690D.91/3–2750: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

top secret

418. I have just received from Bajpai top secret letter enclosing paraphrase of telegram which Nehru has sent Liaquat Ali Khan on Bengal problem. Date of Nehru’s telegram is not given. Bajpai’s letter indicates text also sent Mrs. Pandit. For time being at least, it seems to me important knowledge of this message be restricted to immediately interested American officials only. Text is as follows:

“In your telegram of fourteenth March, you said that you would write to me on your return to Karachi from East Bengal. I have not heard from you so far.

“I need not tell you of the urgency of the East Bengal problem. You have been there and must now have a personal appreciation of the gravity of the situation. Refugees from there continue to pour in; during the last three days, the number has averaged 15,000 daily. Nearly half million have come over since the recent troubles started and there are no signs of the flood stopping. That is evidence of the persistence of a sense of insecurity among non-Muslims there. Apart from the misery that refugees suffer from this uprooting from their ancestral homes and all that that involves, the economic burden and the psychological strain upon our people, both Hindu and Muslim, have become intolerable.

“A flow of Muslim refugees in the opposite direction, though smaller in volume, is also in progress. That must create a similar economic and psychological problem for you.

“This process cannot go on without disastrous consequence to both our countries and we have to make an all-out effort to solve it.

“I think that quickest and most effective way to attempt a solution is for us to meet. Correspondence is a poor substitute for personal discussions; [Page 1401] the urgency and gravity of the task will not brook the unavoidable delays that correspondence involves. I would therefore urge you to come to Delhi at the earliest possible convenient date. So far as we are concerned, we are prepared to meet you here, and any colleagues that you may wish to bring, on any date and to put aside every other engagement. As I pointed out in my telegram dated sixteenth March, the stage for mere declaration on the lines that we have been discussing is past. Practically everything that was to be included in that statement has already been said by both of us publicly. It is imperative that we go to the very root of the problem and devise solutions which will put an end to the present situation that threatens catastrophe.”

Sent Department 418, repeated Karachi 41.