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The Political Leaders in Disarray (Part-4)

Major shawkat, Capt. Khalequzzaman and Lt. Mahfuz stayed back at Mahalchari for stopping the advancement of the Pakistani forces towards Ramgar. Capt. Oli reached Ramgar on 13 April 1971 and met Zia to brief him about the latest situation.

The Taste of Victory during the Initial Stages

The nest significant phase in the War of Liberation started when Major Zia instructed Oli to proceed to Mirersarai. The Pakistan forces launched a major attack in Sitakund causing the freedom fighters to retreat. The message of the retreat shocked Major Zia. He felt that the forces there might have insufficient organizational skill to withstand an offensive. He was determined to stop the advancement of the Pakistani Army towards Mirersarai, located strategically between the Chittagong and Comilla Cantonments. Zia summoned Oli at the dead of night on 13 April Cantonments. Zia summoned Oli at the dead of night on 13 April 1971 and directed him to proceed to Mirersarai with the mission of thwarting the advancement of the enemy forces. Oli left to lead the operation to be launched at Mirersarai, about 35 miles away from Ramgar.

On 14 April 1971 Capt. Oli and his company of soldiers took a defensive position at Mirersarai and maintained complete secrecy regarding their position. Oli’s strategy was to lure the enemy to come into a trap, as their arms and ammunition were simply not sufficient to directly counter the well-stocked and highly trained enemy forces. Oli’s only advantage was his familiarity with the local landscape. He had two platoons of Ex-EPR and one platoon of newly trained freedom fighters for the operation. His Company was equipped with only one 3” mortar under Havilder Siddique, one MG under LNK Abul Hossain and one 75mm RR from the Second East Bengal Regiment. The Pakistqani Brigade operating at Sitakund had all typs of heavy and light machine guns.

But these odds failed against Oli’s undaunted zeal and vigour. As Oli joined them, the soldiers were very much encouraged and pledged to fight with reassured energy and enthusiasm. He carefully surveyed the locality and chalked out the details of operation. He followed the ‘defensive intelligence’ strategy, which he learned and practiced while he was at the Lahore Cantonment under the command of Lt. Col. M.R. Chowdhury, In spite of their repeated attempts, the enemy forces failed to trace the freedom fighters’ location. Oli observed the movements and behavior of the Pakistani troops until 19 April 1971. It was early in the morning on 20 April 1971 that Oli started the usual business of going round the company’s position at different points. His personal escort Naik Faiz ahmed of the 8 East Bengal Regiment accompanied him. But to his utter surprise he found neither the platoon commander Subedar Serajul Islam, nor the platoon Havilder in their respective trenches along with their troops. He decided to go round all the trenches to see whether the soldiers had been on duty or not. Oli ordered all the soldiers and freedom fighters to go to their respective trenches and to be fully prepared for the attack. He categorically ordered them not to leave their respective positions until direct orders came from him as the company commander.

No sooner had he reached the main road he saw a microbus moving speedily towards their position. He stood still for a while hiding himself behind a bush. He found the microbus being followed by a truck, popularly called ‘3 tonner’. The subsequent events happened very quickly. The ‘3 tonner’ entered the Bengali defensive position, followed by about 20 more trucks with Pakistani soldiers on board. The military build-up of the Pakistan side was clearly great. Oli intended to attack them suddenly and to take advantage of the initial shock and surprise of an unexpected attack. He ordered his company to fire on the enemy convoy. Lance Naik of the 2 East Bengal Regiment, Abdul Hussain, who was in charge of MG detachment, put up galland tighting and destroyed the rear most vehicle. The enemy soldiers were caught unprepared. Havilder Siddique took the opportunity to fire a few rounds of 3” mortar on the enemy vehicles. The shots were accurate and the enemy could not find any routes to escape. Havilder Siddique was a brave fighter. The actions of other troops were also prompt and they carried out coordinated firing on the enemies from both sides of the Dhaka-Chittagong Trunk Road. Most enemy soldiers died inside their vehicles. The Pakistan artillery unit and mortar platoons fired back, but to little avail as they failed to locate the exact positions of the freedom fighters. They were trapped within the radius of the defensive positions. They could move neither backward nor forward. Oli was happy to see his combat plan succeed in the field. During this battle, he’ personally destroyed three enemy vehicles with a 75mm RR.

At about 3 PM, another platoon of Ex-EPR under the leadership of Subedar Saidul had another fierce battle with the enemy in the locality. During the action, L/N abul Kalam of EPR died on the spot when a piece of splinter of a mortar-shell hit him on his chest. This fearless soldier joined those great patriots, who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the motherland. At about 2 PM Havilder Siddique received a bullet injury to chest and later on he was removed to the nearby hospital for immediate treatment.

This was the first time since the start of the War that such a strong enemy force as large as a battalion was contained, trapped and crushed with heavy casualties. In this battle more than 150enemy soldiers were killed and many sustained injuries and as many as 8 vehicles were completely destroyed. The battle continued from 6 AM in the morning until 10 PM at night. Later on Oli ordered his soldiers to move back to Mastan Nagar under cover of night. Mastan Nagar was their next defensive position.

The Battle of Mirersarai was significant and it offered hope to the freedom fighters. They gained confidence to proceed whatever might be the strength of the enemies. They were, however, well aware that the enemy forces would certainly arrange a counter attack to take revenge on them. In case the enemy reinforced themselves, it would not be possible for them to resist them from the defensive positions they occupied at Mirersarai with such meager resources. Therefore, Oli considered it unwise to remain at Mirersarai. To form another defensive position towards the north, Oli withdrew the troops and moved to the hilly areas of Mastan Nagar. Amongst the civilians, Musharraf Hussain, MPA, especially extended his cooperation to the freedom fighters. His services were laudable. In the Battle of Mirersarai, one soldier was lost while five others were injured.

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