2001 Bangladesh–India border clashes

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2001 Bangladesh-India border dispute conflict
Date15–20 April 2001
(6 days)
Result Ceasefire; status quo ante bellum (no territorial changes)[1]
Bangladesh Bangladesh India India
100+ (including civilians)[2][3][4][5] a brigade[2][6][7]
Casualties and losses
3 killed[7] 16 killed[6][8][9][10][11]

The 2001 Bangladesh-India border dispute conflict took place in the third week of April 2001 between troops of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), which is now known as the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), and the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) on the poorly marked international border between the two countries.[12]


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.[13][5] 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).[3][16][17] The people of the village are ethnically Khasi.[5]

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.[7][18]


The 15–20 April fighting was the worst since the birth 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 had remained in dispute for the past 30 years, but a Status quo had been maintained for that period.[13]

On 15 April 2001,[3] approximately 1000 Bangladeshi soldiers[4] attacked and captured Pyrdiwah village, breaking the Status quo and forced Indian civilians there to flee.[2][5] The Indian BSF post in Pyrdiwah village was surrounded, trapping 31 BSF personnel within. However both sides held their fire and began negotiations. The Bangladeshi soldiers claimed, the village had been illegally occupied by India since Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971.[13][19] The Bangladeshi soldiers stated that they were acting on orders from their government and insisted that the BSF personnel vacate the village. The next day, on 17 April, Director-General of the Bangladesh Rifles, Fazlur Rahman gave details of the Pyrdiwah thrust and stated "We have just completed a mission to restore our territory and sovereignty." This incident was resolved later without any bloodshed.[3]

Immediately after the incident at Pyrdiwah, BSF troops along the Bangladesh border were put on alert and intensified border patrolling.[3] A few days later, a small contingent of BSF troops entered Bangladeshi territory at the village of Baraibari, more than 200 km to the west of Padua. Unlike Pyrdiwah, which was an adverse possession – a village inhabited by Indians but one that actually belonged to Bangladesh (pending ratification of the border agreement) – Boraibari bordering Assam lay across a fence. Also, unlike Pyrdiwah, which was neither fenced nor had any pillars to clearly demarcate it, Boraibari was a large village with a population of at least 1,000. Its population had also largely been hostile to India, according to Indian security officials, over incidents of cross border violations by the villagers.

The intrusion was intended to serve as retaliation for the incident of Padua.[2][3] 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]

Immediately upon entering Bangladeshi territory the 16 Indian paramilitary personnel were ambushed and killed by Bangladeshi soldiers assisted by hundreds of villagers. They were then allegedly tortured and executed, before their bodies were returned to the Indian side. General Gurbachan Jagat of India's Border Security Force claimed that the bodies showed signs of mutilation, including strangulation, broken bones, as well as evidence of charring and scalding.[6][8][9][10][11] Around midnight, Indian foreign secretary, Iyer, received a call from Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Syed Muazzam Ali, saying that orders had been issued to restore status quo ante as well as for immediate withdrawal from Pyrdiwah. The BDR withdrew from Pyrdiwah by the night of 19 April.[3]

The attack also left three Bangladeshi border guards dead and five injured. About 10,000 civilians fled the area after some 24 were wounded in the exchange of fire.[17]

According to Indian claims, on 18 April, Bangladeshi soldiers shelled another Indian enclave village, Mancachar, with 3-inch and 8-inch mortars.[2]


After both governments intervened in the situation, both sides returned to their original positions and restored a situation of Status quo.[4] 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.[4] Upon examining the bodies of the dead personnel, India alleged that the BSF men were tortured before being shot dead.[20][21] 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.[3][13] Officially, The Bangladesh Government denied it had supported the BDR's initialisation of hostilities and termed the incident as "adventurism of its local commanders".[4]


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.[7][22] 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] The Indian government avoided harsh criticisms of Sheik Hasina, nor did India demand that she apologise.[12] India and Bangladesh started talks in March 2002 to resolve their border disputes. By July 2001, the two sides established joint working groups to establish the un-demarcated sections of the border.[15]

Both sides desisted from any further hostilities and began border talks to discuss disputes along their 4,000-kilometre (2,500 mi) border.[23] Relations were cooled down shortly afterwards. India later began constructing a fence along the entire length of the international border with Bangladesh.[24] India is still in the process of constructing the Indo-Bangladeshi barrier.[25] 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.[26] The Bangladesh government also protested frequent BSF incursions into Bangladesh, and shootings which resulted in the deaths of Bangladeshi citizens inside Bangladeshi territory.[27] 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.[28][29]


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. 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.

The clashes however failed to reduce the killings of civilians by the BSF. According to Odhikar, since 2001, there had 1,000 Bangladeshis killed, more than 1000 tortured, 974 abductions, 107 missing from the border, 14 Rapes, 71 snatched/looting and 313 illegal pushing.[30]

2006 border clashes[edit]

Clashes again erupted in 2006 when heavy gunfire was exchanged between the BSF and BDR on Amalshid border in Zakiganj Upazila in Sylhet. The 14-hour long firing triggered a series of claims and counter-claims from by both sides.[31] While the BDR officials alleged that the BSF indulged in unprovoked firing on BDR positions at Uttarkul and Amolshid borders, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka blamed the BDR for "continuing attempt at infiltration and encroachment" into approximately 220 acres of land at the western bank of the Surma River, across the BSF outposts at Harinagar, Assam.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Habib, Haroon (21 April 2001). "Bodies of BSF men handed over". The Hindu. PTI. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gokhale, Nitin (30 April 2001). "A Tale of Two Blunders". Outlook. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Baweja, Harinder; Gupta, Shishir; Hussain, Wasbir (7 May 2001). "Barbaric killing of BSF jawans puts India-Bangladesh relations under severe strain". Indiatoday. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Guns fall silent on border; BSF men's bodies to be returned today". The Tribune. Chandigarh. 19 April 2001. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Chaudhuri, Kalyan (28 April 2001). "Disturbed Border". Frontline. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Harding, Luke (23 April 2001). "Army defiant as Bangladesh election looms". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Habib, Haroon (12 May 2001). "A brush with Bangladesh". Frontline. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "India-Bangladesh border battle today". BBC News. 18 April 2001. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b c "India accuses Bangladesh of war crimes". CNN. 27 April 2001. Archived from the original on 29 September 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  10. ^ a b Choudhury, Dutta (10 December 2012). "Area where 16 BSF men were killed to go to Bangladesh". Assam Tribune. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b "India-Bangladesh border still tense after worst clash in 30 years". World Socialist Web site. 21 May 2012. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  12. ^ a b Dugger, Celia W. (26 April 2001). "16 Indian Soldiers Are Victims in Bangladesh Border Skirmish". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Ahmed, Kamal (19 April 2001). "Analysis: Surprising outbreak of hostilities". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013.
  14. ^ Kobayashi-Hillary, Mark (2004). Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage. Springer. pp. 61–. ISBN 978-3-540-20855-6. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017.
  15. ^ a b The Europa World Year Book 2003. Taylor & Francis. 2003. pp. 662–. ISBN 978-1-85743-227-5. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017.
  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. ^ Atikuzzaman, AKM (20 December 2013). "'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. Dhaka. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  19. ^ Ahmed, Kamal (18 April 2001). "Tension along the border". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013.
  20. ^ Sahay, Tara Shankar (23 April 2001). "'Criminal adventurism' must not go unpunished: Jaswant". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  21. ^ "BSF men tortured, then shot dead". The Tribune. Chandigarh. PTI. 22 April 2001. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  22. ^ Priyangika, Nishanthi. "India-Bangladesh border still tense after worst clash in 30 years". World Socialist Web Site. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  23. ^ "Bangladesh and India begin border talks". BBC News. 23 March 2002. Archived from the original on 23 February 2003.
  24. ^ Bhaumik, Subir (28 June 2005). "Livelihoods on line at Indian border". BBC News. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017.
  25. ^ Nelson, Dean (13 November 2005). "India fences off Bangladesh to keep out Muslim terror". The Sunday Times. London. Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007.
  26. ^ "3 killed in Bangladesh-Indian border guards cross fire". People's Daily Online. China. 17 April 2005. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  27. ^ "Border tension flares as BSF kills 2 more". The Daily Star. 24 April 2005. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2007.
  28. ^ "India says 59 killed over last six months on Bangladesh border". Reuters. 24 August 2008. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  29. ^ "Three Bangladeshis killed in 'drunk shooting' by BSF man". Daily Star. 17 November 2008. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009.
  30. ^ Ahmed, Afeef (26 August 2013). "India-Bangladesh land dispute". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 6 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  31. ^ a b Singh, Supriya (2007). "Bangladesh in 2006: Teetering Political Edifice and Democracy". Institute of Peace and Conflict studies. 1: 8–10. Archived from the original on 6 February 2017.