less those in Dacca.

 

15. Security of the Cantonment

Phase I De-escalate. All arms including PAF deposited.

 

16. Communication

(a) Security.

(b) Layout.

 

ALLOTMENT OF TROOPS TO TASKS

DACCA

 

Command and Control: Maj.-Gen. Farman with H.Q. M.L.A. Zone B.

 

Troops

H.Q. 57 Brigade with troops in Dacca, i.e. 18 Punjab, 32 Punjab (C.O. to be replaced by [Lt.-Col.] Taj, GSO I(In't)), 22 Baluch, 13 Frontier Force, 31 Field Regt., 13 Light Ack-Ack Regt., com­pany of 3 Commando (from Comilla).

 

Tasks:

1. Neutralise by disarming 2 and 10 East Bengal, H.Q. East Pak­

istan Rifles (2500), Reserve Police at Rajar Bagh (2000).

2. Exchange and transmitters, Radio, TV, State Bank.

3. Arrest Awami League leaders-detailed lists and addresses.

4. University Halls, Iqbal, Jagan Nath, Liaqat (Engineering Uni­versity)

5. Seal off town including road, rail and river. Patrol river.

6. Protect factories at Ghazipur and Ammo Depot at Rajendrapur.

 

Remainder: Under Maj.-Gen. K.H. Raja and H.Q. 14 Div.

 

 

JESSORE

 

Troops:

H.Q. 107 Brigade, 25 Baluch, 27 Baluch, Elements of 24 Field Regt., 55 Field Regt.

 

Tasks:

1. Disarm I East Bengal and Sector H.Q. East Pakistan Rifles

and Reserve Police incl. Ansar weapons.

2. Secure Jessore town and arrest Awami League and student

leaders.

3. Exchange and telephone communications.

4. Zone of security round cantt., Jessore town and Jessore-Khulna road, airfield.

5. Exchange at Kushtia to be made inoperative. 6. Reinforce •Khulna if required.

 

 

KNULNA

 

Troops: 22 FF

 

Tasks:

1. Security in town.

2. Exchange and Radio Station.

3. Wing H.Q. East Pakistan Rifles, Reserve Companies and Reserve Police to be disarmed.

4. Arrest Awami League students and communist leaders.

 

 

RANGPUR-SAIDPUR

 

Troops:

H.Q. 23 Brigade, 29 Cavalry, 26 Frontier Force, 23 Field Regt.

 

Tasks:

l. Security of Rangpur-Saidpur.

2. Disarm 3 East Bengal at Saidpur.

3. If possible disarm Sector H.Q. and Reserve Company at Dinaj­

pur or neutralise by dispersal Reserve Company by reinforcing

border outposts.

4. Radio Station and telephone exchange at Rangpur. 5. Awami League and student leaders at Rangpur. 6. Ammo dump at Bogra.

 

 

RAJSHAHI

 

Troops:

25 Punjab

 

Tasks:

1. Despatch C.O.-Shafqat Baluch.

2. Exchange and Radio Station Rajshahi.

3. Disarm Reserve Police and Sector H.Q. East Pakistan Rifles. 4. Rajshahi University and in particular Medical College. 5. Awami League and student leaders.

 

 

COMILLA

 

Troops:

53 Field Regiments, 11 Mortar Batteries, Station troops, 3 Commando Batallion (less Company)

 

Tasks:

l. Disarm 4 East Bengal, Wing H.Q. East Pakistan Rifles, Re­serve District Police.

2. Secure town and arrest Awami League leaders and students. 3. Exchange.

 

 

SYLHET

 

Troops:

31 Punjab less company

 

Tasks:

1. Radio Station, Exchange.

2. Koeno Bridge over Surma. 3. Airfield

4. Awami League and student leaders.

5. Disarm Section H.Q. East Pakistan Rifles and Reserve Police. Liaise with Sikandar.

 

 

CHITTAGONG

 

Troops:

20 Baluch, less advance party; company 31 Punjab present ex Sylhet; lqbal Shafi to lead a mobile column from Comilla by road and reinforce S.T. 0100 hrs (H hrs) on D-Day.

Mobile Column: Brig. lqbal Shafi with Tac H.Q. and Communi­cations; 24 Frontier Force; Troop Heavy Mortars; Field Company Engineers; Company in advance to Feni on evening D-Day.

 

Tasks:

1. Disarm E.B.R.C., 8 East Bengal, Section H.Q. East Pakistan Rifles, Reserve Police.

2. Seize Central Police Armoury (Twenty thousand) 3. Radio Station and Exchange.

4. Liaise with Pakistan Navy (Commodore Mumtaz)

5. Liaise with Shaigri and Janjua (C.O. 8 East Bengal) who have

been instructed to take orders from you till arrival Iqbal Shafi.

6. If Shigri and Janjua feel sure about their outfits then do not disarm. In that case merely put in a road block to town from Cantt. by placing a company in defensive position so that later E.B.R.C. and 8 East Bengal are blocked should the} change their loyalties.

7. I am taking Brig. Mozamdar with me. Arrest Chaudhry (C.I.E.B.R.C.) on D-Day night.

8. Arrest of Awami League and student leaders after above ac­complished.

 

 

 

Source: “Witness to Surrender” by Siddiq Salik, The University Press Limited, Appendix – III, p.228-234.