Bangladesh, the youngest nation in South Asia tore herself apart from West Pakistan in 1971, under violent circumstances. It is not a wonder that Pakistan split. The wonder is, it survived a quarter of a century, as one nation. The contradictions inherent in the formation of a united Pakistan, composed of people separated in two wings, a thousand kilometres apart, who had nothing in common except their religion, were bound to assert themselves. Historically, culturally, ethnically, socially and sartorially there was little in common between the peoples in East Bengal and West Pakistan. Even their food habits and standard times were not the same. Pakistan experiment forcefully brought home the fact that religion by itself was not a strong cementing force.

It did not take very long for the people of East Pakistan to reaslise that despite a numerically superiority, the center and balance of power was in the other wing and they were condemned to a acquiescent role. The first shock was administered by the founder of Pakistan Jinnah himself, who chided them for daring to demand an equal status for Bengali with Urdu. East Bengal did win the first showdown on the language issue but only after the death of Jinnah and paying a heavy price in blood and flesh. It nevertheless convinced the people of East Pakistan that they would have to go through many more such rounds before gaining even a semblance of power from their counter parts in West Pakistan. The aftermath of the historic elections of 1971 proved the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Suddenly Bangladesh found herself catapulted into sovereignty, master of her own destiny, a full member of the comity of nations negotiating her problems directly with other countries. As a sovereign nation her problems were no longer to be seen from the prism of Pakistan. Bangladesh too got rid of the Pakistani baggage in articulating her problems with the neighbours. Mentally, however, Bangladesh could not break with her past. This was particularly true in her relations with India. The quarter of a century's existence as part of Pakistan did not fail to leave its mark on the psyche of the people of East Bengal. Bangladesh struggle was not anti-Islamic. Liberation created a new apprehension that if the new nation lost its Islamic moorings, it would face an identity crisis. She did not wish to be engulfed by the hegemonic Bengali culture. Hence the need to insulate Bangladeshi culture by emphasizing its distinctiveness, setting it apart from the culture of Indian Bengal. It underlined the need not only to retain the strong Islamic bias gathered during Pakistan days but also to give it a sharper edge. This consciousness prevented her to break away from the past and remain steeped in the legacy of her existence as part of Pakistan for 25 years. The emergence of an adversarial relationship was a natural and inevitable corollary of the tendency to stay prisoner of the past.

The need to document India's relations with her neighbours was acutely felt by me during my three-decade service with the Ministry of External Affairs. In studying any foreign policy issue, or a matter of bilateral concern locating relevant old documents was a time consuming exercise. The record keeping in the Government of India being archaic, locating old papers was a problem. There were embarrassing moments too when requests from scholars and researchers for providing copies of old documents in public domain had to be regretted. One felt grumpy at such a situation. On retirement from service in 1993 and took it upon myself to bridge this lacuna. After almost a decade, some modest success can be claimed, but a lot remains to be done.

The first in the series was the documentation of "Nepal's Relations with India and China: 1947-92 " which was published in two volumes in 1994. The next attempt was at documenting the "India-Bangladesh Relations". This collection covering the period 1971 to 1994 was published in 1996. The success of the two together, encouraged me to undertake a similar study of another important neighbour, Sri Lanka. The 5-Volume compendium running into more than 3000 pages came out of the press in January 2001. It was titled: "India-Sri Lanka Relations and Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict" and covered the period from 1947 to 2000. Since these studies had been found useful by researchers, academics and diplomats dealing with South Asian affairs, a suggestion was made to update the India-Bangladesh study since the one published in 1996 had run out of print.

Financially these efforts were not very rewarding. On the contrary they left a big hole in my not too deep pocket, sense of fulfillment provided the locomotive force to go on.

The documents have been arranged thematically and chronologically in seven sections so that each aspect of the problem is put across in bold relief to tell a coherent story. The issues that confronted the two countries are so enmeshed that certain overlapping has unavoidably crept in. I seek the indulgence of the users for the duplication that may have occurred. That the collection has become voluminous and bulky is entirely attributable to the depth and dimensions of the problems faced by the two countries in their almost daily interaction. This made it necessary to split it into five volumes for facility of handling. For all practical purposes, it is one integrated study.

The documents have been gathered from various sources, published and unpublished. Many of them of the earlier period are from my personal collection built during my three-decade service with the Ministry of External Affairs. They have been put together besides for ready reference, to save them for posterity. Extensive footnotes have been added either to amplify the context or to supplement the contents where necessary. Some of the footnotes are so extensive and lengthy that in some cases they are lengthier than the document itself. It is hoped the users would find this additional effort worthwhile.

Some of the Indo-Bangladesh issues have their genesis in the developments of Pakistan days. Such documents of the pre-1971 period as have relevance to the post-1971 events have been included in a separate section. This would, it is hoped, help the study of the issues in their historical perspective.
It is not that India and Bangladesh did not agree on major issues alone. They found it sometimes difficult to agree on even smaller and mundane things like whether Ganga, a sacred river in India which in the Indian folklore and mythology is the personification of "mother", should be spelt in desi way or as Ganges, the spellings given by the British during the colonial days or whether Teesta river be spelt with "ee" or with an "i". Readers would find that both spellings have been used for the two rivers, depending on the context. Some of the proper Bangla names too have been spelt differently at different places. For instance, Razzak has also been spelt with 'Q' at the end in place of 'k' or 'Tafael' as 'Tofail'; 'Chowdhury' as 'Choudhury'. There are several other similar instances. Every effort has been made to adhere to the names, spellings and punctuations as appearing in each text.

I made extensive use of many libraries among them: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Library of the Ministry of External Affairs, Central Secretariat Library, Library of the National Archives of India, Parliament Library, the Library of the India International Centre, Press Information Bureau, and the Library of the Jawaharlal Nehru University are particularly important. I am grateful to the officers and staff members of these libraries for their ready and courteous help.

In the pursuit of this task, help in generous quantities came from friends and well wishers. I would have liked to mention all the names individually. Quite a few of them were anxious not to be mentioned. I respect their sentiments and wish not to embarrass them. But some names I must mention though they too were not keen to be singled out for mention. Mr. M.L. Tripathi was the first to encourage the idea of revising and updating the volumes published in 1996. He provided all the support to run the race and breast the tape.. But for his encouragement this work would not have been possible. M/s Jaideep Sarkar and R.R. Dash were generous with their help. M/s TCA Rangachari, R. Rangachari, I.S. Chadha, Prakash Nanda, S.K. Reddy are some of the other well wishers who so readily extended their help and left me in indebted to them. Thank you, Sir.

During my stay in Dhaka, I met a very large number of Bangladesh scholars and officials in different fields and departments who being appreciative of the earlier effort, which they had found useful, were enthusiastic and generous with their help in the present venture. Some of the names I am under constraint not to mention. Others who were generous with their help and advice were Khalilur Rahman of the Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad, Prof. M. Maniruzzaman miah, former Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University, Prof. Rehman Sobhan of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, Major General (Retd.) S.M. Shahabuddin, psc., of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and Md. Ashrafuzzaman of the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs. To all of them I offer my sincere thanks.

I was very keen that I should have access to the debates of the Jatiya Sangsad of Bangladesh so that the discussions on important India-Bangladesh issues embellished the pages of my study. I waited for two weeks in Dhaka for the necessary permission to come in. Since the proceedings of the Sangsad from 1995 on ward were not yet printed, the rules did not permit their access. Necessarily I had to fall back on the reporting of the proceedings in the newspapers and be content with that. I trust the readers would understand the limitations imposed by the rules of the Jatiya Sangsad. On the other hand the proceedings of the Indian Parliament were available up to the year 2002 and have been included verbatim where necessary.

Syeda, as always, was generous with her help and support at all the time. Many thanks to her.
While taking the help of a large number of people, I must remain responsible and committed to the views expressed in the introduction or at any other place in the main body of the book.