New Delhi [India], Dec 16 (ANI): A battle-hardened veteran, who was in the midst of heavy action in Dacca (now, Dhaka) during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Colonel (retired) Ashok Kumar Tara, is no stranger to limelight.
During the war, Colonel Tara was told to rescue Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's wife and family, which included his 24-year-old daughter Sheikh Hasina (current prime minister of Bangladesh) and her child.
The family was held hostage by a dozen trigger-happy, heavily armed Pakistani troops at a fortified house in the Dhanmondi area in East Pakistan (now, Bangladesh).
Tara, then a 29-year-old Major, managed to rescue the Bangabandhu family, in a do-or-die situation as he himself puts.
"During this operation I had to face trigger-happy, heavily-armed Pakistani forces, who just killed a media person who had tried to reach to them. I was alone. And unarmed. I took this bold decision to win over them psychologically, because asking an extra force would have taken a lot of time. I knew chances were very bleak, but I went ahead, in what can be known as 'The Battle of Guts and Wits'," Colonel Tara tells ANI.
He added, "Reaching the house where Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's family was under housearrest, they threatened to kill me. Their commander even ordered his men to load the weapon and was ready to shoot, but I stood my ground and repeatedly told them to surrender. However, I gave them an assurance of safe passage, so that they could go to their HQ. And from there to Pakistan to meet their families waiting for them. I finally got them surrendered and rescued the family. This was a do-or-die situation."
Colonel Tara, who retired in 1994, had already been awarded the Vir Chakra in the Battle of Gangasagar a few days ago.
Elaborating on the above-mentioned battle, he said, "It was a railway station in East Pakistan (now, Bangladesh) opposite Agartala (in Tripura). It was an attack in file formation along the railway lines and was 'Hand To Hand', 'Bunker to Bunker'. The battle went for about two hours. During the attack, I had to use maltove cocktail (patrol bomb), threw a hand grenade and pulled enemy medium machine gun from a bunker to destroy the enemy. For this, I was awarded the Vir Chakra."
Colonel Tara got recognition for his valour in 2012, when Dhaka announced it was conferring the 'Friend of Bangladesh' Award to him.
Indira Gandhi, India's Prime Minister in 1971, was conferred the award in her time.