The Battle of Garibpur was a battle that was fought by the Pakistan Army against the Indian Army on 20–21 November 1971. This battle was fought 12 days before India officially joined the war against Pakistan. The battle started after an Indian army 14 Punjab battalion supported by PT-76 tanks from the 45 Cavalry and Mukti Bahini moved in to capture the areas around Garibpur inside the Pakistani territory, prompting a Pakistani counterattack.
|Battle of Garibpur|
|Part of Bangladesh Liberation War|
The T-55 tank of Soviet origin and of 1950 vintage, used extensively in Indo-Pak war of 1971
Bangladesh (Mukti Bahini)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|2 tanks destroyed||8 tanks destroyed, 3 captured|
After months of internal tensions in East Pakistan (current day Bangladesh) and a clampdown on Bengali nationalists, the independence forces had coalesced into the combined Mukti Bahini. After initial success by Pakistani troops against the Mukti Bahini there had been some relative calm in the region and further Indian assistance was sought to turn the tide. India thus started to involve itself deeper into the conflict brewing in the east and stationed its troops near the border.
The Boyra salient located inside the northwest part of East Pakistan consisting of Garibpur village was at an important crossroads for both nations. Its control was thus vital as it included a highway to Jessore from India.
On 21 November, the 14th Punjab Regiment, supported by PT-76 tanks from 45 Cavalry and Mukti Bahini moved in to capture the areas around Garibpur inside Pakistani territory. The move was supposed to be a surprise, but following a skirmish with patrol troops of both armies the previous day, Pakistan was alerted to this impending attack. Pakistan immediately retaliated with an infantry battalion supported by the 3rd Independent Armoured Squadron, equipped with M24 Chaffee light tanks. Retaining infantry and recoilless rifles in a defensive position, the Indian tanks were sent forward to ambush the oncoming Pakistani charge. In the next couple of hours, the Indian troops resisted the Pakistani attack who couldn't pinpoint the source of attacks due to poor visibility on account of fog. Undeterred, Pakistani tanks and infantry were thrown into an offensive against the Indian defensive positions. However, the attack was repulsed by the Indians and resulted in heavy casualties for both Pakistan and India. The Indian PT-76s proved superior to the Pakistani Chaffees, with 8 Pakistani Chaffees destroyed and 3 captured. Indian troops and Mukti Bahini also suffered heavy casualties during the battle. An Indian Army tank led by Colonel TS Sidhu was destroyed by Pakistani fire, wounding him, and Major Daljit Singh Narang was killed. He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India's second highest military honour.
Battle of BoyraEdit
The Pakistani Army had called for help from the Pakistan Air Force which soon responded with attacks on Indian positions. At around 3:00 p.m. three F-86 Sabres of the PAF flew in to provide close air support and hit the Indian positions using machine guns and rocket fire. The Indian Air Force, however, was prepared for such an attack and mobilized four Folland Gnats to intercept. Two Sabres were shot down while another was damaged after a brief dogfight. The damaged F-86 Sabre managed to fly back home safely. Two of the pilots ejected safely but were captured by the Mukti Bahini and Indian troops and were taken to India as POWs.
The battle coming just weeks before the official start of the war had an unexpected turn of events. Victory in this and other battles like Battle of Hilli ensured that the Northern sector of East Pakistan was virtually in the hands of Mitro Bahini (an alliance of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini) before the war was declared.