Military Digest| Operation Jackpot: what went into launching the Mukti Bahini

Pakistani forces had launched a strong operation to stamp out all Bengali opposition to their plans in East Pakistan. Brutal and ruthless it quickly achieved a measure of success. The defeat of the liberty motion in East Bengal was completely in opposition to Indian pursuits. There was additionally the hazard of management of the Mukti Bahini and the resistance motion passing into the palms of ultra-Leftists. Therefore, the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi ordered the arming, coaching and tasking of the Mukti Bahini by the Army.

Accordingly, the Army Chief issued an operational instruction to the Eastern Army Commander, Lieutenant General JS Aurora on May 1, 1971. Goals had been mounted as helping the Provisional Government of Bangladesh in motivating the East Pakistani folks to affix the liberty motion. Secondly, the elevating, coaching and equipping of East Pakistani volunteers for conducting guerrilla warfare inside their homeland with a view to tie down Pakistani troops, later by stepping up insurgency to break their morale and restrict their offensive functionality by hitting at their logistic assist. Lastly, to utilise the rebel forces as auxiliaries to the Eastern Army on the outbreak of hostilities.


To begin with, Major General Onkar Singh Kalka – a hands-on, preventing commander – was appointed to coordinate the hassle codenamed Operation Jackpot as director of operations. He set to work with the vitality that he was well-known for.

Using the manpower of 5 defecting infantry items of the Pakistan Army (1st, 2nd, third, 4th and eighth Battalions of the East Bengal Regiment) a Niyomit Bahini (common military) was raised for conducting typical operations together with nibbling at enemy-held territory. In September, three extra battalions had been raised. Three artillery batteries had been raised for hearth assist utilizing defecting Pakistani Artillery personnel and new recruits. Two had been geared up with Italian Oto Melara 105mm mountain pack weapons and one with 3.7-inch howitzers. The total power was organised into three brigades.

Bengali defectors and volunteers comprising some 550 personnel had been structured right into a naval particular power and used for underwater sabotage utilizing limpet mines and demolition fees. Two Alouette III helicopters, an Otter mild plane and a Dakota transport, all armed comprised the Bangladesh Air Force codenamed the Kilo Flight. Personnel of the paramilitary East Pakistan Rifles and the Police had been organised into sector troops popularly often known as the Mukti Fauj to function in numerous regional formations inside East Pakistan. These comprised nearly 10,000 troops organised into 45 corporations.

A lot of civilians and college students had crossed over to India to supply their providers within the struggle for freedom. They had been educated in Indian camps and made up the Gano Bahini. By November their numbers had reached some 83,000. They had been deployed within the inside for sabotage and laying ambushes.


Major General SS Uban, commander of the Special Frontier Force (SFF) constructed up the Mujib Bahini a power extraordinarily loyal to Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman and his occasion’s ideology. Constituted as an elite power it had its personal communication set-up and was not beneath the management of the Bangladesh forces Commander-in-Chief Colonel Osmany and even the government-in-exile. Another small power of some 1,800 males beneath General Uban operated within the Chittagong Hill Tracts alongside together with his personal troops from the SFF on missions regarding harassment and disruption of strains of communications.

Eleven impartial guerrilla teams had been additionally working inside East Pakistan geared up largely with captured Pakistani weapons. Chief amongst them was the Kader Bahini of Abdul Kader Siddiqui (popularly often known as Tiger) with some 17,000 volunteers. Operating in Mymensingh space they carried out some daring assaults on Pakistani troops and installations. Noting their numbers and effectiveness the Indian Army offered the group with a big amount of arms, ammunition and communications gear. Tiger Siddiqui’s males secured the dropping zone (DZ) for the Tangail para-drop setting-up street blocks on all approaches to forestall the enemy from counter-attacking.

For command and management, the Mukti Bahini was divided into 11 geographic operational sectors additional subdivided into sub-sectors. Sector N0. 10 had no territorial limits and had naval commandos used for disruption and anti-shipping duties. A Border Security Force (BSF) Commandant and a Mukti Bahini commander had joint duty for every sector. The Army arrange Jackpot Sectors (specifically A, B, C, D, E, F (later renamed FJ) and E-1) to regulate these Mukti Bahini formations. Some of the perfect commanders like Brigadiers JC Joshi, Prem Singh, NA Salick, VrC, Shabeg Singh, MB Wadke, Sant Singh, MVC and Ok Lakhpat Singh (preceded by Lieutenant Colonel VN Rao, commanding 5/5 Gorkha Rifles) had been posted in as sector commanders. A devoted set of officers, JCOs and males was offered to them to function instructors, provide coordinators and area commanders. Among them was General S Roychowdhury (Army Chief 1994-97) then a Major. He served with Charlie Sector working in Jessore and Khulna areas. Personnel from area formations had been additionally used for coaching, logistic assist and particularly for hearth assist and as reinforcements for Mukti Bahini troops.


I spoke to various Indian officers who served with the Jackpot Sectors. Lieutenant Colonel Alok Rudra, a Gunner served with Delta Sector. Colonel Pradeep Saxena and Lieutenant Colonel SS Bhatia fought with 82 Light Regiment and offered hearth from their 120mm mortars to extricate the guerrillas from tough conditions from time to time. The experiences of Colonel KJS Bakshi, from the Corps of Engineers had been typical. Moved from a unit in Central Command he was posted to Charlie Sector, headquartered at Krishnanagar in West Bengal.

His first process was to take over a whole lot of automobiles introduced over by defecting Bengalis, get them registered and issued to our personal troops for his or her use. He notes that the civil administration was very useful on this as in all issues. The Sector arrange a coaching camp at Chakulya, neat Jamshedpur now in Jharkhand. Defectors from the East Pakistan Rifles and others from what the Pakistanis are happy to name Civil Armed Forces (CAF) comprised a lot of the trainees.

They had been destined to turn into sector troops. In the primary camp, guerrilla coaching was imparted to them. As a Sapper he was known as upon to coach them in demolitions and the fabrication and optimum use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS). The mighty River Padma flowing on the periphery of their space of duty (AOR) it was thought-about needed to focus on enemy delivery to disrupt their logistics chain as effectively stop their withdrawal for a last-ditch defence of the Dhaka Bowl. Mukti Bahini operatives had been educated to make use of rocket launchers for the aim. Bakshi remembers that essentially the most profitable methodology concerned using round 400 metres of wire and a battery to remotely set off the launcher mechanism.

Everything was briefly provide and scrounging and improvisation was the order of the day. But they did it and achieved success in all their operations. Sarabjit Singh, who retired as Director-General of Police, Punjab remembers that he was requested to ship all of the American and European weapons (much less the British ones) held by his Special Security Bureau (SSB) unit to be issued to the Mukti Bahini. Later he and his males ran a coaching camp for members of one of many non-Awami League political events in Meghalaya.

In August Maneckshaw realised that he wanted somebody succesful to process the Research and Analysis Wing in regards to the Army’s necessities of knowledge and analyse the identical. General Onkar Kalkat was recalled from Kolkata to take over as Chief Military Intelligence Adviser to the exterior intelligence company. His place as commander of Operation Jackpot was taken by the environment friendly armour officer, Major General BN ‘Jimmy’ Sarkar. The basis having been laid so effectively by his predecessor; Sarkar misplaced no time in stepping up the tempo of operations.


An archetypal account of a Jackpot Sector’s conflict is that of Foxtrot Juliet Sector. Brigadier Sant Singh from Panjgrain, district Faridkot, was posted as commander of the sector coping with operations in Mymensingh and Tangail districts, positioned contiguously at Tura in Meghalaya. The formation educated 15,000 freedom fighters in primary army expertise together with demolition, grenade throwing and mine-laying. Operations had been launched to disclaim floor communications and disperse Pakistani forces. The functioning of workplaces and colleges was stopped, the Deputy Commissioner’s workplace being disrupted by getting a younger boy to throw a grenade in his court docket. The civil administration was completely paralysed, Phulpur sub-division was declared an space liberated of Pakistani management. The Mukti Bahini’s extremely motivated and patriotic cadres dominated the realm forcing the Pakistanis to interrupt up their troops into penny-packets with a purpose to interact them.

Brigadier Sant Singh, a redoubtable infantryman, performed the main function within the success of his sector and the Mukti Bahini items it managed. Already embellished with the Maha Vir Chakra for his management whereas commanding 5 Sikh Light Infantry in 1965 he was awarded a bar to the MVC for his function in securing Mymensingh and Madhopur in the course of the conflict itself, an episode that deserves a separate article in itself.

Operation Jackpot and the Mukti Bahini’s guerrilla conflict had been undoubted successes and deserve all of the credit score they bought. However, for the officers and males of Operation Jackpot there was no triumphant homecoming, no welcome arches, no reunions, no memorial, no tributes, nothing in any respect – all their data and correspondence had been destroyed. After half a century the nation wants to recollect them and their dedication, devotion to obligation and selflessness, My humble salute to them.