India 1971 (III)

International Operation Name: N/A

International Operation Dates:  N/A

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name:  Asia

Location:  India

Canadian Operation Name: (India 1971 (III))

Canadian Operation Dates: 1971/10/30 – 1971/10/31 

Mission Mandate:

To deliver humanitarian aid and other supplies to East Pakistani refugees in India

Mission Notes:

Upset at what they believed to be institutionalised bias and discrimination by the West Pakistan-dominated government and bureaucracy against more populous East Pakistan, in March 1971 Bengali militants launched a campaign to secure greater autonomy for their province within the geographically divided Pakistani state. When this campaign turned violent the Pakistani government called on the army to restore order, but as the death toll mounted, many East Pakistani members of the army began to defect and joined in a growing guerrilla campaign now aimed at independence.

The violence in Bengal would eventually lead to war between India and Pakistan as India supported the Bengali militants. It also produced a huge humanitarian crisis on Indian territory. By July 1971 an estimated six million refugees were in India, 3.5 million of them in camps and another 2.5 million living on the road sides. Most were in low-lying swampy areas, and even before the monsoon season approached disease was rampant.

India had called for assistance from the United Nations as early as 23 April, and by June, with the help of the Soviet and US Air Forces, it was airlifting refugees into central regions, where they would at least be safe from the coming monsoon.

For its part, Canada donated two million dollars for aid; beyond that, on 17 June two CC 130 Hercules aircraft left for New Delhi carrying $100,000 in medical supplies and four ambulances (donated by the Ontario Government) as part of an effort to control a cholera outbreak. Three further flights were made by CC-137 Boeing aircraft, the last of which left CFB Trenton on 16 July. The Boeings carried blankets, clothing, and building supplies.

On 22 July, the Government announced that it would be sending additional aid to India, with a grant of $2 million for canola oil for cooking and a further $7 million for the World Food Program. At the same time, it was announced that CF Boeing aircraft would be conducting four flights into India, on 24 July, and 2, 6 and 10 August. Each flight would carry 65,000 pounds of plastic sheeting to create shelters against the monsoon rain.

One final flight was made on 30 October when a CF Boeing left for New Delhi carrying 26,000 pounds of blankets, 3900 pounds of medical supplies and 19,000 pounds of herring.

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