Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Operation Searchlight In Khulna - Kusthia & Rajshahi

Operation Searchlight was a dirty military operation in Bangladesh’s history. It was carried out by the Pakistan Army to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in March 1971. It is known as “The Dark Night of Bangladesh”. This operation ordered by the central government of West Pakistan. The original plan envisioned taking control of the major cities on March 26, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military, within one month. Prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by the Pakistani planners. These
systematic killings enraged the Bengalis, who declared independence from Pakistan (March 26), to achieve the new state of Bangladesh with Indo-Soviet backing.

The planned and designated centers of offensive operations under that plan were Dhaka, Khulna, Chittagong, Comilla, Jessore, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Saidpur and Sylhet areas, where West Pakistani army units were concentrated. Some details of Operation Searchlight in Khulna, Kusthia & Rajshahi are given below:


Pakistani units were given the following objectives in Khulna:

1.    Disarm EPR Wing Headquarter and police line.
2.    Secure the whole town.
3.    Secure the Radio Station
4.    Secure the Telephone exchange.
5.    Arrest Awami League leaders.
6.    Arrest all Khulna’s Communist leaders.

The 5th EPR wing with 4 companies was in Khulna. But they did not have any Bengali officers attached to it. One company was posted in Khulna itself, while the others were posted at Kaliganj, Kalaroa and Satkhira. Two platoons were posted in the sector Headquarter at Jessore. There were a number of Bengali police and Bengali squads in the city as well.

The 22nd Frontier Force regiment (Commanded by Lt. Col. Shams) had at least 75% strength and they were posted in Khulna, attached to the 107th brigade.

On March 25 in Khulna, Pakistani forces arrested the Bengali EPR personnel and some political leaders and they also maintained their positions throughout the whole operation. On March 28, there were big clashes in the city and many Bengali people were killed. A Pakistani squad column from Jessore had reached the city after brushing aside two clumsy ambushes by a mixed force of volunteers, army and police on March 28. Operation Searchlight had anticipated Jessore garrison reinforcing Khulna, but ironically the Khulna detachment was requested to provide reinforcements for Jessore.


A Pakistani squad from the 27th Baluch stayed at Kusthia. In Kusthia, Pakistani squads were given the following objectives:

1.    Secure the telephone exchange.
2.    Take control and secure the whole town.
3.    Establish a presence in the town.

EPR 4 wing (commanded by Major Abu Osman Chowdhury – Bengali) with 5 companies headquarter near at Kusthia. One company in the headquarters and others were posted at Dhopkhali, Jadobpur (on the border), Pryagpur and Bodyanathtala. Kushtia police line housed a substantial police squad. This wing had the full fill of anti tank weapons and mortars in addition to the usual infantry weapons. After the Pakistani crackdown on the night of March 25, many police and Bengali volunteers also joined the EPR.

On March 25 around 11:30 PM, 27th Baluch Company moved to Kushtia in 13 vehicles from Jessore cantonment. They disarmed 500 police personnel and took control of the Police lines. Then the commander of 27th Baluch spread out his forces and set up outposts at the town Police headquarter, Telephone exchange and VHF Radio Station and District school. Then Pakistani squad disabled the telephone and telegraph lines. By 26 March 6 AM a curfew imposed and the town was calm for the next 48 hours. On March 28, some of the police managed to escape and join the EPR at Chuadanga.


The Pakistani 25th Punjab regiment squad (commanded by Lt. Col. Shafqat) minus 1 company, attached to the 23rd brigade. Pakistani EPR squads from EPR sector headquarter. So, the objectives in Rajshahi were:

1.    Disarm EPR sector headquarter and all police.
2.    Secure the telephone exchange.
3.    Secure the Radio station.
4.    Secure the University & Medical College.
5.    Arrest Awami League leaders.

Bengali forces were alerted about the Pakistani squads. The EPR sector no 4 was headquartered in Rahshaji but it contained no Bengali officers. About a company of EPR squads were at the sector headquarter in Rajshahi. EPR wing no: 6 with 4 companies were attached to the Rajshshi sector. It had no Bengali officers and its companies were at the Wing Headquarter, and on the Indian border at Godagari, Mankosha and Charghat. EPR wing no: 7 (commanded by Nazmul Huq – Bengali) with 5 companies was also attached to the Rajshshi sector. Its companies were at the Wing Headquarter and on the Indian border between Panchbibi and Rohanpur. Bengali volunteers and police were also present in Rajshahi.

On March 25, the commander of 25 Punjab Baluch (Lt. Col. Shafqat) was away and joined his squad. As the plan, he sent a squad to Pabna, on the same day to establish Pakistani presence. Pakistan squads began patrolling Rajshahi from March 25 and the situation was normal, if tense the following day. Bengali police had dug bunkers in Rajshahi expecting an attack, but nothing happened. During March 25 to 26, EPR 6 Wing squads at Nawabgaung did not face anything unusual. But the situation at Naogaon was different. On March 23, Bengali squads at Rohanpur had clashed with Pakistani squads and on March 26 soldiers at Naogaon revolted after receiving news of the countrywide Pakistani crackdown. The Bengali squads managed to imprison all Pakistani personnel while they were at dinner. Major Nazmul Haque joined his squads and began assembling the wing companies at Naogaon. At Nawabgaung, Pakistani EPR squads suddenly attacked Bengali squads on the same day, but were forced to surrender after a 4 hour battle. On March 27, the 6 wing soldiers contacted Major Nazmul Haque at Naogaon and also joined the revolt.

After that, Bangladesh Liberation War was continued with Mukti Bahini and it concluded with the unconditional surrender of Pakistan forces on December 16, 1971.

You can also see the details information of Operation Searchlight in Dhaka, Chittagong, Mymensingh-Joydevpur and Comilla, Sylhet-Jessore and Rangpur-Saidpur.


  1. On this day Pakistani Hanadar Bhahni killed a lot of Bengali people.

  2. It was a real horrible night for the Bangladeshi people.

  3. No any Operation Searchlight will prevent Bangladeshi due to the love of motherland.

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