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2001 Bangladeshi-Indian border conflict
Date16–20 April 2001
LocationBangladesh-India border

Status quo ante bellum

unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
3 killed[1] 16 killed[2][3]

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

Cause[edit | edit source]

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 Pyrdiwah which the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) had occupied since the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh.[4] The village was one of the Indian exclaves near the border of Bangladesh with the Indian state of Meghalaya.[5][6] Bangladesh claimed that the village was within its territory.[7][8]

Conflict[edit | edit source]

The April 16–19 fighting was the worst since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. It took place around the village of Padua (known as Pyrdiwah in India), which adjoins the Indian state of Meghalaya and the Timbil 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.

The trigger for the clash appears to have been an attempt by Indian forces to construct a footpath from an army outpost in Padua across a disputed territory some 300 metres wide to Indian Meghalaya. When the Indian Border Security Force refused to withdraw, the Bangladeshi border force attacked and retook Pyrdiwah village. As per the Bangladesh Rifles chief, the village had been illegally occupied by India since Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971.[4][9]

A few days later, to avenge the incident of Padua, Indian border guards with support from Indian military forces tried to enter Boroibari, more than 100 km to the west of Padua/Pyrdiwahh. Boroibari is another disputed area between the two countries which was under the possession of Bangladesh. In a violent confrontation 16 Indian border guards died and 2 were injured. Bangladeshi intelligence sources stated that as many as 400 Indian soldiers were killed. 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.[8]

Result[edit | edit source]

Top Indian border security sources claimed that the BDR personnel had withdrawn from the occupied territories in the Meghalaya sector, while in the Assam sector, the Indian BSF had vacated positions seized from Bangladesh.[10] 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.[7] Bangladesh later agreed to return 16 dead Indian soldiers the next day.[10] Upon examining the bodies of the dead personnel, India alleged that the BSF men were tortured before being shot dead.[11][12] On the other hand three Bangladeshi soldiers were also killed: two during combat and another who died of wounds sustained during operations.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

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.[13][14] Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raminder Jassal reported that both India and Bangladesh would improve diplomatic channels and promised to exercise restraint in the future.[7] India and Bangladesh started talks in March 2002 to resolve their border disputes.[15] By July 2001, the two sides established joint working groups to establish the un-demarcated sections of the border.[6]

Officially, Bangladesh denied it had initiated hostilities.[10] This was the first armed conflict between India and Bangladesh, two nations that had maintained friendly relations since Bangladeshi independence in 1971.[16] The end of the brief conflict saw an upsurge of nationalism in Bangladesh.[15] 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.[17] Relations were cooled down shortly afterwards. India later began constructing a fence along the entire length of the international border with Bangladesh.[18][19] India is still in the process of constructing the Indo-Bangladeshi barrier.[20] 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.[21] The Bangladesh government also protested frequent BSF incursions into Bangladesh, and shootings which resulted in the deaths of Bangladeshi citizens inside Bangladeshi territory.[22] 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.[23][24]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl1810/18100280.htm
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1283068.stm
  3. http://edition.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/south/04/26/india.police/
  4. 4.0 4.1 Analysis: Surprising outbreak of hostilities, BBC
  5. Outsourcing to India - By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Europa World Year Book 2003 - By Ed 2002 43rd, Taylor & Francis Group
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 South Asia Nuclear Dialogue, nautilus.org
  8. 8.0 8.1 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
  9. Tension along the border, BBC
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Guns fall silent on border, Tribune India
  11. "'Criminal adventurism' must not go unpunished: Jaswant". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5iStanCEy. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  12. BSF men tortured, then shot dead
  13. "A brush with Bangladesh HAROON HABIB in Dhaka". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5iStbAjk0. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  14. Nishanthi Priyangika. "India-Bangladesh border still tense after worst clash in 30 years". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5iSthDzdE. Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 [1] Lee, R. The History Guy: India-Bangladesh Border Conflict (2001).
  16. India accuses Bangladesh of war crimes, CNN.com
  17. Bangladesh and India begin border talks, BBC
  18. Livelihoods on line at Indian border, BBC
  19. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030217/edit.htm#3Problem of Bangladeshi migrants
  20. Nelson, Dean (13 November 2005). "India fences off Bangladesh to keep out Muslim terror". The Times. London. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article589627.ece. Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  21. 3 killed in Bangladesh-Indian border guards cross fire, People's Daily Online, China, 17 April 2005.
  22. Staff Correspondent (24 April 2005). "Border tension flares as BSF kills 2 more". The Daily Star. http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/04/24/d5042401022.htm. Retrieved 19 April 2007. 
  23. India says 59 killed over last six months on Bangladesh border, Reuters, 24 August 2008.
  24. 38 Bangladeshis killed in ‘drunk shooting’ by BSF man, Staff Correspondent, Daily Star, 17 November 2008.

External links[edit | edit source]

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