Mukti Bahini was a guerilla force was created to battle against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh War for Independence. On behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Major Zaiur Rahman of East Bengal Regiment read the declaration of independence from the Kalurghat Betar Kendra in Chittagong and assumed the title of provisional commander in chief of the Bangladesh Liberation Army. The army was headed by Md Ataul Osmani, a retired Pakistani Army officer. This group was raised as action arm and security force before becoming a conventional guerilla force with increasing number of Bengali soldiers. Coloner MAG Osmani was the command of armed forces at Teliapara (Sylhet) headquarters and made the commander in chief of the Bangladesh Armed Forces by April 1971.
The Mukti Bahini/Mukti Fauj was divided into groups like:
Niyomito Bahini – Regular Forces
The Niyomito Bahini was divided into Swadhin Bangla Regiment (Regular Battalions)
Mukti Fauj (Sector Troops)
Gano Bahini – Freedom Fighters
Bicchu (Scorpion Squad)
Toofan Bahini (Storm Troops )
There were other resistance groups consisting of civilians including hundreds of women, old people and boys of tender age.
These were groups like – Mujib Bahini, Kaderia Bahini, Afsar Battalion and Hemayet Bahini
Members of the EPR, Police and Army who could not be accommodated in these battalions were divided into units and sub-units to fight in different sectors.
Some organisations of the Mukti Fauj were trained and armed by Indian Army and some were independent guerilla groups led by individual leaders, who were either Leftists or nationalists.
The guerillas were divided into:
Action Groups – Direct Operations Against The Enemy, will carry 100% weaponry
For raids and ambushes, disrupt power supplies, stop industries from running, blow up electrical poles at sub stations, destroy godowns
Intelligence Cells –
Collection of Information, will carry 30% of weaponry, not trained for large scale combat
Guerilla Bases –
Safe Houses, medical groups, morale boosters
The priority was to break the formation of the enemy, isolate them and then strike deadly blows to isolated enemy groups.
Eleven independent guerilla groups were also operating inside East Pakistan.
Several cultural programs were transmitted daily to boost the morale of the guerillas.
Mukti Bahini Naval Force – 550 naval commandos (including Bengali volunteers and defected Bengali personnel of East Pakistan navy). They were trained in underwater sabotage using limpet mines.
Mukti Bahini Air Force: Two helicopters, otter aircrafts and a Dakota gifted by India, fitted with bombs, rockets and machine guns. The air force conducted successful attacks against Pakistani targets.
Mukti Bahini in the Second phase: From October 1971, massive raids were being carried out by the liberation forces into enemy fronts. The Indo-Soviet Treaty in August garnered more Indian intervention in the Bangladesh war before it’s official entry in the battle front on December although the Indian forces were participating in the war in different guises since November.
45 companies of sector troops were trained to fight along the borders.
Sectors and Statistics of the Freedom Fighters:
East Pakistan was strategically divided into eleven sectors with a sector commander for each of them. Each of the sectors were divided into a number of sub-sectors under a commander.
Maj. Gen. K.M. Shafiullah, the commander of Sector-3 and later commander of S-Force during the War of Liberation, and later the first Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh Army gives as estimate in his book “Bangladesh in Liberation War” as follows:
Estimate for other smaller forces are as follows:
Mujib Bahini 10,000
Kader Bahini 5,000
Hemeyet Bahini 1,500
Some Well Known Freedom Fighters of the Liberation War
Major General Khaled Mosharraf (1938-1975)
Colonel Abu Taher (1938-1976)
W.A.S. Ouderland, Bir Pratik
Shahid AK Saiful Islam
Shahid Shadad Husain
Shahid Abu Musa
Shahid Sayyiad Ful Miya