India-Bangla pact on border management

NEW DELHI, July 31 – Amidst a growing sense of bonhomie, Bangladesh and India signed the Border Management Plan to enhance border control and uphold peace and tranquillity in Dhaka this afternoon.

The pact was signed by the Director General of Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard of Bangladesh on Saturday morning.

Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram’s visit said that a considerable progress had been made in implementation of the joint statement declared during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Delhi last year.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in Jan 2010 has given a new direction to the course of our relationship,” he said.

The two Prime Ministers had a common vision for the future of cooperation between the two countries, he added.

“The joint communiqué adopted during the visit outlines various decisions and initiatives and it implementation would transform the bilateral relationship,” the Union Home Minister said.

Chidambaram reaffirmed New Delhi’s continued support to Bangladesh, in the back drop of the fiasco over the Prime Minister’s off-the-record comments to a group of editors, last month that led to hue-and-cry in Bangladesh.

“Let me reaffirm that India attaches the highest importance to its relations with Bangladesh and seeks a deeper and stronger partnership. We are guided by the fundamental premise that a stable, prosperous, democratic and peaceful Bangladesh is in our mutual interest. We are committed to pursuing cooperation with Bangladesh that brings prosperity to our peoples and development to the two countries,” Chidambaram said.

In his opening remarks at a joint press conference in Dhaka, Chidambaram said the relationship between India and Bangladesh is passing through a very promising phase in recent times with both sides embarking on a number of forward looking, pragmatic and mutually beneficial initiatives.

Both countries recognise the importance of cooperation in the field of security and are determined to jointly combat the menace of insurgency, militancy and terrorism. We are glad that our leadership had agreed that the territory of either would not be allowed for activities inimical to the other and resolved not to allow their respective territory to be used for training, sanctuary and other operations by domestic or foreign militants and insurgent organisations and their operatives.

He also pointed to the recent high level visits. “The regular high-level exchanges between our two countries in recent time have further cemented the bilateral relations,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress, had been here earlier this week as the chief guest at the autism conference and to receive Bangladesh Freedom Honour conferred on Indira Gandhi.

The Vice-president of India also visited Dhaka in May marking the inauguration of joint celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian minister said.

“These events testify the shared struggle and sacrifice by the people of our two countries.”

Later, hailing the Border Management Plan, Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram said India believed that this would help them manage the border better. “We share a long land border and ensuring its sanctity is the joint responsibility. India has taken several measures to enhance border controls and uphold peace and tranquillity. We are committed to cooperating with Bangladesh in protecting our borders from illegal activities,” he said.

“India has taken several measures to enhance border control and we are committed to cooperating with Bangladesh in protecting our borders from illegal activities,” he said.

Home Minister of Bangladesh Shahara Khatun remarked that the coordinated efforts of BGB and BSF would strengthen the border security by stopping smuggling and trafficking of human, drug and arms.

“We are working on several projects to improve trade infrastructure and connectivity. Government of India has now undertaken to set up seven Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) and a foundation stone of the ICP at Agartala was laid in May. A new LCS was opened at Fulbari-Banglabandha in January and a Border Haat was inaugurated on Meghalaya-Bangladesh border earlier this month,” Chidambaram said.

The visiting Union Home Minister later called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni and advisers to Prime Minister Prof. Gowher Rizvi and Dr. Mashiur Rahman.

On the contentious issue, Chidambaram said issues relating to enclaves, adversely possessed land (APL) and undemarcated border will be resolved during the visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

The headcounts completed last week found that some 51,000 people live in the enclaves.

“The APL issue is almost resolved and there’re one or two cases which need to be taken care of, while 6.5 kilometres of un-demarcated boundary will be resolved before the visit of the Prime Minister.”

On Saturday, the two sides reviewed the last week’s joint headcounts in 162 adversely-held enclaves on both sides of the two nations. Of this, 111 are Indian territories inside Bangladesh.

Bangladesh and India share over 4,000 kilometres of boundary and there are 111 enclaves in Bangladesh, while 51 in India.

The Home Minister of Bangladesh remarked that they had a fruitful discussion on enclave exchange and hoped that they would be able to resolve all the disputes, including the border problems, very soon.

The round-the-clock access of Bangladeshis living in Dahagram and Angurpota also came up at the meeting for discussion at the meeting, she added.