It is discussed in several books that the CIA had a mole in Indira Gandhi's cabinet around the time of the Liberation war for Bangladesh in 1971. There are conflicting reports about who the mole could be. In spite of several denials and claims, it does not seem apparent who the person might have been.

Anuj Dhar in his book writes-

"Declassified records make it unambiguously clear that the month-long show of strength by the USS Enterprise and accompanying flotilla was a byproduct of the CIA operative's reports,".

He reproduces chunks from official records detailing how Nixon ordered a naval task force towards the subcontinent to "scare off" India from attacking West Pakistan.

In subsequent years, former Prime Minister Morarji Desai, and two deputy PMs - Jagjivan Ram and Y B Chavan - were alleged to be the CIA operative active during the 1971 war.

"The final twist in the tale came in 1988 in Bombay. … Now defunct newspaper Independent carried a story reportedly based on a (R&AW) communication to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi exonerating Morarji Desai and implicating deceased stalwart Yashwant Rao Chavan, Finance Minister during the 1971 war. This led to an ugly uproar and the paper's editor Vinod Mehta, in his words, ‘had to flee Bombay'."

Has there been any further revelations or declassifications which throw light on this matter?

  • I find this question interesting, and appreciate the links. However, at least one link ("who the mole") is broken. Also, some of the links are just pages for the book. Perhaps you can pick out the relevant quote from each book and website in addition to the links.
    – nograpes
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 15:47
  • @nograpes appreciate your comments. Removing the link.
    – Rajib
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 13:57
  • 4
    This is a fantastic question. Yet it is also likely unanswerable (for now), as you have presented all the available information that the public has access to on the matter. Despite his years of research, Dhar recently admitted that he still has no concrete evidence pointing to either Ram or Chavan's speculated duplicity: swarajyamag.com/politics/vinod-mehta-the-cia-mole-and-i
    – Kanapolis
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 18:10
  • @Kanapolis as Anuj is pushing for the declassification of the Bose files and that is his No. 1 agenda, this unfortunately will take a back seat. But I can ask him if there is any new information, since he has after all said that he has new information- although on the Bose incident.
    – Rajib
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:25
  • 1
    ... Nixon ordered a naval task force towards the subcontinent to "scare off" India from attacking West Pakistan. Didn't seem to work, as India pressed on with their efforts, successfully. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


The averted 1971 confrontation between India and Pakistan was a cold war near miss. Like the Cuban missile crisis. India was backed by the USSR, Pakistan was backed by China. India was preparing to invade Pakistan with Soviet backing, and the US was afraid China would get involved to support their ally Pakistan. The entire mess was occurring months ahead of Nixon's trip to China, which would cement the opening of China and become a cornerstone of US foreign policy for the next five decades.

In truth it was Nixon's signature foreign policy move.

In 1983, Seymour Hersh (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, and Abu Grab abuses in Iraq war) alleged in his book, "Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House," that Former PM Morarji Desai was the “most important” informer of the CIA, who was paid $20,000 annually by the agency to pass on information during the Indo-Pak war of 1971.

--- 1989 Desai filed a case in a US court to dispute this.

Former Sec State Kissinger testified in Court that Morarji Desai was not a U.S. Source.

That suit was dismissed on legal technicalities in 1989.

In 2005, with documents relating to these issues in front of the CIA, the State Department confirmed the existence of a highly placed CIA mole operating out of the Indira Gandhi's cabinet. These records are enough proof to reveal the extent of the damage that was caused to India's national interests by the CIA mole. From "3 D Deceit, Duplicity & Dissimulation of U.S. Foreign Policy Towards India"

(Dec 25, 2011) The latest on this case came from declassified MEA Files. The Indian establishment had prior information that US journalist Seymour Hersh, contacted some Indian officials before making such serious charges in his book. Contrary to their claim at the time.

  • 1
    I'm not sure that really adds anything that wasn't originally in the question. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 19:22
  • 4
    Like the Cuban missile crisis. India was backed by Russia, Pakistan was backed by China.....Um in Cuban Missile Crisis, it was USSR and US who were pitted against each other. And in 1970s, Pakistan was all-out in American camp and it was the US sixth fleet that the Pakistanis were awaiting, not Chinese help. It was the 1970s war which turned Pakistan to China as they began to see America as unreliable given America's little to no help as compared to full support of the Soviets to Indians
    – NSNoob
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 10:57
  • @MattSebastian Uh, I think you are misreading the source. Pakistani and US relations were already good. And Pakistan was also on good terms with China. So US normalized relations with China with Pakistani help, not relations with Pakistan herself.
    – NSNoob
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 14:45
  • And also Pakistan had a "Military assistance" program with China since 1966, not a strategic Alliance as your own source says, that began in 1972 after the 1971 war. In 1966, Pakistan was cynical about US partnership due to American embargo during 1965 war so they needed new friends in that area to end the dependency on Americans for Arms. In 1965, Pakistanis flew f104s and Sabres, drove Sherman and Patton tanks and therefore completely dependent on Americans. The arms embargo during the war forced them to seek other options
    – NSNoob
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 14:46
  • NSNoob, you are correct sir.. I misread that.
    – user27618
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 15:16

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