Bangladesh issue will linger: Indira Gandhi | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 12, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:21 AM, June 12, 2021

Road to Freedom: This Day in Bangladesh Liberation War History

Bangladesh issue will linger: Indira Gandhi

June 12, 1971


The United States appealed today to India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and urged the Pakistanis to restore normalcy in East Pakistan through "peaceful political accommodation".

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It was the first public statement by the United States on the situation in the subcontinent since the Pakistani army on March 25 began quelling the Bangladesh movement for autonomy and later for independence.

The statement reflected the increasing concern that hostilities might erupt between India and Pakistan if the massive movement of Bangladeshi refugees into India was not halted.

The latest figures available to the state department indicated that more than five million refugees had crossed the borders into India. This represented more than seven percent of East Pakistan's population. Refugees were reported still entering India at a rate of more than 100,000 a day.

A cholera epidemic was spreading among the refugees, and the state department announced today that three United States Air Force planes were delivering a million doses of anticholera vaccine to India. The planes are to participate in a refugee airlift.


An early political settlement of the Bangladesh issue was ruled out by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi today.

She told a press conference at Silchar, Assam that Pakistan might ultimately bow to mounting world pressure to decide on some sort of political settlement with the people of Bangladesh rather than snap all ties with them.

"But a political settlement is not very likely now, though nothing in the world is impossible," she said. As to the recognition of Bangladesh, India Gandhi said a decision about recognition of the provisional government of Bangladesh might be taken after the return of the External Affairs Minister Swaran Singh from abroad.

She hoped, however, that conditions would soon be created for return of the refugees to their homeland.


AHM Kamaruzzaman, the home minister of Bangladesh Provisional Government, told reporters today that the Pakistani troops had so far suffered 40,000 casualties -- 13,000 killed and the rest injured -- since the beginning of the liberation struggle. He said the army was no more sending injured troops back to West Pakistan as the presence of a large number of crippled soldiers might give out the real situation in Bangladesh to people in West Pakistan.

The home minister, who was now touring different liberated areas, said he had found the morale of the Mukti Fouj and the people very high everywhere notwithstanding the inhuman atrocities perpetrated by the occupation army. He also visited some of the guerilla training camps. 


The mayor of Calcutta today demanded a cordon around the already overcrowded city "to prevent the further influx of refugees from East Pakistan".

The mayor, Shyam Sundar Gupta, reported that 100,000 refugees so far had reached the city and warned that law and order might be affected if they continued to flow in.

"If they come to Calcutta, how will their bellies be filled?" he asked. "They are hungry people and there is bound to be a security problem as a natural course of things."

Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at

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