Statement of the Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi in Parliament.
New Delhi, December 6, 1971
The valiant struggle of the people of Bangladesh in the face of tremendous odds has opened a new chapter of heroism in the history of freedom movements.
Earlier, they had recorded a great democratic victory in their elections and even the President of Pakistan had conceded the right of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. We shall never know what intervened to transform this benevolent mood and realistic approach, if it really was that, to deception and the posture of open hatred.
We are told that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party, the Awami League, had planned a non-violent movement of resistance to the Government of West Pakistan, but they were caught unawares and overtaken by a brutal military assault. They had no alternative but to declare independence. The East Pakistan Rifles and East Bengal Regiment became the Mukti Fauj and later Mukti Bahini, which was joined by thousands of young East Bengalis determined to sacrifice their lives for freedom and the right to fashion their future. The unity, determination and courage with which the entire population of Bangladesh is fighting have been recorded by the world press.
These events on our doorstep and the resulting flood of refugees into our territory could not but have far-reaching repercussions on our country. It was natural that our sympathy should be with the people of Bangladesh in their just struggle. But we did not act precipitately in the matter of recognition. Our decisions were not guided merely by emotion but by an assessment of prevailing and future realities.
Revolt of the People
With the unanimous revolt of the entire people of Bangladesh and the success of their struggle, it has become increasingly apparent that the so-called mother State of Pakistan is totally incapable of bringing the people of Bangladesh back under its control. As for the legitimacy of the Government of Bangladesh, the whole world is now aware that it reflects the Will of the overwhelming majority of the people, which not many Governments can claim to represent. In Jefferson’s famous words to Governor Morris, the Government of Bangladesh is supported by the “Will of the nation, substantially expressed”. Applying this criterion, the Military regime in Pakistan, whom some States are so anxious to buttress, is hardly representative of its people even in West Pakistan.
Now that Pakistan is waging war against India, the normal hesitation on our part not to do anything which could come in the way of peaceful solution, or which might be construed as intervention, has lost significance. The people of Bangladesh battling for their very existence and the people of India fighting to defeat aggression now find themselves partisans in the same cause.
I am glad to inform the House that in the light of the existing situation and in response to the repeated requests of the Government of Bangladesh, the Government of India have after the most careful consideration, decided to grant recognition to the Gana Prajatantri Bangladesh.
It is our hope that with the passage of time more nations will grant recognition and that the Gana Prajatantri Bangladesh will soon form part of the family of nations.
Our thoughts at this moment are with the father of this new State—Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I am sure that this House would wish me to convey to Their Excellencies the Acting President of Bangladesh and the Prime Minister and to their colleagues our greetings and warm felicitations.
I am placing on the Table of the House copies of the communications which we have received from the Government of Bangladesh. Hon’ble Members will be glad to know that the Government of Bangladesh have proclaimed their basic principles of State policy to be democracy, socialism, secularism and the establishment of an egalitarian society in which there would be no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or creed. In regard to foreign relations, the Bangladesh Government have expressed their determination to follow a policy of non-alignment, peaceful co-existence and opposition to colonialism, racialism and imperialism in all its manifestations. These are the ideas to which India also is dedicated.
The Bangladesh Government has reiterated their anxiety to organise the expeditious return of their citizens who have found temporary refuge in our country, and to restore their lands and belongings to them. We shall naturally help in every way in these arrangements. I am confident that in future the Governments and the people of India and Bangladesh, who share common ideals and sacrifices, will forge a relationship based on the principles of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit. Thus working together for freedom and democracy we shall set an example of good neighbourliness which alone can ensure peace, stability and progress in this region.
Our good wishes to Bangladesh.