Thursday, July 25, 2024

Manmohan, Sonia, Chidambaram to visit B’desh Indo-Bangla border row solution at sight


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NEW DELHI: India and Bangladesh have failed to adhere to the deadline to settle their long-pending boundary dispute which expired on Friday, but most likely to come out with solutions in a month or two itself ahead of a slew of visits starting from Dr Manmonhan Singh to several of his cabinet colleagues and even Sonia Gandhi to the neighbouring country.

Besides the border issues, other disputes include un-demarcated border, adversely possessed territories and enclaves between the two countries. Besides border-related deals, some other important agreements like that on transit, sharing of the Teesta waters, power purchase and joint venture projects are expected to be signed during the visit.

Both the countries have given top priority to permanent solution to all border-related issues and hope to sign several agreements during the proposed visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka most likely in September beginning. This will be preceded by the visit of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Wednesday to be followed by the visit of Home Minister, Water Resources Minister and ruling UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Krishna’s visit will be followed by the visit of Home Minister P Chidambaram this month when the two sides are expected to finalise the draft of the border-related agreements. Officials said Bangladesh and India are currently conducting a joint survey of un-demarcated border and adversely possessed territories, and headcount in 162 enclaves and the survey is expected to be completed before Palaniappan’s visit.

According to official estimates, Bangladesh has 3,000 acres of land inside India, 51 enclaves (7,000 acres of land) and 6.5 kilometres of un-demarcated border. Similarly, India has around 3,500 acres of land and 111 enclaves (17,000 acres of land) adversely possessed land inside Bangladesh.

Of the 6.5 km un-demarcated border, 1.5 km is at Doykhata in Nilphamari district, 2 km at Muhurir char in Feni and 3 km at Lathitila in Moulvibazar. Bangladesh and India share a long international border of around 4,156 km. Officials said both the sides are also conducting survey for installing boundary pillars along 35.5 km stretch of Bangladesh-India border.

There are frequent disputes between the people and border guards of the two countries due to non-existence of such pillars. Present level of cooperation between India and Bangladesh is very encouraging and Dhaka has already played a major role by removing the camps of ultras and nabbing the leaders of militant outfits.

An uneasy calm has been prevailing on about 20 kilometer border in this sector as the joint border survey on the adversely possessed lands began on December 7 last year. The major point of difference is in nine areas which is “adversely held by India” and claimed by Bangladesh.

The nine areas include, Pyrdiwah, Lyngkhat, Amki-Amjalong, Ranghong, Naljiri, Tamabil, Kurinala and Muktapur mostly in East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya and Sylhet district in Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh have so far surveyed 80 per cent of the International border.

A large tract of this area has also been fenced. Survey and subsequent sealing of the rest of the border would help India tackle cross border insurgency, smuggling and other illegal activities more efficiently.

The joint border survey started last year after a mutually agreed understanding between the two neighbours.

But Dr Singh, during a recent Editors’ conference, also expressed concern over continued uncertainties in the neighbouring country specially because of the communalists and separatist forces.


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