The Mukti Bahini (মুক্তি বাহিনী) or Freedom Fighters, or Liberation Forces; also known as the Bangladesh Forces is a popular Bengali term which refers to the guerrilla resistance movement formed by the Bangladeshi military, paramilitary and civilians during the War of Liberation that transformed East Pakistan into Bangladesh in 1971. An earlier name Mukti Fauj was also used.
The glorious Liberation War took place in 1971. From the motivated drive of patriotic zeal, a good number of Bengali officers and airmen including technicians renounced their previous services and joined the Liberation War to expedite victory. It was largely possible due to the sincerity of those members who established the Air Wing of the Liberation War on 28 September 1971 at Dimapur of Nagaland, India. The air wing possessed a scanty inventory of one DC-3 airplane, one Otter airplane and one Alluette helicopter. The patriotic pilots and technicians of the nascent Bangladesh Air Force formed a flying unit named, ‘Kilo Flight’ , under the able guidance of the then Squadron Leader Sultan Mahmud who later became Air Vice Marshal and Chief of Air Staff. However, the pilots of the historic ‘Kilo Flight’ made successful sorties to launch successful air attacks on a number of targets in Chittagong and Narayangonj.
It was during the Liberation War that another great son of the soil, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman sacrificed his life for his motherland. His sacrifice was not an ordinary one since it is difficult for a family man to endanger his life. It was not a fluke either. He not only sacrificed his life, but the happiness of his family life as well. While fleeing Pakistan with a T-33 aircraft to join the glorious Liberation War, he died at Thatta, a few kilometers away from the Indian border where his aircraft crashed. The heroic attempt has been rewarded by both BAF and the nation as well. The most important officers’ training base of BAF in Jessore has been named after him (BAF Base Matiur Rahman) and the nation has awarded him the highest state title, ‘Beershrestha’ Besides these great personalities, out of many, two more officers of BAF are worth mentioning, the two sector commanders. They are the then Squadron Leader Khademul Bashar who later became Air Vice Marshal and Chief of Air Staff and another officer is the then Squadron Leader Hamidullah who later became Wing Commander.
The Bengali Air Force personnel from different ranks fought gallantly in different formations of Bengali Liberation Forces in different sectors and formed the core of ‘Kilo Flight’. Initially, ‘Kilo Flight’ comprised of 17 officers, 50 technicians, 2 planes and 1 helicopter. “Kilo Flight” carried out many sorties against Pakistani targets and were quite successful during the final stages of the Liberation War. Many Air Force personnel received gallantry award for their bravery and sacrifice towards the motherland.
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