Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Role of R&AW in Liberation of Bangladesh

Covert action capability is an indispensable tool for any State having external adversaries. Its purpose is not just collection of intelligence, but the protection of national interests and the safeguarding of national security through deniable actions of a political, economic, para-diplomatic or para-military nature. A State resorts to covert action if it finds that its national interests cannot be protected or its national security cannot be safeguarded through conventional political, economic, diplomatic or military means or if it concludes that such conventional means are not feasible.

Any intelligence agency worth its salt will have a covert action capability ready for use, when necessary. The Governments of some countries openly admit the availability of such a capability in their intelligence agencies, but not the details of their operations, which have to be secret and deniable. Others don’t admit even its existence.

In India too, the IB, under the foresighted leadership of the late B.N.Mullik, its second Director, had a limited covert action capability for possible use. The covert action division of the IB played a notable role in the then East Pakistan to counter the activities of the ISI in India’s North-East.

The R&AW had inherited from the IB its intelligence collection and covert action capabilities relating to Pakistan and China. These were not up to the standards of the intelligence agencies of the Western countries and Israel.

In India, one tends to think that Pakistan’s use of terrorism against India started in 1989 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). It is not so. It started in 1956 in Nagaland. The ISI trained the followers of Phizo, the Naga hostile leader, in training camps set up in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of East Pakistan. It also provided them with safe sanctuaries in the CHT from which they could operate in the Indian territory through northern Myanmar.

In the 1960s, it started providing similar assistance and sanctuaries to the Mizo National Front (MNF) headed by Laldenga in the CHT. The ISI’s set-up in East Pakistan also enabled the Naga and Mizo hostiles to establish contact with the Chinese intelligence. This paved the way for the training of the Naga and Mizo hostiles in training camps set up by the Chinese intelligence in the Yunnan province of China.

It was partly to put an end to the activities of the ISI in India’s North-East from East Pakistan that Indira Gandhi decided to assist the Bengali-speaking people of East Pakistan in their efforts to separate from Pakistan and achieve an independent State to be called Bangladesh. This was in the wake of the widespread disturbances in East Pakistan in the beginning of 1971 following the refusal of the military regime of Pakistan headed by Gen. Mohammad Yahya Khan to honour the results of the December,1970,general elections in which the Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won a majority in the Pakistani National Assembly.

When the people of East Pakistan rose in revolt in March,1971, the R&AW was two and a half years old. It was still in the process of finding its feet as a full-fledged external intelligence agency, with a hardcore of professional intelligence officers capable of operating under cover in foreign territory as well as across the border in the neighbouring countries.

The poor sense of communications security in the Pakistani Armed Forces was evident from the careless use of telephones by senior officers, including Gen.Yahya Khan, for conveying instructions to their officers in East Pakistan.

The R&AW had inherited from the IB its intelligence collection and covert action capabilities relating to Pakistan and China. These were not up to the standards of the intelligence agencies of the Western countries and Israel. They had many inadequacies, which had become evident during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962, during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and during the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.

The late Rameshwar Nath Kao, who headed the external intelligence division of the IB, was appointed by Indira Gandhi as the head of the R&AW when it was formed on September 21,1968. In the first few months after its formation, he gave it two priority tasks— to strengthen its capability for the collection of intelligence about Pakistan and China and for covert action in East Pakistan.

A little over two years is too short a time to build up an effective covert action capability, but the R&AW managed to do so. It went into action the moment Indira Gandhi took the decision to help the people of East Pakistan achieve their independence from Pakistan.

The 1971 war against Pakistan was not a war won by India alone. It was a war jointly won by India and the people of East Pakistan. It would be wrong to project that India was the architect of an independent Bangladesh. India’s role was more as a facilitator than as a creator.

Without the desire and the will of the people of East Pakistan to be independent, there would have been no Bangladesh. Their sacrifices for their cause were immense. How many of them were brutally killed by the Pakistan Army! How many of the Bengali intellectuals were massacred by the Pakistan Army and by terrorist organizations such as Al Badr and Al Shams created by the ISI! It is their sacrifice, which laid the foundation for an independent Bangladesh. What India did under the leadership of Indira Gandhi was to make sure that their sacrifices were not in vain.

The Indian Armed Forces under the leadership of Field-Marshal (then General) S.H.F.J. Manekshaw and the Border Security Force (BSF) headed by the late K.F.Rustomji overtly and the R&AW and the IB covertly ensured this. But, they would not have been able to succeed as well as they did without the political leadership provided by Indira Gandhi and the phenomenal work done by the civilian officials of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura in organizing humanitarian relief for the millions of refugees who crossed over into India from East Pakistan.

Indira Gandhi’s dramatic decision to ban all Pakistani flights over India to East Pakistan in retaliation for the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight by two members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to Lahore in January,1971, paved the way for the ultimate victory in East Pakistan. When the Pakistani aircraft tried to fly round India over the sea by availing of re-fuelling facilities in Sri Lanka, Indira Gandhi pressurized the Government of Sri Lanka to stop providing the re-fuelling facilities. This greatly weakened the ability of the headquarters of the Pakistani Armed Forces in West Pakistan to send reinforcements to East Pakistan and to keep their garrisons in East Pakistan supplied.

The R&AW’s role was five-fold: Provision of intelligence to the policy-makers and the armed forces; to train the Bengali freedom fighters in clandestine training camps; to network with Bengali public servants from East Pakistan posted in West Pakistan and in Pakistan’s diplomatic missions abroad and persuade them to co-operate with the freedom-fighters and to help in the freedom struggle by providing intelligence; to mount a special operation in the CHT against the sanctuaries and training camps of the Naga and Mizo hostiles;and to organize a psychological warfare (PSYWAR) campaign against the Pakistani rulers by disseminating reports about the massacres of the Bengalis in East Pakistan and the exodus of refugees.

Indira Gandhi’s dramatic decision to ban all Pakistani flights over India to East Pakistan in retaliation for the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight, paved the way for the ultimate victory in East Pakistan.

The flow of intelligence to the policy-makers from the R&AW and the IB was continuous and voluminous. This was facilitated by the co-operation of many Bengali public servants of East Pakistan and by the poor communications security of the Pakistani Armed Forces. One of the first acts of Kao after the coming into being of the R&AW was to set up a Monitoring Division headed by a distinguished retired officer of the Army Signal Corps to collect technical intelligence (TECHINT) from Pakistan and China and a Cryptography Division, headed by a cryptography expert from the IB. While the performance of the Monitoring and Cryptography Divisions in respect of China was unsatisfactory, they did excellent work in intercepting electronic communications within West Pakistan as well as between West and East Pakistan and in repeatedly breaking the codes used by the Pakistani authorities for their communications.

The poor sense of communications security in the Pakistani Armed Forces was evident from the careless use of telephones by senior officers, including Gen.Yahya Khan, for conveying instructions to their officers in East Pakistan—-without even taking basic precautions such as the use of scrambling devices to make their conversations unintelligible to anyone intercepting them. Almost every day, Indira Gandhi and others entrusted with the conduct of the war had at their disposal extracts from the telephonic conversations of Yahya Khan and others with their officers in East Pakistan.

1971 in East Pakistan was a dream situation for professional intelligence officers. Often, they did not have to go after intelligence. It came after them. There was such a total alienation of the people of East Pakistan that many were eager and willing to convey intelligence to their own leaders as well as to the Indian intelligence agencies. Co-operation with the Indian intelligence agencies was looked upon by them as their patriotic duty in order to facilitate the liberation of their country.

The IB before 1968 and the R&AW thereafter had built up a network of relationships with many political leaders and Government officials of East Pakistan. They were helped in this networking by the sense of humiliation of the Bengali leaders and officials at the hands of their West Pakistani rulers. This networking enabled the R&AW and the leaders and officials of East Pakistan to quickly put in position the required infrastructure for a liberation struggle consisting of a parallel government with its own fighters trained by the Indian security forces and its own bureaucracy.

The only sections of the local population, who were hostile to India and its agencies, were the Muslim migrants from Bihar. These Bihari migrants were loyal to their West Pakistani rulers and co-operated with them in carrying out the brutal massacre of the Bengalis. However, since their number was small, the Bihari migrants could not come in the way of the liberation movement.

The main hostility to India was from the US and China. Neither of them wanted India to succeed in what they perceived as its designs to break up Pakistan.

1971 also saw the coming into being of the R&AW’s Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) Division, euphemistically called the Information Division. Media professionals from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as well as from the Army were given by Kao the task of ensuring that international spotlight was kept focused on the brutalities being committed by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan and the resulting exodus of millions of refugees into India.

They did excellent work, but if the international community became aware of the seriousness of the ground situation and of the compulsions on India to act, the real credit for it should go to Indira Gandhi. She was a born Psywarrior. Through her travels across the world to draw attention to the situation in East Pakistan and the bordering States of India, she managed to create an atmosphere, which would not have been hostile to the ultimate Indian intervention—-even if it was not supportive of it.

The main hostility to India was from the US and China. Neither of them wanted India to succeed in what they perceived as its designs to break up Pakistan. They had convinced themselves that what they saw as the Indian designs was not the immediate outcome of the disturbances in East Pakistan and the resulting exodus of refugees. Instead, they tended to agree with the military rulers of Pakistan that the disturbances and the refugee exodus were the outcome of the Indian designs. India’s perceived closeness to Moscow under Indira Gandhi added to their hostility.

Those were the days of the first covert contacts between the administration of President Richard Nixon in Washington DC and the regime of Mao Zedong in Beijing. These contacts were facilitated by the military rulers of Pakistan. Yahya Khan earned the gratitude of both the US and China by making possible the first secret visit of Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Adviser, to Beijing in July,1971, for talks with Mao and his associates.

To counter the perceived Indian designs, the Chinese stepped up the supply of arms and ammunition to Pakistan.

The developing Washington-Beijing understanding was mainly directed against Moscow, but India too, which was perceived by both the US and China as the USSR’s surrogate, came under their scan. There was an undeclared convergence of views between Washington DC and Beijing that Pakistan should be protected from India and that India should not be allowed to emerge as the dominating power of the South Asian region.

In view of the widespread revulsion across the world over the brutalities of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan, both Nixon and Mao realized that there was not much they could do to help Pakistan retain its control over East Pakistan. Even while mentally reconciling themselves to the inevitability of Pakistan losing its eastern wing, they were determined to thwart any designs of Indira Gandhi to break up West Pakistan after helping the Bengali people of East Pakistan in the liberation of their homeland. They had convinced themselves that Indira Gandhi had such designs and that after Bangladesh, she would turn her attention to Balochistan on the Iranian border, where there were already signs of growing alienation of the people against what they perceived as the Punjabi domination of their homeland.

To counter the perceived Indian designs, the Chinese stepped up the supply of arms and ammunition to Pakistan. They also expedited the construction of the Karakoram Highway, which would link the road network of the Xinjiang region of China with that of Pakistan, and thereby enable the Chinese Armed Forces to intervene in support of Pakistan, if necessary, in future. However, this could be completed only in 1978. 

The Nixon Administration colluded with the Yahya regime by initiating a covert action plan for the destabilization of India. This plan envisaged the encouragement of a separatist movement among the Sikhs of India’s Punjab for an independent State to be called Khalistan.

There was a Sikh Home Rule Movement headed by one Charan Singh Panchi in the UK even before 1971, but it had practically no support from the Sikh diaspora and was ignored by the international community and media. In 1971, one saw the beginning of a joint covert action operation by the US intelligence community and Pakistan’s ISI to create difficulties for India in Punjab. US interest in this operation continued for a little more than a decade and tapered off after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh security guards on October 31,1984.

In 1971, as Indira Gandhi and the R&AW’s Psywar Division stepped up their campaign against Pakistan on the question of the violation of the human rights of the people of East Pakistan, one saw the beginning of an insidious Psywar campaign jointly mounted by the US intelligence and the ISI against the Indira Gandhi Government, with dissemination of stories about the alleged violations of the human rights of the Sikhs in Punjab.

After Indira Gandhi came back to power in the elections of 1980, the US suspected that India supported the presence of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and that the Indian intelligence was collaborating with its Afghan counterpart.

Dr.Jagjit Singh Chauhan, a Sikh leader of Punjab with not much following, went to the UK, took over the leadership of the Sikh Home Rule movement and re-named it the Khalistan movement. The Yahya regime invited him to Pakistan, lionized him as the leader of the Sikh people and handed over him some Sikh holy relics kept in Pakistan. He took them with him to the UK and tried to use them in a bid to win a following in the Sikh diaspora in the UK. At a press conference at London in September,1971, he gave a call for the creation of an independent Khalistan.

He also went to New York, met officials of the United Nations and some American journalists and voiced allegations of the violation of the human rights of the Sikhs by the Indira Gandhi Government. These meetings were discreetly organized by officials of the US National Security Council Secretariat then headed by Kissinger.

With American and Pakistani encouragement, the activities of Chauhan continued till 1977. After the defeat of Indira Gandhi in the elections of 1977 and the coming into power of a Government headed by Morarji Desai, Chauhan abruptly called off his so-called Khalistan movement and returned to India.

After Indira Gandhi came back to power in the elections of 1980, the US suspected that India supported the presence of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and that the Indian intelligence was collaborating with its Afghan counterpart. Chauhan went back to the UK and resumed the Khalistan movement.

In addition to stepping up the supply of arms and ammunition to the Pakistani Armed Forces and expediting the construction of the Karakoram Highway, the Chinese also wanted to destabilize India’s North-East by helping the Naga and Mizo hostiles in their insurgencies against the Government of India. However, their interest in the North-East was not the outcome of the events of 1971 in East Pakistan. It began in 1968.

While the intelligence agencies of the US and Pakistan co-operated with each other in creating difficulties for India and Indira Gandhi in Punjab, the ISI and the Chinese intelligence co-operated with each other in creating difficulties for them in India’s North-East. The Pakistani aim in destabilizing the North_East was to keep the Indian security forces preoccupied with counter-insurgency duties in the North-East, in the hope of thereby reducing any Indian threat to their position in East Pakistan. The Chinese aim was, in addition to helping Pakistan retain control over its Eastern wing, to weaken the Indian hold in this area in order to safeguard their own position in Tibet and to facilitate the eventual achievement of their objective of integrating India’s Arunachal Pradesh with Tibet.

Even as the Indian Army—ably assisted by the Air Force and the Navy—was moving towards Dhaka , covert action units of the R&AW and the Directorate-General of Security (DGS), which also came under Kao, raided the CHT in order to put an end to the insurgency infrastructure of the Naga and the Mizo hostiles. They found that the Nagas, anticipating the raid, had already shifted their infrastructure to the Burma Naga Hills area. The Mizos had not shifted, but they managed to escape capture by the units of the R&AW and the DGS and crossed over into the Chin Hills and the Arakan Division areas of Burma. Laldenga, the head of the MNF, proceeded to Rangoon from where he was taken to Karachi by the ISI. Apart from destroying the physical infrastructure of the hostiles, the only other useful outcome of the raid was the capture of all the documents kept in the MNF headquarters, which gave a lot of valuable intelligence about the contacts of the MNF with the ISI and the Chinese intelligence.

The Naga and the Mizo hostiles lost their safe sanctuaries, but their manpower remained intact. However, the loss of the sanctuaries and an important source of funds and arms and ammunition created doubts in the minds of their leadership about the continued viability of their insurgent movement. As will be discussed in a subsequent chapter, this ultimately led to peace in Mizoram and partial peace in Nagaland.

The 1971 war and our counter-insurgency operations against the Naga and the Mizo hostiles once again highlighted the importance of Northern Burma from the point of view of the security of India’s North-East. To explain this, I have to go back to my entry into the intelligence community.

In the year before the 1962 war, the IB’s trans-border sources in the North-East were repeatedly reporting about a tremendous increase in the number of mules and Chinese muleteers in the Kachin State and the Burma Naga Hills.

I joined the IB in July 1967. After my training, Kao, who then headed the external intelligence division of the IB, told me that I had been selected to head the Burma Branch. The branch was created after the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and he felt that it was as important as the branches dealing with Pakistan and China. He wanted me to acquire expertise not only on Burma, but also on the Yunnan province of China.

I continued to be in charge of the Burma branch for nearly five years — handling analysis as well as clandestine operations — and acquired such expertise that people used to refer to me as ‘Burma Raman.’

After taking over, I thought I would familiarise myself with the background to the creation of the Branch, and sent for the relevant file. It was there that I saw a one para hand-written note by B.N. Mullik, who was the Director of the IB at the time of the Chinese invasion of India. The note had been recorded by him shortly after the war with China had come to an end.

The note said: “I have discussed with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. They have agreed that we must urgently create a Burma Branch. It should start functioning from today without waiting for a formal approval from Finance. Action for obtaining approval from Finance may be taken separately.”

In order to understand why the Branch was created in such an urgency — almost in panic — I then requisitioned all Burma-related files of 1962 and the years before from the Record Room (Archives).

From the various notings in those files, I noticed that Mullik and others felt that the Indian Army was so badly taken by surprise in what today is called Arunachal Pradesh because some Chinese troops had entered Arunachal Pradesh not directly from the North, but from Yunnan in the East.

They had clandestinely moved across the Putao region of the Kachin state of Burma without being detected by the IB. The Kachin State and the Burma Naga Hills were a no-man’s land in those days, with practically no Burmese administrative or military presence outside the towns of Myitkyina and Putao. The Chinese had taken advantage of this.

I then went through all the pre-1962 source files in order to understand how the IB’s sources in North Burma had missed this. In those days, whatever roads were there in the Kachin State and the Burma Naga Hills had been blown up by the anti-Rangoon insurgents. The only way of moving about and carrying goods from one place to another was on the back of mules. North Burma had a large Chinese population of Yunanese origin. 

Many of them earned their living as muleteers.

In the year before the 1962 war, the IB’s trans-border sources in the North-East were repeatedly reporting about a tremendous increase in the number of mules and Chinese muleteers in the Kachin State and the Burma Naga Hills.

Towards the end of 1968 and throughout 1969, R&AW sources in the Kachin State of Burma started reporting…

The then officers of the IB had sent out a wake-up call by drawing the attention of the policy-makers to the national security implications of this development in the areas adjoining the Indian border in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. But they were ridiculed and accused of nursing imaginary fears.

It was realised only belatedly that these muleteers were actually Chinese Army and intelligence officers based in Yunnan, who had taken up position across our border in Burmese territory in the months before the invasion. After the war was over, there was a steep drop in the number of mules and Chinese muleteers in North Burma.

In 1968, the Governments of India and Burma agreed to set up a Joint Commission for the Demarcation of the Indo-Burmese boundary except in the northern and southern trijunctions.

Kao spoke to the then Foreign Secretary and persuaded him to include me in the Commission under the cover of a Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs dealing with the North-East.

By that time, Indira Gandhi had decided to bifurcate the IB and create the R&AW under the charge of Kao. It was, therefore, decided that I, along with the Burma Branch, would stand transferred to the R&AW, but I would keep the late MML Hooja, the then Director, IB, in the picture regarding my work.

Our concern was that the continued intrusions might be linked to the developments in East Pakistan and might have been intended to deter any Indian action in East Pakistan.

Kao, therefore, took Hooja’s concurrence for my being the joint representative of the R&AW and the IB in the Commission. My membership of the Commission gave me an opportunity to travel frequently and widely in remote areas of North Burma.

The Commission used to meet alternately in India and Burma. Normally, joint aerial photography of the border areas is the starting point for the demarcation work. At a meeting of the Commission in Rangoon, the Indian delegation proposed that such aerial photography be undertaken. We added that since the Burmese Air Force might not have a plane capable of good aerial photography, we would be happy to request the Indian Air Force to do this job for the Commission and that we would not charge the Burmese Government for it. A Burmese officer could be attached to the IAF for guiding in the aerial photography mission, we said.

The Burmese replied that they already had aerial photographs of the Indo-Burma bordering areas, and that we could use them as the starting point.

The photographs were of excellent quality. Totally surprised, we asked them how they took them since their Air Force did not have a plane capable of taking such aerial photography. To our shock, they replied: “Our Chinese friends helped us. We sought their help. They sent a plane of their Air Force to fly over the Indo-Burmese border to take the photographs.”

When we strongly protested against their allowing a Chinese Air Force plane to fly over our sensitive border areas and take photographs without our permission, the Burmese replied: “We will never let down our Indian friends. We did take your prior permission.”

They then showed us a note from the then Indian Ambassador in Rangoon to their Foreign Office, stating that the Government of India would have no objection to their requesting the Chinese for assistance in the aerial photography.

On my return to Delhi, I briefed Kao about this, and suggested that he should advise the Prime Minister to order an enquiry into how a matter having serious national security implications was handled so casually, and fix responsibility.

Kao replied: “Raman, the R&AW has only recently got going. We will need the goodwill of the Ministry of External Affairs for functioning in the Indian embassies abroad. By raising this with the Prime Minister, we will unnecessarily be creating hostility to the R&AW in the MEA. I will mention this breach of security to the Foreign Secretary and let him decide what further needs to be done.” Nothing further was done.

Towards the end of 1968 and throughout 1969, R&AW sources in the Kachin State of Burma started reporting that taking advantage of the absence of Burmese military presence in the areas of the Kachin State to the East and the South-East of Myitkyina and also in the Bhamo area—-all adjoining the Yunnan border— a large number of Chinese troops from Yunnan had infiltrated into the Burmese territory in these areas and set up camps. The sources also reported that the Burmese Government had not taken any action against these intrusions.

One of my tasks as the head of the Burma branch was to closely monitor these intrusions should there be indications of these troops moving further Westwards towards the Indian border. Some of these troops went back into Yunnan in 1970, but others stayed put in Burmese territory till the 1971 war in East Pakistan was over.

Our concern was that the continued intrusions might be linked to the developments in East Pakistan and might have been intended to deter any Indian action in East Pakistan. But, further enquiries indicated that this was not so.

After the Chinese Communists extended their control over Yunnan post-1949, the surviving remnants of the anti-Communist Kuomintang (KMT) troops had crossed over into the Kachin and Shan States of Burma and set up bases there. Beijing was exercising pressure on Rangoon to expel them from Burmese territory. We assessed that the troop intrusions into the Burmese territory were meant to reinforce that pressure and had nothing to do with the developments in East Pakistan.

There was concern in the intelligence communities of India as well as the US that the Chinese might establish their control over North Burma by exploiting the weaknesses of the Burmese Government. This did not happen. The Chinese troops withdrew from the Burmese territory in the 1970s after the KMT remnants were airlifted to Taiwan.

Two questions often posed are: Indira Gandhi could have at least ordered the liberation of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), which India considers as an integral part of its territory under illegal Pakistani occupation. Why she did not do so?

This shared concern brought about a close working relationship between the R&AW and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in North Burma. Thus, one saw the curious spectacle of the US intelligence colluding with the ISI in assisting the Khalistan movement in Indian Punjab, with the Chinese intelligence for preventing a break-up of West Pakistan by India and with the Indian intelligence for preventing a possible Chinese take-over of North Burma. This may appear strange and incomprehensible, but such things are normal in the intelligence profession.

As the war in East Pakistan was reaching its climax, Nixon, reportedly as advised by Kissinger, ordered the USS Enterprise, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the US Navy, to move into the Bay of Bengal. It reached there on December 11,1971. What was the purpose of the movement? The generally accepted assessment held that it was meant to convey a warning to India to stop the war after the liberation of Bangladesh and not to break up West Pakistan. Pressure from the policy-makers for more intelligence about the US intentions increased on the R&AW.

The R&AW felt handicapped in meeting the demands for intelligence about the movement of US ships and about the US intentions since it had very little capability for the collection of hard intelligence about countries other than India’s neighbours and its capability for the collection of maritime intelligence was very weak. The follow-up action taken to remove these inadequacies will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.

Contrary to the fears of Pakistan, the US and China, Indira Gandhi had no intention of breaking up West Pakistan. She knew it would be counter-productive and antagonize large sections of the international community, which appreciated the compulsions on India to act in East Pakistan. Moreover, the only area of West Pakistan ripe for supportive action was Balochistan, but it did not have a contiguous border with India. 

Any Indian support could have been only by sea. This was not feasible. Moreover, any support to the Baloch nationalists would have sounded the alarm bells in Iran and antagonized the Shah of Iran. For these reasons, the idea of a possible break-up of West Pakistan was not even contemplated by her. Any intervention in West Pakistan would have added to the feelings of humiliation of the Pakistani Armed Forces and large sections of its people. This would not have been in the long-term interests of India.

As the war ended, the R&AW and Kao were the toasts of the policy-makers.

Two questions often posed are: Indira Gandhi could have at least ordered the liberation of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), which India considers as an integral part of its territory under illegal Pakistani occupation. Why she did not do so?

India had taken 93,000 Pakistani military personnel prisoners of war in East Pakistan. Why did she hand them over to Pakistan under the Shimla Agreement of 1972, without insisting on a formal recognition in writing by Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India?

Nobody knows the definitive answers to these questions. My assessment is that she wanted to be generous to Pakistan at the hour of its greatest humiliation due to the misdeeds of its army and to strengthen the political leadership of Pakistan and enable it to stand up to the Army.

If this was her expectation, it was belied. Within five years of the Shimla Agreement, the Pakistan Army headed by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq overthrew the elected Government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and had him executed after a sham trial. Misplaced generosity should have no place in our relations with Pakistan.

As the war ended, the R&AW and Kao were the toasts of the policy-makers. During 1971, Kao emerged as one of the most trusted advisers of Indira Gandhi. He enjoyed this trust till her assassination on October 31,1984. During 1971, she did not take any important decision regarding the crisis in East Pakistan and her conduct of the war without consulting him.

The Armed Forces had nothing but the highest praise for the performance of the R&AW in East Pakistan, but its performance on the Western front, where the Army did not do as well as in the East, came in for some criticism.

Kao and the officers, who contributed to the success of the R&AW in 1971, came to be known as the Kaoboys of the R&AW. No one knows for certain, who coined this title. Some say Indira Gandhi herself…
Despite this, everyone was agreed that 1971 was the R&AW’s finest hour. There were dozens of officers of different ages and different ranks, who contributed to its brilliant performance under the leadership of Kao and K.Sankaran Nair, his No.2.

Kao was 53 years old in 1971 and Nair 50. Nair was an Indian Police officer from the undivided Madras cadre and succeeded Kao as the head of the organization in 1977, but quit after a few months due to reported differences with Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister. He was considered one of the outstanding operational officers produced by the Indian intelligence community since India became independent in 1947. 

He and Kao became legends in their time in the R&AW.

Kao and the officers, who contributed to the success of the R&AW in 1971, came to be known as the Kaoboys of the R&AW. No one knows for certain, who coined this title. Some say Indira Gandhi herself; others say Appa B.Pant, the former Indian High Commissioner to the UK and Ambassador to Italy; and some others say T.N.Kaul, former Foreign Secretary.

Whoever coined it, it fitted those magnificent officers, who participated in the operations of 1971. George H.W. Bush, the father of the present US President, held office as the Director of the CIA for a brief period under President Gerald Ford from November,1975 to January,1977. He became a close friend of Kao. He had heard from the CIA station chief in New Delhi about Kao and his officers being fondly called the Kaoboys of the R&AW by Indira Gandhi and others.

It is said that during a visit paid by Kao to the CIA headquarters in Washington DC, Bush gifted to him a small bronze statue of a cowboy. Kao always used to keep it on his table in his office. He had a large replica of this statue made by Sadiq, a sculptor from Kolkata, and gifted it to the R&AW. If you happen to visit the headquarters of the R&AW, you will find this statue of the cowboy in the foyer as you enter the building. Kao, who was himself a good sculptor, was a student of Sadiq. Sadiq made the face of the cowboy resemble that of Kao.

It stands there as Kao’s tribute to the magnificent, but unknown to the nation and unsung Kaoboys of 1971.


Butcher Yahya Khan and his nefarious plan

When notorious Pakistani General Tikka Khan phoned his fellow General Khadem Husain Raja and told "it is tonight", it was already clear in the military establishments of the then east Pakistan, that a massive crack-down and military assault on the Bengalis was imminent. The message was conveyed by General Tikka Khan during the first half of March 25, 1971 and subsequently for the rest of the day, officers of Pakistan Army as well as military intelligence were seen shuttling across the entire part of the then east Pakistan in spreading the word of remaining ready for operations. After giving the order of brutalities and severe massacre of the Bengali people, the nefarious and notorious butcher of the history of humanity, after Adolph Hitler – General Yahya Khan in a very secretive manner, boarded onto a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Karachi, possibly with the nasty hope of defeating the aspiration of sovereignty of the Bengali nation. The orders were that the military assault, codenamed Operation Searchlight, would not begin until his aircraft had safely landed in Karachi. By 10 pm, it had become clear to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that an armed assault on citizens was on the way. He exhorted the senior leaders of his party to move to safety. Even so, when Kamal Hossain met him around 10 pm, he asked him if there had been any phone call from the regime. Dr. Kamal replied in the negative before leaving Mujib's residence. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman got secret news from some of the military officers in Pakistan Army, who were vehemently against Operation Searchlight, while several political leaders of the Pakistan People's Party made frantic bids up to the last minute in stopping the planned genocide on the civilians in the then east Pakistan. But, top brasses in Pakistan Army as well as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were determined in giving a 'proper lesson' to the Bengali nation.

As Sheikh Mujibur Rahman already hinted to some of his closest associates of the possible offensives by the Pakistan Army on the civilians, they later spread the message particularly within educational institutions in the country, especially Dhaka University. Students and civilians started putting barricades in different parts of the Dhaka city to thwart movements of the soldiers, though no one at that time could even imagine the degree of the ferocity with which the army planned to strike. At around 11 pm tanks, armored vehicles and trucks loaded with soldiers of the Pakistani Army headed towards the Dhaka University, Shaheed Minar [language movement monument], the Race Course [where the Hindu temple of goddess Kali was situated], Sheikh Mujib's residence at Dhanmondi area in Dhaka, the Hotel Intercontinental and the old parts of the city. The army entered the Hotel Intercontinental and forced all foreign journalists in leaving the country. And then the Pakistani forces started its nefarious brutalities of killing the academics, students, Bengali members of the police as well as members of the East Pakistan Rifles, rickshaw pullers and civilian en messe. The monument of language movement was smashed into rubbles. The Hindu temple of goddess Kali also faced the similar fate. At Jagannath Hall and other halls of Dhaka University, soldiers stormed into the rooms and murdered hundreds of students and academics and buried in mass graves on the DU campus. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, watched Dhaka burn from his suite at Intercontinental Hotel and was even telling his aides that the 'audacity of the Bengalis' [of attaining sovereignty] will be buried for ever. Throughout the night between March 25 and March 26, the Pakistan army killed Bengalis. All day on March 26, the killings and brutalities went on. Though General Yahya Khan is actually accused of being the mastermind of the genocide on Bengali people, it is later learnt from many sources that, it was the sole plan of notorious Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was thinking that, a massive assault on the Bengali people will uproot the aspiration of the independence of the people of the eastern part of Pakistan – permanently! Bhutto even told Yahya Khan, "Yea Bangali shower jaat ko jeisey Hitlerney Yahudioko mara, oiseyhi khatam karna chahiye" [These Bengali pigs must be eliminated similarly as Hitler killed the Jews]. It is even learnt that Bhutto was provided a secret intelligence report stating the Operation Searchlight would dampen the 'arrogance' of the Bengalis and their leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, maximum within a week of starting of the offensives. With this hope, being fully confident on the intelligence report, at Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's instruction, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not immediately flown out of the then east Pakistan and was kept inside Adamjee Cantonment School. 

BY :  Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

BNP's latest decision hailed at home and abroad

Largest opposition party – BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] has called off its prescheduled day-long general strike [hartal] on March 29 as on that day, the Hindu religious group will observe Punna Snan [Holy Dip] festival. In the political history of the country, Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been trying to abort the culture of hartal [general strike], and it has utilized other political options such as road marches, laying siege and mass rallies with maximum effect and success. Hundreds and thousands of people gathered in Dhaka during March 12 program of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which greatly shivered the ruling party. The ruling party applied numerous repressive tactics to spoil the March 12 peaceful rally of the opposition party and enforced their in-house hooligans with the help of law enforcing agencies, thus causing serious sufferings to the citizen of the country. Despite ruling party's frantic bid of sabotaging the opposition rally, hundreds and thousands of attended the rally, which was seen by a leading English language daily in Dhaka as "moral defeat" of Bangladesh Awami League. It may be mentioned here that, thousands of civilians were arrested en messe by law enforcing agencies, while the state minister of Law, advocate Kamrul Islam gave instigation to his party-men of applying "all out forces" against "each of the members of the opposition alliance". He even suggested the ruling party cadres to nab each of the opposition activists and hand over to police. On the other hand, some of the top leaders of the ruling party gave provocations to their party hoodlums in physically assaulting the opposition activists and supporters during the March 12 grand rally of Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Business community in Bangladesh has already expressed satisfaction at BNP's decision of calling off the general strike and has hoped that the culture of practicing hartal in the name of democratic right should be totally abandoned by all of the political parties in the country. It may be mentioned here that the current ruling party in Bangladesh is labelled as champion of calling hartals, whenever they go into opposition.

While Bangladesh Nationalist Party has called off their March 29 general strike, there is clear sign of extreme fear within the ruling party as the main opposition and its alliance partners have declared June 12 as the deadline of re-installing the provision of holding future elections under a neutral caretaker government. Some of the heavyweights within the ruling party are expressing grave concern on the possible consequences on June 12, when the main opposition and its alliance partners are anticipated of adopting tougher strategies. Some even see June 12 as 'worst-ever hurdle' for the ruling party, which would be very difficult to overcome. Reason behind such fears of the ruling party elites is because of current governments series of failures in attending a large number of issues such as keeping the prices of essentials within buying capacity of the people; improving the law and order situation; resolving the existing crisis in the stock markets [where millions of small investors were visibly robbed-off by some influential business thugs]; failure is getting water sharing agreement signed with India; ruling party's blind pro-India policy [which in most cases are going against the interest of Bangladesh]; addressing the ever worsening power crisis [now even load-shedding are taking place during mid-nights and late nights] etc. When Bangladesh Awami League formed government on January 9 2009, it made specific pledges to the people of resolving the power crisis in the country within couple of years, while more than three years have already passed meanwhile and there is no good news at all showing minimal sign of improving the ever-worsening power crisis, which is greatly hampering country's agro-industries as well as manufacturing and industrial sectors. Foreign investors have already lost interest in Bangladesh due to severe power crisis. At least 78 percent of the industrial units in the country are forced to stop production 12-15 hours a day. It is feared that the power crisis will reach at the worst-ever level by the month of May this year. Keeping this huge crisis at focal point, country's intelligence agencies have already predicted mass upsurge in Bangladesh especially during end April to mid-June this year. They [the intelligence agencies] even fear Kansat type mass revolt [thousands of civilian at Kansat area in Bangladesh came on street in protest of power crisis during the rule of BNP-Jamaat coalition government in 2004. 


Osama Bin Laden killed in USA

The mastermind of the attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children has been killed.

President Barack Obama, Commander-in-Chief of the United States, made the announcement late Sunday evening in a televised address to the world. He said he had been briefed by the intelligence community last August that bin Laden was in hiding "within a compound deep inside of Pakistan." Over the intervening months, intelligence agencies worked to confirm the intelligence. Then last week, President Obama determined there was enough intelligence to take action.

Bin Laden was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list as well as the State Department's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," the President said from the East Room of the White House. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

had openly declared war on the U.S. and was committed to killing innocents. His al-Qaeda group was responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The attacks killed over 200 people. Bin Laden was indicted for his role in planning the attacks and added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1999.

Intelligence agencies quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by bin Laden's terrorist organization, and in October 2001, his name was added to the U.S. Department of State's Most Wanted Terrorists List.

"Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome," President Obama said. "The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice." 


Bangladeshi government misled by Khaleej Times on ISI boss testimony

Bangladeshi government has been visibly misled by a fabricated report of New Delhi based journalist Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury, who twisted a recent statement of ex-ISI [Inter Service Intelligence] chief Asad Durrani's testimony before Pakistan's Supreme Court, where he admitted to funding a number of Pakistani politicians and political parties, while there is no such existence of funding Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP], though this was openly accused by Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina stating the main opposition BNP received fifty million Pakistan rupees from ISI prior to general election in 1991.

It was later learnt that Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury was summoned by some top brasses of Research and Analytical Wing [RAW] on March 2, 2012 and was escorted to New Delhi headquarters of the Indian spy agency, wherefrom he wrote the report for Khaleej Times and it was later sent to the Indian-born owners of the Dubai based newspaper with the special instruction of publishing it prominently. Subsequently, when the fabricated and twisted news appeared in Khaleej Times, some influential members of the Indian government phoned editors of two of the leading daily newspapers in Dhaka, suggesting them to give "best treatment" to the Khaleej Times news. It may also be mentioned here that, vernacular daily Prothom Alo, which was frantically trying to send both Sheikh Hasina [chief of Bangladesh Awami League] and Khaleda Zia [chief of Bangladesh Nationalist Party] into exile following the installation of military backed authoritarian regime in 2007, is accused of playing "foul game" in destabilizing democratic institutions in the country. The editor of the newspaper, who was earlier a veteran 'comrade' of the Communist Party, is also named of being affiliated with Islamist militancy group in Bangladesh.

Most importantly, vernacular daily in Bangladesh, Prothom Alo in their news on the ISI funding issue false mentioned that the news item has been published in Pakistani newspaper The News as well as leading business daily The Business Recorder. Such twisting of information was done by Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury and the controversial editor of the Bangladeshi newspaper.

Most importantly, the same Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury in his bi-line story published in Indian newspaper the Daily Mail [March 15, 2012] once again played his wrongful and nasty news twisting game and turned the amount from Pakistan Rupees 50 million to 500 million, though in Khaleej Times he falsely quoted the ISI boss giving Pakistan Rupees 50 million to Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Again on March 16, 2012, the same writer wrote in India Today, "Recently a UAE-based daily had alleged that ISI paid Rs.50 crore to BNP chairperson and former PM Khaleda Zia ahead of the 1991 elections in which the BNP won and formed the government."

It may be mentioned here that, Dipanjon Roy Chowdhury in his reports in India Today and some other newspapers in India never mentioned that the root of Khaleej Times reports was none but him. Such frequent twisting of the false information by the same man in various places categorically proves that this man had some ulterior motive in his mind. Subsequently, Bangladeshi state owned news agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha [BSS] simply copied the entire report of India Today, without verifying the authenticity of such report.

Following successful spread of the rumor created by Dipanjon Roy Chowdhury, he was invited by the Bangladeshi high commissioner in New Delhi and was 'compensated' for such 'excellent report'. Both met at a down-town pub in New Delhi secretly, where the Bangladeshi envoy went in a non-diplomatic vehicle. It is also learnt that one of the members of the Bangladeshi 'special family' flew to India to meet Dipanjon Roy Chowdhury for expressing 'gratitude' on the Khaleej Times report.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni, when asked about the source of the ruling party's claim of the main opposition receiving ISI money, she openly confessed in a press conference stating "What we know is from a report run by the Khaleej Times."

She further said, "We can provide more details after getting the transcript in our hands. This is necessary to be clear about what actually happened. We also need to know what is actually written in the transcript."

It is further learnt that the copy of transcript already reached the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad on March 19, 2012 and the copy was subsequently sent to the foreign ministry. After seeing the real affidavit, the top brasses in Bangladesh Awami League have reportedly decided to "kill" the issue before their lies are exposed in public. Some of the top policymakers in the ruling party have expressed anger on Prothom Alo and their correspondent Dipanjon Roy Chowdhury for falsely sensationalizing the report.

It may be mentioned here that, policymakers in New Delhi are becoming increasingly concerned at fastest decline in popularity of Bangladesh Awami League and desperately trying to somehow malign the growing image of Bangladesh Nationalist Party as well as other anti government forces in the country. Twisting and fabrication of ISI boss statement is considered to be one of the flopped tricks of Indian policymakers and intelligence agencies.

While the ruling party's enthusiasm in proving Bangladesh Nationalist Party's receiving money from Pakistani ISI has already been bogged into Bay of Bengal following availability of the copy of affidavit of Asad Durrani, a very high-profile corruption and laundering of millions of dollars by the defense advisor of the Prime Minister [also a family member] and his business associated retired Colonel Md. Shahid Uddin Khan has already been proved with specific evidences. One of the lawmakers of the opposition raised this issue at the parliament on March 19, 2012, where she read out my investigative report on this matter, which was re-catered in Times of Assam. Though specific evidences on this crime have already been forwarded to Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh Bank, Anti Corruption Commission, National Security Intelligence and Directorate of Forces Intelligence, there is no sign of any investigation or action on this matter for unknown reason. It is rather learnt from numerous sources that the defense advisor is trying to exert his influence in burying the investigation into the matter and even using country's intelligence agencies in threatening me and members of Weekly Blitz is stopping publication of such report. It may be mentioned here that, the business associate of the defense advisor, Colonel [Retired] Shahid Uddin Khan smuggled millions of dollars abroad violating the existing law of the land. 

BY :  Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Bangladesh has no final say

It appears the UPA government has finally succeeded in convincing Bangladesh on the multi-purpose Tipaimukh dam. Despite protests from the opposition and environmental activists, Bangladesh has recently expressed its intention to support the proposed Tipaimukh Dam through its High Commissioner in New Delhi Tariq Ahmad Karim. It is the result of the recent visit of Gowher Rizvi, Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina to New Delhi. Gowher Rizvi alongwith his colleague Dr. Mashiur Rahman and Bangladesh High Commissioner Karim had met with a number of Indian leaders including the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ministers for home, finance, power, rural development, and water resources and the national security advisor. With the assurances given by India, the Awami League government in Bangladesh seem convinced that there will be no diminution in the flow of waters in Surma and Kushiyara rivers and that the high dam would have no adverse environmental or ecological impact, no aggravation of the floods during the monsoon. Yet, the government of Bangladesh is proposing to send an expert team to the Dam area to examine the features and likely impact of the dam on the flow of water into the Surma and the Kushiara. Here, we need to remember that, extending support to the Tipaimukh dam is not the unanimous opinion of Bangladesh. Bangladeshi experts have said the massive dam will disrupt the seasonal rhythm of the river and have an adverse effect on downstream agriculture and fisheries. Also, the Khaleda Zia led opposition BNP is dead against it. The Awami League government has dismissed the opposition to the dam as mere demagogy, stridency, devoid of substance and playing to the gallery. It also said, partisan politics and propaganda has replaced the pursuit of truth amongst many commentators. An interesting point to be noted here is that the Indian Prime Minister had invited Bangladesh to become an equity partner in the Tipaimukh project and take a share of the power that will be generated. Bangladesh believes this would guarantee them a place at the decision-making table and the ability to oversight the project at all stages. Here lies the cream icing.

Tipaimukh Dam is a proposed embankment dam on the river Barak in Manipur. The stated purpose of the dam is flood control and hydroelectric power generation. The project has led to controversy between India and Bangladesh over water rights as well as controversy with Manipuri people to be relocated by the reservoir. The dam will be 390m long and 162.8m high, across the Barak River. The dam`s crest elevation will be at an altitude of about 180 m. above mean sea level with a maximum reservoir level of 178 m. The dam was originally designed to contain flood waters in the lower Barak valley but hydro power generation was later incorporated into the project. The project will have an installation capacity of 1500 MW, supplied by six 250 MW Francis turbine-generators. Here we have to be very clear in our mind, that the support of Bangladesh in the matter of the proposed Tipaimukh Dam does not necessarily mean that all the roadblocks have been cleared. They must remember that, it is not only activists but the general public of Manipur is against the dam also. Besides being an earthquake zone, the water reservoir for the proposed dam would lead to massive loss of precious flora and fauna. It will also uproot many villages who they say would be relocated in various locations. But this is entirely against human logic. We have to take into account the man-land relationship and the attachment that people have with the land on which they were born. One cannot simply relocate living people. Yes, Manipur needs power. But it should not be at the cost of precious flora and fauna and of the man-land relationship.