16th August 1971 : "Operation Jackpot" Although during the nine months of the liberation war,a number of military operation by Indian armed forces was code named "Operation Jackpot".But the one we will be discussing here is about the Bangladeshi naval commando operation,which destroyed tonnes of Pakistani shipping anchored at Bangladeshi docks in a simultaneous attack. The outcome of this particular operation was very significant. Firstly,it busted the myth of "East Pakistan was under control".The world came to know more about the situation in East Pakistan. Secondly,it deprived Pakistan army off valuable logistical support.With air-drop option already cut down by India,it was a major set back for the occupying Pakistani troops. Thirdly,it certainly boosted the morale of Freedom fighters who were already high on spirit and patriotism.If the war from March 26th to August was won by Pakistani army,it can certainly be said that this operation turned the tide. Prologue Bangladesh naval commando operation actually originated at Toulon, a coastal city of Southern France. In 1971, there were 11 naval crews of East Pakistan who were receiving training in a Pakistani submarine. Among them, only one commissioned officer (Mosharraf Hassain) and 8 crews decided to take the submarine and to fight against Pakistani. However, their plan was disclosed and they had to ran away under severe death threats from Pakistani intelligence. Out of these 9 crews, one were killed by Pakistani Intelligence and rest of the 8 managed to travel to Indian Embassy in Geneva, Switzerland. From Geneva, Indian Embassy took them to New Delhi on the 9th of April at 9:30 a.m. and set up a top secret naval training for them. Planning At the conclusion of Operation Searchlight, the Pakistani Army had driven the Mukti Bahini into India, where they entered a period of reorganization during June and July 1971 to train guerrillas, set up networks and safe houses in the occupied territories to run the insurgency and rebuild the conventional forces. As the pace of military operations in East Pakistan slacked off, the civilian morale was adversely affected, which prompted Pakistani authorities to claim that the situation had returned to "normal". In response to this declaration, the Mukti Bahini launched 2 operations: 1) Guerrilla attacks in targets in Dhaka by a crack commando group trained by Major ATM Haider (ex-SSG commando). 2) the simultaneous mining and damaging of ships in Chittagong, Chandpur, Mongla and Narayanganj on the 15th of August, which became known in Bangladesh and international media as "Operation Jackpot".Now among naval commandos included Bengali sailors who defected from Pakistan navy and off course the civilians.From students to workers to farmers. Preparation Indian commander Bhattachariya, major Jalil and Colonel M.A.G. Osmani in collaboration with top regional commanders established the secret camp codenamed C2P in Plassy, West Bengal on May 23, to train volunteers selected from various Mukti Bahini sectors (Bangladesh was divided in 10 operational sectors for Mukti Bahini operations) for this purpose. Initially 300 volunteers were chosen, ultimately 499 commandos were trained in the camp. The course included swimming, survival training, using limpet mines, hand to hand combat and navigation. By August 1971, the first batch of commandos were ready for operation. Mosharraf Hossain,who was probably a Commodore in the Independent Bangladesh Navy later on.It nice listening to the details of the operation from him.I am just writing down some details,hope my memory doesn't betray me. The operation was an extremely dangerous one,actually it was a "suicide mission".How often one see such a large suicide squad,except may be for the Japanese in WW2. It was suicidal,as they had to attach limpet mines to their body and swim to the ships.Then there was the threat of triggering alarm and then get caught.Which meant certain death by torture. Every naval commando had accepted that this was a suicidal mission,yet they decided to volunteer. He mentions one particular case,where he even had to make one freedom fighter learn to swim and then given commando training.When asked,he said,"He was at the war longer than me,I was at France,but he was there from the word go". The Operation The operation was planned in the last week of September, under tight security. Information on river tides, weather and Pakistani infrastructure and deployment was collected through the Mukti Bahini.Even the commanding Generals,General M A G Osmani,Admiral Nanda and General Aurora were not informed about when the operation will take place. Selected commandos were sent from C2P to forward bases in Tripura and West Bengal, where a final briefing was given to them. Mukti Bahini in Sector 1 assisted the group going to Chittagong, Sector 2 aided the groups going to Chandpur and Naryanganj and Sector 9 assisted the group targeting Mongla. Each commando carried a pair of fins, a knife, a limpet mine, and swimming trunks. Some had compasses, 1 in 3 commandos had sten guns and hand grenades, the group leaders carried a transistor radio. All the groups carried their own equipment to their targets and after entering Bangladesh between August 3/9, reached their destinations by August 12th, using the local Mukti Bahini network of safe houses. A pair of songs was played in India Radio (Akashbani)at specific times to convey the intended signal for commencing the operations. The first song (Amar putul ajke prothom jabe shoshur bari) was played on the 13th of August, the second song (Ami tomay joto shuniyechilem gan tar bodole chaini kono dan) on the 14th. One extract from the account of a naval commando. Consequence: • Chittagong: 60 commandos were sent, out of which 31 finally took part in the sabotage operation on the 16th. Between 1:45 to 2:15AM explosions sank the MV Al-Abbas, the MV Hormuz and the Orient barge no.6, sinking 19,000 tons of arms and ammunitions. • Chandpur: 18 out of 40 commandos finally took part in the operation. 3 steamers/barges were damaged or sunk. • Narayanganj: 20 commandos conducted the sabotage operation. 4 ships were sunk or damaged. • Mongla: 20 commandos managed to damage 6 foreign owned ships. The operation was a success and worked greatly in favour of the allied forces.But it took away lives of many brave freedom fighters. Naval Commandos killed in Operation Jackpot * Commando Abdur Raquib, who was killed in Foolchhori Ghat Operation * Commando Hossain Farid, who was killed in second Chittagong operation. He was caught by Pakintaki army. They put him in a manhole and bend his body until his vertebral column was broken. * Commando Khabiruzzaman, who was killed in second operation in Faridpur * Comamndo Sirajul Islam, M. Aziz, Aftab Uddin, and Rafiqul Islam, nothing further known about them. Naval Commandos Who Received Bangladesh 'National Hero' Recognition * Mr. A.W. Chowdhury- Beer Uttam * Mr. Badiul Alam- Beer Uttam * Dr. Shah Alam- Beer Uttam * Mr. Mazhar Ullah- Beer Uttam * Mr. Sheikh Md. Amin Ullah- Beer Uttam * Mr. Abedur Rahman- Beer Uttam * Mr. Mosharraf Hossain- Beer Uttam * Mohammad Khabiruzzan- Beer Bikrom * Mr. Momin Ullah Patwari- Beer Protik * Mr. Shahjahan Kabir- Beer Protik * Mr. Faruq-e-Azam- Beer Protik * Mohammad Rahmatullah-Beer Protik * Mohammad Mojjamel Hossain- Beer Protik * Mr. Mosharraf Hossain- Beer Uttam "Operation Jackpot" will probably go down in the history as one of those battles which changed the course of the battle. An unconfirmed source told me that,war colleges in US and UK have taken this operation as a case study,if anyone can verify it,I will be more than happy.