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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.

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4 Answers 4

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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.

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  • Very partisan anti-Bangladesh/anti-Muslim answer which doesn't mention things like anti-Muslim sentiment in India.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 13:46
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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.

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    You forgot the river water sharing issue.
    – Sawarnik
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 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
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 19:21
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    @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
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 5:41
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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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Bangladesh's current PM Sheikh Hasina staged two fake elections in 2014 and in 2018, forcefully disappeared almost 600 people, and took over Judiciary, election commission, anticorruption commission, police, and army by planting either stooges or political activists from her own party.

A majority of people think that this is India's fault.

Why?

Because Indian late President Pranab Mukherjee installed Bangladesh’s PM Sheikh Hasina in 2007.

The text below is quoted from the seventh chapter of the book titled The Coalition Years (2017) written by former President of India Pranab Mukherjee —

BANGLADESH

India and Bangladesh are not just neighbours, but are bound by an umbilical connection of ethnicity and kinship. India always attaches highest importance to bilateral relations with Bangladesh because of our shared history, heritage, culture, language, physical proximity and also the role which the two nations can play together for the development and prosperity of the entire subcontinent and beyond. The bedrock on which the edifice of this unique relationship stands is the unwavering faith of both the countries in democratic values, principles of liberalism, egalitarianism, secularism, and respect for each other’s sovereignty and integrity.

Bangladesh has faced many ups and downs in its short history as a nation state. In late 2006, violent protests broke out in the country when Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s term was coming to an end and a decision needed to be taken on a caretaker administration till the next elections. As a result, President Iajuddin Ahmed assumed the caretaker role till the elections, which were announced for January 2007. However, just before the elections (in January 2007), President Ahmed declared a state of Emergency and installed a caretaker government headed by Bangladesh Chief Adviser, Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed.

During this period all prominent political leaders were imprisoned. Sheikh Hasina too was jailed on charges of bribery and corruption.107 While India continued to engage with the caretaker government we stressed the need for full restoration of democracy through peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.

Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed visited India to attend the 14th SAARC Summit in New Delhi. Subsequently, I visited Bangladesh on 1 December 2007 in the aftermath of the severe cyclone which had struck Bangladesh in November that year. I expressed India’s solidarity with the people and the Government of Bangladesh and reiterated our readiness to assist in the relief as well as rehabilitation work in the cyclone affected areas. I said:

"On hearing of the calamity, India has already rushed some immediately required relief assistance like medicines, ready-to-eat meals, blankets, tents and portable water purifiers worth about Taka 11 crore. In response to Bangladesh Government’s request, India has also announced a waiver of ban on exports of rice to Bangladesh for 50,000 tons. In addition, 20,000 tons of rice is being sent by sea to Chittagong. In fact, India’s total relief assistance to Bangladesh this year so far amounts to more than Taka 270 crore."108

In February 2008, Bangladesh Army Chief Moeen Ahmed came to India on a six-day visit. He called on me too. During the informal interaction, I impressed upon him the importance of releasing political prisoners. He was apprehensive about his dismissal by Sheikh Hasina after her release. But I took personal responsibility and assured the General of his survival after Hasina’s return to power. I also sought an appointment with the US President George W. Bush to request his intervention in the matter and ensure the release of both Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina. With my intervention through the then National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, I ensured the release of all political prisoners and the nation’s return to stability. Several years later, I also facilitated General Moeen’s treatment in the US when he was suffering from cancer.

Sheikh Hasina had been a close family friend, and when I was the External Affairs Minister, India tried to help her cause by building adequate international pressure for free and fair elections after the caretaker government. In fact, when some Awami League leaders deserted her at the time she was in jail, I rebuked them for their stand and told them that to leave someone when they are down is unethical. General election was held in December 2008, and Sheikh Hasina won with a thumping majority.109

Thereafter, India and Bangladesh worked to strengthen the bilateral relationship and engagement. Sheikh Hasina visited India in January 2010. It was a landmark visit and the subsequent Joint communiqué was comprehensive, forward-looking and path-breaking. I reiterated that we were firmly committed to implementing the vision when I visited Bangladesh in August 2010 to sign the 1 billion Line of Credit Agreement —the largest given by India to any country—between EXIM Bank and Government of Bangladesh.

Politics in Bangladesh has always been extremely virulent, marking a clear departure from West Bengal’s political culture. The genesis of this phenomenon can be traced to the fact that all revolutionary leaders were recruited from middle-class Bengali Hindu families residing in East Bengal. This created a lasting impact on the people of the country. Another reason for the continued political violence in Bangladesh is the failure of military leaders to resolve basic problems like poverty and unemployment.

The USA orchestrated a military takeover in 2007 using Bangladesh Army chief Gen. Moin U. Ahmed. The USA’s aim was to install Nobel laureate Dr. Mohammad Yunus in power. However, India vehemently opposed that and installed Sheikh Hasina through a fake election.

This can be verified by an article from the Indian newspaper The Statesman:

It is also widely believed in Bangladesh that the Indian intelligence agency was involved in BRD Mutiny in 2009. The local social media was flooded with images of the mutiny where people were seen patrolling the streets wearing saffron head-gears.

Apart from that, the Adani group of India is involved in the largest energy scam in Bangladesh.

Very recently, it was revealed on social media that the Indian Army took US$ 2.2 billion worth of arms & ammunition, military and civil vehicles, and machines/tools from mills/factories in Bangladesh in 1971.

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