Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Phantoms of Chittagong: The unsung Tibetan heroes of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war

My article The Phantoms of Chittagong: The unsung Tibetan heroes of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war appeared in Firstpost

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On 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh, we need to recall one of the best-kept secrets of the war: The role played by the Special Frontier Force, a highly trained Tibetan regiment based in today’s Uttarakhand, in the Chittagong Hills.

We are soon going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh from the clutches of the dictators of West Pakistan. One of the best-kept secrets is the participation of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), a highly trained Tibetan regiment based in today’s Uttarakhand.
The SFF played an important role along with the Mukti Bahini, the Bangladeshi freedom fighters, in the liberation war in the Chittagong Hills.

Creation of SFF
SFF was founded in November 1962, a week before China’s unilateral cease-fire. The idea was that the Tibetans would themselves ‘liberate’ Tibet!
Dapon Ratuk Ngawang, a senior Tibetan officer (who has now passed away), explained how the SSF became known as ‘Establishment 22’ or simply ‘Two-twos’: the first commandant of the force was a senior Indian Army officer, Brig (later Maj Gen) Sujan Singh Uban, an artillery officer, who had earlier served as Commander of the 22 Mountain Brigade.
The Phantoms of Chittagong The unsung Tibetan heroes of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war

SFF and the Bangladesh war

The Official History of the 1971 War published by the Ministry of Defence mentions all the victorious battles, but the Tibetan regiment is not even cited and today it is extremely difficult to find any document proving the Tibetan soldiers’ participation. This is mainly due to inter-services rivalry.
A few years ago, Dapon Ratuk (the rank of ‘dapon’ approximately corresponds to a Commanding Officer) explained in an interview: “The Tibetan regiment known as Special Frontier Forces (SFF) has never functioned under the control of the Indian Army. It was established in 1962, after the India-China war. The main objective of the regiment was to fight the Chinese Army (with the help of the Indian Army). At the time of the creation of the force, we thought that the operations could be based at Lhuntse Dzong in Tibet (near the Indian border). The plan was to engage the Chinese Army in a military conflict within five-six months of the force’s creation. But the India-China war came to an abrupt end on 22 November 1962, and due to international pressure to maintain peace, no further military engagements occurred with China. Therefore, the services of the Establishment 22 regiment were not used for what had been planned.”

However in 1971, the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi thought of using the Tibetan force to conduct guerrilla warfare within East Pakistan; she mentioned this to RN Kao, the then Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Chief.

Brig Uban wrote in his memoirs, The Phantoms of Chittagong: “Suspecting it to be a long drawn-out affair, the Government of India sent for me as an expert in unconventional guerilla warfare and asked me to study the situation by visiting the border areas and meeting people and to submit a report, which I did after a hurried visit to the affected border areas and meeting several Bangladesh youth leaders.”

He goes on to explain: “My personal visit confirmed what the map showed, that is Bangladesh was a paradise for guerilla warfare. Forests and hills, rivers, streams and lakes made many areas inaccessible. Yet there was fish and fowl in abundance to keep a guerilla force functioning independently.”
The Phantoms of Chittagong The unsung Tibetan heroes of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war

He added an important aspect: “On top of that if you take on a disillusioned and angry population of 75 millions, one can visualise the Force needed by the martial law authority to maintain a semblance of order in any part of that country, a guerilla warfare I thought would suck Pakistan dry of troops and resources if it ever decided to retain this part under its possession.”

Uban proposed to conduct guerilla operations in the Chittagong Hills in order to cut the retreat route of the Pakistani troops. He recalled, “Apparently General Manekshaw (the then Army Chief) had been thinking on similar lines and one day sent for me to investigate this possibility. Our minds met and I set out to prepare this Special Force of Northern Hill Tribes (the Tibetans) for this new venture. Leaders and men of this force did not take much time to understand the full implication of joining this venture and they made a representation in writing that they [should] be allowed to participate and make some contribution if ever Pakistan forced this war on India.”

Uban had two fighting forces under his command: The SFF as a commando force and the Mujeeb Bahini, the elite Bangladeshi force.

SFF’s involvement
In early 1971, the Tibetan force heard that during a special meeting called by the Indian Army in New Delhi, Brig Uban had volunteered to lead the Establishment 22 in the Bangladesh liberation war: “It was SS Uban Singh and my colleague Dapon Jampa Kalden who voluntarily decided to take part in the War,” recalled Ratuk.

The narrative from the old Tibetan officer continued: “Later they told me about their plans. First, I refused to join them… I told them that the Establishment 22 had not been created to fight ‘for India’; rather it was established with the sole aim to fight the Chinese.”

Finally, after a directive came from the Department of Security of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, Dapon Ratuk accepted. “The Department told us that there was no alternative but to go to war ‘for India’. Moreover, they told us that the Indian government was in a very critical situation at that time and our participation in the war could help save a lot of Indian lives,” he recalled.

Through Brig Uban, the force was in direct contact with RN Kao, responsible for the External Intelligence in the Cabinet Secretariat.

The old Dapon remembered: “Once the decision to participate in the operations was taken, Dapon Dhondup Gyatotsang (he lost his life during the 1971 Operations), Dapon Pekar Thinley and myself divided the regiment into three units. We decided that each one of us would lead one unit in the war. Due to his age and despite his military experience, Dapon Jampa Kalden couldn't take part in the operations; he remained the administrative link between the Indian government and Establishment 22.”

The fascinating story of the Establishment 22 continued: “After we captured Chittagong, Kao came to visit our regiment (in Uttarakhand) and gave awards and speeches in praise of the Tibetan unit's heroic battles” — a sort of acknowledgment of the sacrifice made by the Tibetans to liberate a country which was not theirs.

Before the operations
It is not surprising that the SFF was already present in East Pakistan several months before the official start of the operations.
Some years ago, Dapon Jampa Kalden gave us another perspective: “Initially there was some guerilla training given in places like Tamil Nadu, to the Bangladeshi guerrilla groups, the Mukti Bahini. The training was given by the Indian Army.”

In December 1970, a year before the beginning of the Army operations, the force was informed of the possibility of a war. In March 1971, it became obvious that India would have to go to war to liberate Bangladesh in order to solve the issue of millions of refugees in West Bengal. Jampa Kalden recalled that in February 1971, the SFF had already started infiltrating Bangladesh along with the Mukti Bahini. At first, it was probably for reconnaissance only, simply because “the operation was decided in March (1971) but we were already in Bangladesh in February. I was there two months before the operations were decided”, said the Tibetan officer.

He further explained: “The Mukti Bahini was very good at making guerrilla plans and at guerrilla tactics. Mukti Bahini was solely responsible; they would go on their own and fight. We were responsible to support the Mukti Bahini and provide some reinforcement to them. The real battle started in March.” This was after the massacre of the students on the campus in Dacca by Gen Tikka Khan on 25 March.

Asked why very few in Eastern Command headquarters in Fort William in Kolkata knew about the operations in the Chittagong Hills, he replied: “Our headquarters was independent. (We were under) Chittagong Hill Tract Area command and I was in charge with Brig SS Uban.”

This created some friction with the Army; many were not keen to acknowledge the role of the Establishment 22. Worse, the force was not even allowed to parade in Chittagong after the victory. This was just petty jealousy!

Incidentally, the force had only one helicopter. The pilot, Sqn Ldr Parvez Rustomji Jamasji, had to carry out all the duties, para-dropping over the battle sites, rations and ammunition dropping, rescue operations, etc — a feat in itself for which the young pilot was awarded Vir Chakra.

For their part, the Tibetans have never been officially rewarded or acknowledged.

1971 war: When world woke up to Pakistani terror and India’s endeavour to save humanity in Bangladesh

My article  1971 war: When world woke up to Pakistani terror and India’s endeavour to save humanity in Bangladesh appeared in Firstpost

Here is the link...

The Bangladesh liberation war united the multitudinous progressive forces in all continents in an aspiration for a better world
1971 war: When world woke up to Pakistani terror and India’s endeavour to save humanity in Bangladesh

“Bangladesh Bangladesh, When the Sun Sinks in the West…” my generation still remembers the crystal-clear voice of Joan Baez, the youth icon of the ‘flower generation’, supporting an action to save the millions of Bengalis fleeing their homeland after Pakistan’s generals unleashed terror on the populace of the land which would soon become Bangladesh.

The birth of this new country was to become an event observed by the entire planet; the months which preceded the ‘birth’ are engraved into world history.

50 Years Later
Joan Baez had written ‘The Story of Bangladesh’ in March 1971, soon after the Pakistani Army crackdown on sleeping unarmed Bengali students at Dhaka University on 25 March 1971, an event which triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War eight months later.
This month, the planet celebrates the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh by the Indian Army. For many, the events of December 1971 symbolise an awakening of the world consciousness to the injustice and cruelty of Pakistan’s state politics towards the people of East Pakistan.
It also remains an episode that united the multitudinous progressive forces in all continents in an aspiration for a better world. Many nations played an extremely negative role, first and foremost being the United States of America and China.

Many sides to birth of Bangladesh
In this context, it is unfortunate that in 1971, the United States, for its own petty political interests (primarily to become friends with Mao’s China) gave its support to the Pakistani dictator and this despite the ‘Blood Telegrams’ sent by Archer Blood, the US Consul General in Dacca, informing Washington of the atrocious massacres being committed by the Pakistani Army.
There are a number of other aspects to the Bangladesh liberation, some of which have been neglected by historians. Obviously, for India and prime minister Indira Gandhi, it was a war that became a resounding victory for the Indian Army and its chief, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
In many ways, it washed away the scars of the crushing defeat of 1962 against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. For the Indian defence forces, it was proof that with good, sound, down-to-earth and at the same time decisive political and military leadership and coordinated cooperation between the three Services (Army, Air Force and Navy), “India can do it”. The ‘job’ was done in 13 days (3-16 December 1971). It was an immense psychological boost for India.

The end of Panchsheel policy
One issue which is not often highlighted is that the liberation of Bangladesh saw the end of the sacrosanct Panchsheel policy. By intervening inside Pakistan’s territory, India showed that the right to self-determination can prevail over other principles.
The mandarins of South Block have always preferred ‘not to rock the boat’ and the Five Principles (primarily ‘non-interference’ in other’s affairs) have been the best way to avoid looking at crimes committed in the neighbourhood (remember the invasion of Tibet in 1950?).
This time the diplomats did only intervene after the war was over (to botch up the military successes and give Zulfikar Ali Bhutto whatever he wanted).

The Tibetan participation
The Indian intervention in East Pakistan explained the nervousness of communist China which had just been admitted to the UN: Would India one day ‘liberate’ Tibet, like it was in the process of doing for Bangladesh? This was certainly an issue for the leadership in Beijing that violently opposed India’s military actions. It was compounded by the participation of the Tibetan commandos in military operations.
The participation of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), a unit composed of Tibetans, which had been created in November 1962 and was under the responsibility of Brig (later Maj Gen) Sujan Singh Uban, an officer specialised in guerilla warfare, is not well known. This force played a crucial role in cutting off the retreat of the Pakistani troops toward Burma (today Myanmar) and neutralising the Mizo insurgents supporting Pakistan.
The Tibetan operations in the Chittagong Hills are important for different reasons: It had the spiritual backing of the Dalai Lama, the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet, and also because China, an ally of Pakistan, realised for the first time that the SFF was a force to reckon with and that one day, the SFF might be used by India for operations inside Tibet.
The records of the actions of the Mukti Bahini, the Bangladesh Liberation Force, also trained by Gen Uban, are still difficult to find (even after 50 years), but their actions are worth remembering.

Intellectual and spiritual aspects
But there is more to the liberation of Bangladesh. Many intellectuals, thinkers and well-known personalities joined in their condemnation of the crimes by the Pakistani generals, who were supported by the US and Chinese leadership. The collusion of these two governments against basic human values is well documented.
The example of André Malraux, the Culture Minister of General Charles de Gaulle, who was extremely active in the intellectual and political sphere in support of the new state of Bangladesh, is worth mentioning. At an advanced age, he was keen to join the Mukti Bahini to help Mujibur Rehman, the Bengali leader who had won the Pakistani elections held earlier in the year, to ‘liberate’ his nation from the tyrannical Pakistani rule.
It is interesting to note that in 1971, the Indian Army was commanded by a General of the Parsi faith (Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw), the Army Commander in Eastern Command (Gen JS Aurora) was a Sikh, while the Chief of Staff (Gen JFR Jacob) was of the Jewish faith; and of course, several senior officers were Hindus. Apart from the fact that this blend is a unique trait of the Indian Army, all these representatives of different faiths defended their Muslim brothers of Bangladesh. The liberation of Bangladesh also meant the survival of a pluralistic world, where freedom of faith, speech and democracy can thrive.

Sri Aurobindo’s vision
In this context, it is worth mentioning the spiritual angle, particularly the deep spiritual involvement of the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the Liberation War.
During his entire life (including after his so-called ‘retirement’ in Pondicherry), the Rishi of Pondicherry felt extremely concerned about the happenings in Bengal (in both its western and eastern parts) and until his passing away, he would regularly be briefed about the ‘politics’ of Bengal.
Already at the start of World War II, the sage had beautifully commented upon the struggle between two worlds, one based on violence and authoritarianism (or fascism) and the other on a more human approach. He argued that it was of utmost importance to support the latter.
In 1940, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “The struggle that is going on is not fundamentally a conflict between two imperialisms — German and English… It is in fact a clash between two world forces that are contending for the control of the whole future of humanity. One force seeks to destroy the past civilisation and substitute a new one; but this new civilisation is in substance a reversion to the old principles of dominant force and a rigid external order and denies the established values, social, political, ethical, spiritual, altogether. Among these values are those which were hitherto held to be the most precious, the liberty of the individual, the right to national liberty, freedom of thought; even religious liberty is to be crushed and replaced by the subjection of religion to state control.”
In many ways, the fact that the cause célèbre for the liberation of Bangladesh attracted so many diverse voices the world over, is a reminder that if India and the world had accepted the diktats from Pakistan (and their friends in Washington and Beijing), a more barbaric world would have flourished, at least in this part of the world. The Indian armed forces should be proud to have been the main might behind this victorious multifaceted endeavour.

Indianness of Arunachal is not to be proven to anyone: Pema Khandu

Inaugurating Maj Bob Khating Memorial with the Governor
and the CDS, Gen Bipin Rawat in Tawang and Kiren Rijiju (right)

This is the second part of my interview with Pema Khandu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Indianness of Arunachal is not to be proven to anyone, the interview was published by

Here is the link...

'Our love for our great nation -- Bharat is second to none and our patriotism towards our motherland -- India is for the entire nation to emulate.'

In April 2011, Dorjee Khandu, the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, died in tragic circumstances in a helicopter crash.
Soon after, his elder son Pema succeeded him as the MLA of Mukto in Tawang district; he was then only 32 years old.
Five years later, on July 17, 2016, after a long period of confusion in the state, Pema Khandu took oath as the chief minister; soon after, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
During the 2019 legislative assembly elections, Khandu won a landslide victory with 41 seats out of 60 for the BJP alone.
Under Khandu's leadership, the border state found badly needed stability which helped putting Arunachal Pradesh on fast track development, while preserving its own genius.
At a time when China social media is buzzing with threats of military action against Arunachal (with various verified or unverified handles releasing videos and photos of People's Liberation Army troops training close to the Indian border), Arunachal Pradesh's dynamic 42-year-old chief minister answers Claude Arpi's questions.

The final segment of an exclusive two-part interview:

China is said to have built more than 600 'model' villages on the border (most of them north of Arunachal). According to Beijing's propaganda, there are two objectives: Poverty alleviation and defence of the border.

Arunachal Pradesh is home to patriotic 26 major tribes and over 100 sub tribes, we are a thriving society where people elect their leaders democratically by elections.
We are empowering our border regions to develop in conjunction with their culture and traditions.
We are running programmes where people decide to stay back out of free will in the border areas because the land, rivers and forests are sacred to us.
We are committed to protecting our environment and preserving it.
This is our model and it is an open source model. Anyone can use this model.

You have been trying to develop Arunachal as a sustainable tourism destination. Does the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, known as the Inner Line Permit hamper your efforts?
Have you envisaged a sort of 'digital' pass which could remove the idea that Arunachal Pradesh is different from other states in India?

Inner Line Permit is not a restrictive regulation that hampers tourism but meant to conserve the culture and traditions of the indigenous tribal societies.
As the chief minister of the state, I have been talking of 'High Value Low Volume' tourism which is sustainable as well as provides employment to our youth.
We have made the process of granting the Inner Line Permit digital and is seamless.

Many places have been visited by Guru Padmasambhava, Guru Nanak or other saints/lamas/yogis. Do you envisage developing 'spiritual' tourism in Arunachal?

Not many are aware but Guru Padmasambhava and Guru Nanak Dev have travelled through the state.
Arunachal Pradesh is also the land of indigenous faiths and we have developed a temple in Pasighat for indigenous faiths.
Tawang has the largest monastery in the country and second largest in the world after the Lhasa monastery.
There is a beautiful Golden Pagoda in Namsai area of the state.
Malinithan has ancient temples in the Likabali area of the state.
We have the famous Parashuram Kund and a famous Shiva temple in the Ziro region.
There are various Christian denominations and some beautiful churches too in the state.

In March 2021 during the last National's People Congress, a draft of China's 14th Five-Year Plan was presented; it included the first phase for the construction of a mega hydropower plant or plants (thrice the size of the Three Gorges Dam) in the Great Bend area.
In view of the fragility of the Pemakoe area (seismic, landslide, biodiversity, etc) as well as the sacredness of the place, can something be done to put this project on hold?

The Government of India is taking all appropriate actions to secure the interests of her people and terrain of the region.

In 2009 at the conclusion of a two-day meet on environment, the chief ministers of five Himalayan states signed the Simla Declaration.
Do you think that this type of initiative should be repeated?
Would you take the initiative for a greater 'Himalayan' unity as far as environment and culture are concerned?

I have always been advocating that the Mountain States have their unique strength and challenges.
Therefore, the development model of this fragile ecology need a different treatment to take forward development of the area.
The Himalayan landscape and her people's culture calls for unified and sustainable call for development.
We are mindful of taking these aspects very seriously, while taking up our development goals.

'Migration' towards the big cities seems to be a serious problem for your state. Can you elaborate? How are you planning to tackle this issue?

Yes, it is a universal phenomenon. Everyone wants to look for better avenues for a comfortable life for them and their families.
This is also true in Arunachal Pradesh.
While the same is NOT discouraged, the government's endeavour is to provide all the basic facilities of health, education, housing etc in situ to encourage our people to live in the respective villages and ensure they are NOT uprooted from their roots.
We are also empowering our villages in the true sense in which Mahatma Gandhi talked of Gram Swaraj.
We have recently conducted the panchayat elections in the state and are determined to provide the 3Fs -- Funds, Functions and Functionaries to the villages.
There are still too many remote villages in Arunachal Pradesh, with hardly any 'modern' facilities (school, dispensaries, communications, etc)? How do you plan to remedy this?
As I mentioned, we are late starter in our development journey.
However, in the last 6 years, we have added many 'modern' facilities in remote villages -- Saubhagya for electrification, PMAY for housing, UJJAWALA for cooking gas and Jal Jeevan Mission to take potable drinking water to each household to name a few.
The government of Arunachal Pradesh conducted a programme called Sarkar Aapke Dwar or 'Government at your Doorstep' to take essential government schemes to extremely remote villages and benefitted over 4 lakh people.
Yes, we have still a lot of distance to cover and we are working towards this goal.

How does it feel to rule over a state claimed by another country? Do you think that more historical research could highlight the fact that Arunachal has never been part of China?

The Indianness of the People of Arunachal Pradesh is NOT to be proven to anyone.
Our love for our great nation -- Bharat is second to none and our patriotism towards our motherland -- India is for the entire nation to emulate.
Further to state on record that Arunachal Pradesh does not share any direct border with China, but it has a border with Tibet.


US wanted China to intervene against India in 1971 War

My article US wanted China to intervene against India in 1971 War has been published by

Here is the link...

On December 10, Kissinger began to encourage the Chinese to take action against India: 'If the People's Republic were to consider the situation on the Indian subcontinent a threat to security, and if it took measures to protect its security, the US would oppose efforts of others to interfere with the People's Republic.'
On the 50th anniversary of India's greatest military victory, Claude Arpi recalls how the US suggested that China intervene militarily on Pakistan's side.

Rarely the birth of a new country became an event observed by the entire planet; it has happened for Bangladesh.
Soon after the Pakistani army crackdown on sleeping unarmed Bengali students at Dacca University on March 25, 1971, an event which triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War eight months later, Joan Baez wrote The Song of Bangladesh. It would be released in an album a year later, by then millions already knew the lyrics (and what had inspired the singer).
The ‘Concert for Bangladesh’, organized by ex-Beatle and guitarist George Harrison along with the Indian sitar-player Pandit Ravi Shankar at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on August 1, 1971, also marked the minds of a generation.
The Bangladesh Liberation War is fascinating because it encompassed so many diverse features simultaneously.
Not only artists, but number of intellectuals (such as André Malraux, the French Culture Minister) supported the millions of Bengalis fleeing their homeland after Pakistan’s generals unleashed terror on the populace.

The Meaning for India
For the Indian Army, the War was proof that with good political leadership, down-to-earth defence officers, the misadventure of 1962 could be left behind.
The Liberation of Bangladesh also saw the end of the sacrosanct Panchsheel policy; by intervening inside Pakistan’s territory, India showed that the Right to Self-Determination can prevail over other principles.
This possibly explained the nervousness of Communist China which had just been admitted to the UN: would India one day ‘liberate’ Tibet, like it was in the process of doing for Bangladesh?
But while it will remain in world history as an episode which united the multitude of progressive forces in all continents in an aspiration for a better world, many nations played an extremely negative role, first and foremost of these being the United States of America and China.

The Role of the US
The negative role of the United States, particulary of President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger is today well known; a large corpus of files/documents have been declassified, particularly by the National Security Archive (NSA) in the United Sates.
William Burr, senior analyst at the NSA commented: “[This] deserves the attention of the widest possible readership because of its fascinating, sometimes startling, revelations on Nixon administration policy. It gives the reader an unparalleled perspective on the inner workings of White House policy throughout the crisis.”
Already in 2002, the NSA and the George Washington University's Cold War Group had published a series of declassified US documents on the Sino-American rapprochement.
The NSA website had observed: “ This material documents Nixon's efforts to make contacts with Beijing during 1970-1971 as the basis for rapprochement after decades of hostility. …Since the beginning of his presidency in early 1969, and even earlier, Nixon had been interested in changing relations with China, not least to contain a potential nuclear threat but also, by taking advantage of the adversarial Sino-Soviet relationship, to open up another front in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.”
India had no place in the new scheme, as Delhi would soon realize.
In October 1970, Kissinger met with Pakistan's dictator General Yahya Khan, who had offered a channel for Sino-American communication a year earlier: “The Pakistani channel produced an important message from Zhou in December 1970, which quickly generated a White House response.”
In April 1971, even while the Bangladesh crisis had already become acute, China and the US engaged in a ‘Ping Pong diplomacy’; at the same time, Nixon made public statements about his interest in visiting China.
On April 27, 1971, the Pakistani ambassador delivered Zhou Enlai's reply: “Mao Zedong's and Zhou's interest in receiving a visit from Nixon laid the way for Kissinger's secret trip in July 1971 and the beginning of the U.S.-China effort to discuss the issues that had divided them over the years.”
This is corresponds to the period when millions of refugees had started pouring into India; it shows that Washington was not in the least bothered by the humanitarian crisis; it was too busy trying to fix a rapproachment with China; India and Bangladesh were nowhere in the American preoccupations.

More NSA Documents

The NSA released new archival material in 2005; it was entitled: “New Documents Show White House Ignored Regional Nature of Crisis and Risked Confrontation with Moscow to Look Tough”.
A now-famous document says, “Nixon's dislike of 'witch' Indira.”
Both Nixon and Kissinger saw India as a ‘Soviet stooge’; they “downplayed reports of Pakistani genocide in what is now Bangladesh, and even suggested that China intervene militarily on Pakistan's side.”
In fact, they completely ignored the reports of their own staff posted in the US Consulate General in Dacca; Washington knew very well about the ‘reign of terror’ orchestrated by Pakistani forces (see The Blood Telegram), but chose to ignore the facts for the sake of the rapprochement with China.
It is worth noting that Archer Blood, the US Consul General in Dacca was never promoted for daring to tell the truth to his bosses in the State department.
Coming back to the NSA website; it affirmed that Nixon and Kissinger did not want “to get [the] West Pakistanis turned against us, in part because President Yahya was providing a secret communication link for their quest for rapprochement with China.”
The close China-Pakistan relationship “was central to Nixon's wish to ‘tilt’ US policy toward Pakistan in part to show Beijing that Washington would support its allies,” commented the think-tank.
While the refugee issue was becoming the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan, Nixon and Kissinger thought that China, which had a close relationship with Pakistan, could play a role in the crisis.
Nixon and Kissinger believed that a Cold War confrontation could involve a China-Soviet conflict and US confrontation with the Soviet Union: "Nixon and Kissinger overlooked the regional, ethnic, and national dimensions of the crisis and instead saw it in terms of the Cold War and macho terms, which made the crisis even more dangerous; they risked a China-Soviet conflict so they could demonstrate what they thought was toughness and resolve,” commented Burr.
There are interesting accounts of Nixon's meetings with Kissinger on November 5, 1971, after the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Washington; the National Security advisor said the "Indians are bastards anyway. They are starting a war there [in Bangladesh] … While [Gandhi] was a bitch, … she will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn't give her a warm reception.”

Will China help?

But the duo wanted China to put more pressure on India: "I think we've got to tell [the Chinese] that some movement on their part … toward the Indian border could be very significant.”
Was it a CIA report which led Kissinger and Nixon to believe that India intended to dismember Pakistan and destroy its armed forces?
This has not come to light.
In any case, at that point in time that Nixon and Kissinger decided to send a US aircraft carrier and other naval forces into the Bay of Bengal “in order to prevent a ‘Soviet stooge, supported by Soviet arms’ from overrunning Pakistan.”
Kissinger said that it was done to "prevent the West Pakistani army from being destroyed. And secondly to retain our Chinese arm. And thirdly, to prevent a complete collapse of the world's psychological balance of power, which will be produced if a combination of the Soviet Union and the Soviet armed client state can tackle [Pakistan] without anybody doing anything.”
The series of cables, reports, minutes continue, with the US completely ignoring the human tragedy highlighted by so many all over the world.
On December 10, Kissinger began to encourage the Chinese to take action against India: "if the People's Republic were to consider the situation on the Indian subcontinent a threat to security, and if it took measures to protect its security, the US would oppose efforts of others to interfere with the People's Republic."
On December 12, Huang Hua, China's ambassador to the UN asked for an urgent meeting in New York with Kissinger who was certain that Beijing was "going to move. No question, they're going to move."
Nixon asked his advisor "what do we do if the Soviets move against them? Start lobbing nuclear weapons.” Kissinger told the President: "We don't have to lob nuclear weapons. We have to go on alert… We may have to put forces in. We may have to give them bombing assistance."
Later in the day, Alexander Haig, the Deputy National Security Advisor met with the Chinese; he informed Nixon and Kissinger: “the Chinese had not made any military decisions but would call for a cease-fire and mutual troop withdrawal and support a stand-still cease-fire if necessary.”
They had done this on December 6 already; in any case, China was not in a position to intervene militarily after its Defence Minister was killed by Mao a few months earlier.
The Bangladesh crisis is perhaps one of the best documented episodes of the Cold War, unfortunately it is only available from the US side; it would be interesting to read the Indian archives (if they exist!) and the Chinese side of the story. It will probably not happen anytime soon.
On December 16, Pakistani forces surrendered in Dacca; the drama was over. India had fought her battle alone.
Many lessons can be learnt from this multi-facetted War.