ARCHIVAL RECORDS: SITUATION IN ASSAM DURING BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR IN 1971-PART 1
(Following is an extract from a statement made by then Assam Chief Minister Mahendra Mohan Choudhury in the Assam Assembly on October 25, 1971)
Mr. Speaker Sir,
I rise to give a broad account of the difficult situation currently facing our state.
As known to us all, the situation in Bangladesh has created serious problem of security besides economic strain to the country and in particular to the states bordering the Bengal. Our state has a very long and difficult border with East Bengal and as such these happenings have imposed enormous strains on the administration and economy of the state. On the top of this, due to the militant and aggressive attitude of Pakistan in relation to India during recent weeks, a situation is fast developing which at any time may assume the most serious proportions so far as the countryโs security and integrity is concerned.
Our state has been the target of very serious attempt at large scale sabotage specially in case of vital communication links. In particular the Cachar border has been the scene of Pakistani sabotage operations during recent times causing serious concern.
Sabotage activities in a planned and calculated manner started from about the middle of august 1971, since when there has been as many as 28 attempts at grave dislocation of vital communication links and creation and there by of panic and demoralisation. The rail line between Badarpur and Dharmanagar in Tripura has been the scene of such sabotage activity apparently under a plan to bring about complete disruption of the slender communication links between our state and Tripura which also has a long border with East Bengal.
These sabotage attempts obviously aim at preventing movement of essential supplies and security personnel, to create panic and bring about disruption of normal life. As may be known already, in one case due to sabotage in a passenger train one person lost his life and 15 others were injured.
It appears that besides planting high explosive to destroy rail tracks and blow up wagons and compartments , even anti-tank mines of considerable size and weight have been systematically used in these sabotage operations. Some of the explosives used are of special type, the operational mechanism of which call for special examination by expert agencies.
In the Garo hills, the border of which has also been an area of special attention from Pakistan, due to unconscious walking over an area where mines had been planted by Pakistani saboteur two persons lost their lives some time back. About seven bridges and culverts in the border were also sought to be damaged or destroyed in sabotage attempts with high explosives and mines.
Information has also been received that there has been a serious attempt in the early hours of 24th October at disrupting train communication between Assam and the rest of the country at a place between Jorai and Srirampur railway stations in Goalpara district near the Sonkosh bridge bordering Jalpaiguri district. In this sabotage attempt the rail joint was removed and the line displaced. Two passenger trains and one goods train had to be detained and further movements of the trains had to be suspended. Further details about this sabotage attempt of the main railway line are awaited.
As has been absolutely clear by now, Pakistani forces appear to have been moved into strategic border areas and aggressive operations started from the other side of the border in a planned manner. There has been consistant firing from the Pakistani side on important targets and border outposts and once even on Karimganj town in the Cachar-Garo Hills sector during recent weeks. In that connection I would like to draw the attention of the house two serious cases of actual Pakistani intrusion into our territory at Sutarkandi in Cachar and Dalu in the Garo Hills by the end of May last when there had been several casualties on our side.
Firing across the border appears to have been intensified during last few days. Heavy shelling started in Dalu area in the early morning of 20-10-71 which continued for a long time. On the 19th October, Putni TE in Patharkandi P.S. of Cachar was the target of shelling from the Pakistani army, as a result of which four workers received injuries. Many families had to leave the garden for shelter in safer places.
On 21st October night Pakistani army fired upon border villages Elongjuri and Banga. Bullets passed over a light railway engineand a Govt. vehicle with a Magistrate on duty. The same night Govindapur village near Latu border also was subjected to shelling from Pakistan.
On 23-10-71 from about 6.00 a.m to 6.30 a.m. Pakistani forces continued shelling on the Indian villages Deototi, Mantali, and Barapunji in Karimganj sub-division of Cachar district causing injury to one person. Further details are awaited.
These immediate incidents of firing across our border preceded by many more incidents of similar character during the last few weeks only emphasise the seriousness of the situation in our border areas at the moment.
I need not possibly have to tell the House with what grave anxiety and concern the situation is being continuously watched by us and the Govt. of India. (To be continued)