R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Jan 31: India should have reached out to Myanmar immediately after liberating Bangladesh in 1971 to prevent China from increasing its influence in that country, said noted security analyst and former GoC of the 4 Corps of the Army, Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune on 50th years of Bangladesh liberation war, Lt Gen Shekatkar, who was a Major of the Indian Army during the war of 1971, said that liberating Bangladesh was a very good decision by India in the long term security point of view. He said that without the creation of Bangladesh, India would have been surrounded by inimical countries from three sides, which would have been a major problem for the country.

Lt Gen Shekatkar pointed out that today, China is controlling Pakistan with remote control and even a China-Pakistan economic corridor is being constructed. He said that India is facing challenge in two fronts, both along the international borders with China and Pakistan.

The situation would have been worse if India had not liberated Bangladesh as the country would have been surrounded from three sides and China would have gained direct access to the Bay of Bengal, which could have posed a serious security threat to India.

The former GoC of 4 Corps said that any nation must think ahead of time and the decision to liberate Bangladesh proved to be a very correct decision in the present day context.

When pointed out that despite India’s role in its liberation, the Government of Bangladesh never dealt with the issue of infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals to India, Lt Gen Shekatkar said that politicians of India should be blamed for the present situation. He said that Bangladeshi nationals came to India for economic reasons but the political leaders of India gave them voting rights to create their own vote banks. This resulted in deterioration of the situation.

Lt Gen Shekatkar expressed the view that India made a major mistake by not reaching out to Myanmar earlier, which helped China to increase its influence in that country. “India should have reached out to Myanmar immediately after liberating Bangladesh. But that was not done because of the reasons best known to the political leadership. Now Government of India is reaching out to Myanmar but we are now 50 years behind China,” he added.

The security analyst said that if India had reached out to Myanmar 50 years back, the situation in the North East would have been totally different. He pointed out that insurgency in the region would not have thrived if India had maintained friendship with Myanmar for a long time. Most insurgent groups had strong bases in Myanmar and they even trained their cadres in that country. The militants of North East went to China via Myanmar. He also pointed out that the North East would have been one of the most prosperous areas of the country if India had tried to reach out to South East Asian countries through Myanmar. It is a positive sign that India has now reached out to Myanmar and hopefully things will improve, he added.