- Defence of KamalPur
Defence of Kamalpur Date November 14 - December 4, 1971 Location Kamalpur-border area in Northern Bangladesh Result Pakistani troops were ordered to surrendered on the radio Belligerents
Commanders and leaders Major Moinul Hossain Brigadier Hardev Singh Kler Captain Ahsan Malik Strength Two companies of the 1st East Bengal Regiment 95 Brigade Group (4000) 70 soldiers of 31 Baluch, 70 Paramilitary Pakistan (140) Casualties and losses unknown unknown unknown1971 Bangladesh Independece War / Indo-Pakistani War
The Defence of Kamalpur refers to the battle fought at Kamalpur near the border in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War. The Defence of Kamalpur, a hamlet on the border, by Captain Ahsan Malik and his 140 men would be an epic in any army's history. He had seventy soldiers of 31 Baloch and the same number of para-military troops; all fought magnificently against great odds.
Attacks against Pakistani border outposts in the north had begun in July. These were mounted by Mukti Bahini, mainly former members of East Pakistan's regular forces, but failed to make any impression. Further attacks on Kamalpur, a kilometre from the border, came on 22 October and 14 November, the latter being made by 13 Guards Battalion (of Kler's brigade), which established blocking positions to the south. Malik was cut off and his CO, Lt. Col. Sultan Mahmood tried to relive him and the other two outposts (Naqshi and Baromari, to the east) without success. On 29 November (all this before 'war' broke out) Major Ayub of 31 Baloch tried to resupply Malik's tiny garrison but failed.
Kler tried to take Kamalpur on the run, using Mukti Bahini troops, and failed. He then mounted a battalion attack by 1 Maratha Light Infantry on the forty men and four 120mm mortars of 83 Mortar battery and overran them, suffering one casualty. Kler then 'decided to lay siege to Kamalpur and break down its will to resist', according to General Sukhwant Singh (1981 'The Liberation of Bangladesh,Vol. 1, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House.). Getting wary because of casualties, successive failures and demoralisation among the attacking troops, he decided to starve out the garrison by a prolonged siege. ' A brigade is demoralised by a company? Sukhwant Singh knew that there was no Pakistani Artillery in this sector, only two troops of mortars, but states that Kler was '...further handicapped inasmuch as one of his battalions had just been reorganised from (a unit) raised initially for counterinsurgency with no support elements. In tackling a weak platoon post, another battalion brought out some weaknesses of leadership under fire. The battalion reached its objective with relatively few casualties. As expected, the enemy turned mortar fire on the objective. A mortar bomb landed on the trench occupied by four men close to the commanding officer (Colonel). He saw limbs fly and lost his nerve.'
On the other hand Captain Ahsan Malik did not lose his nerve when much worse was happening in his area and he was fighting an unwinnable battle against overwhelming odds.
At about 0930 on 4 December, 'after withdrawing his troops from close siege, Kler 'hammered the post with seven sorties of MiG 21s firing rockets and cannon and this was repeated twice later in the day'. Maj. General Gurbux Singh (commander of the north region) himself entered affairs by sending Captain Malik a note by a Mukti Bahini courier:'...whatever you decide to do we have every intention of eliminating Kamalpur post. It is to save you and our side casualties this message is being sent to you...'. He sent another note after a further air strike and this was met, as had been the other messages, by increased firing by Malik's men. But it could not go on, Malik received the order by radio to surrender, which he did at 1900 that day.
'He had,'as Sukhwant Singh goes on to say,'put up a courageous stand....and surrendered after holding a brigade of beseigers for 21 days....Sam Manekshaw sent a personal congratulatory message to Malik commending his defiant stand.' and wrote 'Militarily his performance was excellent'.
Maj. Gen. Gurbux Singh decided to meet Malik personally but, while being driven towards Kamalpur by Kler to meet the brave Captain, their jeep went over a mine and he was badly wounded.
When Captain Ahsan Malik's force was taken in, it was found that his company was nearly out of ammunition, barring a few hand grenades and a few bullets each. They were ready to fling themselves on the enemy with daggers and bayonets if it came to that, until they realized that the piece of territory they were defending was already a different country. Nothing remained there to die for.
When he returned to Pakistan, he was decorated with a Sitara-e-Jurrat which is the third highest military award in Pakistan. Later on, Field Marshal Manekshaw acknowledged the bravery of his men in a letter written to his Pakistani counterpart.
- Captain Ahsan Malik, 31 Baloch of Pakistan Army, was decorated with a Sitara-e-Jurrat.
- ^ [www.bharat-rakshak.com/ARMY/History/1971War/PDF/1971Chapter13.pdf]
- Sukhwant Singh (1981). India's wars since Independence-The Liberation of Bangladesh, Vol. 1. Vikas Publishing House. ISBN 07 06 91 05 75.
- Brian Cloughley (2006). A history of the Pakistan Army - Wars and Insurrections Third Edition. Ameena Saiyid, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-547334-5.
- Brian Cloughley. A History of Pakistan Army Wars and Insurrections Third Edition
- Major General Sukhwant Singh. India’s Wars Since Independence Vol.1 : The Liberation of Bangladesh
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