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The Operation Jackpot was a codename for three operations undertaken by Indian Army and Bengali Mukti Bahini operating under the Eastern Command of the Indian Army in East-Pakistan against the Federation of Pakistan during the climax of the Bangladesh Liberation War[5][6].

Operation Jackpot
Part of Bangladesh Liberation War
Bansec71.PNG
Map of Operation Jackpot, Indian Supply network for Mukti Bahini.
Date25 April—15 August 1971[1]
Location
Result
  • Operational success of the Mukti Bahini Naval Commandos
  • Tactical failure by the Pakistan Navy August 15 - Dec 16, 1971
  • Success of Indian Army supply operation May 15 - Dec 16, 1971
  • Indian Army IV Core Operational Success Dec 2 - Dec 16, 1971
Leaders and Commanders

 India


Bangladesh Bangladesh
 Pakistan
Commanders and leaders

Lt Gen J.S. Arora
(GOC-in-C, Eastern Command) Maj Gen Inderjit Singh Gill
(Dir., Military Operations)
Maj.Gen B.N "Jimmy Sarker
(Commanding Oficcer, Operation Jackpot]])
Brig. Sant Singh
(CO, Foxtrot Group)


Col. M. A. G Osmani
BangladeshMajor Rafiqul Islam[2]
* Lt. Col. Khaled Musharraf
* Major M. A Jalil
* Submariner Abdul Wahed Chowdhury
* Submariner Ahsanullah
* Submariner Badiul Alam
* Submariner Abdur Rahman
* Submariner Shahjahan
Mukti Bahini Sector 10

Lt-Gen. A. A. K. Niazi
(Cdr. of Eastern Command)
Maj-Gen. Khadim Hussain
(GOC 14th Infantry Division)
Maj-Gen. R. Farman Ali
(Mil-Adv. East Pakistan Police)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg R-Adm Mohammad Shariff
(FOC of Eastern Command)
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Capt. Ahmad Zamir
(CO, Pakistan Marines Corps East) 1st Cmdo Btn. (Yaldram), SSG

Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy

Lt Gen Sagat Singh


Lt. Col Ziaur Rahman
(CO, Z Force Brigade)
Lt. Col Khaled Mosharraf
(CO, K Force Brigade)
Lt. Col K M Shafiullah
(CO, K Force Brigade)
BangladeshMajor Rafiqul Islam[3]
* Major A.T.M Haider
* Major C. R. Dutta
* Major Mir Shawkat Ali
Units involved

Indian Army

  • IV Corps
    • 8 Mountain Division
    • 23 Mountain Division
    • 57 Mountain Division

Mukti Bahini

Pakistan Army

Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy


East Pakistan Civil Armed Force

  • 6 Sector HQ wings, 17 operational Wings[4]

After Pakistan Army drove the Bengali resistance across the Indian border at the conclusion of Operation Searchlight, Indian Army implemented a supply and training operation for the Mukti Bahini from May 15, 1971, with the goal of sending ever increasing number of trained fighters to attack Pakistani forces and sabotage military and economic assets to demoralize the Pakistani soldiers and disrupt their supply network. This enterprise was dubbed "Operation Jackpot".

The Mukti Bahini Naval Commandos launched several sabotage efforts in the cities of Chittagong, Chandpur, Mongla, and the Narayanganj District against the operating combined forces of the Pakistan Soldiers, Pakistan Marines, Pakistan Navy SEAL Teams, and the East Pakistan Security Forces on the night of 15 August of 1971.[5][6] Bengali Submariners who had defected from Pakistani submarine PNS Mangro (S133), then based in Toulon in France, led the attacks, and this is also known as Operation Jackpot.[7] Pakistani military initiated countermeasures to improve security by increasing the door-to-door clearance and the applied counterinsurgency tactics by the Army Special Forces and the Navy SEAL Teams, but this failed to curb the Mukti Bahini activity.[8]

The third operation was the operational plan designed by Lt. Gen Sagat Singh, commander of the Indian Army IV Corps attached to the Eastern Command and the Bangladesh forces operating in his operational area against the Pakistani forces in Sylhet, Comilla and Chittagong as part of the overall campaign during November 21 - December 16, 1971[9].

BackgroundEdit

After the postponing of the session National Assembly of Pakistan, the High Command was authorised by the Yahya administration to launch the military operation (codename: Searchlight and Barisal) on March of 1971 in a view of curbing political opposition instigated by the Awami League– which had won majority in the 1970 elections and would have formed next civilian government of Pakistan had the army not intervened.[6]. The Pakistani Armed Forces launched Operation Searchlight on the 25th of March, 1971 in a bid to take control of East Pakistan and subdue all resistance (political or otherwise) against the West Pakistani authorities. By mid of May, the Pakistan Authorities in East Pakistan, with the crucial support provided by the Pakistani military, had been in control of maintaining the writ of government in major areas of East, and the Mukti Bahini, under attack from Pakistan Air force and armed military units, started to retreat across the border into India.[10] By the middle of June, Pakistani army had driven the remnants of Bengali army and Para-military units, who had been supported by the civilians, across the border into India[11]. The Mukti Bahini, formed around the defecting Bengali soldiers with civilian volunteers, started a guerrilla campaign [12].

PreludeEdit

The central government in India decided to open its Eastern border with East-Pakistan on the 27th of March, and started to admit millions of Bengali refugees and political dissidents into India, housing them in specialized camps.[13] After the crackdown, Tajuddin Ahmad met with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on April 3, 1971 and asked for all possible aid,[14] by which time the Indian government had already opened East Pakistan border and the BSF was offering limited aid to the Bengali resistance.The Bangladesh government in exile was formed by the Awami League leadership on April 17 at Meherpur in Kushtia, which confirmed Col. Osmani as commander of Mukti Bahini (regular armed forces and insurgents) under the authority of Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad.[15] Since March of 1971, the local supply of weapons and ammunition were initially overseen by the India's Border Security Force (BSF) and BSF had even made disorganized incursions in Bangladesh, with little success.[16] On the whole BSF did not have the ability to meet the demands of the war completely, and on the 15th of May Indian Army Eastern Command took over the task of training and supplying the Mukthi Bahini[17].


Indian Army dubbed the operation to support Mukti Bahini "Operation Jackpot", setting up a coordinated enterprise under the Eastern Command for meeting the material support, logistical, and training needs, and to some extent, lend operational support and planning advice.[18][5] At the operational stage at the Indian Army's Headquarters in New Delhi, Maj. Gen. Onkar Singh Kalkat oversaw the Mukti Bahini desk for two months before the operational command was assumed by Maj. Gen. B. N. 'Jimmy' Sarcar.[19]

The operational setup and execution of planEdit

The border areas around East Pakistan was divided into six logistical sectors, each to be commanded by a brigadier from the Indian Army.[20]

The Indian logistical sectors for this operation were:

  • Alpha (HQ: Murti Camp, West Bengal), C.O. Brig. B. C. Joshi.
  • Bravo (HQ: Rajgaunj, West Bengal), C.O. Brig. Prem Singh.
  • Charlie (HQ: Chakulia, Bihar), C.O. Brig. N. A. Salik.
  • Delta (HQ: Devta Mura, Tripura), C.O. Brig. Sabeg Singh.
  • Echo (HQ: Masimpur, Assam), C.O. Brig. M. B. Wadh, co-ordinating logistics.
  • Foxtrot, (HQ: Tura, Meghalaya), C.O. Brig. Sant Singh.

Through this network, Mukti Bahini forces communicated with the Mukti Bahini Headquarters Exiled in Kolkata and coordinated all supply, training and operational efforts for the war. Lt. Gen. J. S. Aurora, commander of Eastern Command, was overseeing the entire operation.

Effectiveness and importanceEdit

At the beginning of stage of the Jackpot, the operation proved to be a significant one since the Mukti Bahini had engaged in series of insurgent attacks, political assassinations, and terrorist activities in all over the East-Pakistan that it debunked the Yahya administration's claims of maintaining the law enforcement and stability in Eastern region as the insurgency picked up the its importance when the international press publicizing the political events in East.[6] The Indian Army's Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) was well aware of the Navy SEALs and the Army Special Forces, therefore planned a careful operation with the Mukti Bahini Leadership to launch a series of attacks to sabotage the civil and military infrastructure, inflict casualties on Pakistani forces and demoralize Pakistan armed forces personnel the before the Indian Army officially engaged both the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy in Eastern Pakistan.[6]

Despite limitations and challenges rising from the state of the Indian transport network, availability of supplies, differences of opinion of guerrilla training methods and the decision of Bangladesh government to train the maximum number of guerrillas in the shortest possible time[21], which may have caused supply shortages and often arming of only 40% to 50% of the newly trained guerrillas with firearms,[22], Bangladesh managed to field 30,000 regular troops and 100,000 guerrillas and run a campaign that would at least destroy or damage 231 bridges, 122 railway lines, 90 electric stations[23], disrupting the logistical/supply system of the Pakistani forces, and kill at least 237 officers, 136 JCOs and 3,559 soldiers of the regular army during April to November of 1971[24], and an unspecified number of Police, West Pakistan Rangers, EPCAF and Razakar members. The guerrilla operations had also lowered the morale of the Pakistani army and by November, they chose to remain in their bases whenever possible[25][26], and the contribution of the guerrilla warfare to the final victory was enormous despite the challenges[27].


Background: Naval CommandosEdit

At the conclusion of Operation Searchlight and Operation Barisal, the Army and Navy had driven the Mukti Bahini into India, where they entered a period of reorganization during June and July 1971 to train guerrillas, set up networks and safe houses in the occupied territories to run the insurgency and rebuild the conventional forces. Col. M. a. G. Osmani divided the country into 11 sectors, while planning to send 2,000–5,000 guerrillas inside Bangladesh every month with 3/4 weeks training to hit all targets of opportunity, while build up the regular force to seize territory in Sylhet,[28][29] Indian officials suggested fielding a force of 8,000 guerrillas with regular troops in leadership position with three or four-month's training.[30] The solution was to activate the hitherto inactive Sector No. 10[31] as a special sector for naval commandos with Col. Osmani in charge from 13 May onwards,[32] and this Naval commando force was to be trained as per the Indian suggestion, acting as an elite force for attacking riverine and seabourne targets.

Col. Osmani's initial strategy of sending 2,000–5,000 guerrillas inside Bangladesh every month since July and hitting the border outposts[33] with regular battalions had not yielded expected results for various reasons,[34] and Pakistani commanders were confident that they have contained the "Monsoon" offensive of Mukti Bahini.[35][36] As the pace of military operations in Bangladesh slacked off, the civilian morale was adversely affected,[37] which prompted East-Pakistan administrative authorities to claim that the situation had returned to "normal". In response to this declaration, the Mukti Bahini launched 2 operations: (1) Guerrilla attacks in targets in Dhaka by a crack commando group trained by Major ATM Haider (ex-SSG commando), and (2) the simultaneous mining and damaging of ships in Chittagong, Chandpur, Mongla and Narayanganj on 15 August, which became known in Bangladesh and international media as "Operation Jackpot".


Mukti Bahini riverine activityEdit

Bangladesh is crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers in addition to 300 large navigable canals. The river transport is important because of the poor state of the road network, especially during the monsoon, when the whole country turns into a morass of mud and many areas are only reachable only through water transport.[38] The movement and logistics of Pakistan army largely depended on their control of the inland waterways, and of the Sea ports. Mukti Bahini did not operate a separate naval wing during March–June 1971. River craft were requisitioned as needed. The Pakistan Navy and Air Force sank one such craft, MV Ostrich, during Operation Barisal on 26 April,[citation needed] while Pakistani gunboats sank 3 boats commanded by Mukti Bahini on 5 May 1971, at Gabura.[39]


Pakistan naval preparationsEdit

The importance of waterways was not lost on Pakistan Eastern Command. After the launch of Operation Searchlight and the successful conclusion of Operation Barisal, General A. O. Mittha (Quarter Master General of Pakistan Army) had recommended the creation of a port operating battalion for Chittagong, in addition to separate River Transport and River Marine Battalion to operate an augmented Cargo and Tanker flotilla.[40] These steps were not implemented, the Army commandeered civilian water crafts for logistics and posted Army and Razakar personnel to guard various ferries, bridges, ports and other naval installations. Pakistan Navy established a Marine Academy in June 1971 to support riverine operations.[41]

Rear Admiral Mohammad Shariff had only 4 gunboats (PNS Comilla, Rajshahi, Jessore and Sylhet) and a patrol boat (PNS Balaghat) in East Pakistan, while the navy remodelled 17 civilian ships into gunboats by adding 12.7/20 mm guns, and .30/.50 calibre Browning machine guns.[42] These boats joined the fleet by August 1971, while several other boats had been fitted with 40X60 mm Bofors guns and .50 calibre machine guns in Khulna and Chittagong dockyards to serve as patrol boats.[43] A few hundred officers and 2,000 crewmen were posted in East Pakistan in 1971. 300 Bengali seamen were transferred to West Pakistan as a precaution after 25 March 1971, while Special Service Group Navy (SSGN) teams were posted in East Pakistan under Commander David Felix.

Naval Commando Training and preparationsEdit

 
A graphical representation of Bengali Naval Commando activities against Shipping in East Pakistan in 1971. A generic representation, not all geographic features are shown.

The river transport system was vital for economic activity given the primitive state of the road and railways system of East Pakistan. Major Jalil, Colonel M. A. G. Osmani and Indian Commander Bhattachariya in collaboration with top regional commanders established the secret camp, codenamed C2P, in Plassey, West Bengal on 23 May to train volunteers selected from various Mukti Bahini sectors (Bangladesh was divided in 11 operational sectors for Mukti Bahini operations) for this purpose. Initially 300 volunteers were chosen,[44] ultimately 499 commandos were trained in the camp. The training course included swimming, survival training, using limpet mines, hand-to-hand combat and navigation. By August 1971, the first batch of commandos were ready for operation. The Camp Commander at C2P was Commander M. N. Samanth, Training Coordinator was Lt. Commander G. Martis, both from the Indian Navy, while 20 Indian instructors along with the 8 Bengali submariners became trainers.[32] Pakistani Intelligence agents scouted the camp in June and July but Indian security measures prevented any harm to the camp and apprehended all infiltrators.[43]

The Bangladesh naval commando operation that was called "Operation Jackpot" was precipitated by events in Toulon, a coastal city of southern France. The operation was planned to take on Naval Special Service Group of the Pakistani Navy, after it had conducted several other operations. In 1971, there were 11 East Pakistan naval submarine crewmen receiving training there aboard a Pakistani submarine. One commissioned officer (Mosharraf Hassain) and 8 crewmen decided to take control of the submarine and to fight against Pakistan. Their plan was disclosed, however, causing them to flee from death threats made by Pakistan's Naval Intelligence. Out of the 9 crewmen, one mad his way to London, the others managed to travel to the Indian Embassy in Geneva, Switzerland. From Geneva, embassy officials took them to New Delhi on 9 April, where they began a program of top secret naval training at C2P.

The operation was planned in the last week of July, under tight security. Information on river tides, weather and East Pakistani naval infrastructure and deployment was collected through the Mukti Bahini. Selected commandos were sent from C2P to forward bases in Tripura and West Bengal, where a final briefing was given to them. Mukti Bahini in Sector No. 1 assisted the group going to Chittagong, Sector No. 2 aided the groups going to Chandpur and Narayanganj and Sector No. 9 assisted the group targeting Mongla. Each commando carried a pair of fins, a knife, a limpet mine, and swimming trunks. Some had compasses, 1 in 3 commandos had Sten guns and hand grenades, the group leaders carried a transistor radio. All the groups carried their own equipment to their targets and after entering Bangladesh between 3 and 9 August, reached their destinations by 12 August, using the local Mukti Bahini network of safehouses. A pair of songs was played in India Radio (Akashbani) at specific times to convey the intended signal for commencing the operations.[45] The first song (Amar putul ajke prothom jabe shoshur bari) was played on 13 August, the second song (Ami tomay joto shuniyechilem gan tar bodole chaini kono dan)[46] on 14 August. The result of this operation was:

  • Chittagong: Sixty commandos were divided into 3 groups of 20 each, but one group failed to arrive due to Pakistani security on time. Out of 40 commandos, 9 refused to take part,[47] while 31 commandos mined 10 ships instead of 22 initially planned[48] on 16 August[citation needed]. Between 1:45 and 2:15 am, explosions sank the MV Al-Abbas, the MV Hormuz and the Orient barge no. 6, sinking 19,000 tons of arms and ammunition along with damaging/sinking 7 other barges/ships.
  • Chandpur: 20 commandos were sent to mine ships at Chandpur.[49] Two commandos ultimately refused to take part, the other 18 divided into 6 groups and mined 4 ships.[50] 3 steamers/barges were damaged or sunk.
  • Narayanganj: 20 commandos conducted the sabotage operation. Four ships were sunk or damaged.
  • Mongla: 60 commandos went to Mongla port. This team was divided into 5 groups of 12 members each. Ultimately 48 commandos mined 6 ships at Mongla. Twelve commandos had been sent on a separate mission.[51][52]

The simultaneous attacks on Pakistan naval shipping assets on 16 August destroyed the myth of normalcy in East Pakistan when the news was flashed in the international media. Pakistan Army investigation concluded that no one had imagined Mukti Bahini capable of conducting such an operation.[53]

Assessment of Naval "Operation Jackpot"Edit

Not all Naval commando missions were met with success. Tightened security prevented any operations in Chittagong after the first week of October,[54] while four attempts to damage the Hardinge Bridge failed.[55] Some Commando teams were ambushed and prevented from reaching their objectives.[56] Misfortune and miscalculation caused some missions to fail.[57] Security measures prevented any sabotage attempts on the oil depots at Narayanganj, Bogra, Faridpur and Chittagong, and Mukti Bahini managed to damage the oil depots at Chittagong and Naryanganj using an Alouette Helicopters and a Twin Otter plane in 2 December 1971.

In total, 515 commandos received training at C2P. Eight commandos were killed, 34 wounded and 15 captured during August–December 1971.[58] Naval commandos managed to sink or damage 126 ships/coasters/ferries during that time span, while one source confirms at least 65 vessels of various types (15 Pakistani ships, 11 coasters, 7 gunboats, 11 barges, 2 tankers and 19 river craft by November 1971).[59] had been sunk between August–November 1971. At least 100,000 tons of shipping was sunk or crippled, jetties and wharves were disabled and channels blocked, and the commandos kept East Pakistan in a state of siege without having a single vessel[60] The operational capability of Pakistan Navy was reduced as a result of Operation Jackpot.

Naval commandos killed in Operation JackpotEdit

  • Commando Abdur Raquib, who was killed during the Foolchhori Ghat Operation
  • Commando Hossain Farid, who was executed during the second Chittagong operation. He was captured by Pakistani army, who tortured him to death by placing him inside a manhole and bending his body until his vertebral column was shattered.
  • Commando Khabiruzzaman, who was killed in second operation in Faridpur
  • Commando Sirajul Islam, M. Aziz, Aftab Uddin, and Rafiqul Islam, nothing further is known about them.

Naval commandos who received Bangladesh 'National Hero Award' RecognitionEdit

[61]

  • A.W. Chowdhury- Bir Uttam
  • Badiul Alam- Bir Uttam
  • Shah Alam- Bir Uttam
  • Mazhar Ullah- Bir Uttam
  • Sheikh Md. Amin Ullah- Bir Uttam
  • Abedur Rahman- Bir Uttam
  • Mosharraf Hossain- Bir Uttam (His honour was revoked by the ruling Government of Bangladesh)
  • Mohammad Khabiruzzan- Bir Bikrom
  • Momin Ullah Patwari- Bir Protik
  • Shahjahan Kabir- Bir Protik
  • Faruq-e-Azam- Bir Protik
  • Mohammad Rahmatullah-Bir Protik
  • Mohammad Mojjamel Hossain- Bir Protik
  • Amir Hossain- Bir Protik

Operation Hot PantsEdit

After the operation of 16 August, all commandos returned to India. After this no pre-planned simultaneous operation was launched by the Naval Commandos. Instead, some groups were sent to destroy specific targets, and other commandos began to hit targets as opportunity presented itself.

Major Jalil, Commander of Mukti bahini Sector No. 9 had obtained permission from Premier Tajuddin Ahmed to form a naval unit in August[62] and had requested four gunboats to Commander M. N. Samanth. In October 1971 Kolkata Port Trust donated two patrol crafts (Ajay and Akshay) to Mukti Bahini. The boats underwent a month-long refitting at Khidirpur dockyard at the cost of 3.8 million Indian Rupees[63] to carry two Canadian 40X60 mm Bofors guns and two light engines and eight ground mines, four on each side of the deck in addition to 11 ground mines.[64] Renamed BNS Padma and Palash, the boats were crewed by 44 Bengali sailors and 12 Naval commandos, the boats were officered by India Navy personnel and handed over to Mukti Bahini on 30 October 1971. Bangladesh Government in Exile State Minister Captain Kamruzzaman was present when the boats were commissioned by Kolkata Port Trust chairman P. K. Sen. Lt. Commander KP Roy and K. Mitra on Indian Navy commanded the boats. The mission for Bangladesh Navy flotilla was:[65]

  • Mine the Chalna port entry point
  • Attack Pakistani shipping

Escorted by an Indian Navy frigate, on 10 November these boats successfully mined the entrance of Mongla port. They also chased the British ship "The City of St. Albans" away from Moingla on 11 November 1971.[66]

Indian Army IV corps operation (21 November 1971 - December 16, 1971)Edit

 
Final Indian Army operational plan in November 1971. A generic representation, some unit locations are not shown. Indian IV Corps operation may have been known as "Operation Jackpot".

The plan of operation for the Indian Army IV corps (8 Mountain Div., 23 Mountain Div., 57 Mountain Div. and "Kilo Force") may have been codenamed "Operation Jackpot". The opposition forces included the Pakistani 14th Infantry division defending Sylhet, Maulaviabazar and Akhaura, the 39th ad hoc division in Comilla, Laksham and Feni and the 97th independent infantry brigade stationed in Chittagong. Indian army had seized salients in the Eastern border from 21 November 1971. After Pakistan launched air attacks on India on 3 December, the Indian army crossed the border into Bangladesh. By the end of the war on 16 December 1971, the Indian army had isolated and surrounded the remnants of the 14th division in Sylhet and Bhairabbazar, the 39th division was cornered in Comilla and Chittagong, with all other areas of Sylhet, Comilla, Noakhali and Chittagong clear of enemy forces. Part of the corps had crossed the Meghna river using the "Meghna Heli Bridge" and using local boats to drive towards Dhaka when the Pakistani army surrendered.

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  66. ^ Islam, Maj. Rafiqul, A Tale of Millions, p. 303

Sources and further readingEdit

  • Salik, Brigadier Siddiq (1977). Witness to Surrender. ISBN 984-05-1373-7.
  • Jacob, Lt. Gen. J. F. R. (2003). Surrender at Dacca: The Birth of A Nation. The University Press Limited. ISBN 984-05-1395-8.
  • Islam, Major Rafiqul (2006). A Tale of Millions. Ananna Publishers. ISBN 984-412-033-0.
  • Shafiullah, Maj. Gen. K. M. (2005). Bangladesh at War. ISBN 984-401-322-4.
  • Rahman, Khalilur (2006). Muktijuddhay Nou-Abhijan. ISBN 984-465-449-1.
  • Mukul, M. R. Akther (2005). Ami Bijoy Dekhechi. Sagar Publisher's. OCLC 416393761.
  • Niazi, Lt. Gen A. A. K (1998). The Betrayal of East Pakistan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-577727-1. Bengali Translation: Samudro Prakashana, 2003 ISBN 984-8080-24-4
  • Hassan Khan, Lt. Gen. Gul (1978). Memories of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-547329-9. Bengali Translation: 'Pakistan Jokhon Bhanglo' University Press Ltd. 1996 ISBN 984-05-0156-9
  • Ali Khan, Maj. Gen Rao Farman (1992). How Pakistan Got Divided. Jung Publishers. Bengali Translation: 'Bangladesher Janmo' University Press Ltd. 2003 ISBN 984-05-0157-7
  • Ayub, Muhammad (2005). An army, Its Role and Rule: A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil, 1947–1999. RoseDog Books. ISBN 9780805995947

External linksEdit