UNIVERSITY OF DHAKA.
DEPATMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Course code: IR 104
Course Name: Introduction to Political Science.
Term paper on: Role of India in The Independence of Bangladesh.
Dr. MD Sazzad Hossain
Department of International Relations
University of Dhaka
Submission date: 03.04.2018 Dept. of International Relations.
Batch: BSS 12
Roll no: SM-039-004
Registration no: 2017-416-829
This paper will show the role of India in the independence of Bangladesh. To understand the role played by India in the war, this paper will state from the partition of India. So that, it can be easily understood that there is a common connection among India, Pakistan and Bangladesh since long time ago. In the conclusion, this paper will find out the reasons behind why India involve in this war. To research this paper, I have reviewed some books given in Bibliography section.
The partition of India
According to Oxford English Dictionary- “The partition of India was the division of British-India in 1947 which accompanied the creation of two independent dominions, India and Pakistan.”
The division was based on Religion. It means India was consisted of Hindu People. On the other hand, Pakistan was consisted of Muslim people. As was Muslim majority area, so it goes under Pakistan state.
“The boundary demarcating India and Pakistan became known as the Radcliffe line . It also involved the division of the British Indian Army. The Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Civil Service, the Railways and the Central treasury, between the two new dominions. The two self-governing countries of Pakistan and India legality came into existence at midnight on 14-15 August 1947.” (Khan 2007)
It means that most of the valuable things under British-India were divided into two parts between India and Pakistan. From general people to central treasury, were divided.
“Until 1947 the east wing of Pakistan, separated from the west wing by 1600 kilo-meters of Indian territory, had been heavily dependent on Hindu management. Many Hindu Bengalis left for Calcutta after partition and their place, particularly in commerce was taken mostly by Muslims who had migrated from Indian state of Bihar of West Pakistan from Punjab.” (Heitzman and Worden (1989))
After partition, as Muslims banking shifted from Bombay to Karachi, much of the investment in East Pakistan came from West Pakistan banks. Moreover, the world largest jute processing factory in Dhaka, was owned by Adamjee family from West Pakistan. Because, banking and financing were generally controlled by west Pakistanis, discriminatory practices often resulted like- Bengalis were excluded from the managerial level and from skilled labor, Urdu-speaking Biharies were favored by West Pakistanis. AS a result, explosive labor clashes between the Biharies and Bengalis occurred at Narayanganj jute mill in 1954.
On the other hand, high-level posts in Dhaka, including that of governor general, were usually filled by West Pakistanis or by refuges from India who had adopted Pakistani Citizenship because Muslim Bengalis were rarer who had any past administrative experience.
Question of the official language was one of divisive issues confronting Pakistan in its infancy. As Jinnah announced that Urdu be the Pakistan’s official language, speakers of the Language of the West Pakistan (Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu and Baluchi) and East Pakistan (Bengali) were upset that their language were given second-class status. The Bengalis of East Pakistan did not accept that as they were 54% of Pakistan’s entire population and this situation turned into violence.
Jinnah addressed a crowed estimated to be over 300,000 in Dhaka’s maidan on March 21, 1948. That was his last major public address ironically, he delivered it in English…. “Without one state Language, no nation can remain tied up solidly together and function. Look at the history of other countries. Therefore so far as the state Language is concerned, “Pakistan’s language shall be ‘Urdu’.”
As, Jinnah’s view were not accepted by most East Pakistani’s family on February 22, 1952, a demonstration was carried out in Dhaka in which students demanded equal status for Bangla. The police reacted by firing on the crowd and killing two students. A memorial, the Shahid Minar, was built later to commemorate the martyrs of the language movement.
Two years after the incident, Bengali agitation effectively forced the National Assembly to designate- “Urdu and Bengali and such other languages as may be declared” to be the official languages of Pakistan.
“Great difference began developing between the two wing of Pakistan. While the West had a minority share of Pakistan’s total population; it had the largest share of revenue allocation industrial development projects. Pakistan’s military and civil service were dominated by the Punjabis. Only one regiment in the Pakistani Army was Bengali.” (Van Schendal 2009)
” In 1966, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the Awami League proclaimed a 6-point plan titled “Our Charter Of Survival” at a national conference of opposition political parties at Lahore, in which he demanded self-government and considerable political, economic and defense autonomy for East Pakistani in a Pakistani federation with a weak central government. This led to the historic six point movement.” (Van Schendal 2009)
” In early 1968, ‘The Agartala Conspiracy Case’ was filed against Sheikh Mujib and 34 others, with the allegation that the accused were planning to liberate the East Pakistan. However, as the trial progressed, a mass uprising formed in protest against this accusation and demanded the freeing of all the prisoners. On 15 February 1969, one of the prisoners, Zahurul Haq, was shot dead at point blank range, which further enraged the public leading the government to decide to withdraw the case on 22 February. The mass uprising subsequently culminated in the Uprising of 69.” (Van Schendal 2009)
“On 25 March 1969, General Ayub khan handed the state power to General Yahya Khan. Subsequently, all sorts of political activities in the country were postponed by the new military president. Nevertheless, some students kept the movement going clandestinely. A new group called ’15 February Bahini’ was formed under the leadership of Serajul Alam khan and kazi Aref Ahmed, who were members of the ‘Swadhin Babgla Nucleus’.
Later in 1969, Yahya Khan announced a fresh election date for 5 October 1970. Displeasure on the west in the issues of economic and cultural domination resulted into the emergence of Awami league as the strongest political voice of East Pakistan. In his historical speech in front of hundred thousands of people at the Suhrawardy Udyan on March 7, 1971, the president of Awami League and the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, called upon all the people of East Pakistan to launch a decisive struggle against the Pakistani occupation and take an all-out preparation for the war of liberation.” (Van Schendal 2009)
Beginning of the War:
“After the Awami league won all the East Pakistan seats as well as a majority of the Pakistan’s assembly in the 1969-71 elections, west Pakistan opened talks with the east on constitutional questions about the division of power between the central government and provinces, as well as the formation of a nation government headed by the Awami League. The talks proved unsuccessful, however, on 1st march 1971, Pakistani president Yahya Khan indefinitely postponed the pending National Assembly session, precipitating massive civil disobedience in East Paksitan.” (Van Schendal 2009)
“On 7 March, there was a public gathering in Suhrawardy Udyan to hear updates on the ongoing movement from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, the leader of the movement that time. Although he avoided directly referring to independence, as the talks were still underway, he warned his listeners to prepare for any imminent war.” (Van Schendal 2009)
By the way, Bangladesh got its flag on 2nd March inder the direction of the Swadin Bangla Nucleus.
The speech is considered a key moment in the war of liberation and is remembered for the phrase. “Ebarer shongram amder muktir shongram, ebarer shongram shadinotar shongram…”
“Our struggle this time is a struggle for our freedom, our struggle this time is a struggle for our independence.”
“In the early hours of 26 March 1971, a military crackdown by the Pakistan army began. The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and the political leaders dispersed, mostly fleeing to neighboring India where they organized a provisional government. Before being arrested by the Pakistani Army, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman passed a hand writing note which contained the Bangladeshi widely circulated and transmitted by the then East Pakistani Rifles’ wireless transmitter. The world press reports from late March 1971 also make sure that Bangladesh’s declaration of Independence by Bangabandhu was widely reported throughout the world. Bengali Army officer Major Ziaur Rahman captured the Kalurghat Radio independence of Bangladesh during the evening hours on 27 March.
“This is Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangabondhu Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that the independent people’s republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken command as the temporary head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalis to rise against the attack by the west Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our motherland. Victory is, by the grace of Allah, ours, Joy Bangla.” (Gupta 1974)
“The following month a provisional government was established in Kolkata by a number of leading Awami League members who had escaped from East Pakistan. On April 17, the “Mujibnagar” government formally proclaimed independence and named Mujib as its president.” (Heitzman and Worden (1989))
“There the war plan was sketched out with Bangladesh armed forces established and named “Muktifouju”. Later these forces were named “Muktibahini” (freedom fighter). M.A.G. Osmani was appointed as the chief of the armed force. For military purposes, Bangladesh was divided into 11 sectors under 11 sector commanders in addition to these sectors, later in the war, three special forces were formed:- Z Force, S Force and K Force. The training for the these three forces and most of the arms and ammunitions were arranged by the Meherpur Government which was supported by India.” (Van Schendal 2009)
“General Osmani had differences of opinion with the Indian leadership regarding the role of the Mukti Bahini in the conflict. Indian leadership initially envisioned Bengali forces to be trained into a small elite guerrilla force of 8,000 members, led by the surviving East Bengal soldiers operating in small cells around Bangladesh to facilitate the eventual Indian intervention. But with the Bangladesh government in exile, General Osmani favored a different strategy:-
• Bengali conventional forces would occupy lodgment areas inside Bangladesh and then the Bangladesh government would request international diplomatic recognition and intervention. Initially Mymensing was picked for the operation, but General Osmani later settled on Sylhet.” (Jacob n.d.)
Sending the maximum number to guerrillas inside Bangladesh as soon as possible with the following objects.
• Increasing Pakistani casualties through raids and ambush.
• Cripple economic activity by hitting power station, railway lines, storage depots and communication networks.
• Destroy Pakistan army mobility by blowing up bridges/culverts, fuel depots, trains and river crafts.
• The strategic objects was to make the Pakistanis spread their forces inside the province. So attacks could be made on isolated Pakistani detachments. (Shafiullah n.d.)
“Three brigades were raised for conventional warfare, a large guerrilla force (estimated of 100,000) was trained. (Raja n.d.)
“During June and July, Mukti Bahini had regrouped across the border the Indian aid through operation Jackpot and began sending 2000-5000 guerrillas across the border, the so-called Monsoon offensive, which for various reasons like lack of proper training, supply shortage, lack of proper support network inside Bangladesh.” (Hassan n.d.)
“Bengali regular forces also attacked BOPs in Mymansingh, Comilla and Sylhet but results were mixed. Pakistani authorities concluded that they had successfully contained the Monsoon offensive which proved a near-accurate observation.” (Ali n.d.)
“Guerrilla operations, which slackened during the training phase, picked up after August. Economic and military targets in Dacca were attacked. The major success story was operation Jackpot, in which naval commandos mined and blew up berthed ships in Chittagong, Mongla, Narayangnag and Chandpur on 15 August 1971.” (Mir Roy 1995)
“Bangladeshi conventional forces attacked border outposts. Kamalpur, Belonia and the battle of Boyra are a few examples. 90 out of 370 BOPs fell to Bengali forces. Guerrilla attacks intensified as did Pakistani and Razakar reprisals on civilian populations. Pakistani forces were reinforced by eight battalions from West Pakistan. The Bangladeshi independence fighters even managed to temporarily capture airstrips at Lalmonirhat and Shalutikar. Both of these were used for flying in supplies and arms from India. Pakistan sent another five battalions from West Pakistan as reinforcements.” (Tom cooper n.d.)
India’s Involvement in Bangladesh Liberation War
“After the resignations of Admiral S.M. Ahsan and Lieutenant-General Yaqub Ali Khan, the media correspondents began airing reports of Pakistani military’s widespread genocide against their Bengali citizens, that was particularly aimed at the minority Bengali Hindu population which led to approximately ~10 million people seeking refuge in the neighboring states of Eastern India. The Indian government opened the East Pakistan–India border to allow the Bengali refugees to take safe shelter, with state governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura establishing the refugee camps alongside the border. The resulting flood of impoverished East Pakistani refugees placed an intolerable strain on India’s already overburdened economy.” (Tom cooper n.d.)
However, India was helping Bangladesh from beginning of the war in many ways. India involve in the War officially later against later.
Official involvement of India in the liberation war of Bangladesh
On the evening of 3 December, at about 5:40 pm, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched surprise pre-emptive strikes on eleven airfields in north-western India, including Agra, which was 300 miles (480 km) from the border. At the time of this attack the Taj Mahal was camouflaged with a forest of twigs and leaves and draped with burlap because its marble glowed like a white beacon in the moonlight.
In an address to the nation on radio that same evening, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held that the air strikes were a declaration of war against India and the Indian Air Force responded with initial air strikes that very night. These air strikes were expanded to massive retaliatory air strikes the next morning
This involved Indian forces in a massive coordinated air, sea, and land assaults on Pakistan from all fronts.
Unlike the 1965 war, the Pakistan Navy was ill-prepared for the naval conflict with India and the Navy NHQ staffers and commanders knew very well that the Navy was ill-prepared for the war. The Pakistan Navy was in no condition of fighting an offensive war in deep sea against the Indian Navy and the Pakistan Navy was in no condition to mount serious defence against Indian Navy’s seaborne encroachment.
In the western theatre of the war, the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command under the Vice Admiral S.N. Kohli, successfully launched a surprise attack on Karachi port on the night of 4/5 December 1971 under codename: Trident. The naval attack involving the Soviet-built Osa missile boats sank the Pakistan Navy’s destroyer PNS Khyber and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz while PNS Shah Jahan was also badly damaged. In retaliation, the Pakistan Navy submarines, Hangor, Mangro, and Shushuk, began their operations to seek out the major Indian warships. Pakistani naval sources reported that ~720 Pakistani sailors were killed or wounded, and Pakistan lost reserve fuel and many commercial ships, thus crippling the Pakistan Navy’s further involvement in the conflict.
On 9 December 1971, Hangor reportedly sank INS Khukri, inflicting 194 Indian casualties, and this attack was the first submarine kill since World War II.
The sinking of INS Khurki was followed by another attack on Karachi port on the night of 8/9 December 1971 under codename: Python. A squadron of Indian Navy’s Osa missile boats approached the Karachi port and launched series of Soviet-acquired Styx missiles that resulted in further destruction of reserve fuel tanks and the sinking of three Pakistani merchant ships as well as foreign ships docked in Karachi. The Pakistan Air Force did not attack the Indian Navy ships and confusion remains the next day when the civilian pilots of Pakistan International, acting as reconnaissance war pilots, misidentified PNS Zulfiqar and the air force attacked its own warship, inflicting major damages to warship and killing several officers on board.
In the eastern theatre of the war, the Indian Eastern Naval Command, under Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan, completely isolated East Pakistan by a naval blockade in the Bay of Bengal, trapping the Eastern Pakistan Navy and eight foreign merchant ships in their ports. From 4 December onwards, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed, and its Sea Hawk fighter-bombers attacked many coastal towns in East Pakistan including Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar. Pakistan countered the threat by sending the submarine PNS Ghazi, which sank en route under mysterious circumstances off Visakhapatnam’s coast. Due to high number of defections, the Navy relied on deploying the Pakistan Marines led by Rear Admiral Leslie Mungavin where they had conducted riverine operations against the Indian Army but they too had suffered major losses that was taken in complete surprise, mainly due to their lack of understanding of expeditionary warfare and the wet terrain of East Pakistan.
The damage inflicted on the Pakistan Navy stood at 7 gunboats, 1 minesweeper, 1 submarine, 2 destroyers, 3 patrol crafts belonging to the coast guard, 18 cargo, supply and communication vessels, and large-scale damage inflicted on the naval base and docks in the coastal town of Karachi. Three merchant navy ships – Anwar Baksh, Pasni and Madhumathi – and ten smaller vessels were captured. Around ~1900 personnel were lost, while 1413 servicemen were captured by Indian forces in Dacca. According to one Pakistan scholar, Tariq Ali, Pakistan lost half its navy in the war.
After the sneak attack, the PAF adopted a defensive stance in response to the Indian retaliation and as the war progressed, the Indian Air Force continued to battle the PAF over conflict zones but the number of sorties flown by the PAF decreased day–by–day. The Indian Air Force flew 4,000 sorties while the PAF offered little in retaliation, partly because of the paucity of non-Bengali technical personnel.
This lack of retaliation has also been attributed to the deliberate decision of the PAF’s Air AHQ to cut its losses as it had already incurred huge losses in the conflict in the liberation war in the East. The PAF avoided making contacts with the Indian Navy after the Indian Navy raided the port of Karachi twice but the PAF did retaliate by bombing Okha harbour, destroying the fuel tanks used by the boats that had attacked.
In the East, No. 14 Squadron Tail Choppers under Squadron Leader PQ Mehdi, who was taken as POW, was destroyed, putting the Dhaka air defense out of commission and resulting in Indian air superiority in the East.
At the end of the war, PAF pilots made successful daring escapes from East Pakistan to neighboring Burma and many PAF personnel had already left the East for Burma on their own luck before Dacca was overrun by the Indian military in December 1971.
Before the start of the war, the Indian Army was extremely well organized on both fronts and had enjoyed the significant numerical superiority over the Pakistan Army. The Indian Army’s extraordinary war performance at both fronts brought up the prestige, confidence, and dignity that it had lost during the war with China in 1962.
When the conflict started, the war immediately took a decisive turn in favor of India and their Bengali rebels militarily and diplomatically. On both front, Pakistan launched several ground offensives but Indian Army held their grounds and initiated well-coordinated ground operations on both fronts. Major ground attacks were concentrated on the western border by the Pakistan Army together with the Pakistan Marines in south border but the Indian Army was successful in penetrating into the Pakistani soil and eventually made some quick and initial gains, including capturing around 5,795 square miles (15,010 km2) of Pakistan territory as the land gained by India in Azad Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh sectors was later ceded in the Simla Agreement of 1972, as a gesture of goodwill. Casualties inflicted to Pakistan Army’s I Corps and II Corps were very high and many soldiers were perished due to lack of operational planning and lack of coordination within the army’s formations against Indian Army’s Southern and Western Commands. By the time the war came to end, Pakistan army soldiers and marines were highly demoralized both emotionally and psychologically on the western front and had left with no will to put up a defensive fight against the approaching Indian Army soldiers.
The War Enquiry Commission later exposed the fact that for the Pakistan Army, the arms and training of soldiers and officers were needed at every level, and every level of command.
On 23 November 1971, the Indian Army conventionally penetrated to the eastern fronts and cross the East Pakistan’s borders to join their Bengali nationalist allies. As contrary to 1965 war which had emphasised set-piece battles and slow advances, this time the strategy adopted was a swift, three-pronged assault of nine infantry divisions with attached armoured units and close air support that rapidly converged on Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan. Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-C of the India’s Eastern Command, led the Indian full thrust into East Pakistan and as the Indian Eastern Command attacked the Pakistan Eastern Command, the Indian Air Force rapidly destroyed the small air contingent in East Pakistan and put the Dhaka airfield out of commission. In the meantime, the Indian Navy effectively blockaded East Pakistan.
The Indian campaign employed “blitzkrieg” techniques, exploiting weakness in the enemy’s positions and bypassing opposition, and resulted in a swift victory. Faced with insurmountable losses, the Pakistani military capitulated in less than a fortnight and psychological panic spread in the Eastern Command’s military leadership. Subsequently, the Indian Army encircled Dacca and ultimately issued an ultimatum to surrender in “30-minutes” time window on 16 December 1971. Upon hearing the ultimatum, the Pakistan Eastern Command led by its commander Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi stationed in East Pakistan surrendered without putting a fight or offering any resistance. On 16 December 1971, Pakistan ultimately called for unilateral ceasefire and surrendered its combined military to Indian Army– hence ending the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.
Surrender of Pakistan Eastern Command in East Pakistan
Officially, the Instrument of Surrender of Pakistan Eastern Command stationed in East Pakistan was signed between the Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC-in-C of Indian Eastern Command and Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi, the Commander of the Pakistan Eastern Command, at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka at 16:31Hrs IST on 16 December 1971. As the surrender was accepted by Lieutenant-General Aurora without a word, the surrounding crowds on the race course started shouting anti-Pakistan slogans and there were reports of abuses aimed at the surrendering commanders of Pakistani military.
Following the surrender, the Indian Army took approximately 90,000 Pakistani servicemen and their Bengali supporters as POWs, making it the largest surrender since World War II. Initial counts were recorded as ~79,676 war prisoners who were the uniformed personnel, and overwhelming majority of war prisoners were officers, most of them were in the Army and Navy, while relatively small number of Air Force and Marines; others in larger number were being served in the paramilitary. it was recorded that the ~55,692 were belonged to Pakistan Army, 16,354 Paramilitary, 5,296 Police, 1,000 Navy and 800 PAF.
The remaining prisoners were civilians who were either family members of the military personnel or collaborators (razakars). The Hamoodur Rahman Commission and the POW Investigation Commission reports instituted by Pakistan lists the Pakistani POWs as follows: Apart from soldiers, it was estimated that 15,000 Bengali civilians were also made prisoners of war.
Summarizing the ground, we found that for India’s own interest in involve in the war. There are some reasons force India to involve in the war. Geographically, Pakistan was at its both sides. Enemy at both side is worse than making one of them friend. So, India made Bangladesh friend. Moreover, we know, if there is war, there is business. Business of arms and many things. We have seen that Bangladesh had not enough arms. She got lots of arms from India. And there is nothing called free in international business.
Ali, Rao Farman. when pakistan got divided. n.d.
Gupta, Jyota sen. History of Freedom Movement in Bangladesh, (1943-1973). Kolkata: Na YA Prokash, 1974.
Hassan, Moyeedul. Muldara. n.d.
Heitzman, James, and Robert, Worden. Bangladesh: a country study. Washington, D.C: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress., (1989).
Jacob, Lt. General. Surrender at dacca. n.d.
Khan, Yasmin. The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan. Yale University Press, 2007.
Mir Roy, Mihir. War In The Indian Ocean . 1995.
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Shafiullah, Major General. Bangladesh at war. n.d.
Tom cooper, Khan Syed Shaiz Ali. India-Pakistan War, 1971. n.d.
Van Schendal, Willem. A History of Bangladesh. Cambridge University press, 2009.