This is a Digital Library working with the 'collection, maintenance and public viewing' of the historical documents regarding the Liberation War of Bangladesh and Genocide of Innocent Bengali People in 1971.
More than three million Bengalis were killed and half a million Bengali women were raped by Pakistan Military Forces, Biharis, Jamat-I-Islami, Islami Chatra Shangha (Now Islam-I-Chatra Shibir), Muslim League, Nezam-I-Islami Party, Razakars, Al-Shams, Al-Badr, Peace Committee, Muzahid Bahini during the nine months long Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.

The Exeter South Asia Centre of the College of Humanities of the University of Exeter listed ‘Muktijuddho e-Archive’ as a source for Research materials.
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Rescue Operation on De-Mining and Clearing of Water Area of Bangladesh Seaports (1972-74)

Rescue Operation on  De-Mining and Clearing of Water Area
of Bangladesh Seaports (1972-74)

THE CONSULATE GENERAL
OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION IN CHITTAGONG


As a result of liberation war the Bangladeshi economy was completely undermined: many settlements and roads were destroyed but particularly great damage had been inflicted to ports which played a key role in maintenance of ability to live of the young state. Having achieved a victory, the country still was deprived of the opportunity to use ports for delivery of cargoes and the foodstuffs.

Trying to find a way out of the critical situation the Government of Bangladesh turned to the Soviet Union for help. On March 22, 1972 the Agreement on rendering free aid to Bangladesh in rehabilitation of normal conditions of navigation in seaports of the country between the Government of National Republic of Bangladesh and the Government of the USSR was signed. According to this Agreement the Soviet side in the shortest possible time formed and sent to Bangladesh a rescue expedition. This expedition led by rear admiral S. Zuenko and consisting of 800 mariners was composed of vessels and ships of the Navy (Pacific fleet) and the Marine Ministry and was completed by special divisions of divers and scaffold workers. As early as April 2, 1972 the first ship of expedition - floating workshop PÌ-40 arrived at the port of Chittagong.

According to witnesses the port was in a dreadful condition. Access way to it was mined. More than 40 vessels had been sunk in the water area. 12 out of 18 moorings had been destroyed. The huge amount of works was complicated by difficult climatic conditions for the Soviet seamen: unusual heat, the huge humidity reaching sometimes 100 %, zero visibility in silted water, heavy currents... Despite this, the Soviet experts with their equipment carried out an operation on mine clearing and clearing of the port at the earliest - this work proceeded non-stop from April 2, 1972 till June 24, 1974.

Many western experts assumed that the port could begin normal work in 2-3 years at best. But three months after the beginning of work in July, 1972 the port started to function and its monthly turnover of goods to the tune of more than 500 000 t even exceeded a pre-war level.

In the December, 1973 the Soviet seamen fully completed their task. But at the request of Bangladeshi side the Soviet expedition stayed to take part in carrying out spadework on port reconstruction.

For 27 months of difficult and dangerous work rescuers lifted and towed off to ship-breaking docks 26 damaged and sunken vessels with more than 100 thousand ton overall displacement, lifted from the sea-bottom 1900 ton of metal scrap, swept 1002 sq. miles of the port water area for liquidation of mine obstacles and cleared gate to Chittagong of mines. The Soviet seamen provided training in diving for 44 Bangladeshi citizens, who became first professional divers of the Republic. Upon completion of the works the USSR handed over to Bangladesh as a gift three diving vessels, the diving and other rescue equipment used by the expedition. On June 12, 1974 most of expedition staff left Chittagong for Vladivostok by the motor-ship "Khabarovsk". Twelve days later other members of the rescue mission left Bangladesh.

Afterwards many participants of expedition were rewarded with orders and medals of the USSR. The Government of Bangladesh also appreciated activities of the Soviet mariners. At the farewell function Prime-minister Majibur Rahman declared: "I thank all members of the Soviet expedition for the work done. Our young republic would find itself in extremely difficult position if the Soviet seamen did not subvene us. I thank all Soviet seamen for huge work on restoration of the Chittagong port which was conducted despite difficult climatic and living conditions. I am confident that your work will facilitate further expansion of friendship and co-operation between our countries".

Unfortunately, from 800 seamen who had taken part in carrying out operation on demining of the port water area, only 799 persons returned home. On July 13, 1973, in the midst of work, senior sailor of floating workshop PÌ-156 Jury Viktorovich Redkin died on duty. He was buried here, in Chittagong on the Patenga cape. The place of his burial was named after him - Redkin Point, and now it is situated on the territory of the Naval Academy. The cadets of Academy look after his tomb and keep it in respective condition. In 1984 the obelisk was put above J.V.Redkin's tomb.

Annually on the birthday of the sailor, on December 18, at Redkin Point solemn ceremony of laying of wreath on his tomb is held, which is attended by representatives of the Russian Consulate General in Chittagong, leadership of Academy and Chittagong City Corporation. Bangladeshi officials and Russian citizens regularly visit this place to pay respect to the memory of the seaman. His parents, inhabitants of Tver city, - Redkin Victor Andreevich and Valentina Ilinichna also came once to see the tomb. Here, in Chittagong, they got letter from M. Ìansur Ali, the Minister of Communication, Government of Bangladesh:

"Dear Mrs. Valentina and Mr. Viktor,

We are speechless to express our condolence on the loss of your dear son. His young life has ended off at the very beginning of the broad track. However, value of man's life is measured not by its duration, but by his good deeds. That's why, there is no doubt, dear and vivid memory about your son will live eternally in the hearts of his fellow citizens, people of Bangladesh and workers and officials of the Chittagong port in particular. I hope it will mitigate to some extent your sufferings in regard over such a heavy loss.

Always yours, M.Mansur Ali, Communication Minister, Government of Bangladesh".

Jury Redkin's name as well as the rescue operation of 1972-74 remain in memory of two nations as a vivid example of warm and friendly relations of the countries - Russia and Bangladesh.

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