Friday, January 21, 2011

Say Big No To Delhi's Radar Control On Dhaka

Now it’s over a fortnight, Bangladesh Government has said amazingly and very much worryingly nothing on the remark the former and only Bengali Indian Army Chief Shankar Roy Chowdhury made in a serious derogatory way in his verbatim, ‘Delhi can’t afford to let Dhaka slip of it its radar.’ Possibly it’s now too late, but better late than never, that Dhaka on its own right for assertion of its sovereign entity of Bangladesh must condemn the statement though demi-official General Chowdhury made somewhat in a foolhardy way.

Bangladesh is an independent and sovereign country since for about four decades now. It matters little that Bangladesh is much smaller in size in all dimensions compared to India. There are smaller countries than what Bangladesh is in terms of geographical area in and around the world. In population size that matters most, Bangladesh is not a small country of thousands or few millions but of 150 million people thus account for about the 8th largest in the world. General Chowdhury has thus put to indignity the 150 million sovereign people of Bangladesh. How could he do that? On what right and privilege? He has to make right and dignified answers to such questions. Let him do so.

The first concern for the dignity of the people of Bangladesh in the matter if when and how the hurt feeling of the nation and the country is going to be conveyed to General Chowdhury, in particular, and to Delhi, in general.

Evidences of the Indian ultimate design for re-establishing the AKHANDA BHARAT or reunited India of the RAMRAJYA of the Hindu epic is nothing new to informed circle. Bangladesh has obviously been in the design more seriously since 1971. The BDR February mayhem was nothing isolated of the design. Recent dispatches about involvement of the Indian intelligence agency R&AW, one made by an Indian born scholar Sunita Paul on the 29th March and in her 30 pertinent points raised therein and another by Ishaal Zehra made on the 6th April (Bangladesh Open Source Intelligence Monitors) may well be taken as the latest of proofs, if any further proof is at all required, in the unprecedented brutal killings of over six dozens of the army officials and brilliant sons of the soil in the BDR campus.

As an ordinary but conscious senior citizen and not anyone of the government, my sincere and honest feeling in the matter is that there is no point for hide and seek but to tell him in a simple and straight forward way that he has, by his foolhardy rhetoric, intended to dent the sovereignty of Bangladesh and the pride of sovereign feeling of the 150 million. Should the Bangladesh Government now saddled in power in Dhaka escape the responsibility and fail to lodge the strongest protest to Delhi in the matter can’t be acceptable to the people of Bangladesh.

National dignity can’t be upheld by behaving in any way that looks clearly friendship of the subservient with the mentor and master.

There are facts of history that might have made the head of the Bangladesh Government amenable to Delhi. That would be better served, I am sure, if kept limited to personal scores and not in any dealings of the state, much less in the question of the sovereignty.

People have the only option to look forward for the Government to immediately lodge a strong protest to Delhi and to General Chowdhury that he has not done the right thing and so must apologize and so also must withdraw immediately his derogatory remark in the matter.

BY :  M.T. Hussain.

Delhi's Radar ControlL On Dhaka For Final Victory In The Great Game?

General Shankar’s warning is nothing new
Former Indian Chief of Indian Army General Shankar Roy Chowdhury in an interview published in the London edition of the Indian English daily on the 24th March has stated on a range of issues wherein two points seem to me to be critically important. One, in his verbatim, ‘Delhi can not afford to let Dhaka slip of its radar.’ Second, point there is what he termed as the issue of ‘Great Game’ at stake. The interview came at a time when Bangladesh has deeply been mourning the unprecedented savage killing of about five dozens of senior army officers in a mayhem for 33 hours at the BDR head quarter compound enclosure at the Peelkhana, Dhaka. Not only that the massacre was made in pre-planned way but also amazingly in full knowledge of the elected government, not excluding the P.M., Sheikh Hasina. In fact, she admitted to have known the news and appeal from the BDR DG Major General Shakil Ahmad right at the start of the killing started in frenzy that the DG was still alive and so sent a SOS to the P.M. Hasina at about 9 in the morning of 25 February to save his life and other army officers under attack. The killers happened to the BDR Jawans in the main who claimed to have some grievances of lower pay, poor service conditions, lack of full ration, and along with that misbehavior of the bosses who happened to be all from the regular army and not from the BDR cadre itself that also made one of their grievances.

The BDR massacre engineered not for petty demands
Could the grievances of the petty kind and demand to fulfill them might have led to the kind of unprecedented killing and massacre of about 60 brilliant and high ranking army officers, violating their women, looting of the valuables from the houses of those fell victims, defiling of the dead bodies, putting them into mass graves, throwing some dead bodies into sewerage manholes to flow down the drains all those brutality continued for 33 hours the BDR Jawans kept on hold and none, much less army commando permitted to intervene by the P.M., despite appeals from the army end to save lives of those being killed inside the BDR Head quarter enclosure. Who is to blame for the whole bits and pieces of the unprecedented brutal massacre? Only those who perpetrated the mayhem? None else is to blame anything for in the top of the administrative hierarchy?

Indian media’s propaganda galore
Delhi and Indian media, however, did pass on enough of information in regard to the their perception of who might have been behind the scene. They blamed the game on to the ISI or the Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency and their operatives. They further discovered that the whole brutality was engineered to destabilize the seven weeks old government of Bangladesh led by Sheikh Hasina, and so Pronob, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Delhi issued open threat for saving Hasina against any such machinations. General Shankar’s warning to Bangladesh is the latest one in the line. But may be Shankar an army person avoided mincing words, and instead was straight forward in warning Bangladesh and also clearly hinting at India that Delhi can’t afford to let Bangladesh slip of the radar control of Delhi or of full control and surveillance of bigger and powerful India. He reminded as well the issue of ‘Great Game’ of the past that gave India at times victory and at other defeat that happens in case of war between two powers.

Geographical disability and Indian evil design
The surveillance and all round control of Bangladesh by India are easily appreciable to all of average intelligence as she continued to do since the onset in 1972. But the other issue of Great game may not be clearly and readily understood by all of Bangladesh. As I understand, it is a matter of historical truth that the generation of the recent period is very much ignorant not for their own fault as the new generation turned helpless victims of truths of history for propaganda galore around than facts of truth even in school history books.

Akhanda Bharat
India’s Great Game is well known to be directed for reestablishing the AKHANDA BHARAT or reunited pre-Aryan India including Afghanistan in the western end to Thailand in the East and so with further eye in the far East Asia – Indonesia and the Philippines. Bangladesh is the immediate and the first target in the Great Game in continuing conflict of the regional history. That is why they foiled the newly created East Bengal and Assam Province in early twentieth century (1905-1911). Then again 1947 partition and creation of East Pakistan became eye swore for them for the mid twentieth century partition went against the same Great Game. General Shankar has been very candidly clear that the 1971 war victory for India happened to be the first of the Great Game. He also lamented though that in August 1975 India had a defeat in the continuing game when their own man, Hasina’s father, was toppled from the State power in Dhaka. Since then they have been looking for scope for victory here in Bangladesh. Shankar did not make any hide and seek, much less minced words, in the fact that they have now Hasina in Dhaka that must pave their victory following the defeat of 1975. The radar thus has been set in the finest tune. Whether the BDR massacre of the late February had been orchestrated for the game plan is not clear from his statement. But the fact that they would rescue Hasina at any cost that people have been hearing from the horse’s mouth and all media gave a clear signal to Dhaka that Delhi is in all way out for Hasina and not for Bangladesh, much les the overwhelming people’s deep feelings of wound for the unforgettable massacre of many of its highly decorated brilliant sons. 

India’s interest for weak Bangladesh defense
Weakening of the defense of Bangladesh is for nobody’s interest but for Delhi and Delhi alone. During the first decade Bangladesh defense was at a dismal state. It then never had any self-confidence to fight for preservation of the country’s sovereignty in practically facing Indian big army. But since late 1970s onwards for the last three decades Bangladesh army including the BDR has been continually raised to such a position that it can confidently resist aggression against the sovereignty of Bangladesh. That the confidence so build up in Bangladesh and in the defense, in particular, can not escape notice of India’s AKHANDA BHARAT design that they may well consider it a sort of threat against their winning in the Great Game. That is why one would imagine that Delhi might have planned to weaken both of our regular armed forces and the BDR, the second line of defense.

RAW’s operation in Bangladesh
It is well known in intellectual circle that Indian central intelligence agency, R&AW, has had planned and implemented Delhi’s many operations in Bangladesh for the goal Delhi has in view for their hegemony and control in the region. Shankar has mentioned not many but one of such instance in the interview. That was that R&AW had tried to feed much information about the overthrow of Mujib from the State power. But Mujib hardly cared for them that brought tragically his down fall in August 1975. Curiously enough, Shankar did not say anything about President Zia’s killing in 1981 that the R&AW had not only planned for years but also implemented with all ferocity. That the R&AW first did not have nod in the matter from an Indian P.M. and then subsequently got the nefarious scheme for killing Zia approved by Indira Gandhi in early 1980, the successive P.M. in her second term, was later on made public in Indian media itself. Hasina’s six year training under R&AW’s care and protection in Delhi’s South Block during August 1975 to mid May 1981 is a record of history. That she tried to flee Bangladesh on the day President Zia was killed in Chittagong on the 30th May 1981 by some rebels just only after 17 days of Hasina’s homecoming from self exile in India made possible by Zia’s charity and broadmindedness is also a matter of authentic history of Bangladesh.

Indian hegemony against Bangladesh
India as she wished may not desist herself from the hegemonic game plan. But despite being a much smaller country, Bangladesh must preserve her independence and sovereignty against any adversary. I would have thus thought that India should start to respect the sovereignty of Bangladesh, and try to make friendship with Bangladesh and not with any particular party or a person. Hasina just like her father Mujib had has all vengeance against the army since the historic event of August 1975. That hatred psyche of Hasina against the army should not urge India to hate and attempt to destroy the patriotic Bangladesh Army. Despite death wishes of Delhi to directly and militarily interfere into the internal affairs of Bangladesh, I am sure, the patriotic army and people would teach the aggressor in the Great Game a good lesson, despite Hasina’s working as a fifth columnist and lackey from within.

BY :   Dr. M.T. Hussain.

From Genocide To War And Diplomacy" LIBERATION WAR: U.S. VIEW

In 1971, during the Liberation War of Bangladesh, the course of war depended a lot on the then president of America, Richard M. Nixon and his relationship with Yahya Khan, head of the Pakistani military regime and the international politics of that time.

At that time, 1971, the world was on turmoil, at the peak of the cold war. The major players were America, China, Pakistan, India and Russia. President Nixon and Henry Kissinger of America wanted to improve relationship with China, as a possible ally against Russia, and in this game between the two super powers, Yahya played the role of the broker.

On the other hand China, because of the war of 1962 with India over the border in NEFA, was against India and wanted to see a strong Pakistan against India. Russia was an ally of India but was not openly on any side. China and Russia had tension over the control of Mongolia.

Most of the Islamic countries and the countries supporting Pakistan were against Bangladesh. The countries in tie with India or against Pakistan recognized Bangladesh first.

Recently, after almost 35 years of independence, the NSC (National Security Council) of America has declassified some very interesting documents related to the Liberation War of Bangladesh. These declassified US government documents clearly shows America's policy during the war in 1971.

Not all of the documents are declassified. Numerous materials remain classified by the State Department, CIA and other agencies as well as the Nixon Presidential Materials Project. Nevertheless, the available documents offer useful insights into how and why Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger made important decisions during the war of 1971.

The first part of the documents, from March 1971 to the last of May is a record of the genocide. These documents highlight some particular issues, mainly, the brutal details of the genocide conducted in East Pakistan in March and April of 1971, the killing of teachers and students at Dhaka University, rape of DU students, one of the first "dissent cables" questioning US policy and morality, as Consulate General in Dhaka, Archer Blood writes, "unfortunately, the overworked term genocide is applicable", the role that Nixon's friendship with Yahya Khan and his interest in China played in US policymaking leading to the tilt towards Pakistan., George Bush Senior's view of Henry Kissinger ,illegal American military assistance approved by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to Pakistan following a formal aid cutoff by the US The refugee situation is also detailed in the eyes of the US government; an estimated ten million Bengalis had fled across the border to India by May 1971.

The second part of the documents shows the desperate effort of Nixon to give military aid to Pakistan and the international ties among the countries supporting Pakistan. In this part the US first recognised "Mukti Bahini" or the freedom fighters as a force to reckon.

US called Yahya friend, India aggressor
By using what Nixon and Kissinger called quiet diplomacy, the US administration gave green light to the Pakistan. In one instance, Nixon declared to a Pakistani delegation that, "Yahya is a good friend." Rather than express concern over the ongoing brutal military repression, Nixon explained that he "understands the anguish of the decisions which (Yahya) had to make." As a result of Yahya's importance to the China initiative and his friendship with Nixon and Kissinger, Nixon declares that the US "would not do anything to complicate the situation for President Yahya or to embarrass him. In a handwritten letter on 7th August, 1971, to President Yahya, Nixon writes, "Those who want a more peaceful world in the generation to come will forever be in your debt."

Not only did the US publicly pronounce India as the aggressor in the war, but also sent the nuclear submarine, U.S.S. Enterprise, to the Bay of Bengal, and authorised the transfer of US military supplies to Pakistan, despite the apparent illegality of doing so and though both the countries were under the arms embargo, US sent arms to Pakistan via third countries - Iran and Jordan.

Excerpts from important documents are placed according to the date so that readers can understand the flow of information and the relevancy of the message at that time.

March 28, 1971, US Consulate (Dacca) Cable, Selective Genocide, Consul General Archer Blood reports they are "mute and horrified by a reign of terror by the Pak Military" in East Pakistan. Blood indicated that evidence is surfacing suggesting that Awami League supporters and Hindus are being systematically targeted by the Martial Law Administrators. He also reports that many DU teachers and MPs have been killed.

On March 28, 1971 NSC official Sam Hoskinson tells Kissinger that events in East Pakistan have taken a turn for the worse. It also acknowledges both American recognition of the "reign of terror" conducted by West Pakistan, and the need to address the new policy issues that have been created as a result of the terror.

From US Embassy (New Delhi) Ambassador Keating expresses his dismay and concern at repression unleashed by the Martial Law Administrators with the use of American military equipment. He calls for the US to "promptly, publicly, and prominently deplore" the brutality.

On Killings at University, A. Blood reports an American's observation of the atrocities committed at Dacca University. "Students had been shot down in rooms or mowed down when they came out of building in groups." In one instance, the MLA set a girls dormitory on fire and then the girls were "machine-gunned as they fled the building."

Genocide began
March 31, 1971: Army Terror Campaign Continues in Dacca; Archer Blood reports that an estimated 4-6,000 people have "lost their lives as a result of military action" since martial law began on March 25. He also indicates that Martial Law Administrators are now focusing on predominantly Hindu areas.

Another Cable reports atrocities in DU, that naked female bodies in Rokeya Hall at DU found "with bits of rope hanging from ceiling fans," after apparently being "raped, shot, and hung by heels" from the fans. "Mass graves reported by workmen who dug", "numerous reports of unprovoked planned killing."

April 6, 1971 US Department of State Cable, USG Expression of Concern on East Pakistan; During a conversation with Assistant Secretary Sisco, Pakistani Ambassador Agha Hilaly told "army had to kill people in order to keep country together."

The first "cable of dissent" by A. Blood, April 6, 1971 US Consulate (Dacca) Cable, Dissent from US Policy Toward East Pakistan, Blood transmits a message denouncing American policy towards the South Asia crisis. The transmission suggests that the US is "bending over backwards to placate the West Pakistan dominated government and to lessen likely and deservedly negative international public relations impact against them." The cable goes on to question US morality at a time when "unfortunately, the overworked term genocide is applicable."

'Don't squeeze Yahya''April 28, 1971, Memorandum for the President, Policy Options toward Pakistan, Secret, 6 pp. (Nixon's handwritten note) Kissinger presents Nixon with US policy options directed towards the crisis in East Pakistan. Nixon and Kissinger both feel the third is the best as it, as Kissinger writes, "Would have the advantage of making the most of the relationship with Yahya, while engaging in a serious effort to move the situation toward conditions less damaging to US and Pakistani interests." At the end of the last page Nixon writes, "To all hands: Don't squeeze Yahya at this time."

Handwritten note from President Richard M. Nixon on an April 28, 1971, National Security Council decision paper: "To all hands. Don't squeeze Yahya at this time - RMN"

May 10, 1971, Memorandum of Conversation (3:05 - 3:30 p.m.) between US and Pakistani officials including Henry Kissinger Agha Hilaly, they discuss the potential for a political solution in East Pakistan. Kissinger indicates Nixon's "high regard" and "personal affection" for Yahya and that "the last thing one does in this situation is to take advantage of a friend in need." On the same day (4:45 - 5:20 p.m.) in a meeting of The President and the Pakistani officials including Agha Hilaly, Nixon expresses sympathy for Pakistan by indicating that "Yahya is a good friend," and in response to the genocide in the East, says he "could understand the anguish of the decisions which [Yahya] had to make." Nixon also declares that the US "would not do anything to complicate the situation for President Yahya or to embarrass him."

Mukti Bahini recognised
May 26, 1971, Department of State, Memorandum for the President, Possible India-Pakistan War, This memorandum denotes three causes that may lead to an India-Pakistan war and also formally recognises Mukti Bahini: (1) continued military repression in the East, (2) the refugee flow into India, and (3) Indian cross-border support to Bengali guerillas (the Mukti Bahini).

June 3, 1971. In a meeting Kissinger indicates that Nixon wants to give Yahya a few months to fix the situation, but that East Pakistan will eventually become independent. Kissinger points out that "the President has a special feeling for Yahya. One cannot make policy on that basis, but it is a fact of life."

July 19, 1971 Memorandum for Dr, Kissinger, Military Assistance to Pakistan and the Trip to Peking, Saunders discusses US Aid to South Asia, noting the connections between US military assistance to Pakistan and Pakistan's role in the China initiative. Kissinger writes, "But it is of course clear that we have some special relationship to Pakistan."

August 7, 1971 , Handwritten Letter from President Nixon to President Yahya, Nixon writes to personally thank Yahya for his assistance in arranging contacts between the US and China. At a time when West Pakistani troops were engaging in a repression of East Pakistan, Nixon told Yahya that "Those who want a more peaceful world in the generation to come will forever be in your debt."

August 11, 1971 Meeting of the President, Henry Kissinger and the NSC Senior Review Group. Nixon says that the Indians are more "devious" than the "sometimes extremely stupid" Pakistanis, the US "must not-cannot-allow" India to use the refugees as a pretext for breaking up Pakistan. Despite the conditions in the East, which Ambassador Blood described as "selective genocide," Nixon states that "We will not measure our relationship with the government in terms of what it has done in East Pakistan."

November 15, 1971, Memorandum for General Haig, Pakistan/India Contingency Planning. The US lets the movement of the nuclear aircraft carrier; the USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal represents possible American involvement in the conflict, especially if it expanded to a superpower confrontation.

December 4 and December 16, 1971, White House, Telephone Conversations between Nixon and Kissinger. These records, in Haig's word "confirm the President's knowledge of, approval for and, if you will, directive to provide aircraft to Iran and Jordan," so that these countries will provide aircraft to Pakistan. Nixon express his desire to, "get some PR out to put the blame on India. It will also take some blame off us."

December 7, 1971, Jordanian Transfer of F-104's to Pakistan National Security Council Memorandum for Henry Kissinger, Includes State Department Cable to Jordan and US Embassy (Amman) cable. First page has handwritten Kissinger note in which he suggests "that title should have been omitted." It expresses that "by law," the US "cannot authorize" any military transfers unless the administration was willing "to change our own policy and provide the equipment directly." This would rule out any transfer of American military equipment for Pakistan, supplied by the U.S., or any third party like Jordan.

December 10, 1971, Event Summary by George H.W. Bush, (Later president of U.S) UN Ambassador Bush describes in a meeting between Kissinger and the Chinese delegation to the United Nations, Kissinger reveals that the American position on the issue was parallel to that of the Chinese. Kissinger disclosed that the US would be moving some ships into the area, and also that military aid was being sent from Jordan, Turkey, and Iran. Some of this aid was illegally transferred because it was American in origin. Bush also reports that Kissinger gives his tacit approval for China to provide militarily support for Pakistani operations against India. Bush expresses his personal doubts about Kissinger's style, in one instance calling him paranoid and arrogant.

December 9, 1971, Department of State Cable, Pakistan Request for F-104'sThe transfer of F-104 planes to Pakistan from both Jordan and Iran is under review at "very high level of USG."

December 14, 1971, Department of State, Situation Report #41, Situation in India-Pakistan as of 0700 hours (EST), The State Department Notes that Eleven Jordanian F-104 fighter aircraft have possibly been sent to Pakistan.

December 15, 1971, Department of State, Situation Report #44, Situation in India-Pakistan as of 0700 hours (EST), Heavy fighting is turning in favor of the Indians, while cease-fire plans continue to be in the works. 

Same day, US Embassy (Islamabad) Cable. "The present trickle of Mig-19's and F-104's will not hold off the Indians." Handwriting next to Mig-19's notes "China" and next to F-104's notes "Jordan."

December 16, 1971, Central Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Memorandum, India-Pakistan Situation Report (As of 1200 EST), India has ordered a unilateral cease fire upon the unconditional surrender of West Pakistani forces in East Pakistan. Fighting continues "between Bengalis and scattered "Mujahid/Razakar/West Pakistani elements." Also, the CIA reports that a squadron of American origin, Jordanian F-104's was delivered to Pakistan on 13 December, despite an American embargo on military supplies to both India and Pakistan.

December 29, 1971,US Embassy (Tehran), Cable, F-5 Aircraft to Pakistan, Embassy Iran reports that three F-5A Fighter aircraft, reportedly from the U.S, had been flown to Pakistan to assist in the war efforts against India. A Northrop official matches the aircraft to a group of planes originally slated for sale to Libya, This information suggests that not only did Washington look the other way when Jordan and Iran supplied US planes to Pakistan, but that despite the embargo placed on Pakistan, it directly supplied Pakistan with fighter planes. [concluded]

Sources: National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 79; and Anderson, Jack with George Clifford. The Anderson Papers. (New York: Random House).

India's Farakka BarrageTo Tipaimukh : Bangladesh's Option's

The unpalatable
After getting nod of Bangladesh for the river Ganges’ water withdrawal by India in May 1974 at the Farakka Barrage point up 17 kilometers of the common border of the two countries, and what is called at the downstream the Padma river of Bangladesh in the west, India has taken now to build two dams at Tipamukh and Fulertal in the east on the river Barak that forms upper riparian of the Kushiara, Surma and mighty Meghna rivers of Bangladesh. The evils of Farakka in the three and a half decades in the downstream incurred yearly losses in money term at 150,000 lakhs crores Taka and the incoming Eastern two are estimated to incur yearly loss for Bangladesh at Taka 225,000 lakhs crores. Farrakka Barrage adversely affected the western and southwestern territory of one third Bangladesh and the eastern two dams to affect one fourth of Bangladesh in the eastern area. 

My experience and some works
On the Farakka Barrage issue I had my first book (India’s Farakka Barrage… now out of print) published in 1996. I was then fortunate not only to have facts from documents of the Bangladesh Government source but also from other published documents about the issue here and elsewhere at the international level. I was also fortunate to have a very close rapport with the renowned hydrological expert B M Abbas during his last days before passing away in Dhaka, in addition to useful information I had from his authoritative book The Ganges Water Dispute. Just a few months back I had two articles, one in Bengali and the other in English on the same topic of Farakka losses incurred by Bangladesh that I took advantage of an occasion of follow up of a surface scratching by the BBC Bengali Radio discussion meeting held at Rajshahi a few months earlier on the effects of the India’s Farakka Barrage in Bangladesh as the razzmatazz of the discussion had nothing of losses of Bangladesh in concrete terms of money figure. In the two articles mentioned and published in dailies in Dhaka I cited figures in specific calculated terms. The figure of Bangladesh losses for 33 years since May 1974, the time the Farakka went on in full commission to 2007 at nearly 49 lakhs crore Taka, that made yearly average of about one and a half lakh crore Taka. A research organization based in the USA and corroborated by a local organization in their calculation for likely losses of Bangladesh due to the India’s Tipaimukh Dam would still be higher at over two lakhs crore Taka than the yearly average due to the Farakka, thus exceeding yearly average of about one lakh crore Taka losses that Bangladesh has been incurring due to the death trap of the Farakka Barrage. 

Miseries of millions on both sides
Although there were groups against the Farakka project in West Bengal and Bihar before the barrage was erected, as one was renowned irrigation engineer Kapil Bannerjee (See weekly Holiday, 29 May 09), there are groups, as well, against the other two proposed dams. The Tipaimukh dam to be built at 500 meters downstream of the confluence of the Barak and Tuivai rivers is planned for generation of 1,500MW of hydro-electricity and the Fulertal one for irrigation purpose there in the Eastern India. The likely affected ones included common poor people as also objections raised by area experts, environmentalists, etc. Because, the Dam if erected and made operational is certain to affect lives and livings of many people engaged in agriculture in the project region, fisheries and fishing trade, river craft works and to adversely affect ecological balance that may even add to risks of bigger scale earth quakes in the region according to the noted earth science expert and famous geologist like Dr. Soibam Ibotombi, Professor of the Indian Manipur University

International river rules and conventions
International rivers are well designated so for that they flow through many countries. The Ganges and the Barak are international rivers. There are international rules and conventions that guide modes of sharing waters of such rivers between countries in the riparian regions. The upper riparian country, in particular, is not permitted by the rules and conventions to withdraw and divert water of any amount that would harm the lower riparian country/s. The 1997 UN convention adopted two key issues, one, in gist stated by two words, ‘no harm’ and the other ‘equitable sharing’. To elaborate the implications of the two set of terms, one can safely state that the upper riparian country can do no harm to lower riparian country by withdrawing or diverting normal natural flow of water, and if any such withdrawal and diversion is at all to be done, such mode must have prior sanction of the lower riparian country subject to the condition of mutually agreed equitable sharing. There are examples of such water sharing treaties between countries like Egypt and Sudan for the Nile waters, Germany and Hungary for the Danube, Pakistan and India for the Sind just to cite as instances. The Ganges water dispute with India started about four decades ago, but unfortunately no equitable sharing agreement had been possible. In 1974 there had been a memorandum of understanding for ‘experimental operation’ of the Farakka Barrage by India for ‘forty days’ only. But that experimental forty days went on and on, India cared little for the lower riparian Bangladesh. During Presidennt Zia’s time there had been two-year treaty first in 1977 for sharing water of the Ganges and renewed once only, but during President Ershad there had been no treaty at all. Instead the Indian Government suggested the then President Ershad to forget about making any water sharing treaty and advised him to dredge Bangladeshi part of lower riparian area of the rivers for storing bigger volumes of water. Such dredging action program is not only very costly but also a recurring and very expensive matter having no durable solution to the problem due to siltation of river beds for obstruction of flows in the upper riparian region. The 1996 agreement made by the then government for 30 years duration sealed the ill fate of Bangladesh, at least, until the expiry of the period of the unequal an inequitable treaty until 2026. 

1996 humiliation
I recall very clearly from a TV news item on the day in December 1996 how the 30-year treaty was undertaken by the then Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Kolakata and Delhi. The day previous to the treaty was signed in Delhi, Hasina not only met the West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, but in her meet she fell on his feet to pay respect in somewhat Hindu style, Shashtyange Pronipat, and so pleased the Chief Minister blessed her as usual putting palm on her forehead and then made a brief remark that said that India would make a treaty for water sharing at the Farakka Barrage point for two to three years. Amazingly, the next day the treaty was signed for duration of 30 years and not for two or three years as Jyoti Bosu had predicted in blessing Hasina. 

India pitied Bangladesh
If one would recall further back about the facts about 1974 MOU, 1977 water treaty for two years and renewed for another two years, no treaty whatsoever during the nine years term of Ershad and also none during the first term of Khaleda during 1991 to 1996 with the amazingly 30 year treaty made in December 1996 with P.M. Hasina that Bosu had predicted for a very short period. This treaty had no right standing so far as it did not meet international rules and conventions. Further that the treaty had no guarantee clause at all. These meant that the treaty went against the interest of lower riparian Bangladesh and violated international standard rules, conventions and norms. Thus it became a fait accompli that continues to harm Bangladesh, its ecology, economy and thus subservience to Delhi made in reality a mockery of sovereignty of Bangladesh. During the last 13 years it is the sad reality that India released for Bangladesh less quantities of water than Delhi had promised in the terms and schedule of the treaty; their excuse keeps on telling that they had no flow enough in the upper region and hence the lower quantum for Bangladesh became obvious.

Aggravate further
Having had the sad and painful experience due to India’s Farakka Barrage being operated for the last 35 years, the Tipaimiukh dam has been floated to further aggravate the position of Bangladesh in this case in the eastern region involving one fourth of the much smaller and impoverished geographical area.

Redress at the UN
Being the Tipaimukh a life and death question for Banglkadesh, Bangladesh has to stand solidly united to restrain India to abandon the Tipaimukh dam project for good. But if she does not restrain on their own, Bangladesh has no option left to bring the matter in the knowledge of international bodies like the UN and the possibly into the International Court of Justice at the Hague for appropriate redress.

BY :   DR.M.T. Hussain.

Indian Govt. Determined To Go Ahead With The National River Link Project (NRLP)

Indian government seem to be determined to go ahead with the mammoth national river link project (NRLP) to link 14 Himalayan rivers in the north and 16 peninsular rivers in the south of India without consulting co-riparian nations, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. This displays a total disregard for international norms and treaties on the part of India. Indian government also appear to be indifferent to the disastrous consequences that the project will have on the northern and north-eastern states of their own country. Experts opine that connecting the peninsular rivers to the Himalayan rivers would alter the natural drainage system of the entire region with severe adverse consequences. The proposed 40,000 km long inland waterways will also cause massive human displacement.

Water scarcity and their cumulative effects may lead to internal and external migration of millions of people in the region. India’s well known environmental scientist Dr. Vandana Shiva is of the opinion that no serious studies have been done on the river linking project. The project has the potential to cause massive and irreparable damage to the entire region including loss of biodiversity and wild life and may also trigger seismic tremors.

This unilateral inter-basin transfer of water from transnational rivers flowing from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan into Bangladesh through India would affect the natural discharge of the Ganga (Ganges)-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system. Diverting water from the natural courses of so many great rivers is bound to have serious environmental impact on the regions as a whole. This may also lead to a deterioration of relationship among the neighbours producing new alignments and polarisation.

India needs to scrap this project immediately and consult all co-riparian nations (China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh) for a proper management of the Ganga (Ganges)-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin. As Bangladesh will be adversely affected by the project I urge the Government of Bangladesh to take up the issue with the Indian Government and other regional partners in right earnest and without delay.

A Bullet Is A Bullet Is A Bullet

Deaths from BSF firing have assumed disquieting proportion, and the Indian authorities seem to be able to do nothing about it. And only recently has the Bangladesh government been spurred, by criticisms at home and prodding from the Border Guards Bangladesh (and perhaps from abroad in the form of a report by the International Commission on Human rights about the border killings), to summon the Indian high commissioner to register its condemnation of BSF action.

This was in the wake of the brutal and senseless killing (that is how the particular killing was described by the Bangladesh foreign ministry reportedly) of a 15 year old girl by the BSF on January 7. The situation had come to such a pass that the chairman of the Bangladesh Human Rights Commission was constrained to invoke the help of his Indian counterpart.

One is at a loss to rationalise the trigger-happy attitude of the BSF, and even more at the fact that the killings have gone on in spite of the declaration of unilateral moratorium on border firings by the Indian government, and assurances of the BSF authorities at the very highest level of command that such killings would cease. Statistics of border deaths belie the much vaunted excellent state of relationship between the two countries.

Felani's killing (that was the name of the poor girl who was shot like a sitting duck literally when her sari got entangled in the barbed wire she was trying to negotiate in her attempt to cross the border illegally) makes BSF explanations of the shootings, and the descriptions of those being killed as being criminals and felons armed to the teeth, sound hollow. It is a fig leaf that fails to hide their contempt for human lives. And hiding behind semantics and resorting to verbal subterfuge like these are not killings but death by firing, as the BSF DG tried unsuccessfully during his visit to Dhaka in September of 2010, doesn't assuage the feelings of those affected.

It just so happens that a meeting of Bangladesh-India JWG on security is on in Dhaka currently and as one paper has reported, both the countries "have agreed on the need to stop border killing." Is it not such an obvious matter that needs no consultation to "agree upon?" Instead, what one would have liked to hear is what steps would be taken to that end?

However, we have been given to understand that the Indian government, in order to prevent deaths in the border, is thinking of providing the BSF with rubber bullets instead of metal ones, to fire at the trespassers, majority of whom, going by the number of reported deaths in BSF firing, happens to be Bangladeshis. And Bangladesh has taken the credit for suggesting such an alternative.

A bullet, whatever it is one chooses to coat it with, rubber, or sugar or honey, will still hurt, and if it happens to strike at a sensitive spot of the human anatomy, may very well kill. Therefore, neither can one take satisfaction in suggesting it as an alternative to metal bullets nor should one feel elated by accepting the suggestion. It is a bad alternative to an equally reprehensible use of illegitimate and disproportionate use of force. And there is nothing to exalt at the new arrangement, since it sanctifies a bad alternative without going into the very fundamental nature of the problem; neither does it guarantee the physical safety of those that choose to use the border illegally, but nonetheless don't deserve death as a consequence of breach of the border.

Rubber bullet, according to the manuals, is rubber or rubber-coated projectile which is intended to be a non-lethal alternative to metal projectiles and is used for short range practice and animal control, but is most commonly associated with use in riot control and to disperse protests. According to experts, these are kinetic impact munitions meant to cause pain but not serious injury.

Rubber bullets are used at close quarters, but if used indiscriminately can prove lethal; they may cause bone fractures, injuries to internal organs, or death. In a study of 90 patients in Northern Ireland, one died, 17 suffered permanent disabilities or deformities and 41 required hospital treatment after being fired upon with rubber bullets.

Since the core element is metal the risk to life remains from misuse, particularly where intentions are hostile. It is more of a defensive expedient, but given the psychological disposition of the Indian border guards, the palliative, poor as it is, will not work.

Regrettably, the Bangladesh-India border is not as well managed as it might be. And changing the type of weaponry only is not the answer to a situation which requires a change of mindset of the BSF. Some of the deaths have been due to torture also.

Managing the Bangladesh-India border requires a deep understanding of the intricate nature of the border, a border that is not like borders between any two countries. Thus the rationale of rubber bullets is full of holes. And a hole is a hole is hole, as much as a bullet is a bullet is a bullet.