Indo-Bangladeshi relations

Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace

The Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace was a 25-year treaty that was signed on March 19, 1972 forging close bilateral relations between India and the newly-established state of Bangladesh. The treaty was also known as the Indira-Mujib Treaty, after the signatories of the treaty the Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Background

During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, India provided extensive aid, training and shelter for the exiled government of Bangladesh and the Bengali nationalist Mukti Bahini guerrilla force that was fighting the Pakistani Army. More than 12 million refugees poured into India during 1971, increasing tensions between India and Pakistan. At the outbreak of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Indian Army liberated East Pakistan, leading to the establishment of Bangladesh. India's role in the independence of Bangladesh led to the development of strong bilateral relations. The then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spoke along with Bangladesh's founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman before more than 500,000 people at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka.

Provisions

In the treaty, both nations pledged to respect each other's sovereignty and not interfere in each other's internal affairs. Both nations affirmed their common belief in peace, secularism, democracy, socialism, non-alignment and against racism and colonialism. Both nations resolved not to enter into any alliance or activity aimed against the other, as well as to cooperate and stand together if either nation was attacked.

India and Bangladesh resolved to consult each other and cooperate on international issues of mutual importance and enhance bilateral ties in commerce, economic and industrial development, especially in the fields of flood control, river basin development and development of hydro-electric power and irrigation.

Expiration of the treaty

The two governments declined to renegotiate or renew the treaty when it was for expiry in 1997. Although initially received enthusiastically by both nations, the treaty with India became subject of resentment and controversy in Bangladesh, which saw it as unequal and an imposition of excessive Indian influence. Issues such as the dispute over water resources of the Farakka Barrage and India's perceived delayed withdrawal of troops began to diminish the spirit of friendship. Sheikh Mujib's pro-India policies antagonised many in politics and the military. Mujib's killing in 1975 led to the establishment of military regimes that sought to distance the country from India.

Mujib's death led to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Pakistan and other nations that had opposed the creation of Bangladesh, such as Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of China. Bangladesh was criticised for allowing bases on its territory for anti-India secessionist groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), and Bangladeshi intelligence agencies were suspected of maintaining links with Pakistan's intelligence agencies. Bangladesh in turn alleged that India was supporting the Shanti Bahini insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

References

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