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25 march 1971
The general staff of Headquarters 14 Division rang up all the outstation garrisons to inform them of H-hour. They devised a private code for passing the message. All garrisons were to act simultaneously. The fateful hour was set at 260100 hours?1a.m. 26 March. It was calculated that by then the President would have landed safely in Karachi.

The plan for operation SEARCHLIGHT visualized the setting up of two headquarters. Major-General Farman, with 57 Brigade under Brigadier Arbab, was responsible for operations in Dacca City and its suburbs while Major-General Khadim was to look after the rest of the province. In addition, Lieutenant-General Tikka Khan and his staff were to spend the night at the Martial Law Headquarters in the Second Capital to watch the progress of action in and outside Dacca.
A few days earlier, General Yahya had sent Major-General Iftikhar Janjua and Major-General A.O. Mitha to Dacca as possible replacements for khadim and Farman in case they refused to crack down?. After all, they had formed General Yakub?s team until very recently and night still share his ideas. General Hamid had even gone to the extent of questioning Khadim?s and Farman?s wives to assess their husbands? views on the subject. Both the generals, however, assured Hamid that they would faithfully carry out the orders.

Junior officers like me started collecting at Head quarters, Martial Law Administrator, Zone ?B? (Second Capital) at about 10 p.m. They laid out sofas and easy chairs on the lawn and made arrangements for tea and coffee to last the night. I had no specific job to perform except ?to be available?. A jeep fitted with a wireless set was parked next to this ?outdoor operations room?. The city wrapped in starlight, was in deep slumber. The setting was perfect for anything but a bloody holocaust.

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