War 1971: “If it weren’t for you, 1971 wouldn’t be here.”
In 1996, Bangladesh’s 25th anniversary was being celebrated across India, and a number of events were held to mark the occasion.
At one such event, a Bangladeshi journalist saw a tall, handsome man sitting in the back of the hall. The journalist approached him and said: ‘Sir, you should have been on stage, 1971 would not have been possible without you.’
The man replied: ‘No, I did nothing. The people on the stage deserve praise. The man then got up and walked out of the hall.
His name was Rameshwar Nath Kao and he was the founder of RAW, India’s secret service.
In 1982, Count Alexander, the head of France’s secret service, named Cao among the top five intelligence chiefs of the 1970s.
Rameshwar Nath Kao was born in 1918 in Banaras. In 1940 he joined the police. When the Intelligence Bureau was set up in 1948 after the partition, he was made a member and assigned to the security of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
In 1955, he discovered Taiwan’s hand in the sinking of a Chinese ship, which made him very famous. For this he was also awarded a special honor by China.
The first director of RAW
In 1968, Indira Gandhi founded the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), an Indian intelligence agency modeled on the CIA and the British MI6, to oversee intelligence affairs abroad.
Cao became its first director.
Anand Kumar Verma, a former director of RAW and a friend of Kau, told the BBC: ‘One of our men in Yahya Khan’s office told us on what day the attack would take place.
The Indian Air Force has been placed on high alert. Two days passed but no attack took place. “We can’t stay on high alert for long,” he said. Cao asked for another day’s respite.
“On the same day, December 3, when Pakistan attacked, India was fully alert.”
Indira Gandhi’s umbrella
Indira Gandhi’s security responsibilities were also on Kau’s shoulders. Inside, Malhotra narrates an interesting incident.
“We went to Melbourne, Australia, to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. One day an official from the Australian security team met me and said, “Your prime minister is a great leader of a great country, but I have a responsibility to protect him in Australia.”
He continued: ‘I don’t know what your custom is, but when she gets out of the car, she gives me her purse and umbrella. I can’t tell them, but I’m telling you that when a leader gets out of a car or gets in, that’s the best opportunity for terrorists to shoot. At this point, both my hands should be empty to protect them.
When Kao explained this to Indira Gandhi, he stopped giving her an umbrella and a purse.
Charges and inquiries
When Indira Gandhi lost the elections in 1977 and Murarji Desai came to power, Kao was accused of being behind the 1975 emergency. Cao denied the allegations and said there should be an investigation.
A commission was set up for this purpose. After a six-month investigation, it ruled that Cao or Ra had no hand in the emergency.
Almost all RAW officials remember Kao fondly.
Jyoti Sinha was the Additional Secretary of RAW during his tenure. He says: ‘He never said anything that would hurt anyone. He used to say that if someone dies from honey, why should he be poisoned? We were young at the time, these things were diamonds for us.
How much has India benefited from RAW leaders like RAW or Kao who are little known?
Former United States President and former CIA chief George W. Bush Sr. once gave him a small Cowboy statue as a gift. Later, when Cow’s fans came to be called ‘Cow Boys’, they made a fiberglass model of the statue, which still adorns RAW’s headquarters.
Note: This article was first published on January 20, 2018.
Allegations of war crimes in East Pakistan: Why does Bangladesh demand an apology from Pakistan?
Bangladesh has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan apologize to the Bangladeshi people.
Bangladesh alleges that Pakistani military personnel committed war crimes in the 1971 war in what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Pakistan has denied the allegations, but first apologized to Bangladesh in 1974.
The year 1974 has a special significance in the negotiations that started after the Shimla Agreement. Pakistan recognized Bangladesh, while Bangladesh and India began sending Pakistani prisoners of war back. Pakistan also completed the return of prisoners of war and Bengali nationals then stranded in West Pakistan.
At the time, however, Bangladesh had announced that it would initiate trials for war crimes against other officials, including some senior Pakistani military officers, on which Pakistan had expressed serious concerns.
In response, Pakistan said about 200 detainees had been found guilty of plotting to separate East Pakistan and exchanging important information.
Thus, dialogue and reconciliation between the two countries focused on the return of these imprisoned citizens.
It was this case that compelled Pakistan to recognize Bangladesh as well as accept the apology, while Bangladesh announced that it would not prosecute the 195 prisoners of war and send them back to the country.
The two countries signed an agreement to ensure future cooperation. The agreement reached in the tripartite talks was signed by the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
According to the agreement, the Pakistani foreign minister said that the then Pakistani prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had asked the people of Bangladesh to forgive him, forget the past and move on.
While conveying the message of his Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh said that he has also appealed to Bangladesh to forget the past, forgive and move forward. “The people of Bangladesh know how to forgive,” he said.
For the second time, former President Pervez Musharraf visited the war memorial during his visit to Bangladesh and expressed his condolences to the people of Bangladesh over the situation at that time.
So why is it that Bangladesh is repeating its apology?
To find out the answer to this question, the BBC has spoken to a few personalities from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Ashraf Qureshi, who is Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Dhaka, says he has been referring to the 1974 agreement during his service in Dhaka.
He says that during the talks against the return of 195 prisoners, the agreement clearly states that the Prime Minister has promised to visit Bangladesh and asked the people of Bangladesh to forgive the past. Is.
It should be noted that this agreement was reached during the rule of the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Former ambassador Ashraf Qureshi says the agreement was signed by the Bangladeshi foreign minister and wrote that the Bangladeshi prime minister also sent a message to the people, saying that the people of Bangladesh know how to forgive and clemency. Bangladesh will send back 195 prisoners.
Speaking to the BBC, senior Bangladeshi historian Afsan Chaudhry says that in Bangladesh it is believed that the agreement was actually between Pakistan and India because they wanted to get out of this situation and Bangladesh I had to join.
He says the New York Times report at the time called it a compromise and a “way to save face.” This is not satisfactory for the people of Bangladesh. Fifty years later, it’s still a big issue. I don’t think the apology that was sought at that time is of any use now. Even then, the public was sharply critical of whether it was really an apology or not.
According to former ambassador Ashraf Qureshi, the situation has deteriorated on both sides and mistakes have been made, there are victims of war and atrocities on both sides, and it is also questioned that some Pakistani soldiers were killed before this war. So will Bangladesh apologize too? ‘
He says that former President Pervez Musharraf also expressed regret during his visit to Bangladesh and said that he was speaking on behalf of his brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
But according to Afsan Chaudhry, even during Musharraf’s visit, the people of Bangladesh had high expectations.
“I think we need to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean we want forgiveness, it’s done to us, it means deeper. Because so many people were killed, so many families were destroyed, a comprehensive apology is needed. You may legally call it an apology, but it is not an apology for the people. In that agreement, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said that the people of Bangladesh should forgive, but here we think that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was responsible for this situation.
“Bangladesh believes that everything that happened in 1971 was done under a plan, so we want those responsible to be identified as to who did it,” he said.
Whether the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh apologize or not, experts believe that many of Bangladesh’s victims have been hiding for decades, the catharsis of which is now inevitable, according to experts.
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