Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary is being celebrated this month. On this occasion, it is important to remember his great contribution in Bangladesh’s freedom struggle.
When he was giving important support to Bangladesh’s freedom struggle, PN Haksar used to be one of his main allies at that time.
In 1973, Indira Gandhi sent PN Haksar to Bangladesh by making special envoy.
Haksar’s agenda included issues pending after India’s independence, such as those coming from Pakistan to Bangladesh, and the people who wanted to go to Pakistan from Bangladesh.
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Along with this, Haksar’s property was also sent to Bangladesh to solve the problem.
As Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, I got an opportunity to meet PN Haksar. Positive progress in those days in solving some pending issues and finding them to be resolved.
The solutions that were taken out of pending issues after Haksar and my conversation, Indira Gandhi made important decisions on them.
A major progress has been made to resolve the issues of standoff between India and Bangladesh, in the form of a joint declaration of 1973. It came out as a result of Haksar and our conversation.
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But this joint declaration needed Indira Gandhi approval. It was also important because our stand was that there would be no talks on issues affecting Bangladesh and Pakistan unless Bangladesh formally gave any recognition to Pakistan.
It meant that these issues could not be kept in a conversation until it was recognized.
In Haksar and our dialogue, it was agreed that issues of human aspect can not be kept pending until the formalities of getting recognition from Pakistan are met.
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These included the question of those who wanted to visit each other from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
It was taken into account that there will be no softening in Bangladesh’s stand on talks with Pakistan.
Therefore, Bangladesh’s attitude towards bilateral talks with Pakistan without any relaxation has been made in the joint declaration of India-Bangladesh joint declaration that it could be included in human issues.
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As it was an exception in Dhaka’s theoretical point of view, there was a need for higher approval from Indira Gandhi in India and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Bangladesh.
PN Haksar proposed that I should go to Delhi and ask Indira Gandhi for this approval. I went to Delhi and met Indira Gandhi.
I told them that after Haksar and my conversation, we have come to the conclusion that our intention is to step forward in solving the humanitarian crisis. They agreed with our point of view.
He said that he will give necessary instructions for this. The 1973 declaration made to solve the human crisis was appreciated around the world.
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I still remember when I met Indira Gandhi’s Bangabandhu in 1975 in Jamaica. He expressed concern about the safety of Sheikh Mujib.
He was informed by intelligence agencies that there was a danger to Bangabandhu’s life. But Sheikh Mujib had the belief that no Bengali would harm him.
But the confidence that Indira Gandhi expressed was proved to be true. Within a few months, on August 15, 1975, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became a victim of the plot of murder.
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Indira Gandhi reminded me that he had warned about the dangers of staying in Bangabandhu’s life.
He said that how sad it is that the conspiracy about which they had warned Bangabandhu, they turned into reality.
After this I told them that in order to maintain peace and stability in our area, it is necessary that they should take necessary steps to protect themselves.
As happened with Bangabandhu, they did not even give much importance to such a threat that came upon them.
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PN Haksar’s role in Indira Gandhi’s most important decisions was very important.
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Indira Gandhi told me that she had no such fear. After a few days of this visit, he too became a victim of such a murder plot.
Once in a meeting, he told me that PN Haksar played the role of his advisor They have left, they miss their sensible advice.
I told him that I was about to meet Haksar and I would mention this to him.
There were many meetings with Indira Gandhi and I see her as a politician who could take difficult decisions in the national interest freely. Even if the bureaucracy gave them any different advice.
I know and it was also true that how big a risk it took to take the decision to support Bangladesh’s independence struggle