Friday, 26 March 2010

The War in Bangladesh

The Bengali Patriot

Flt Lt Mohammed Matiur Rahman went on annual leave in the last week of January 1971 after completing his Survival and Evasion course at Murree.

Back in East Pakistan Mati got caught up in the prevailing mood of the country at the time.

He attended the Shaheed Minar gathering on 21st February to pay homage to the Language Martyrs and also witnessed the historic speech by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 7th March 1971.

Following that speech Mati knew that war was imminent and so began instructing some of the local youth on guerrilla warfare.

Flt Lt Moti
QFI (Qualified Flying Instructor)

On 25th March 1971 the Infidels of West Pakistan attacked the 75 million Bengalis and 70 Muslims of East Pakistan.

The people who made Pakistan in 1947 were not going to sit back and take a beating from usurpers. They began fighting back and men like Matiur Rahman provided the leadership.

The Bengalis had made Pakistan in 1947 and now they were going to break Pakistan.

With the commencement of war Matiur left Dhaka with his wife and two young daughters for the villages.

With his family relatively safe, Mati gathered volunteer fighters and in one action blew up the old bridge over the Buriganga.

On 12 April 1971, Flt Lt Matiur Rahman led the Mukti Bahini unit that destroyed this rail-bridge over Old Buriganga River

During the conflict Matiur met up with Group Captain AK Khandaker, Wing Commander MK Bashar and Squadron Leader M Sadruddin.

All of them were preparing to leave for India to join up with the Liberation War.

Mati was training students at Haji Asmat Ali College grounds at Bhariab when Captain ASM Nasim (later Lt.General and COAS Bangladesh Army) of the 2nd Bengal Regiment turned up to take Mati to India.

In April Matiur witnessed the PAF F86 Sabres jets strafe and naplam innocent and helpless villagers. He saw young children cry out for help, and here he was a fighter pilot helpless and unable to do anything to counter these aircrafts.

The PAF pilots could have been students he trained, now they were bombing his own people.

This made Mati change his mind of crossing the border to regroup with the Mukti Bahini Mainforce.


Instead he decided to rejoin the Pakistan Air Force with the thought of escaping with a fighter bomber or doing serious damage to the enemy aircrafts.

Matiurs cousin Altaf Hussain recollects that their Uncle (Mama) Pir Syed Muzzamel Haque predicted that the Pakistanis cannot kill Sheikh Mujib and that he will return to become President, and that a small country will be the first to recognise Bangladesh and the Indian will join the war.

Upon inquiring about Matiur rejoining PAF, the Pir saw bad signs (snakes) in the Istikarra and warned that if Matiur re-joins PAF he will not come back alive. [Only Muslim of the subcontinent most likely can relate to all this]. Despite all these signs Matiur refused to heed the calls from family and relatives not to rejoin the PAF. He was determined to the end.

Explaining, that by going back to his posting in the heart of the enemy territory in West Pakistan and causing something spectacular, the victory would be much sweeter than just fighting in occupied Bangladesh.

It would also show the Pakistanis that they were not safe even a 1,000 miles away from the Mukti Bahini.

In May 1971 Mati went back to Karachi, there he managed to convince authorities that he was trapped in the villages due to the conflict in the country hence could not re-join his unit in time.

Bengali Top Gun, PAF

PAF Academy, Risalpur

Mohammed Matiur Rahman joined the 36th GD(P) [General Duty(Pilot)] course at PAF Academy, Risalpur as a Fight Cadet on 15th August 1961.

Flt. Lt. Matiur Rahman, Bir Shresto
Bangladesh Air Force

At Risalpur, Matiur continued to be successful both in the air and academically.

His basic training took place on the Mushak trainer. in which He clocked 200 hours before graduation.

Once again Matiur showed his sporting prowess by representing the academy in various sporting events. He was a very good swimmer and footballer.

Mati enjoyed lawn tennis, squash, billiard, hockey, basketball, volleyball and athletics. Captaining the academy in many competitions.

He was happy, fun loving, intelligent young man and a very professional pilot, an allrounder flight cadet.

Following two years of rigorous training and study Matiur Rahman graduated with flying colours from Risalpur.

On 23rd June 1963 Mati was commissioned as Pilot Officer on a Short Service Commission (SSC) with the Pakistan Air Force.

Matiur was posted to Mauripur AFB (now Masroor) Karachi and number 2 squadron. His service number was PAK/4367.

Mushaq, the green aircraft in the foreground is
used at Risalpur as the basic primary trainer.
The T-37 the advanced trainer can be seen in red

Risalpur runway

No. 2 Squadron

At Mauripur, now Masroor Air Base Matiur underwent Jet Conversion Training on T-33 jet trainers.

He successfully passed the course with a mark of 75.66% and was earmarked for Fighter Conversion Training.

Fighter Conversion Training took place in F-86 Sabre Jets, this course he passed with a mark of 81%.

This success earned him a posting to a Top Gun Squadron. No19 Squadron based at Peshawar was to be his new home for the next few years.

Masroor Air Force Base

Peshawar Air Base

Peshawar runway

No.19 Squadron

At Peshawar Matiur was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer.
During his posting with 19 Squadron Matiur completed Fighter Leadership course at the Fighter Leaders' School back at Mauripur.

Fighter Leaders' School has been redesignated Combat Commanders' School in the mid 1970's

Only top pilots expected to become flight commanders, squadron leaders and wing commanders are sent on this course.

Upon returning back to Peshawar war broke out with India. September 1965 saw Matiur Rahman take part in the Air War against India.

In this 17 day long war Flying Officer Matiur Rahman saw heavy action against the Indians and was awarded Sitara-e-Harb 1965 (Star of War 1965) by the Pakistan Government.

Following his war experience Matiur was selected for Flying Instructors School training and on completion was posted to Risalpur as a QFI (Qualified Flight Instructor).

QFIs trained the future Instructors of Pakistan Air Force. Only the best of the best get this opportunity.

Flying Officer Matiur Rahman (2nd from the left) with colleagues of 19 Squadron at Peshawar
during the war with India 1965. His CO, Squadron Leader SS "Nosey" Haider can be seen 4th from left.

Flying Officer Matiur Rahman (standing, left) with 19 Squadron, September 1965, Peshawar.
Squadron Commander SS "Nosey" Haider is standing next to him.

Sitara-e-Harb 1965 seen with Bengali and Urdu Script

Flight Lieutenant M. Matiur Rahman, SHb. TJg.

Sitara-e-Harb 1965 and Tamgha-e-Jang 1965, Flying Officer M.Matiur Rahman received both the medals for his daring in the 1965 War against India

Despite the above facts the Pakistanis refuse to mention his name in the PAFs 1965 combat history. They leave his name out of the Patankot airbase raid and the GT road raid on Indian armoured column.

No.25 Top Gun Squadron

Sitara-e-Harb 1965 Tamagha-e-Jang 1965
Top Gun Mati flew F-6 (MiG 19s) at Sargodha

Sargodha Air Base, Home of Top Gun

Sargodha runway

Shenyang F-6 (MiG 19)

In 1966 newly qualified QFI Mati was posted to PAF Sargodha to fly F-6 (MiG 19) of 25 Squadron.

No25 Squadron was raised after the 1965 war to train the best of the best in dogfighting. It first Commanding Officer and Chief Instructor was Wing Commander MG Tawab, a son of Sylhet District and later Chief of Air Staff, Bangladesh Air Force.

The posting allowed Moti with his war experience to push the newly acquired Chinese made Mig 19s to it's limits. In 1967 during a mock dogfight he had to eject due to engine trouble.

A Bengali At Heart

19th April 1968. Matiur Rahman marries Milly Khan
daughter of Janab Monir-uz-Zaman Khan at Dhaka

On 19th April 1968 Matiur Rahman went to Dhaka to marry Milly Khan daughter of Monir-uz-Zaman Khan. The marriage nearly did not take place thanks to a report from Milly Khan's brother-in-law, MA Quddus.

Milly's middle sister Rosey's husband MA Quddus was a Squadron Leader at the time. Sqn Ldr MA Quddus reported that Matiur was daring and dangerous. He had already been in two serious accidents. Once he nearly killed himself in a car accident and later in a mock dogfight he just managed to eject before his MiG-19 crashed. Not a suitable match for the Squadron Leader's sister-in-law!

But common sense prevailed and Milly and her family accepted Matiur's proposal.

Milly was a second year BA student at the Holy Cross College Dhaka, when she left her studies to to marry Mati. She planned to complete the course later at Karachi College.

On a trip to Murree after the Wedding, 1968

Forever Bengali

Mati was a true Bengali even to the extent that he refused to marry a West Pakistani girl.

The story goes that whilst driving at night from Sargodha to Lahore with a few friends and colleagues. Matiur was flagged down by a middle aged man on the lonely road. Despite his companion advising him not to, since there are plenty of dacoits about, Mati halted.

It turned out that the man's car had broken down, with him were his wife and only daughter. Saleha, the daughter was of marriageable age.

They along with the car were hiding in the bushes lest dacoits happen to come along the lonely highway.

The Gentleman
Matiur left his colleagues on the roadside whilst he took a 3 hour round trip to drop off the family. The family were so grateful that they later tracked Matiur down and made a proposal of marriage to him. Saleha and her family were smitten by the gentlemanly act of this Officer.

But Mati, ever the Bengali wanted to hear sweet Bengali words from his wife not Punjabi and thus declined the offer of marriage.

With this he in effect turned down wealth, power and influence. A Bengali with West Pakistani connections usually manages to climb the ladder of power quicker than those without.

Matiur with Milly and their firstborn Mahin
on a horse carriage at Risalpur, 1969

In 1968 Matiur was attached to PAF Chaklala for a short period. From Chaklala Mati was posted to Risalpur as a Qualified Flight Instructor.

At Risalpur he trained the future Instructors of the Pakistan Air Force.

In January 1970 Matiur was posted to No 2 Squadron Mauripur as a Jet Conversion Instructor

Survival and Evasion training at Murree, January 1971

Flying Instructors School, Risalpur


QFI (Qualified Flying Instructors) at Risalpur
Left to right: Flt Lt Khudadad Khan, Flt Lt Khalil, Flt Lt Mati, Flt Lt Shafi Dar the Flight Commander, Sqn Ldr Saleem the Squadron Commander, Flt Lt Ghaus, the Iranian Exchange Officer, Tony Cunnane RAF Exchange Officer

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sargodha - The Dream

Tempest 269

Flt Lt Mohammed Matiur Rahman enrolled as the 4th entry at Pakistan Air Force Public School, Sargodha in April 1956.

Sargodha at the time had four Houses named after aircrafts, namely Attacker, Fury, Sabre and Tempest. Matiur was a boarder at Tempest House. His school number was 269.

The PAF Public School was set up in 1953 in the small district town of Sargodha some 120 miles west of Lahore.

It was sponsored by the Pakistan Air Force and was then run by a British Company with most faculty members being British, Australian or New Zealanders.

This unique school used to select students from all over Pakistan, purely on competitive basis. Final selection was based on preliminary interviews, written test, interview by a board and a medical examination.

The 4th Entry in 1956 had majority of its student from the then East Pakistan.

Mati 269 of Tempest House, Sargodha

Matiur Rahman being from Bengali Medium of Schooling had to work extra hard to improve his English and catch up with those from English Medium of Schooling.

Matiur being a determined child encouraged others with similar disadvantage to study together and act smarter than the English medium intake. In the mid term exams instead of coming bottom of the class in English as can be expected, Matiur came somewhere in the middle of the class.

Within a year Matiur was in the top five in all academic subjects including English. His determination and tenacity made his teachers take note of him.

Captain Matiur Rahman
House Captain of Tempest House

Matiur was an excellent swimmer and was awarded school colours for his outstanding performance in swimming. He also played football for the school team and was a good and determined boxer and badminton player.

Mati also represented the Tempest House team in hockey and basketball.

His performance in sports made him popular a boy in the school.
By now his teachers and friends reposed full confidence in him and were sure his future would be exceedingly bright and prosperous.

Risalpur Here I Come

In May 1960 Mohammed Matiur Rahman passed Matriculation in the First Division with Distinction from PAF Public School Sargodha.

Soon after Mati in order to join the Pakistan Air Force took and successfully passed the ISSB (Inter Services Selection Board) Examination.

On 15th August 1961 Mohammed Matiur Rahman joined the Pakistan Air Force Academy at Risalpur as a Flight Cadet on the 36th GD(P) course.

Golden Jubilee 1953 - 2002
PAF Public School Sargodha

Moti - The Early Years

The Making of a Bir Shresto

Flt Lt Mohammed Matiur Rahman was born on 21st February 1945 at 109 Agha Saddeq Road in Old Dhaka to Late Janab Abdus Samad and Late Janaba Syeda Mubarakunessa.

His paternal address is Village: Ramnagar, Post and Thana:Raipura, District: Narsinghdi.

Mati (marked X) with parents and siblings

Mati's Father Late Janab Maulvi Abdus Samad was a District Sub Registrar and Mother Late Janaba Syeda Mubarakunessa was a homemaker.

Mati was the 8th child amongst 9 brothers and 2 sisters. Mati's parents as a middle class family of the time ensured that all their children were brought up properly and educated well.

The children of Late Janab Maulvi Abdus Samad and Late Janaba Syeda Mubarakunessa:

1 Abu Saeed Mohammed Kabir (deceased), Businessman
2 Mohammed Mohsin (deceased), Businessman
3 Mohammed Kurshid Alam, CSP, Former Cabinet Secretary and Governor Bangladesh Bank
4 Mohammed Altafur Rahman, Former Managing Director, City Bank
5 Professor Jamila Azad
6 Jahanara Islam, Former Research Officer, ICDDRB
7 Mohammed Ataur Rahman, Former General Manager, Petrobangla
8 Shaheed Flight Lieutenant Mohammed Matiur Rahman, Bir Shresto
9 Mohammed Shafiqul Alam, Senior Executive Vice President, City Bank
10 Doctor Mahbub Alam Samad
11 Mohammed Alamgir Kabir Samad, Senior Executive Vice President, Oriental Bank

A very young Mati on the right of the picture with some of
his brothers and sisters at 109 Agha Sadeq Road, Old Dhaka

Matiur Rahman enrolled into Dhaka Collegiate School and was there upto Class 6.

After successfully passing the competitive public entrance examination for PAF Sargodha School, Matiur left his family and Dhaka in 1956 for West Pakistan.

Matiur Rahman was enrolled into the 4th batch at Sargodha Public School, where he quickly distinguished himself as an academic an athlete.

In May 1960 Matiur passed his Matriculation with First Division distinction from Sargodha.

This the yard outside his Maternal Grandfather's house
that Matiur used to play in on his visits

On a visit from Sargodha Mati is seen with his younger brother Alamgir Kabir Samad and nephew Alauddin Al Azad

Flt Lt M. Matiur Rahman

Flt Lt Matiur Rahman or Mati (Moti) as he is popularly called attained Shahadat on 20th August 1971 whilst trying to escape from the heart of the enemy's den in a T-33 trainer jet to join combat back in Bangladesh.

The Hero
Flt Lt Mohammed Matiur Rahman is one of the greatest heroes of Bangladesh.
  • Joined PAF Public School Sargodha 1956
  • Joined PAF Academy, Risalpur 1961 as Flight Cadet
  • Commissioned into Pakistan Air Force in 1963 as Pilot Officer
  • Completes Jet Conversion Training
  • Completes Fighter Conversion Training
  • Posted No.19 Squadron, Peshawar as Flying Officer
  • Completes Fighter Leadership Training, Mauripur
  • Sees combat against India 1965
  • Awarded Sitara-e-Harb 1965 (Battle Star 1965)
  • Promoted to Flight Lieutenant, July 1967
  • Flies F-104 Starfighter
  • Ejects from an F6 (MiG-19) when a flame out occurs during a mock Dogfight
  • Completes course at Flying Instructors' School
  • Becomes a QFI (Qualified Flying Instructor) and posted to PAF Academy, Risalpur
  • Posted No.25 Top Gun Squadron, Sagodha
  • Served HQ, Inter Sevices Intelligences (ISI)
  • During Leave witnesses Sheikh Mujib's historic speech at Paltan Maidan 7th March 1971
  • Led Mukti Bahini units against West Pakistan, March 1971
  • Blew up railway bridge over Buriganga, April 1971
  • Rejoined PAF as Jet Conversion Instructor in order to escape with an aircraft, May 1971
  • Attains Shahadat whilst trying to fly away with an aircraft from deep inside enemy territory, August 1971