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Politics and government of
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Bangladesh and India are part of the Indian Subcontinent and have had a long common cultural, economic and political history. The cultures of the two countries are similar; in particular Bangladesh and India's states West Bengal and Tripura are all Bengali-speaking. However, since the partition of India in 1947, Bangladesh (formerly East Bengal and East Pakistan) became a part of Pakistan. Following the Liberation War of 1971, Bangladesh gained its independence and established relations with India. The political relationship between India and Bangladesh has passed through cycles of hiccups. The relationship typically becomes favourable for Bangladesh during periods of Awami League government. Relations have improved significantly, after Bangladesh's clampdown on anti-Indian groups on its soil, such as the United Liberation Front of Assam, Bangladesh's Prime Minister's Sheikh Hasina's state visit to India in January 2010, and continued dialogue over the controversial Farakka Barrage.
During the Partition of India after independence in 1947, the Bengal region was divided into two: East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh) and West Bengal. East Bengal was made a part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan due to the fact that both regions had an overwhelmingly large Muslim population, more than 86%. In 1955, the government of Pakistan changed its name from East Bengal to East Pakistan.
There were some confrontations between the two regions though. Firstly, in 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared that Urdu would be the sole official language of the entire nation, though more than 95% of the East Bengali population spoke Bengali. And when protests broke out in Bangladesh on February 21, 1952, Pakistani police fired on the protesters, killing hundreds. Secondly, East Bengal/East Pakistan was allotted only a small amount of revenue for its development out of the Pakistani national budget. Therefore, a separatist movement started to grow in the estranged province. When the main separatist party the Awami League, headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won 167 of 169 seats up for grabs in the 1970 elections and got the right to form the government, the Pakistan president under Yahya Khan refused to recognize the election results and arrested Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Pakistani army started genocide on 25 March midnight. This led to widespread protests in East Pakistan and in 1971, the Liberation War, followed by the declaration (by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 7 March 1971) of the independent state of Bangladesh. There have been no major wars between India and Bangladesh.
India played a massive role in helping Bangladesh gain independence. India under Indira Gandhi fully supported the cause of the Bangladeshis and its troops and equipment were used to fight the Pakistani forces. The Indian Army also gave full support to the main Bangladeshi guerrilla force, the Mukti Bahini. Finally, on 16 December 1971, Bangladesh emerged as an independent state. Since then, there have been several issues of agreement as well as of dispute.
See also Two-Nation Theory
Both Bangladesh and the India are part of the Indian subcontinent and have had a long common cultural, economic and political history. The cultures of the two countries are similar. The two Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura speak the language that is also spoken in Bangladesh, Bengali. In 1947, India became independent from the British India of the United Kingdom and was split into Pakistan and what is now the Republic of India. At that time, Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan, before simply as East Bengal. In 1971, there was a war which ended with East Pakistan becoming independent (and renaming itself to the People's Republic of Bangladesh). In this war, Indian troops fought together with East Pakistani ones, against West Pakistan. Today, West Pakistan is called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The cultures of the two countries are similar. In particular India's West Bengal and Tripura states and Bangladesh are both Bengali-speaking. Tripura is called and was known as the Chittagonian Plains of Bengal: since the Sylhet District was once part of the Chittagong Division, during Pakistani rule. Also Tripura forms an enclave of the eastern side of the country, and Bangladesh itself forms an enclave of eastern side of Northeast India completely surrounded on three sides except for the south-eastern corner.
Areas of contention
- A major area of contention has been the construction and operation of the Farakka Barrage by India to increase water supply in the river Hoogly. Bangladesh insists that it does not receive a fair share of the Ganges waters during the drier seasons, and gets flooded during the monsoons when India releases excess waters. See also Sharing of Ganges Waters.
- There have also been disputes regarding the transfer of Teen Bigha Corridor to Bangladesh. Part of Bangladesh is surrounded by the Indian state of West Bengal. On 26 June 1992, India leased three bigha land to Bangladesh to connect this enclave with mainland Bangladesh. There was dispute regarding the indefinite nature of the lease. The dispute was resolved by an mutual agreement between India and Bangladesh in 2011.
- Terrorist activities carried out by outfits based in both countries, like Banga Sena and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. Recently India and Bangladesh had agreed jointly to fight terrorism.
- Bangladesh has consistently denied India transit facility to the landlocked North Eastern Regions of India. Although India has a narrow land link to this North eastern region, which is famously known as "India's Chicken Neck"
- Illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India. The border is porous and migrants are able to cross illegally, though sometimes only in return for financial or other incentives to border security personnel. Bangladeshi officials have denied the existence of Bangladeshis living in India and those illegal migrants found are described as having been trafficked. This has considerable repercussions for those involved, as they are stigmatised for having been involved in prostitution, whether or not this has actually been the case. Cross border migrants are also at far higher risk of HIV/Aids infection.
- Continuous border killing of Indian and Bangladeshi people, aiding illegal immigrants, helping in armed decoity, fake money transfer and illegal drug trades by both Indian and Bangladeshi people are the major problems between Bangladesh and India.
- Both Bangladesh and India make claims over the same seawater at the Bay of Bengal.
- There was a minor glitch in their relation when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accidentally mentioned that 25% of Bangladeshis are anti-Indian, during an informal press meet.
Bangladeshi deaths at border
Deaths of Bangladeshi citizens in the Indo-Bangladesh border became one of the embarrassments between the two nation’s bilateral relations in recent years. The so-called ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the India’s Border Security Forces (BSF) that according to Human Rights Watch killed nearly 1,000 Bangladeshis between 2001 and 2011 has remained at the core of the talks between Bangladeshi and Indian officials visiting each other.
Indian officials visiting Bangladesh, including the Indian foreign ministers and BSF chiefs numerously vowed to stop BSF shootings, but Bangladeshi nationals, comprising both illicit border crossers and innocents, have continued to be shot dead by the Indian troops.
While anger grew in Bangladesh because of the continued BSF shootings and subsequent deaths, Indian officials argue that heightened security has followed the increasing flow of illegal migrations into India as well as continued misuse of the border by illicit traders. Indian officials, vowing to cut down the number of casualties at border, showed statistics that the number of Bangladeshi deaths was in a steady decline in recent years.
The Bangladeshi deaths caused by BSF shootings at the border became subject to a so-called cyber war between the hackers of the two countries that took the websites of BSF, National Informatics Centre and Trinamool Congress as victims. The government of Bangladesh was found to comment on the issue condemning the cyber attacks on Indian websites.
In September 2011, the two countries signed a major accord on border demarcation to end the 4-decade old disputes over boundaries.This came to be known as the tin bigha corridor. India also granted 24-hour access to Bangladeshi citizens in the Tin Bigha Corridor. The agreement included exchange of adversely held enclaves, involving 51,000 people spread over 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India. The total land involved is reportedly 7000 acres.
On 9 October 2011, Indian and Bangladeshi armies participated in Sampriti-II (Unity-II), a 14 day long Joint military exercise at Sylhet to increase synergy between their forces.
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