The Agartala Conspiracy of 1967 was just the prelude to a bigger storm that would change the course of history for East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The seeds of dissent were sowed deep and two years later, the nation fought a bloody war to gain independence from Pakistan. It was a strange case of déjà-vu for the Bengalis in East Pakistan, who had participated in India’s Civil Disobedience Movement earlier and had already fought for India’s independence. This time, the determination was the same, but the enemy was from within.
Pakistan has started a massive military assault on 26 March 1971, to suppress the Civil Disobedience movement, and detained East Pakistan Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under military custody. During this period, India’s top spy agency RAW, which was created in September 1968 (just a few months after the Agartala Conspiracy case was dismantled), gained notoriety in Pakistan for sabotaging their assault.
Several ex-RAW sleuths have penned books recounting their experiences in the spy agency. One among them is RK Yadav, who in his book Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service has stated that Indian intelligence agencies were involved with East Pakistan since the early 1960s, way ahead of the Indo-Pak War. Apparently, RAW was formed with an aim to promote dissent in East Pakistan; the agency also funded the general election in 1970 in which Mujibur Rahman was elected as the head of East Pakistan. Before the Indian Army could take on the Pakitsani counterpart in Dhaka, RAW propped up the guerrilla Mukti Bahini, which would hold the fort till a prepared Indian Army unit took on the Pakistani soldiers.
Another RAW agent, B Raman, in his book The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane states that the seceding of East Pakistan was carried out by Indira Gandhi government in two phases. The first one was implemented RAW chief RN Kao, who made the battlefield ready in Dhaka with intelligence input, and the second by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw who ended the Indo-Pak War in flat 13 days with a winning streak. Apparently, both the men reported directly to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In yet another article “The Spymaster” posted more than two decades ago in the Illustrated Weekly of India, the role of India’s sleuths become clearer. “One of the most glorious chapters in the history of RAW, was the operation leading to the creation of Bangladesh. That country would never have been born but for the operation carried out by RAW for several years before the Indian Army action.”
So it’s not mere coincidence that RAW was carved out of the IB (Intelligence Bureau) just after the Agartala Conspiracy case got closure. India, with great use of intellect and might, crushed the Pakistani Army and forced it to surrender in what is considered to be world’s briefest war. RAW played its cards well by staging the Ganga hijack drama two months in advance, which ensured Pakistan could not fly its planes over India while at war in East Pakistan! That was indeed a masterstroke by Indira Gandhi!