Engine Room Artificer with Pakistan Navy

In 1953 Ruhul Amin joined the newly created Pakistan Navy as a junior mechanical engineer and went to Karachi in West Pakistan (Poschim Pakistan in Bangla) for training. He took his training at the Pakistani Naval Base at Manora Island and later finished his professional training from the PNS Karsaz at Karachi, a technical school and arguably the largest establishment in the Pakistan Navy.

He successfully completed his professional training five years later in 1958, and in 1965 was selected for the mechanical course. On completion of the course, Ruhul Amin was posted as Engine Room Artificer, a person who worked on the ships engines, boilers and basically anything below decks that was mechanical. In 1968 he was transferred to PNS Bakhtiar Naval Base in Chittagong, near his birthplace. PNS Bakhtiar (now renamed to 'BNS Issa Khan') was the largest Pakistani navy base in East Pakistan.

East Pakistan (Purbo Pakistan in Bangla) and West Pakistan (Poschim Pakistan) tension come to boil in 1971

By the late 1960s the tension between the two wings of Pakistan, separated by over 1,000 miles of India, had reached boiling point. The East Pakistanis were aggrieved by the economic, social and cultural stifling and domination of their West Pakistani brethrens. In November 1970 a disastrous cyclone, Bhola Cyclone, hit the Ruhul Amin's region and surrounding areas. Over half a million people died. The Government, led by General Yahya Khan, a West Pakistani, were slow to react to the disaster. In the General Election the following month Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led Awami League party won a decisive victory. However, they were denied their victory and the government declined to pass over the power to the East Pakistanis. The next three months the Bengalis of East Pakistan campaigned for the transfer of power, while the West Pakistanis covertly prepared to halt any such demands by transferring the military to the east wing.

Fight war from Sector-3 and join newly formed Bangladesh Nu-bahini (Bangladesh Navy)

On 25 March 1971 the Pakistan Army attacked the residents of Dhaka. With that began Bangladesh Liberation War.

Like any true patriotic Bengali, Ruhul Amin decided to join the war. He immediately resigned from Pakistan Navy and left 'PNS Comilla' at Chittagong and came back to his village in Baghchapra. As the village's seniormost experienced military officer, 35 year old Ruhul Amin successfully organised local youths and soldiers for the war.

By now the first government of Bangladesh, 'Mujibnagar Shorkar' (also known by 'Probashi Shorkar') was formed with its headquarter in Calcutta, India. Bangladesh was divided into eleven military zones, known as 'Sectors', and General Muhammad Ataul Ghani Osmani was elected as the Commander-in-Chief, tasked with guiding 'Mukhti Bahini' (Liberation Forces, or Freedom Fighters) and spearheading Bangladesh to victory.

In May 1971 Ruhul Amin and 500 others fled Bangladesh and joined Sector-3 (Brahmanbaria – parts of Sylhet) under Major K. M. Shafiullah across the border in neighbouring Tripura, India. He fought a number of battles for next six months.

By June-July 1971 the Bangladesh Nu-Bahini (Bangladesh Navy) was formed by a handful of Bengali courageous sailors who had defected from their submarine training in Toulon, France. Around 357 freedom fighters were recruited from various training camps to join the Naval Commando which was led by Rahmatullah and A. W. Chowdhury. Among these were Ruhul Amin.

During the course of the war various marine commando operations were carried out to destroy the Pakistani navy and ships. Arguably, the most famous among these attack was 'Operation Jackpot' in August 1971 where a group of young men destroyed 26 merchant ships with limpet mines in Chittagong and Mongla (Chalna) maritime ports.

The Naval Commando inflicted a crippling damage on the East Pakistan ports, inland waterways and shipping. They also caused serious damage to the Pakistani war efforts by sinking ships or damaging jetties and immobilizing of ports and navigable channels. A vast amount of international shipping was kept away from East Bengal ports in spite of the high rates of compensation announced by the Government. The Naval Commando held East Pakistan in a state of siege in the highest traditions of war at sea and that too without possessing a single oceangoing vessel.

In four months, the frogmen attained their aim of closing the major ports of Chalna/Mongla and Chittagong, which paradoxically was mined by the departing Pakistani authorities using mines almost on the day prior to their surrender. There is little doubt that the naval commando frogmen accelerated the liberation of Bangladesh. The highly motivated frogmen, mostly students, did not seek any kudos or political recognition or reward except the liberation of there beloved 'Sonar Bangla'. Freedom fighters from Mozambique, Libya and Somalia eagerly sought the details of these unique riverine naval commando operations of Bangladesh.

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Chalna was the main port for the inland waterways transport system for the Khulna region...

 

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'Padma' and 'Palash', the first two warships of Bangladesh Navy as gifted by India

In September 1971 the Government of India presented Bangladesh Navy with two pilot boats. These tugboats were converted into riverine patrol craft at Garden Reach Shipyard, Calcutta, India. Named 'Padma' and 'Palash', these became the first two warships of Bangladesh Navy. These craft were manned by 49 valiant Bengali sailors under the command of Indian Navy Officers and deployed in the river routes of Sundarbans. Mohammad Ruhul Amin was posted as Engine Room Artificer-1 of Palash and worked as the Squadron leader for both Padma and Palash.

In November 1971, Padma and Palash carried out mining in Zulfiquar channel and destroyed four Pakistan merchant ships and one Patrol Craft.

In September 1971 with the object of setting up the Bangladesh Navy, all members from the Navy were assembled in Agartala and the initial structure of the naval force for Bangladesh was formed. They were then carried to Calcutta along with Ruhul Amin. The Indian government presented two tugboats to Bangladesh Navy. These were transformed into gunboats by attaching buffer gun and mine pod at the Calcutta Gardenreech Naval workshop. The two gunboats were named as 'Padma' and 'Palash'. Ruhul Amin was posted as Engine Room Artificer of Palash.

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