2021 marked fifty years since the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. It also marked fifty years since a young Colonel Ashok Tara walked into a house in Dhaka, unarmed, faced with hostile soldiers. While the Pakistan Army had surrendered, bringing the war to an end, the soldiers in Dhaka were holding a family hostage, unaware of the recent developments. The house belonged to none other than ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the family being held hostage were his wife and children, including his daughter—future Prime Minister of Bangladesh—Sheikh Hasina.
Here’s an excerpt from ‘The Lone Wolf’, a book on Col Tara’s rescue mission.
The entire time that Ashok was conversing with the enemy on the roof, he was also steadily pacing himself towards the soldier positioned at the front gate, since his end goal was to enter the house. Suddenly a woman inside the house started waving frantically at him through the window he had noticed earlier, crying, ‘Do not trust these men! They are very happy to shoot and kill anyone!’ Ashok’s fears of the intentions of the enemy were now reconfirmed, but he decided to keep going, without giving them any time to consider alternatives and continued to convince them to capitulate. Meanwhile, the Pakistani commander also ordered his troops to load their weapons, to create more fear in Ashok.
By this time, Ashok was standing at the main entrance with a young enemy soldier nudging him beneath his right rib cage with the cold steel of his rifle’s bayonet. Ashok felt a chill run down his spine but continued standing there, undaunted. The young soldier’s hands were trembling and his finger on the trigger was jittery, which was an unmistakable reminder of Ashok’s precarious position.
To make matters worse, it was clear that the panicky soldier had never been in such close proximity to his adversary, which only added to the threat because he could overreact without considering the consequences.
It was as if for a minute all the years in between had vanished and a young Ashok was once again standing in front of the world. Jolted by the teaching of his experience all those years ago, Ashok gathered all his wits and continued to persuade the Pakistani soldier with whom he was conversing. Meanwhile, he turned to look at the young soldier holding the rifle to him, right in the eye and it was in that moment when he realized that once again he was in front of the lone wolf. Without breaking eye contact, Ashok went on to, quietly but confidently, put his hand on the barrel and slowly push it away from his body.
The soldier too silently relented. He had every reason to believe that in this game of psychological warfare, Ashok was now in the lead. With that conviction, Ashok realized that the enemy was almost swayed with his narrative and now it was time to play the final card in the emotional salvo.
Moving and inspiring, ‘The Lone Wolf’ brings to light an untold and unlikely war account. To read more of Col Ashok Tara’s story, visit your nearest bookstore for your own copy.