In an exclusive conversation with The Policy Times, noted Author and South-East Asia analyst Priyajit Debsarkar, whose books- Pakistan’s Atlantique attack and arbitration, and The Last Raja of West Pakistan provide informative chapters on the modern history of the sub-continent. Debsarkar has done most of his research in Bangladesh, India and the United Kingdom for the purpose of writing this book, apart from secondary research in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Argentina.
To start with, what do you have to say about Modi’s south-east Asia policy? Do you think he has failed in Nepal as Kathmandu is perceived close to China right now?
Ans. No, on the contrary, I would argue that it has been successful. Take the instance of Land Border dispute resolution with Bangladesh. Nepal and India are connected by the same inseparable umbilical chord. With a new Train connectivity, the friendship will be forged in Iron.
2. What do you think went wrong in the Maldives? It is perceived that New Delhi dealt with the situation wrongly.
Ans. I don’t think so. Quite diplomacy says a lot. We have a moral responsibility in the Indian Ocean Region and I strongly feel sooner than later Maldives can become the Hambantota Debacle.
3. Coming to your book on the former Chakma king, how did the Chakma people react to Roy’s decision?
Ans. The ordinary Chakma were very much supporters of the Victorious Awami League and the Mukti Bahini. Many Chakma freedom fighters were highly decorated after the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971. Due to the difficult terrain of the Chittagong Hill tracts many Mukti Bahini regulars sought refuge there in order to avoid slaughter by the West Pakistani predominantly Punjabi Occupation Army since Operation Searchlight. The Chittagong Hill tracts also provided refuge to The Legendary Master Da Surya Sen during the Chittagong Armoury Robbery @ British Raj; a historical reference point.
4. Should Indira Gandhi have tried in winning Raja to sway towards India? Did India at all communicate with Raja?
Ans. I think it would not have succeeded as the Feudal Kingship mentality of the Raja would have prevented a democratic alliance. Had it been the case in the historic elections of 1970 the Raja was offered a ticket from the Awami League by the supreme leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself. India had to stand with the common masses of East Pakistan and had the moral responsibility to honour the mandate of a democratic process. Interestingly 1970 was probably the first and last free and fair elections in the entire history of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
5. What is his legacy, today in the subcontinent?
Ans. He remains a convicted war criminal who chose to become an ambassador at large rather than a prince. He sided with the most brutal and bloody military regime which perpetuated one of the most horrific genocides and the campaign of rape in the human recorded history. 1971 remains as a big black spot especially in the Indian Subcontinent and its perpetrators must be brought to the books. Justice must be served.