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The most immediate problem is to prevent a bloodbath in Bangladesh against non-Bengalis accused of collaborating with the Pakistani military. Toward this end. East Bengal government officials who chose to remain in Bangladesh through the fighting are being inducted into the new administration and taking over as soon as areas are liberated. Actually, India's recognition came earlier than planned. One reason was to circumvent a charge reportedly budding in the U.N. that India had joined the battle to annex the province to India. Another was to enable the Bangladesh government to assume charge as soon as large chunks of territory were liberated by the army. Since New Delhi does not want to be accused of having exchanged West Pakistani colonialism for Indian colonialism, it is expected to lean over backward to let the Bangladesh government do things its way.
The Walk Back
Is there any chance that the Pakistanis may yet engineer a startling turn of the tide, rout the Indians from the East and destroy the new nation in its infancy? Virtually none. As Correspondent Clark cabled: "Touts who are betting on the outcome between India and Pakistan might ponder the fact that two of the TIME correspondents who were visiting Pakistan this week [Clark in the West, Stewart deep in the East] were there with Indian forces."
And so at week's end the streams of refugees who walked so long and so far to get to India began making the long journey back home to pick up the threads of their lives. For some, there were happy reunions with relatives and friends, for others tears and the bitter sense of loss for those who will never return. But there were new homes to be raised, new shrines to be built, and a new nation to be formed. The land was there too, lush and green.
"Man's history is waiting in patience for the triumph of the insulted man," Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel-prizewinning Bengali poet, once wrote. Triumph he had, but at a terrible price. With the subcontinent at war, and the newborn land still wracked by bone-shattering poverty, the joy in Bangladesh was necessarily tempered by sorrow.
*Pakistan claimed the plane was India's. Some Bengalis and foreign observers believed it was Pakistani, but other observers pointed out that the only forces known to be flying piston-engined aircraft were the Mukti Bahini, the Bengali liberation forces.