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Yoginder Rangi asked: Tell me Indo-Bangladesh relations during Indra-Mujib

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  • Smruti S. Pattanaik replies: India’s role in the liberation of Bangladesh, its diplomatic initiative to highlight Pakistan Army atrocities and its willingness to hold two million refugees from East Pakistan and the goodwill it generated therefrom shaped relations between the two countries. India extended all possible help to the new state which includes economic and administrative support. Bangladesh constitution which declared secularism as one of the foundational principles cemented the relations between the two countries which share liberal and pluralistic culture and societal values. Indian forces were withdrawn from Bangladesh in March 1972 and Indira Gandhi paid an official visit and the two countries signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1972.

    Mujib’s failure to deal with his opposition, address issues of corruption by his party members and his adoption of Islamic symbolism to enhance his Islamic credentials had implications for India-Bangladesh relations. To enhance his political credibility, since he was seen as a major ally of India, he started blaming India for his failures that solely arose from the misgovernance of his government. His tendency to centralize power in the form of BAKSAL also created resentment in the country. India was critical of Mujib’s assassination and the subsequent military takeover in Bangladesh. This added to an already deteriorating bilateral relations.