March 27, 1971: Text of the Indian Prime Minister’s speech in Rajya Sabha

Text of Prime Minister’s intervention during Rajya Sabha.


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

Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, we have watched the happenings in Pakistan earlier, that is the election in East Bengal, with great admiration and hope, hope that it was the beginning of a new future for the whole country, a future which would make them more united and strong. But, as my colleagues Sardar Saheb, has said, far from leading into this brightness they have turned along a dark path, a tragic path, bringing suffering-in fact, perhaps, suffering is too small a word-to an entire people. I am sure hon. Members will appreciate that however heavy our hearts may be, however deeply we may be sharing the agony of the people there, it is not possible for the Government to speak in the same words as hon. members can do. In fact, it is because we are so deeply conscious of the historic importance of this moment that we are, at the same time, aware of the serious­ness of the situation when a wrong step, a wrong word, can have an effect entirely different from the one which we all just intend.

The House is aware that we have to act within international norms. It is good to see that the Parties here have expressed certain views. For instance, the Swantantra Party has expressed admiration for the socialist programme of Shri Mujibur Rahman. The Jan Sangh has supported his secular policy and have also said that the people of East Bengal are their brothers. I hope they will extend the same sympathy to all the people of our own country too. As I said earlier, we are not unaware of what is taking place in East Pakistan and of what it means not only to the people there but the danger that it holds for us, not for any one part of our country but for the entire country. So we are interested in this matter for many reasons, firstly as one Member has said, that Shri Mujibur Rahman has stood for the values which we ourselves cherish the values of democracy, the values of secularism and the values of socialism. We are also concerned with the truly wonderful and unique way in which the people there had stood behind him and behind these values. We are no less full of sorrow and grave concern and even agony at what is happening there but I can only appeal to the Hon. Members that this is not a moment when the Government can say anything more and whatever the Government may or may not be able to do it would not be wise if this becomes a matter for public debate. I do not think that hon. Members expect us to give replies to the various questions that were asked. I think the purpose of this discussion was more that we should know their mind and hear their suggestions. As hon. Members know, I held a meeting this morning with the Leaders of the Opposition which I hope to continue. We are as closely in touch with the happenings in East Bengal as is possible in this situation and I hope to keep closely in touch with the leaders of the Opposition as well as other Members who would like to come and meet us so that we can know their minds. We cannot always, I must admit, give our mind but we will certainly tell them as much as is possible in this situation.


Shri Mahavir Tyagi:. Can she assure the House that the air space of India would not be allowed?                                                                                           (Interruptions)


Shrimati Indira Gandhi : I can assure the hon. Member and this House that there is no intention to resume the permission.