US, Britain tried to block
Bangladesh's birth: book
Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) The US and Britain tried to persuade
a top advocate of Bangladesh to help roll back the country's
liberation struggle in 1971, citing future threats from "Hindu
majority India", says a book by a former Indian diplomat.
Justice Abu Sayeed Choudhury, who was based in London, not
only rejected the Western interventions but personally conveyed
the secret American move to then Indian prime minister Indira
to Sashanka S. Banerjee, author of "A Long Journey Together:
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh", Choudhury told Gandhi
in London that US Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco
hurriedly contacted him on behalf of the Nixon administration,
which was against Pakistan's break-up.
a former chief justice of the Dhaka High Court, was also told
that if he stopped backing the then jailed Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman, he would be rewarded with the presidency of a united
says Choudhury's revelation did not shock Gandhi. "Those
were the days of the Cold War... It confirmed the rock-solid
permanence of the US-Pakistan strategic relationship."
the book says, correctly interpreted the American diplomat's
suggestion as a last ditch attempt "to save Pakistan
told Gandhi that the State Department official had also taken
the line that Hindu-majority India could make it quite difficult
for a breakaway Islamic East Pakistan to retain its independence
once it had been achieved."
Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home separately met Choudhury
and stressed that "India with its large Hindu majority"
would end up surrounding a future mainly Muslim Bangladesh.
Choudhury assured him that there was nothing to worry on that
also a former vice chancellor of Dhaka University, led the
Bangladesh independence struggle from London. He was appointed
president of Bangladesh and held the post from 1972 to 1975.
Another reason Choudhury met Gandhi in London was to persuade
her to quickly recognise Bangladesh. He felt that an Indian
diplomatic recognition would greatly boost the independence
Pakistan finally released Mujibur Rahman, he flew to London.
From there he was to originally fly to New Delhi, on his way
to Dhaka, in a special Air India plane.
that the (Air India) flight could be booby-trapped by enemy
agents, Gandhi requested British Prime Minister Edward Heath
to provide an RAF (Royal Air Force) plane to fly the Bangladesh
leader first to New Delhi, then on to Dhaka. It was a move
with a motive."