Operation Searchlight was a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in March 1971. Ordered by the central government in West Pakistan, this was seen as the sequel to "Operation Blitz" which had been launched in November 1970. The original plan envisioned taking control of the major cities on March 26, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military, within one month. Prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by the Pakistani planners. The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid-May. The operation also precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities and caused roughly 10 million refugees to flee to India. These systematic killings enraged the Bengalis, who declared independence from Pakistan, to achieve the new state of Bangladesh.
The violence resulting from Operation Searchlight led to the war of liberation by the Mukti Bahini against Pakistani "occupation" forces in Bangladesh. Following the ill fated Operation Chengiz Khan, Indian intervention resulted in the Pakistani Army's unconditional surrender to the joint command of the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini on December 16, 1971.
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