• Short Summary

    Three dramatic days this week saw the collapse, first of the civilian, and then of the military authority of Pakistan in Dacca, the beleaguered capital of East Pakistan.

  • Description

    Three dramatic days this week saw the collapse, first of the civilian, and then of the military authority of Pakistan in Dacca, the beleaguered capital of East Pakistan.

    This film, traced the course of the historic events in Dacca with the fierce air and land bombardments of Tuesday (14 December) and the collapse of the civilian administration; the Indian Army's full preparation on Wednesday for the assault on the city; and on Thursday the entry of Indian troops into the city, the surrender of the Pakistan Army and the sporadic shooting in the streets of Dacca after the official cease-fire.

    This film is made up from material shot by Visnews and the National Broadcasting Company of the United States; it also includes pooled material.

    SYNOPSIS: The fall of Dacca, the East Pakistan capital, began on Tuesday with a series of low-level attacks by Indian MIG-21 fighter-bombers.

    Senior civil servants of the Pakistan administration in the city sought refuge, with their families, in the Red Cross neutral zone at the Intercontinental Hotel. Then came a second series of raids, this time on the official residence of the Governor of East Pakistan.

    By this time, Indian artillery was also within shelling distance of the beleaguered capital.

    There were numerous civilian casualties from the attacks, including a family of four lying dead in the wreckage of a house.

    The end of the Pakistani civilian administration came with the resignation of the Governor, Dr. A.M. Malik, who arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel clearly shaken after seeing his official residence pounded by Indian rockets.

    Meanwhile, in the surrounding country-side, Indian field guns were keeping up the steady bombardment of Dacca and the Pakistani positions guarding the approaches to the city.

    The Indian heavy armour, which had proved so effective in the earlier episodes of the advance into East Bengal was moving into position for the attack that many feared could result in the destruction of the city and a vast toll in human lives. The bank commanders could already see the Dacca skyline across the flat country.

    The Indian army encircled Dacca in a steel grip. Armoured and infantry units were close to the capital on the north, south and east. Only in the west had the Indian advance been slower. The tanks pounded military targets, closing on the 20,000 Pakistan troops defending the city.

    As Indian troops messed for the final assault on the city, India received the first hint that Dacca might fall without a full military offensive. It came in the form of an inquiry about cease-fire terms from the Pakistani commander-in-chief, General Niazi. The bombing of the city was halted, but the general advance continued, while the Pakistan command considered the terms for an unconditional surrender.

    The terms were accepted ten minutes before the Indian deadline, and troops of the 2nd Parachute Regiment entered the city on Thursday. Bengali civilians freed from the curfew which had been force for days, poured onto the streets to greet the burly Sikh soldiers with shouts of "Jai Bangla" -- "long live Bengal". Bunches of flowers were thrown, and pitchers of water brought to refresh the thirsty soldiers.

    The ancient city, with its maze of rivers, had escaped destruction.

    The site chosen for the formal surrender of the Pakistan Army was Dacca Race-course -- where nine months ago, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made his speech demanding autonomy for East Pakistan. A helicopter flight from Calcutta brought the victorious Indian commander-in-chief, General Aurora, face to face with is defeated adversary. General Niazi.

    A jubilant crowd of Bengals cheered as the two men sat down to sign the documents of unconditional surrender. After putting his name to the document, General Niazi stood up, and with a quick movement stripped the epaulette of rank from his shoulder and handed the bullets from his revolver to an Indian officer. For General Aurora, there was a hero's reception from the crowd.

    The came the surrender of the Pakistan, Government troops and paramilitary forces who had been holding the city against the Indian advance. They'd been promised safety and freedom from reprisals in return for ending the fighting; many had feared for their lives if they fell into the hands of Mukti Bahini irregulars.

    The situation in the city remained confused, and it was only gradually that the incoming Indian troops were able to introduce any organisation to replace the chaos which followed the collapse of Pakistan authority.

    Sporadic shooting continued in the city. In one incident, Indian troops exchanged shots with Pakistani soldiers who'd been allowed to keep their weapons for self-defence until they reached safe positions. The incident may have begun by mistake, as jubilant Bengali youths had been shooting in the air just before the Pakistani soldiers approached the neutral Intercontinental Hotel to give themselves up. One Pakistani soldier died.

    Two civilians were killed and others were inured. The incident was quickly over, but it indicated the tensions that remained in a city threatened with destruction only two days earlier.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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