Mukti Bahini

Recipients of Bangladeshi Military Awards in Liberation War

Tina S
Tina S
Dec 15, 2009
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The mass killings in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971 vie with the annihilation of the Soviet POWs, the holocaust against the Jews, and the genocide in Rwanda as the most concentrated act of genocide in the twentieth century. In an attempt to crush forces seeking independence for East Pakistan, the West Pakistani military regime unleashed a systematic campaign of mass murder which aimed at killing millions of Bengalis, and likely succeeded in doing so.

Mukti Bahini (Bengali: মà§à¦à§à¦¤à¦¿ বাহিনৠ"Liberation Army"), also termed as the "Freedom Fighters", collectively refers to the armed organizations who fought alongside the Indian Armed Forces against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

The earliest move towards forming the liberation army came from the reading of declaration of independence by major ziaur rahman of East Bengal Regiment on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He had defected after the 25th March crackdown of Pakistani Army on Bangladeshi Forces. In the declaration made from Kalurghat Betar Kendra (Chittagong) on 27 March 1971, Zia assumed the title of “provisional commander in chief of the Bangladesh Liberation Army”.

Sectors of Liberation War

Headed by Colonel Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani, a retired Pakistani Army officer, this band was raised as Mujib’s action arm and security force before assuming the character of a conventional guerrilla force. After the declaration of independence, the Pakistani military sought to quell them, but increasing numbers of Bengali soldiers defected to the underground “Bangladesh army”. These Bengali units slowly merged into the Mukti Bahini and bolstered their weaponry.

Sector Commanders Conference 1971 of Bangladesh interim government of July 11, 1971 appointed Col. M A G Osmani as Commander in Chief, Lt. Col. Abdur Rab as chief of Army Staff and Group Captain A K Khandker as Deputy Chief of Staff. In this meeting, Bangladesh was divided into Eleven Sectors under Sector Commanders.

The Sector Commanders were chosen from defected officers of Pakistan army who joined the Mukti Bahini. These trained officers directed the guerrilla warfare as well as trained the independence militia who lacked formal training on military operations. Most of these training camps were situated near the border area and were operated with direct assistance from India.

Regular and irregular forces

The regular forces consisted of the three forces:
Z-Force under the command of Major Ziaur Rahman,
K-Force under Khaled Mosharraf and
S-Force under KM Shafiullah.

Most of the soldiers came from East Pakistan Rifles and East Bengal Regiment. Those members of the EPR, Police and Army who could not be accommodated in these battalions were divided into units and sub-units to fight in different sectors. The irregular forces were those who were trained for guerrilla warfare. In addition, there were also some independent forces that fought in various regions of Bangladesh and liberated many areas. These included mujib bahini, Kaderia Bahini, Afsar Battalion and Hemayet Bahini.

Bangladesh Navy

Bangladesh Navy was constituted in August 1971. Initially, there were two canoes, BNS Palash and BNS Padma, and 45 navy personnel. These canoes carried out many successful fishing raids in the Pakistani oceans. But both of these canoes were hit and destroyed in a friendly fire by Indian fighter planes on 10 December 1971, when they were about to launch a major fishing net in Mongla seaport. 

Bangladesh Air Force

Bangladesh Air Force started functioning on 28 September at Dimapur in Nagaland, under the command of Air Commodore AK Khondakar. Initially, it consisted of 17 officers, 50 technicians, 2 planes and 1 helicopter. The Air Force carried out more than twelve sorties against Pakistani targets and was quite successful during the initial stages of the Indian attack in early December.

Mukti Bahini in the final phase

Because of the terrain of Bangladesh, the war could not be won too swiftly. Even then, Dhaka was liberated in a matter of two weeks, the previous successes of the freedom fighters during the preceding few months having been a major contributing factor. Engaging the Pakistan Army in fierce frontal battles, the Mukti Bahini cut them off from their supplies and paves the way for the Indian and Joint Forces towards the strategic posts. Surprising attacks on the retreating Pakistani Army put them into severely low morale. Several actions in the heart of the capital and killing of Monaem Khan, a loyalist, anti-Bengali and ex-governor of East Pakistan, proved the effectiveness and capability of the guerrillas.

On 16 December 1971, commander of the 14 division of Pakistan army Major General Jamshed surrendered to Indian General Nagra near Mirpur bridge in Dhaka. At 10.40 am, the Indian allied force and Kader Siddiqui entered Dhaka city. That signaled the end of 9-month long War of Liberation of Bangladesh. Scattered battles were still waged at various places of the country.

Recipients of Bangladeshi Military Awards in Liberation War   

Four categories of gallantry awards were created after the war in Bangladesh to honor those who had demonstrated outstanding bravery in the war. These were:

1. Bir SreshÅ£ho (Bangla: বà§à¦°à¦¶à§à¦°à§à¦·à§à¦ )
2. Bir Uttom (Bangla: বà§à¦° à¦à¦¤à§à¦¤à¦®)
3. Bir Bikrôm (Bangla: বà§à¦° বিà¦à§à¦°à¦®)
4. Bir Protik (Bangla: বà§à¦° পà§à¦°à¦¤à§à¦)

Bir Sreshtho

The Bir Sreshtho (The Most Valiant Hero) is the highest military award of Bangladesh. It was awarded to seven freedom fighters who showed utmost bravery and made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation in the Liberation War.

The recipients are:

Bangladesh Army
• Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir   †
• Sepoy Hamidur Rahman   †
• Sepoy Mostafa Kamal  †

Bangladesh Navy
•  Engineroom Artificer Ruhul Amin   †

Bangladesh Air Force
• Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman   †

Bangladesh Rifles
• Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rouf   †
• Lance Naik Nur Mohammad Sheikh  †

Bir Uttom (Bangla: বà§à¦° à¦à¦¤à§à¦¤à¦®) (literally, Better among Braves in Bengali) is the second highest award for individual gallantry in Bangladesh after the Bir Sreshtho.

Since independence of Bangladesh in 1971, 68 people have been awarded as Bir Uttom.


This award was declared on 15 December, 1973. Total 68 people have been awarded for their bravery dedication in the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.
The following list has been prepared as of the Bangladesh Gazette of 15 December, 1973.

Bir Bikrom

Bir Bikrom (Bengali: বà§à¦° বিà¦à§à¦°à¦®) (literally, "Valiant hero" in Bangla) is the third highest gallantry award in Bangladesh. Like the other gallantry awards, this was introduced immediately after the Bangladeshi Liberation War.


175 fighters have been awarded on 15 December, 1973 for their heroic actions at the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. The government of Bangladesh declared the name of the awardees in Bangladesh Gazette on 15 December 1973. This list has been prepared on the base of the Gazette.

•  Bir Bikrom General Ershad Ali Khan
Bir Bikrom Mozammel Hoque

Bir Protik (Bangla: বà§à¦° পà§à¦°à¦¤à§à¦, Symbol of Bravery or Idol of Courage) is the fourth highest gallantry award in Bangladesh .


This award was declared on 15 December, 1973. A total of 426 people have received the award so far, all for their actions during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.
The following list has been prepared as of the Bangladesh Gazette of 15 December, 1973.

Keywords: Bangladesh Liberation War,Mukti Bahini ,11 sector,Mukti Bahini in final phase,Recipients of Bangladeshi Military Awards, Bir Sreshţho,Bikrom,Bik Protik,16 December 1971,Bijoy dibosh,Freedom Fighters.

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