Why India helped Bangladesh in 1971?

Mar 25, 2012

India helped Bangladesh in 1971 because they wanted to break up Pakistan

Tuhin Reza 

Some Indians often allege that there is an anti-Indian attitude among the Bangladeshis and that Bangladesh is not grateful for what India has done for her, especially in 1971. Yes, there is an anti-Indian sentiment among some sections of people in Bangladesh. But do these Indians ever ask why is this?

It is true that India helped Bangladesh during her war of independence with Pakistan.The question is, did India help Bangladesh out of great love and affection for the people of Bangladesh? If that is the case then why does not India support the right of self -determination of Kashmiris or the aspirations of the people of North-East India? If to-morrow Bengalis of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura want to join their Bengali brothers in Bangladesh and to create a greater Bangladesh, will India lend her support to this noble cause? The answer is, no.

India helped Bangladesh in 1971 because they wanted to break up Pakistan and to make it weaker. The way in which successive Pakistani regimes had behaved with Bangladeshis it was not possible for Bangladesh to remain with the then West Pakistan as one country. Bangladesh turned to India on the basis of this basic principle that ‘your enemy’s enemy is your best friend’.

Although Bangladesh sought help from India she had no doubts why India was helping her. That is why the people of Bangladesh were always very cautious. They formed their own provisional government and launched a guerrilla war against the Pakistani occupation forces instead of asking India to invade the then East Pakistan.

When in December the war between India and Pakistan broke out, Bangladesh only allowed Indian troops to come to Bangladeshi soil after the provisional Bangladesh government got India to recognise Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign country. Bangladesh knew that without a formal recognition India might not withdraw troops from Bangladesh and that she might face the
same fate as Kashmir or Hyderabad.

To make it short, in 1971, India used Bangladesh to achieve her aim of dismembering Pakistan, and Bangladesh in turn used India to achieve her independence; it was an alliance of convenience. Whatever, debts Bangladesh had to India had been paid with interests. India was allowed to achieve her life long ambition to break up Pakistan; they took all the arms and ammunition left by the Pakistani troops in Bangladesh instead of leaving them for the newly formed (to be) Bangladesh military; there is also evidence of high scale looting of machineries and other goods by Indian troops. India should ever remain grateful to Bangladesh for the way in which Bangladesh helped India to achieve her goal in 1971.

Despite these, still there could have been good neighbourly relationship with India, but that was not possible due to India’s hostile and stepmotherly attitude towards Bangladesh. During the early period of Bangladesh, India subjected Bangladesh to severe political, economic and social pressure. Bangladesh was treated just like a mere satellite.

India sheltered anti-Bangladeshi elements and even assisted them to launch attack against Bangladesh armed forces. India actively supported and even encouraged Chakma uprising. Farraka barrage, Tin Bigha corridor, South
Talpatti island, river linking projects are only to name a few outstanding issues which still remain unresolved due to India’s non-cooperation and even hostile attitude.

How much India loves Bangladesh is evident from her refusal to handover only one acre (Tin Bigha) of land to Bangladesh so that two Bangladeshi enclaves within India can have access to mainland Bangladesh, even after 30 years of the Indira-Mujib agreement. Apart from these, hundreds of Bangladeshis have been killed inside Bangladesh by BSF troops in unprovoked and indiscriminate shootings.

There has been a systematic campaign to portray Bangladesh as a failed and fundamentalist state by India and her media. One will hardly find any good news about Bangladesh being published from India. There have been numerous attempts by BSF (Indian Border Security Force) to push in many Bengali speaking Muslim people to Bangladesh under the pretext that they are
Bangladeshis.

Bangladesh always claims that these people are Indian Bengali Muslims. If they are truly Bangladeshis, then under international law, they could be deported through normal channel once their identity is established. Many Bangladeshi nationals are deported from Europe and America in this way. Why cannot India do the same?

My final point is that the anti-Indian feeling in Bangladesh is in no way directed to the people of India, but to the politics of the central government. People of Bangladesh have great love and respect for the people of India. Especially for the Bengali people of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, Bangladeshis have a special place in their hearts; they are their ethnic brothers. If India wants to extend hands of friendship, Bangladesh will definitely accept that. But Indians should know that Bangladeshis want
friends and not masters.

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