Stories of Valor- IAF’s ‘Coup de Grace’ on Governor’s house, Dhaka.- 1971 Air war
Governor House, Dhaka-
After the MiGs pumped rockets into the building.
14 Dec, 1971-
The war had been ravaging for 14 days now. There had been many instances of extreme courage, tactical brilliance and supreme sacrifice from the armed forces. Now, the Indian army was knocking on the gates of Dacca. Indian top brass was apprehensive that the Pakistani garrison in Dacca may want to fight it out and turn Dhaka into Berlin of May 1945 when armies fought a deadly battle for each street…each building. Sam Manekshaw had already appealed through the radio advising Pakistani forces to surrender.
While all this was going on, in the UN, the US had been pushing for ceasefire resolutions in the security council…which was vetoed by the Soviets twice. If the resolution had passed, India would have had to abide by it and stop its forces from advancing and capturing Dacca.
Things were happening very fast. In midst of all the excitement, a lucky break came India’s way. An obscure listening post of the IAF, intercepted a transmission from East Pakistan’s leadership about a very important high-level meeting to be held in the Governor’s house on 14 Dec at around 1030 hrs. This meeting was supposed to include a UN representative too. This was the golden chance IAF was looking for and they decided to attack the Governor’s house that morning to push the final nail in the coffin.
By now the IAF pilots had flown over Dacca many number of times and had developed a failry good idea of its layout. Although there were no exact maps availble for the mission which pinpointed the Governor’s house, they found an old tourist map which provided a rough idea of the target location. In fact, initially the strike team leader was told that they had to attack the ‘circuit house’…later as he was prepping his Mig -21 FL, that the update came to change the target to ‘Governor’s house’. All the attacking Mig-21s were fitted with T-10 rockets…capable of penetrating armor and concrete.
The strike team took flight…now as you all would know Governor houses in India are huge…big open area with a large buidling surrounded by gardens and open space. Same was the case with one in Dacca. IAF team didn’t have much difficulty in figuring it out as it stood out against the more congested urban sprawl of Dacca.
The meeting of Pakistani leadership was going on with the Governor general, Army and Air force leadership and other administration officials present. Suddenly, the windows blew out from explosion of rockets launched from the attacking Migs. All ducked for cover. Some ran into the trenches. UN rep recalls the Governor screaming ‘Why are the Indians doing this to us?’ as he ran for cover in a trench. Migs pounded the Governor’s house with full load of 192 rockets.
As if this was not enough, when this attack was over and the Pakistanis regrouped to access the damage…another pair of IAF Hunters swooped in, pumping their 30mm Cannon shells into the now easily recognizable target.
After the IAF had performed the ‘chance pe dance’ in an immaculate style, Governor General Malik had enough. He signed on his resignation with shaking hands and rushed to the Intercontinental hotel for refuge along with other foreign nationals. That was the end of the East Pakistan’s civilian leadership.
This mission persuaded the Pakistani top brass to concede for surrender and not indulge in a deadly battle of attrition against the attacking Indian and Mukti-Bahini forces. More importantly, it saved precious lives on both sides.
Ref. ‘Eagles Over Bangladesh’ by P.V.S. Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra.