Prime Minister’s Bangladesh Visit: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - July + Aug - 2015

Prime Minister’s Bangladesh visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his maiden visit to Bangladesh on june 2015. Bangladesh has high historical as well as geographical significance for India. Historically India played a major role during the formation of Bangladesh as a nation. Geographically Bangladesh has advantages as well as disadvantages. Bangladesh is landlocked between Indian Territory, it is a disadvantage but this also provides a shield to Bangladesh from other nations. Bangladesh is also important for India’s Act east policy to be successful. As South Asian region has gained prominence at the world stage, this also increases the importance of Bangladesh for India. South Asia’s balance of power since the Sino-Indian war of 1962 tilted completely towards India after the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. India became the dominant power in the region with the nuclear explosion in 1974. There three main factors which have led to increase in Bangladesh’s importance in present times:-

  • Bangladesh is home of third largest Muslim population in the world, for the security of the region Bangladesh is highly critical;.
  • Location of Bangladesh makes the nation highly important in south asian region; .
  • Finally Bangladesh is in close proximity with the China, for balance of power relations with Bangladesh are important.

Bangladesh, which is being regarded as a bridge between SAARC and ASEAN, also has enormous geographic advantages. If regional integration plan of South Asia has to become successful like Europe than Bangladesh is critical to it. Relation with Bangladesh also plays very important role for eastern part of India. Despite the good relation between India and Bangladesh land boundary between India and Bangladesh has been a contentious issue since 1974.

Twenty key Agreements were signed during the PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.

Land Boundary agreement- The Radcliffe Line became the border between India and East Pakistan after the partition in 1947. The same line continues to be the border between India and Bangladesh even after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958 helped in solving some of the boundary dispute between India and then Pakistan but subsequent hostilities between the two countries left much to desire. After the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, India and Bangladesh were able to conclude the Land Boundary Agreement in 1974, to find a solution to the complex nature of border demarcation. Under the 1974 agreement, India would retain half of Berubari Union No. 12, and Bangladesh would keep the Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves. India would lease in perpetuity to Bangladesh the so-called “Tin Bigha Corridor” to connect Dahagram and Angarpota to the Bangla mainland. The agreement has been implemented in its entirety, except for three outstanding issues pertaining to

(i) undemarcated land boundary of approximately 6.1 km in three sectors viz. Daikhata-56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River-Belonia (Tripura) and Lathitila-Dumabari (Assam);
(ii) exchange of enclaves; and
(iii) adverse possessions.

The flawed partition left 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh with area of 17,160.63 acres and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India which has 7,110.02 acres of area. Inhabitants of these areas do not enjoy citizenship of either of the nation.

They also lack basic infrastructure facilities like housing, school etc. Also because they lack full citizenship and basic infrastructure law and order in these areas is also poor. According to estimates around 51000 people live in these enclaves. The Protocol (referred to as the 2011 Protocol) to the 1974 LBA, signed on 6th September 2011 during the visit of the Prime Minister to Bangladesh, paves the way for a settlement of the outstanding land boundary issues between the two countries. The 2011 Protocol will result in following:-

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