‘Indira Gandhi and not Sam Manekshaw decided on timing of 1971 war against Pak’
Senior Congressman Jairam Ramesh says it was Gandhi and her principal secretary PN Haksar who were the architects of the creation of Bangladesh.pune Updated: May 27, 2017 12:35 IST
The popular anecdote that Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw had put his foot down and sought more time when asked by former prime minister Indira Gandhi to go to war against Pakistan in 1971 is not in keeping with the facts.
This was stated by senior Congressman and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh while delivering the 10th S.V. Kogekar Memorial Lecture at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in Pune on Friday.
While stating that he had the highest respect for the legendary war hero, Ramesh said it was Gandhi and her principal secretary PN Haksar who were the architects of the creation of Bangladesh.
According to him, Haksar “was more than convinced that no military operation would work in the absence of insurrection from the inside in East Pakistan and it was this that led him and Kao (R.N.Kao, first chief of India’s external intelligence wing, R&AW) getting Indira Gandhi to support the training and arming of guerillas in order to create the conditions that could pave the way for Indian military intervention, if at all needed”.
Ramesh said that at no point did Haksar or his boss Indira Gandhi show any inclination or enthusiasm for an Indian military operation to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation in East Pakistan.
He cited the documents and evidence presented by retired foreign service officer Chandrashekhar Dasgupta in his writings contradicting the popular view that it was Manekshaw who had “restrained an impatient Indira Gandhi from ordering an unprepared Indian army to march into East Pakistan in April”.
Ramesh quoted Dasgupta as stating that “The prime minister had no intention of going to war in April since India’s political aims could not have been achieved at that stage simply through a successful military operation”.
According to Ramesh, Dasgupta’s research and archival evidence unambiguously establishes that more than anyone else – including Indira Gandhi – it was Haksar who had masterminded “the framework of a grand strategy integrating the military, diplomatic and domestic actions required to speed up the liberation of Bangladesh...”
According to Ramesh, when the war was in full swing in December 1971, Haksar made it clear in his telegram to India’s Ambassador to the USA, LK Jha that India did not have any territorial claims or ambitions as far as Bangladesh or West Pakistan was concerned.