Col M.K. Govindan to attend Vijay Diwas in Bangladesh

He was a captain in the 64 Mountain regiment when India joined the war against Pakistan

Col M.K. Govindan (75), a resident of Kannur, who was part of the Indian Army, which helped liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, would be part of the Indian Armed Veterans contingent, who are being invited to attend the Vijay Diwas celebration in Bangladesh on December 16.

He was a captain in the 64 Mountain regiment when India joined the war against Pakistan.

The regiment, which is the only pure Gorkha artillery regiment, had moved two and a half months before into Bhajanpur in Bangladesh, which is 32km from the Indian border, recalls Mr. Govindan.

He was engaged and was on two weeks of leave to get married when the regiment moved from the eastern sector into East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

"But a week later after the marriage, I was on my way to Barsoi junction, from where the rail lines go to East Pakistan. However, the railway tracks were dismantled and we traveled by a vehicle to join the regiment," he said.

It was two months before India joined the war in December 1971. East Pakistan was in total turmoil. Tensions were high after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan, he said.

It was a covert operation in which he was the observation officer and as artillery battery commandant tasked to support the First Guard regiment, who were also giving arms training to Mukthi Bahini, a Bangladeshi resistance army and another group called Freedom fighters. In the ensuing days, he supported Mukthi Bahini during their operations at various places.

Those two-and-half months were much tougher than the war, said Mr. Govindan. There was no proper food, terrains were difficult, they had to shift places and the enemies were standing face to face, he said.

"But nothing mattered. The thoughts of family or our loved ones hardly bothered. The mind was fixed to accomplish the task and upholding the nation’s pride mattered the most," he observed.

But on December 4 things changed when he was giving fire support to the First Guard. The motor shell fired by the enemies fell on the tree from where he was directing the artillery by watching the enemy line. He suffered multiple injuries and both his shoulder was dislocated.

Mr. Govindan was shifted to the hospital, where he underwent medical treatment for over two weeks. However, by then the Pakistan army surrendered and the war was declared over.

He was medically downgraded and he was posted to station headquarters near Siliguri.

The retired Colonel said that he never visited Bangladesh after the war. But now he feels nostalgic and the thoughts of war and struggle make him feel proud of him and his fellow soldiers, who laid down their life for the cause of people, who fought for the liberation of their country.

Mr. Govindan served in various positions and later went to command the 72 Medium Regiment in Siachen from 1987-90. He was commissioned into the army at the age of 21and is an alumnus of India Military Academy. He retired from the active service in 1996.

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