Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s separation plan
After the humiliating defeat of India by China in 1962, the Indians realized that if they ever have to fight against China again, they will need a better transport and logistics infrastructure. The Chicken Neck obstacle had to be removed and India needed to establish unfettered road, rail and-river right-of-way through East Bengal to North East Frontier and Arunachal. Creation of Bangladesh was the solution and Awami League (AL) under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the answer to the Indian prayer. The Agartala Conspiracy was a tactical element in the long-term North-East Strategic Plan of India. The Bangladeshi Muslims were the ultimate sacrificial lambs in this Chanakya inspired game.
Mujbur Rahman and his close confidantes had made plans to separate East Pakistan from West Pakistan at Agartala in 1963. Satya Deb, a former Class IV staff of Smarajit Chakrabarty, the then Sub Divisional Officer of Khowai in West Tripura is among the three living men who had seen Mujibur Rahman during that secret trip to Tripura on November 3, 1963. After a series of discussions with Mujib, Tripura Chief Minister Sachindra Lal Singh accompanied by Chief Secretary B Raman flew to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to seek Indian help for Mujib’s movement’.
“Ontoraler Sheikh Mujib” written by Dr Kalidas Baidya (Swadhin Bongobhumi Movement leader), Kolkata, 2005 has the details of Mujib’s connections with the Indian policy makers as early as 1950s. Hasina Wajid claimed, as reported in Bangladesh media on March 8, 2010 that Mujib planned separation from Pakistan in 1969 in London. One wonders why she made no mention of her father’s visit to Agartala in 1963.
The Bengali conspirators met the Indian intelligence agency at Agartala on July 12, 1967 to finalise the plan. Mujib kept receiving weapons and ammunition from India over a period of time, which he stacked at secret places. India had plans to disrupt the air and sea routes connecting the two wings of Pakistan on the D Day. The nefarious plan was accidentally found out in 1968 and the evil could have been nipped in the bud had the Agartala case been allowed to reach its logical conclusion and the accused persons punished on charges of treason. The politicians did no service to Pakistan by applying massive pressure on Ayub Khan to let off the accused involved in a plan of sedition and treachery. Later on, Indian writers admitted that a conspiracy had been hatched at Agartala in 1967 to liberate East Bengal with Indian Army’s clandestine support and to set up an independent government of Bangladesh.
The insidious plan was unearthed by intelligence agencies in 1968 and Mujib and his 35 co-accused put on trial. The proceedings of the tribunal were held in open court and national and international press was given free access to witness and report on the unfolding courtroom drama. Col Shawkat Ali LLB, Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and one of the 35 accused in the Agartala conspiracy case, claimed on February 22, 2011 in the Parliament that the charges read out in the court in 1968 were ‘accurate’, stating that they formed a Shangram Parishad under Sheikh Mujib for the secession of East Pakistan.
More than one of the accused publicly admitted that they were involved in a conspiracy and they supported their statements with details of activities, meetings and contents of discussions held. As such, there were no justifiable grounds for not believing the people who were involved and admitted openly that they were involved. Unquestionably, the Government of Pakistan had a very robust case. If it did not have foolproof evidence and a solid case against Sheikh Mujib, it would not have allowed the defendants to engage barristers from England as defence counsels.
Realizing that they were going to lose the case because of the overwhelming weight of evidence, Some AL leaders rushed to see Maulana Bhashani and were able to convince him that the case against Mujib and others was a fabricated case.
Highly emotional Bhashani was easy to convince and did not possess the lawyers training to ask the pertinent questions. Details were revealed by a Bangladeshi national Abdul Ghaffar Choudhury in an article published in the London Janomot sometime in the mid 1990s. Bhashani was used to lead the procession to stop the trial, but the real masterminds behind this plot were the Indian master planners of the Agartala Conspiracy. Not only the trial was put off under hooliganism of AL and Bhashani’s activists, the little known Mujib was catapulted to the status of a hero. Indian media played a key role in glamorizing him and his six-point program, which was a certificate for secession.
To be able to clean sweep the 1970 elections in his home province, Mujib with the help of retired Col M.A.G. Osmani and guided by India divided Dacca and other major cities into sectors and units and nominated sector and unit commanders, each having armed band to browbeat the people and political activists of other political parties. Mukti Bahini was created to terrorise the people into submission. (This plan was reenacted by RAW in mid-1980s after the birth of MQM in Karachi). During the year long election campaign, Mujib whipped up Bengali nationalism by holding West Pakistan responsible for the under development of eastern province. He didn’t allow any other political leader to hold a public meeting. After an organized pre-poll rigging, massive rigging was carried out on the day of polling with the help of returning officers. Anti-AL people were prevented from casting vote. That way, AL lost only two seats in East Pakistan and bagged the rest.
As a consequence to hijacking of an Indian passenger aircraft to Lahore in January 1971 Pakistan constituted an enquiry. It revealed that the whole drama was enacted by India’s RAW for specific motives. Once the inaugural session of the Constituent Assembly was postponed on March 1, anarchy was deliberately triggered by Mujib to provoke Gen Yahya and force him to launch a military operation and thus activate the exodus of Bengali refugees to India and start a civil war. Non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis/Biharis were massively slaughtered and women raped. Tutored by India, Mujib, Tajuddin and other hardliners in AL rejected all offers of reconciliation offered by Gen Yahya and his team during the ten-day parleys in March 1971 and acceptance of his six points. He insisted upon confederation. When talks failed on 25 March and Operation Searchlight was ordered, the AL was well prepared for it. Col retired MAG Osmani and his cohorts in consultation with India had chalked out contingency plans to create Bangladesh. They admitted after the emergence of Bangladesh that they had three contingency plans in case the Army decided to use force.
First; secure power through legitimate means after elections. Later on, declare independence after milking West Pakistan. Second; seize power by force of arms in case transfer of power was refused or inordinately delayed. Third; mass exodus of rebels to India would help sustain armed struggle for emancipation of Bengali people from India. Major Rafiqul Islam revealed details of the action plan along with the three contingencies in his book ‘A Tale of Millions: Bangladesh Liberation War’. Brig Jagdev Singh also came out with similar details in his book ‘Dismemberment of Pakistan’, and so has Asoka Raina in ‘Inside RAW-The Story of India’s Secret Service’.
The Awami League had made a detailed battle plan to take over the province by force in the early hours of March 26, 1971. The details had been worked and coordinated with the Bengali officers by retired Col. Osmani. There were 100,000 armed Bengalis including six East Bengal Regiments (EBR), 16000 armed men of East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) and 30,000 Bengali armed police duly supplemented by sixty million hostile people as against lone 14 Division having 12000 troops only. The plan envisaged occupation of Dacca and Chittagong by certain number of EBR troops to prevent additional reinforcements from West Pakistan by air or sea. The remaining EBR troops with the assistance of EPR units, Police and armed Razakars would move to eliminate the armed forces at various cantonments. EPR was also to occupy all the key posts of the border to let the inflow of aid from outside. Additional needs of arms and ammunition were to be met by India. Indian troops would come to the assistance of the AL rebels once the latter succeeded in the first phase of occupying key centres and paralysing the Pakistan Army. Had the Army not pre-empted, hardly any West Pakistani soldier would have survived.
Once the insurgency was quelled in a record time of little over one month and order restored, and Mukti Bahini aided by Indian soldiers dressed in civvies failed to dislodge the defenders of united Pakistan, ten-times larger Indian military aided by air, navy, 287,000 Bengali rebels and Soviet Union barged in and forcibly annexed the eastern province of Pakistan and declared it independent Bangladesh. In recognition of the services rendered, Mujib was awarded the premiership but he could enjoy the fruits of power for few years only. He met the fate of Mir Jafar who had handed over Bengal to the British in 1757. Mujib did the same by making Bangladesh subservient to India. People of Bangladesh took the revenge by killing him and his family members in August 1975 but by then the irreversible damage had been done.
The writer is author of books ‘Maarka Hilli – War in East Pakistan’ and ‘Roots of 1971 Tragedy’. firstname.lastname@example.org