Speeches in Parliament Vol. (IV)-73





Lok Sabha , 15 November, 1974

Shri Y. B. Chavan : On November 10, 1974 a task force of us 7th Fleet consisting according to our information, of an aircraft carrier, the “USS Constellation”, three destroyers, and one fast combat supply ship, entered the Indian Ocean. The exact duration of the task force’s stay is not known though from some remarks of an official US Government’s spokesman it appears that it will be an extensive visit.

The House will recall that the US 7th Fleet last appeared in the Indian Ocean on June 29, 1974 and remained there till the 30th of August and also that the US aircraft carrier, the “Kitty Hawk”, was deployed there from March 11 to April 21, 1974. Government reiterates their deep concern and misgivings at these developments which are inconsistent with the UN resolutions declaring the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace.

Recently the UN 15-Member Ad-hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean of which India is a member, has recommended to the General Assembly to call on the Great Powers to refrain from increasing and strengthening their military presence in the Indian Ocean region as an essential first step towards the relaxation of tension and the promotion of peace and security in the area. A further proposal was made unanimously by the Ad-hoc Committee to convene a UN Sponsored Conference on the Indian Ocean.

At this stage I should like to assure the House that Government will continue their efforts to mobilise international opinion and with other States of the region, take all possible measures to achieve our objective of creating the Indian Ocean as an area of peace and tranquility.

As far as the first part of the question is concerned, it is true that I have only mentioned about the visits of some of the naval crafts only in 1974. I think, the others were mentioned in previous statements. Therefore, I have not made a mention of them. It is not that I am not aware that the American naval ships, this Task Force has visited in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974, continuously for three or four years. There is no question of our not knowing that.

Instead of isolating any particular aspect of the problem, the main question is : what should we concentrate our efforts on? Instead of isolating importance or non importance of any particular Navy or isolating a particular great power as such, our emphasis will have to be to create an international sanction for it. It is not merely a question between India and one power or one base. It is a question of creating unity amongst the littoral countries and work very effectively at the international forum of the United Nations. This is the only basic way of approaching to this problem.