PM Modi in Dhaka: India and Bangladesh settle border dispute, flag off Bangla-India bus services!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
On June 06 during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Dhaka, India and Bangladesh sealed a historic agreement that will settle a 41-year-old land boundary dispute through exchange of territories, removing a major irritant in bilateral ties.
Even ahead of his visit, Modi had said the Agreement marked a “watershed moment” in India’s ties with Bangladesh. Under the agreement, India will have an advantage of 500 acres and 10,000 acres will go to Bangladesh. The agreement settles the question of citizenship for over 50,000 people.
The issue has been a major irritant in ties between the two countries which share a 4,096-km-long border, most of which is porous. The two sides exchanged documents regarding the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) that was passed unanimously by the Parliament last month in the presence of Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina besides West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “History is made as the Instruments of Ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement are exchanged,” Modi said.
The exchange of documents paves way for the operationalization of the 1974 India-Bangladesh LBA that provides for exchange of 161 enclaves between the two countries. A total 111 border enclaves will be transferred to Bangladesh in exchange for 51 that will become part of India.
In a major boost to connectivity between India and Bangladesh, two bus services were flagged off on May 06 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The bus services — Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati — will link West Bengal to three North Eastern states of India via Bangaldeshi capital Dhaka. During the flag off ceremony on the first day of Modi’s visit, he handed over a symbolic ticket of the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata service to Hasina and she handed overe a symbolic ticket of Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati service to her Indian counterpart. Banerjee gave Hasina a symbolic ticket of the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala service.
These bus services are aimed at improving people-to-people contact between the neighbouring countries by enhancing connectivity. There would be two buses on the Kolkata-Agartala-Dhaka route, one of which would be run by the West Bengal government and the other by the Tripura government. The solo bus in the Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati route would be run by the Bangladeshi government. Buses on this route would originate three days a week each from Guwahati and Dhaka, respectively.
People of the North Eastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam, which share extensive boundaries with India’s eastern neighbour, would benefit from the two services.
The Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala service would reduce by 560 kms the distance between West Bengal and the landlocked state of Tripura, which is surrounded by Bangladesh from three sides. At present, separate bus services between Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Agartala are operational.