Kaderia Bahini and some battles of the Liberation War

Helal Uddin Ahmed | Friday, 16 December 2022

Kaderia Bahini was a local force of freedom fighters in Tangail region led by Bangabeer Kader Siddiqui during the liberation war. Apart from the regular and irregular Muktibahini fighters under the Mujibnagar Government, a number of forces were then raised locally at different places of the country. Of them, the Kaderia Bahini was the largest. It was a ferocious outfit and outshone others in terms of valour and success. This force in fact proved to be a colossal terror for the Pakistani military in the battlefields. It could liberate many areas in central Bangladesh by fighting the invading forces.
Abdul Kader Siddiqui Bir Uttam raised this force initially with 400 students and youths in Baheratali of Sakhipur thana on May 14, 1971. The number of fighters in the force was gradually increased, and till 15 October the number stood at 14 thousand. Ultimately, the figure rose to 17 thousand on December 16, 1971. At the initial stage, they were trained at Baheratali. Later, the headquarters of the force was set up at Mahanandapur of Sakhipur thana. The north-western headquarter of the force was at Bhuapur thana. Apart from Baheratali, Mahanandapur and Bhuapur, most of the freedom fighters of this force received higher training from the Hero Camp of Tura in the Meghalaya state of India. The Kaderia Bahini controlled a huge stretch of territory including all the thanas of Tangail district, five thanas of Mymensingh, four thanas of Dhaka and three thanas of Pabna district. The paratroopers of the Indian allied forces could land in the largest liberated area of Bangladesh under its control during early December 1971.
The internal administration of Kaderia Bahini was divided into eight departments. These were: military; civil; radio, television and communication; public relations; food; healthcare and clinic; headquarter security; and publicity department. A weekly periodical titled ‘Ranangan’ used to be published in cyclostyle form by the publicity department that served as the mouthpiece of the Bahini. The civilian head of Kaderia Bahini Anwar Ul Alam Shaheed (second-in-command of Rakkhi Bahini after independence) used to edit it by using the pseudonym ‘Ranadoot’. Faruque Ahmed (war-wounded freedom fighter) was the assistant editor. The price of the magazine was 50 paisa. Kader Siddiqui recruited efficient staffs for all the departments, and there were also a few thousand volunteers in the force.
The Kaderia Bahini comprised of five sectors as follows:
Sector No 1. The area extending from the western side of Tangail-Modhupur road up to the Jamuna River. The job of this sector was to attack the enemy camps at Gopalpur, Jagannathganj Ghat and Dhanbari, and keep the Modhupur-Dhanbari road free from the enemy clutches. Ten company commanders were tasked with the responsibilities of this sector. Company commander Abdul Hakim of Medur under Sarishabari was assigned the job of overall coordination of this sector. The headquarter of this sector was set up at Nolin Bazar under Gopalpur thana.
Sector No 2. It covered the areas of Mirzapur, Tangail, Dhamrai, Manikganj, Ghior and Saturia of Manikganj, and Chouhali and Belkuchi of Pabna on the western side of Dhaka-Tangail road. There were nine company commanders in charge of this sector. The task of overall coordination was reposed on the company commander Khandakar Habibur Rahman, Bir Bikram of Sadhurgalaganda village under Ghatail thana, who was also known as Jahajmara Habib. It’s headquarter was set up at Salimabad of Nagarpur thana.
Sector No 3. It covered vast areas on the eastern side of Dhaka-Tangail highway as well as the Tangail district town. There were 14 company commanders in-charge of this sector. Company commander Fazlur Rahman served as the coordinator. The headquarters was set up at Baheratali of Sakhipur.
Sector No 4. It included territories on the eastern side of Tangail-Modhupur road. Its jurisdictions were Kalihati and Ghatail thanas as well as the enemy convoys on Tangail-Mymensingh road. Four company commanders were in-charge of this sector. Commander Nabi Newaz Khan acted as the coordinator. The headquarter was set up at Moricha.
Sector No 5. It covered the whole region of Modhupur, Muktagachha and Bhaluka of Mymensingh. This sector was in turn divided into two halves. Six company commanders were in charge of this sector. The coordination for the eastern half was vested on Afsar Uddin, while Commander Ali Hossain Laltu was the coordinator for the north-eastern half.
In addition, the freedom fighters of another 14 companies were kept as roving units.
According to various sources, the Kaderia Bahini took part in 253 battles against the Pakistani military. The commander of the force Kader Siddiqui led the battles in over forty combats. More than 3 thousand Pakistani soldiers were killed at the hands of this force; besides, around 13 thousand Pakistani soldiers and Razakars were taken prisoners. On the other hand, over two hundred freedom fighters of the Bahini embraced martyrdom after being hit by Pakistani fire.
Notable battles fought by the Kaderia Bahini were: Battle of Charan (22 May); Basail Thana Operation (14 June); Battle of Kamutia (16 June); Ghatail Thana Campaign (18 June); Battle of Balla (12 June and 16 July); Battle of Deopara (13 November and 10 December); Battle of Kalidaspara Bridge (27 July); Battle of Nabagram (4 August); Battle of Jahajmara (11 August); Battle of Garjana (14 August); Battle of Makrai (16 August); Battle of Tamai (21 August); Battle of Pankata (25 September); Battle of Baroipatal-Phooldaherpara (26 September); Battle of Ghonabari (6 October); Battle of Jamtoil (8 October); Battle of Bhuapur (8 October); Battle of Banagram (25 October); Battle of Nayapara (30 October); Battle of Patharghata (13 August); Battle of Porabari (5 November); Battle of Dhalapara (28 October); Battle of Muktagachha’s Bat-Tala (11 November); Battle of Chhabbisha (17 November); Battle of Mirzapur (18 November and 12 December); Battle of Karotia (1 December); Battle of Bathuli (21 November); Battle of Kedarpur (30 November); Battle of Elasin Ghat (1 December); Battle of Shamespur (6 December); Battle of Brahmanshashan (10 December); Battle of Goongram (10 December); Battle of Baghutia (10 December); Ghatail Thana Operation (10 December); Battle of Tangail District Gate (10 December); and Battle of Gopalpur (8 October and 11 December).
The extraordinary successes of the Kaderia Bahini in the liberation war have been acknowledged by many historians. Ten companies of freedom fighters belonging to this force entered Dhaka via Savar-Mirpur alongside Brigadier Sant Singh of the Indian allied forces on December 16, 1971. The commander Kader Siddiqui had the honour of remaining present at Ramna Racecourse Maidan (now called Suhrawardy Udyan) during the surrender ceremony of the Pakistani military. The freedom fighters of the Kaderia Bahini led by its commander formally surrendered their arms to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bindubashini High-School ground of Tangail on 24 January 1972.
The Battle of Mirzapur: The battle fought by the Kaderia Bahini took place twice – first on November 18 and then on December 12, 1971. The Pakistani forces set up a camp in Mirzapur thana on May 7. The freedom fighters tried to evict them from the place several times, but that was not possible due to the absence of a favourable situation. Finally, on November 18, 1971, evening, around 400 freedom fighters of Kaderia Bahini led by company commanders Abdus Sabur Bir Bikram, Saidur Rahman Bir Protik, Azad Kamal and Rabiul Alam Guerrilla took up position around the Pakistani camp. In accordance with the plan, the group led by Azad Kamal, who took up position at the graveyard on the eastern bank of Barukhali canal that flowed through the thana’s eastern side attacked the Pakistani forces at 8.30 pm. A pincer attack from all four sides ensued after that. As a consequence of this assault, the invading forces were defeated and they fled Mirzapur before 6 am in the morning. Twenty-eight Pakistani soldiers and Razakars were killed in the attack, and 7 Pakistani soldiers plus 150 Razakars were captured by the freedom fighters. A freedom fighter named Jahangir Hossain Khan, hailing from Lokerpara village of Ghatail, embraced martyrdom during the encounter. Two days later, a large number of Pakistani soldiers armed with modern weaponry retook Mirzapur on 21 November noon. Taking into account the risk of heavy losses, the freedom fighters then left Mirzapur without offering any further resistance.
The Pakistani forces however started to lose ground towards the end of November in the face of repeated attacks by freedom fighters at different places. The freedom fighters then became desperate to capture the last refuge of the Pakistani forces at Mirzapur thana. They therefore moved towards the thana headquarter with that goal in mind. Finally, they launched an assault against the Pakistani forces stationed at Mirzapur sadar from all four sides on 12 December under the leadership of Kaderia Bahini commanders Azad Kamal, Abdus Sabur Khan, Rabiul Alam Guerrilla and Ferdous Alam Ranju. The battle continued up to 12 noon next day. At that juncture, the last group of Pakistani soldiers standing on the rooftop of the circle office (CO office) surrendered to the freedom fighters. The brave freedom fighters then hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh atop buildings.
Battle of Gopalpur Thana took place in two stages – on 8 October and then on 8-10 December 1971. Gopalpur is located 43 kilometres north-east of the district headquarter. The Pakistani invaders set up a camp at the thana on 2 May 1971. The river Boiran flowed from north to south on the western side of the thana. In accordance with the instruction of Abdul Kader Siddiqui , a decision was taken to liberate the Gopalpur and Bhuapur thanas from the clutches of Pakistanis on 8 October under the leadership of company commanders Abdul Hakim and Khandakar Habibur Rahman respectively. In accordance with that decision, both the company commanders made preparations for freeing the two thanas from the enemy. Some freedom fighters from the companies of Habibul Haque Khan Benu and Kazi Ashraf Humayun Bangal rendered assistance to the Hakim Company. Although Bhuapur was liberated under the leadership of Khandakar Habibur Rahman, Abdul Hakim did not succeed at first in freeing Gopalpur. However, a young freedom fighter of the Hakim Company named Shahidul Islam Lalu, Bir Protik entered Gopalpur in the guise of a tea-stall employee and exploded grenade inside the enemy-camp. As a result, 8 Pakistani soldiers were killed. After this incident, when additional Pakistani reinforcements arrived from Tangail and Mymensingh, the freedom fighters made a retreat.
Following the recognition of Bangladesh by India on 6 December 1971, the freedom fighters started to fight with greater zeal and enthusiasm with the help of allied forces, and began liberating one area after another from the clutches of the enemy. As instructed by the commander of Kaderia Bahini, the freedom fighters of Asaduzzaman Arju Company destroyed the Sailajani Bridge beside Gopalpur on 8 December, thereby exerting pressure on the Pakistani forces stationed at the thana. The freedom fighters belonging to four companies chalked out a plan at a meeting held in Panchtikorhi village of Ghatail on that very night to attack the Pakistani forces for expelling them from Gopalpur. In accordance with that plan, the company of Noor Hossain Angur advanced through Goruhati on the night of 8 December; the companies of Abdul Hakim and Bokul took up position on the western bank of Boiran River; and the company of Asaduzzaman Arzoo were positioned at the jute storage depot on the eastern river-bank. They then attacked the Pakistani camp simultaneously.
The Pakistani forces tried to resist the freedom fighters by taking up position in bunkers dug beside the jute warehouse. The exchanges of fire between the two sides continued throughout 9 and 10 December. But failing to cope with the combined assault of the freedom fighters, the Pakistanis fled Gopalpur in the darkness of night. Then shouting ‘Joy Bangla’ slogan, the freedom fighters entered the Gopalpur thana and hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh. Two Pakistani soldiers were killed during the encounter, and 15 Razakars also surrendered.
Shubhalya Bridge Operation was carried out on 19 November 1971. The Shubhalya Bridge is located on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway – around 1 kilometre south of Jamurki-Pakulla area in Mirzapur of Tangail district. Kader Siddiqui held a meeting with some company commanders on 17 November and decided to destroy 18 bridges on the route from Tangail to Kaliakoir. He also spelt out which company would destroy which bridge. The responsibility of destroying Shubhalya Bridge fell on company commanders N A Khan Azad and Kazi Ashraf Humayun Bangal. Company commander Khandakar Habibur Rahman Bir Bikram was assigned the task of destroying Jamurki and Pakulla Bridges. He successfully completed the Jamurki Bridge demolition operation. But N A Khan Asad and Kazi Ashraf Humayun initially failed to destroy the Shubhalya Bridge. Therefore, Commander Habibur Rahman was assigned the task of leading the Shubhalya Bridge Operation, and Commander N A Khan Azad was also tagged with him.
The group of 70 to 80 freedom fighters took preparation for destroying the bridge at around 8 pm on 19 November. There were bunkers on both sides of the bridge and about 50-60 Pakistani soldiers and Razakars were on guard there. Commander Habibur Rahman formed a 5-member suicide squad for the operation. The battle between the two sides continued throughout the night till dawn; but the Pakistani soldiers and Razakars ultimately fled the spot. Twenty-two Razakars were caught by the freedom fighters while fleeing. The five freedom fighters of the suicide squad then climbed the bridge by shouting ‘Joy Bangla’. Other fighters also advanced towards the bridge. The engineering corps of the freedom fighters then destroyed the bridge with mines and explosives in the clear light of dawn.

Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed is a retired Additional Secretary and former Editor of Bangladesh Quarterly. [email protected]. [Reference: Encyclopaedia of Bangladesh War of Liberation, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka: December 2020.]