We all know that Bangladesh got independence from Pakistan because of India. So generally one can assume that relationship between India and Bangladesh is friendly. But the reality is different. There are constant clashes between Indian border security force and Bangladesh army on the border. From what I see on the forums and social media, there is a very strong anti India sentiment among the Bangladeshi. what are the reasons behind this?

Brief history of creation of Bangladesh:

Before independence Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan it was called East Pakistan back then. The Pakistani government always treated Bangalis as second class citizens. Political power was concentrated in West Pakistan (modern day Pakistan) and it was widely perceived that East Pakistan (modern day Bangladesh) was being exploited economically. This started rebellion in East Pakistan. In response to this rebellion Pakistan's army conducted operation searchlight in November 1970, which include significant numbers of civilian casualties (300,000 to 3,000,000, sources vary widely on the exact number).

To stop this massacre India stepped in, defeated Pakistan in merely 13 days and Bangladesh came into existence.

  • 4
    "From what I see on the forums and social media"...everyone hates everyone. :) Perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but do realize that the attitude on the internet doesn't always equal the attitude 'on the ground'.
    – user1530
    Jul 29 '13 at 16:03
  • 4
    @DA. I believe social media reflects reality, and it's not just social media, most Bangladeshi print media is Indophobic. Jul 29 '13 at 17:42
  • 1
    There is, of course, an underlying religious conflict which goes back centuries. At the time of the partition of India in 1947, those Bengali's who were Muslim fled to East Bengal (subsequently East Pakistan, then Bangladesh). The population of West Bengal is predominantly Hindu. The population of Bangladesh is 86.6% Muslim.
    – WS2
    Apr 30 '17 at 19:38
  • 1
    Nearly 3 millions of civilians were killed and 400,000 Bengali women were raped. --- citation needed.
    – user17569
    Feb 23 '18 at 18:03
  • I've edited it to "300,000 to 3,000,000", which is what is on the Wikipedia page @anonymous (it looks like source vary widely on the exact number).
    – user11249
    Feb 23 '18 at 18:13

While it is true that India did play a huge role in giving Bangladesh freedom, history is not derived from one act or event alone. To understand the sentiment today it can be broadly broken down into the following two sets of reasons:

The two countries

Historical Reasons:

Within four years of the liberation, the army (allegedly with the support of the Pakistani ISI, Chinese and American intelligence agencies) had taken over. Mujib’s (The founding father of the country) whole family was assassinated, except his daughter, Sheikh Hasina. And the new military regime highlighted the Islamic — rather than the Bengali identity — of Bangladesh, and India was left with barely any role.

In addition, post 1975, Bangladesh became home to Jihadist elements such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami with a strong anti India focus rumoured to have been funded and supported by the Pakistani ISI. When Gen. Ziaur Rahman became Bangladesh’s virtual ruler following several bloody military coups in 1975, he told the United States

that India intended to invade its small neighbor to install a puppet regime.

Fearing a direct Indian intervention, the new regime instructed Nazrul Islam, acting foreign secretary of Bangladesh, to seek U.S. support to discourage New Delhi. This set the tone, for an entire generation of new Bangladeshi citizens to be brought up with the belief that India was a hegemony who had assisted Bangladesh only to set up a friendly puppet regime.

Even, with the return of democracy in 1990, one pole of Bangladeshi politics was taken over by BNP, which defined itself in terms of opposition to India (which by now seemed to work well to win political backing from various vote banks), flirted with Islamism, and turned a blind eye to terrorism as well as attacks against minorities.

Present Reasons (which are compounded by the historic reasons):

The two primary ones would be:

Existing political/geographic disputes: The two countries share a very long and complicated geographic border. Even post the signing of the Land Boundary Agreement in 2015, the situation of the enclaves remains tensed.

Illegal immigration: Illegal immigration from Bangladesh has been part of political discourse in West Bengal, Assam and the other North Eastern Indian States. India has from time to time raised this issue with Bangladesh including having actively pursued this issue with General Ershad and later with Begum Khaleda Zia when she visited India in 1992. Since Bangladesh refuses to accept that the Bangladeshis are illegally migrating; India decided to fence the border and has adopted a push back policy (albeit not stringently), which sometimes has resulted in tensions between the countries.

In addition to these two primary issues there are multiple issues that repeatedly cause friction between the two countries including but not limited to the water sharing dispute over the Farakka Barrage and other rivers, trade and investment issues with other regional countries such as China investing to gain greater political favour, and maritime/fishing disputes.


Border Issue:

There is certainly a border issue between India and Bangladesh. The major reason for this issue is, to put in simple terms (without any political jargon), there are nearly about 100 Indian villages inside Bangladesh territory and 71 Bangladeshi villages inside Indian Territory. This villages or territories are known as chitmahals or enclaves in political term.

Illegal Immigration Issue:

Many Bangladeshis immigrate illegally to Indian states, like Assam, in north eastern India. This has led to killings of Bangladeshis on the border which definitely gives rise to anti-India sentiments. There were also skirmishes during the border fencing project between the Indian BSF and Bangladeshi Army.

There are "anti" sentiments on both sides, even if it is very mild in India. And this "anti" becomes "ultra anti" at the border region in North-East India and western Bangladesh.There were riots in Assam last year (June, 2012) between native Bodos and so called Bangladeshi Immigrants. As Bangladesh is a small country, unlike India, even its remotest village is somewhat nearer to the border. So, it looks like there is more anti-India sentiments in Bangladesh than anti-Bangladeshi sentiments in India.

  • 5
    You forgot the river water sharing issue.
    – Sawarnik
    Jan 24 '15 at 10:24
  • It seems the illegal immigration is only a problem because India is so much more wealthy and modernized than Bangladesh. India is very large and diversified, so different regions can support eachother in order to produce different goods and create a good quality of life. Bangladesh can't, it was isolated from other indian regions by force/violence, and a such is poor and underdevelopped.
    – Bregalad
    Apr 30 '17 at 19:21
  • @Bregalad, there is no hard evidence of illegal immigration by Bangladeshis in India. You will understand that if you understand the economics of those both countries. India is a well-ruled country but most of the wealth is occupied by rich people. So, salary and wages are very low. Also, being a Hindu country they have less tendency to give away alms, so no question of becoming rich by begging. Even though there is a oversaturated job market in Bangladesh, Indians are going there to do jobs.
    – user17569
    Oct 22 '17 at 5:41

There are multiple issues involved:

  1. Farakka Barrage: India had built Farakka barrage on the river Ganga which is an international river and flows into Bangladesh with the name Padma. India first proposed the construction of Farakka Barrage in 1951 which never took the shape because of Pakistan's protest. Then again India started to construct Farakka barrage in 1961 and again the construction slipped into desuetude because of Pakistan's threat. Finally, Farakka was opened in 1975 on a trial basis (after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971). But, since then it was never taken down.

  2. River water sharing: India has built dams/barrages on each international river upstream of Bangladesh. Tista river water sharing agreement is kept dangling for years now.

  3. Border killing: Indian BSF has been killing Bangladeshi cattle-dealer citizens on a regular basis. Several years ago BSF killed an 15-year old girl named Falani Khatun and kept her body hanging on the barbed border-fence which received widespread international media attention.

  4. Illegal immigrant propaganda: India says that Bangladeshi citizens cross the border and living in the Indian province of Assam illegally. Given the socio-economic scenario, this is an absurd propaganda. Muslims are living in Assam from the period of Mir Jumla II. During British Raj, Lord Curzon tried to create a new province named East Bengal by making Dhaka the capital as Dhaka was the center of Muslim culture and trade which has failed to take shape because of widespread protest from Kolkata-centric Hindu elites. Assam was part of that proposed province. After the partition of India, native Assamese (Hindu and indigenous population) started to try to drive Muslims out of Assam. Very recently, when the BJP came to power, this drive is intensified.

  5. Job seekers: It is believed that there are nearly a million Indians are employed in Bangladesh's service and manufacturing sectors who are straining a nearly saturated job market.

  6. Muslim lynching and Cattle vigilantism: In recent years, Muslim lynching because of eating/trading beef, and cattle vigilantism in India attracted widespread media coverage in Bangladesh.

  7. Backing of Myanmar government: for the last few months, this has been a very prominent issue. Indian government rejected a UN proposal for the repatriation of Rohingyas and is supplying arms to Myanmar government. As a result, Bangladesh has become totally bogged down in Rohingya crisis.

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