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Arms for freedom

It was truly a fight between David and Goliath in 1971. The Mukti Bahini fighters fought the war armed with a collection of old and worn out weapons against the mighty Pakistan army, supposedly one of the best armed forces of the time.

While almost all of us are well-versed in how our brave freedom fighters won us victory, how many of us know about the weapons they used for the purpose?

The Daily Star wanted to find out what arms the Mukti Bahini used and how these arms were procured. A fascinating tale followed.

Most of the weapons used by the Mukti Bahini were taken from defeated soldiers. Then, there were homemade bombs, knives and even instances of the use of bows and arrows.

Some of the firearms though came from India; some had already been in use by the then-East Pakistan law enforcers.

The better equipped Pakistani army used imported guns, automatic weapons, mortars, artillery trucks, armoured personnel carriers, tanks, airplanes, and ammunition.

Indeed, it was an unequal war, in terms of numbers and experience. The freedom fighters received some training and used a variety of weapons against the invading force during the struggle.

Walking along the gallery of the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka where a number of weapons, including rifles and machineguns used in the Liberation War of 1971, had been put on display, Shahzaman Mozumder Bir Protik, a guerrilla freedom fighter, reminisced saying  “They had to earn their weapons.”

.303 Rifles and Indian SLRs were most common weapons the freedom fighters used, Shahzaman Mozumder said.

With the help of Shahzaman Mozumder, The Daily Star have made a list of the weapons used by the freedom fighters: Smith & Wesson Model 10 Revolver, SKS Rifle or Chinese Rifle, Indian SLR Rifle, Sterling Sub-machinegun, Chinese Light Machinegun, AK-47 Rifle or 'Chinese SMG', Lee Enfield .303 Rifle, British Sten Gun, HE-36 Grenade, MG 42 Machinegun, 105mm Howitzer, Bren gun or British .303 Light Machinegun, Mortar, 120mm Heavy Mortar, ZB 53 Machinegun or 'Czechoslovakian Machinegun', G3 Rifle, Type 53 Machinegun, Chinese Rocket Launcher, M40 recoilless Rifle, ENERGA Anti-Tank Rifle Grenade, M18 Recoilless Rifle, Tula Tokarev 33 Pistol, Italian 9mm 3842 Beretta Model 38 (Sub Machinegun), SA 44 Rifle.

Scan the QR code and watch the video to hear from the valiant freedom fighter of his experience with many of the weapons during the Liberation War in 1971.

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Freedom in the air is a non-profit project aimed at building a rich repository for all sorts of contents on Bangladesh's Liberation War of 1971. Besides producing exclusive video interviews of war heroes and experts and a turn-by-turn daily interactive calendar of 1971, The Daily Star Online gathered very rare declassified diplomatic cables, the sensational Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report that proved genocide by Pakistan army, significant collection of rarely seen photographs and international newspaper reports. There is an exceptional collection of TV reports, video footages and documentaries which The Daily Star does not own but using with courtesy of the original owners and those who uploaded.