What is operation searchlight? On the 25th March midnight, a West Pakistani Army ran a brutal operation over East Pakistan. So, the name of the military operation is operation searchlight. To demolish the uprising against the central government in East Pakistan, the incident took place. But the incident actually fired the lantern of independence among the Bangali’s of East Pakistan. However, the East Pakistan Army officials had termed the operation as operation searchlight.

25th March 1971, The Black Night

What is operation searchlight? – Purpose of the operation

Actually, the main purpose of the operation was to arrest & kill. As they ran the operation overnight. So, on that particular night, they killed & arrested a lot of distinguishing Awami League leaders. Even they did not show any mercy to student leaders & intellectuals. Being specific they had targeted the main cities of East Pakistan such as Dhaka. Later on, they kept the mission on to capture radio stations & telephone exchanges. So, they can disconnect East Pakistan from the world. In this brutal killing operation, they killed or arrested many Military, Para-military and police forces to disarm East Pakistan.

What is operation searchlight? – The plan

Following was the list of goals that Central government wanted to achieve on the night of 25th March 1971:

• First, the operation should start simultaneously all over East Pakistan.
• Second, was to arrest people such as students, teachers, leader & political activist etc.
• Third, was to capture Dhaka University. It was a must to task to declare the mission successful.
• The fourth task was to make sure the security of cantonments.
• Next, disconnect East Pakistan from the entire world. By capturing Radio stations, Telephone exchanges, armed force bases etc. Also, they also disrupted the foreign consulates.
• Sixth was to capture the soldiers of East Pakistan Regiment and so the arms go down.
• Finally, they wanted to capture major cities including Dhaka, Khulna, Chittagong, Comilla, Jessore, Rangpur, Sylhet etc.

What is operation searchlight? – The execution

  • 22-Baluch Regiment was responsible to take over the Peelkhana base and disarm the East Pakistan regiment soldiers. Finally, they need to capture the radio stations too.
  • Next, the 32-Punjab Regiment was the responsible for disarming the Rajarbagh police line soldiers. Because it was the main source of arms supply of East Pakistan.
  • The 18-Punjab Regiment launched an attack on Nawabpur and other Hindu majority areas on the same night.
    As that time the BUET was the center of Awami league rebels. So they made a special force from 22 Baluch, 18 and 32 Punjab Regiment. They launched an attack on Iqbal Hall (Zahurul Haq Hall), Jagannath Hall and Liaquat Hall of BUET.
  • Next, the special platoon of commandos had attacked the house of the father of the nation and arrested him.
    Later the field regiment took control on the Second capital and the adjoining settlements (Mirpur-Mohammadpur).
  • M 24 tanks came out later into the roads to show power & strength.
  • Finally, the soldiers from central military including above regiments demolished any protest and destructed them to death to achieve their goals. In the end, they launched operations in the residents of listed politicians. Either killed them or arrested. And few bodies of them from that night arrest are still to find.

What is operation searchlight? – Duration of the operation

The operation began on 11.30 hours right before the midnight, 25th March 1971. And lasted till the mid of the Month of May 1971.

What is operation searchlight? – The consequence

However, there are several earlier consequence of incidents resulted in operation searchlight. But following we tried to make a list of the main causes:

1. Among several reasons, one of the main reason was the non-cooperation movement. And the Bangabandhu SK Mujibur Rahman headed the movement against the central government. But general peoples such as students, teachers, professionals, intellectuals, and business man’s came to the road to show their allegiance. So, the central government of Pakistan found the movement as a threat. As a result, this kind of massacre became very expected from the Central Military Government.

2. Actually, the operation searchlight expected to launch on as per schedule on 13.00 hours 26th March 1971. But on 25th March 1971, there was a meeting held between two leaders both from East & West. From East Awami Leader SK Mujibur Rahman represented. On the other hand, Yahiya Khan was representing West central government of Pakistan. But unfortunately, the meeting had no positive result and busted unexpectedly.

3. On the same night, the much general public came down on the roads and showed protest & resistance against the central government. On the hand, they also showed love and allegiance to Free East Pakistan. Obliviously with the father of nation Bangabandhu SK Mujibur Rahaman.

As people like Major Siddique Sadek, Lt. General Tikka Khan (Public relation officer) & AAK Niazi was already expecting such resistance from Bengali’s. So, they made a decision to start the operation searchlight earlier on 25th March 1971. As a result to avoid any protest or resistance from East Pakistan. And unfortunately, the plan had worked. As a result, they killed thousands of innocents over the night and captured Dhaka.

What is operation searchlight? – The Loss

Today it’s hard to define the accurate number of causalities on 25th March 1971. As one the main reason was the blackout and the foreign journalists left the country as per order. Moreover, the government put on so much pressure on free media and maintained censorship. So, it is very hard to find any evidence of the night.

what is operation searchlight

The death of innocent people and the genocide!

But the brave journalist like who took life risk that night. Such as Arnold Jetline, Michael Laurent and Simon Dring who took a hideout that night. Later reported, the brutal incidents of that dark night of Bengali’s. On the 29th March, a report published under the caption Dateline Dacca in the Daily Telegraph. Here Simon revealed that about 200 students were killed. Also, he included that 12 teachers and their family members lost their life in own resident. On the same night, by burning they killed about 700 people in Old Dhaka. Today from different sources we learned that on that fateful night about 7000 people slept to death only in Dhaka.

Here Read more articles on history!!! Tanzia Farin Chy