March 27, 1971: Text of Indian Prime Minister’s speech in Lok Sabha.

During the debate in Lok Sabha the Prime Minister of India made an intervention and talked about the political situation in East Pakistan.

TEXT OF THE PRIME MINISTER’S INTERVENTION DURING THE DEBATE IN LOK SABHA ON MARCH 27, 1971

The Prime Minister, Minister of Atomic Energy, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Planning and Minister of Information & Broadcasting (Shrimati Indira Gandhi):

Mr. Speaker, Sir, first of all, if I may say so, you gave the House some news we have received…

Mr. Speaker: I thought the office had sent it to me to announce it. I do not know.

Shrimati Indira Gandhi: The point is that this news has come through Radio Pakistan and, therefore, I cannot say whether it is true or not. But we should not take it as true because it could be a just propaganda.

Sir, the strength does not lie in words. If my colleague Sardar Sahib has not spoken with passion, it is not due to lack of feeling either on his part or on the part of the Government but because of the fact that we are deeply conscious of the historic importance of this movement and the seriousness of the situation. Something new had happened in East Bengal-democratic action where an entire people had spoken with almost one voice. We had welcomed this, not because we wanted any interference in another country’s affairs, but because these were the values, as one of my hon. friends pointed out, for which we have always stood and for which we have always spoken out. And we had hoped that this action would lead to a new situation in our neighbouring country which would help us to get closer, which would help us to serve our own people better and create an entirely new situation. As our statement has said, this has not happened and ‘a wonderful opportunity for even the strengthening of Pakistan has been lost and has been lost in a manner which is tragic, which is agonising and about which we cannot find strong enough words to speak because this again is a new situation.

It is not merely the suppression of a movement, but it is meeting an unarmed people with tanks. We are in close touch, as close touch with the events as is possible in such a situation. I am sure hon. Members will understand that it is not possible for the Government to say very much more on this occasion here. I would like to assure the hon. Members, who asked whether decisions would be taken on time, that obviously is the most important thing to do. There is no point in taking a decision when the time for it is over. We are fully alive to the situation and we shall keep constantly in touch with what is happening and what we need to do. But I agree with him also that we must not take merely theoretical view. At the same time we have to follow, proper international norms. But there are various other suggestions made here, about genocide and so on, about which we are fully conscious and which we also discussed with the leaders of the opposition. I think at this moment I can only say that we do fully share the agony the emotions of the House and their deep concern over these developments because we have always believed that freedom is indivisible. We have always raised our voice for those who have suffered, but, in a serious moment like this, the less we, as a Government say, I think the better it is at this moment. I can assure the House that we shall keep in close touch with the situation and also we shall keep in close touch with the leaders of the Opposition so that they can continue to give us their suggestions and we can also give them whatever knowledge we have.