2001 Bangladeshi-Indian border skirmish

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2001 Bangladeshi-Indian border skirmish
Date 16–20 April 2001
Location Bangladesh-India border
Result Status quo ante bellum
Belligerents
Bangladesh
Bangladesh
India
India
Strength
1000+[1][2][3][4] 20[1][5] - a Brigade[6][7]
Casualties and losses
3 killed[5] 16 killed[8][9][10][11][12]

The 2001 Bangladeshi-India border skirmish took place in the third week of April 2001 between troops of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) on the poorly marked international border between the two countries.

Cause[edit]

The Partition of Bengal in 1947 left a poorly demarcated international border between India and Bangladesh (then-East Pakistan). Ownership of several villages on both sides of the de facto border were disputed and claimed by both countries. The dispute over the demarcation of the Indo-Bangladeshi border worsened due to the existence of over 190 enclaves.

One of the disputed areas was a small sliver of land near the village of Padua/Pyrdiwah, on the border between Bangladesh and the Indian state of Meghalaya,[13] which during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War was used by Indian security forces to train the Bangladeshi Mukti Bahini, who were fighting the Pakistani Army. After its liberation, Bangladesh staked its claim to the area in which the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) had established a post in since 1971.[4][13] The village is one of the Indian exclaves on the border between Bangladesh and the Indian state of Meghalaya.[14][15] There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh claimed territory and 50 Bangladeshi ones in Indian claimed territory. Pyrdiwah village is an adverse possession - a village inhabited by Indians but one that is legally owned by Bangladesh (till the border agreement is ratified and the populations exchanged).[2][16][17] The people of the village are ethnically Khasi.[4]

In a personal interview published much later the then director of the BDR, Maj.Gen Fazlur Rahman, who was later dismissed from service by the rival government after the election, claimed that the BSF had begun to construct a link road between their camp in Padua and another camp 10 km away, through the No man's land and Bangladeshi territory.[18] [5]

Conflict[edit]

The April 15–19 fighting was the worst since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. It took place around the village of Pyrdiwah (also known as Padua), in the Indian state of Meghalaya [13] which adjoins the Tamabil area of the Bangladesh border in the Sylhet district. In that area, 6.5 kilometres of the border have remained in dispute for the past 30 years, but a Status quo had been maintained for the 30 years.[13]

On April 15, 2001,[13] the BDR[3] attacked and captured Pyrdiwah village, breaking the Status quo and forced the civilians there to flee.[1][4] Bangladesh claimed, the village had been illegally occupied by India since Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971.[13][19] According to Bangladesh sources, Indian forces launched an early morning attack on their posts in the frontier district of Kurigram - which lies on the border with Indian state of Assam.[20] The BSF post in Pyrdiwah village was surrounded, trapping several BSF troops within. However both sides held their fire and began negotiations. In the course of the following days about three companies of BSF troops reinforced the outpost.[2] This incident was resolved later without any bloodshed.

BSF troops along the Bangladesh border were put on alert and ordered to being intensive patrolling.[2] A few days later, a small contingent of BSF troops entered Bangladeshi territory at the village of Boroibari, more than 200 km to the west of Padua. Unlike Padua which is an adverse possession, Boroibari is an area lying across a fence well into Bangladesh territory which means that "BSF would be violating Bangladesh's sovereignty if they took it and the BDR had the right to retaliate with force if necessary." The intrusion was used as a "counter-attack" by India to retaliate the incident of Padua.[1][2] According to Bangladesh sources, Indian forces launched an early morning attack on their posts in the frontier district of Kurigram - which lies on the border with Indian state of Assam.[8] In a violent confrontation 16 Indian border guards died and 2 were injured.[8][9][10][11][12] The attack also left 3 Bangladeshi border guards dead and 5 injured.About 10,000 civilians fled the area after some 24 were wounded in the shooting.[17]

After the Boroibari intrusion, on April 18, India accused the BDR started firing 3-inch and 8-inch mortar shells on Mancachar village which is another disputed Indian enclave.[1]

Result[edit]

After both governments intervened in the situation, both sides returned to their original positions and restored a situation of Status quo.[3] Fresh clashes erupted along the India–Bangladesh border just hours after both sides voiced regret for the recent killings, but by midnight of 20 April firing had again stopped. An article reported that 6,000 Indian civilians had fled the region, and Indian government officials were attempting to convince villagers to return to their homes.[16] Bangladesh later agreed to return 16 dead Indian soldiers the next day.[3] Upon examining the bodies of the dead personnel, India alleged that the BSF men were tortured before being shot dead.[21][22] On the other hand three Bangladeshi soldiers were also killed: two during combat and another who died of wounds sustained during operations.

Observers have variously termed the incident as a political ploy to rouse nationalistic passions before the Bangladesh elections (which was 2 months away at the time of the incident) and as adventurism by the bdr commanders.[2][13] Officially, The Bangladesh Government denied it had supported the BDR's initialization of hostilities and termed the incident as "adventurism of its local commanders".[3]

Aftermath[edit]

The Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India, Sheikh Hasina and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, spoke over telephone and agreed to order a high-level investigation into the incident.[23][24] Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raminder Jassal reported that both India and Bangladesh would improve diplomatic channels and promised to exercise restraint in the future.[16] India and Bangladesh started talks in March 2002 to resolve their border disputes.[25] By July 2001, the two sides established joint working groups to establish the un-demarcated sections of the border.[15]

Bangladesh ordered no court martials, suspensions, or transfers of any local commanders.[26] This was the first armed conflict between India and Bangladesh, two nations that had maintained friendly relations since Bangladeshi independence in 1971.[9] The end of the brief conflict saw an upsurge of nationalism in Bangladesh.[25] In parliamentary elections, the four-party right-wing alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh won a majority of 196 seats out of 300.

Both sides desisted from any further hostilities and began border talks to discuss disputes along their 4,000-kilometre (2,500 mi) border.[27] Relations were cooled down shortly afterwards. India later began constructing a fence along the entire length of the international border with Bangladesh.[28] India is still in the process of constructing the Indo-Bangladeshi barrier.[29] Bangladesh protested that construction of the fence within 150 yards of the border was a gross violation of the Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace.[30] The Bangladesh government also protested frequent BSF incursions into Bangladesh, and shootings which resulted in the deaths of Bangladeshi citizens inside Bangladeshi territory.[31] In a news conference in August 2008, it was stated that 97 people had been killed (69 Bangladeshis, 28 Indians, rest unidentified) trying to cross the border illegally during the prior six months.[32][33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Gokhale, Nitin (30 April 2001). "A Tale Of Two Blunders". Outlook. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Barbaric killing of BSF jawans puts India-Bangladesh relations under severe strain". Indiatoday. 7 May 2001. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "A Guns fall silent on border; BSF men’s bodies to be returned today". The Tribune. 19 April 2001. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d CHAUDHURI, KALYAN (28 April 2001). "DISTURBED BORDER". Frontline. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Habib, Haroon (12 May 2001). "A brush with Bangladesh". Frontline. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  6. ^ http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidRecord=362173
  7. ^ http://weeklyholiday.net/Homepage/Pages/UserHome.aspx?ID=2&date=08/05/2011
  8. ^ a b c "India-Bangladesh border battle today". BBC. 18 April 2001. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c "India accuses Bangladesh of war crimes". CNN. 27 April 2001. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Harding, Luke (23 April 2001). "Army defiant as Bangladesh election looms". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Choudhury, Dutta (10 Dec 2012). "Area where 16 BSF men were killed to go to Bangladesh". Assam Tribune. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "India-Bangladesh border still tense after worst clash in 30 years". World Socialist Web site. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Analysis: Surprising outbreak of hostilities, BBC
  14. ^ Outsourcing to India - By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary
  15. ^ a b The Europa World Year Book 2003 - By Ed 2002 43rd, Taylor & Francis Group
  16. ^ a b c "South Asia Nuclear Dialogue". nautilus.org. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. 
  17. ^ a b van Schendel, Willem; The Wagah Syndrome: Territorial Roots of Contemporary violence in South Asia, in Basu, Amrita; and Roy, Srirupa Violence and Democracy in India, Seagull Books, Calcutta, 2007, pp. 55-57
  18. ^ "‘A country should have strength to implement its political plans’ Major General ALM Fazlur Rahman, former director general of the border guards, Bangladesh Rifles, now reorganised as Border Guard Bangladesh talks about the geographical and territorial sovereignty". New Age The Outspoken Daily. 20 Dec 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Tension along the border, BBC
  20. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1283068.stm
  21. ^ "'Criminal adventurism' must not go unpunished: Jaswant". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  22. ^ BSF men tortured, then shot dead
  23. ^ "A brush with Bangladesh HAROON HABIB in Dhaka". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  24. ^ Nishanthi Priyangika. "India-Bangladesh border still tense after worst clash in 30 years". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  25. ^ a b [1] Lee, R. The History Guy: India-Bangladesh Border Conflict (2001).
  26. ^ http://www.mea.gov.in/articles-in-indian-media.htm?dtl/18607/Bangladesh+used+us+as+a+punching+bag
  27. ^ Bangladesh and India begin border talks, BBC
  28. ^ Livelihoods on line at Indian border, BBC
  29. ^ Nelson, Dean (13 November 2005). "India fences off Bangladesh to keep out Muslim terror". The Times (London). Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  30. ^ 3 killed in Bangladesh-Indian border guards cross fire, People's Daily Online, China, 17 April 2005.
  31. ^ Staff Correspondent (24 April 2005). "Border tension flares as BSF kills 2 more". The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 April 2007. 
  32. ^ India says 59 killed over last six months on Bangladesh border, Reuters, 24 August 2008.
  33. ^ Staff Correspondent (17 November 2008). "Three Bangladeshis killed in ‘drunk shooting’ by BSF man". Daily Star. Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. 

External links[edit]