DHAKA: Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India have reached a new height in the last decade.
Leaderships of both countries, on many occasions, said the relation is now far stronger than previous times in history. They termed the era as ‘golden chapter’.
Following Sheikh Hasina’s directions, Bangladesh solved longstanding disputed issues while simultaneously boosting trade, economic assistance and people-to-people contact with India.
The age-old dispute over the maritime boundary between the next-door nation was resolved after a Hague-based international court awarded Bangladesh 19,467 square kilometres out of 25,602sqkm disputed area in the Bay of Bengal in 2014.
Bangladesh and India signed the historic Land Boundary Agreement to end the 41-year-drought of statelessness to the residents of enclaves.
The then prime ministers of both the countries signed the Land Boundary Agreement in 1974 to exchange enclaves and simplify their international border.
But, the deal was finally inked under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi, who also came to power in 2014 and visited Bangladesh in June 2015.
Both the countries enjoy win-win trade facilities as Bangladesh earns over one billion dollars by exporting goods.
Bangladesh also allows India a dedicated economic zone, paving the way for many Indian giants to invest in the country.
Besides this, top business conglomerates of Bangladesh and India have also set up industries in their countries in the last one decade.
Top leaders’ visit and agreement signing
During Modi’s visit to Dhaka, both the countries signed about eight agreements, 10 MoUs, a consent letter, two exchanges of documents and a protocol (renewal).
Modi also announced a fresh US $2 billion line of credit for Bangladesh and promised quick implementation of the earlier line of credit of US $800 million and full disbursement of US $200 million.
The deals dedicated to enhance connectivity include construction of a new rail track linking Khulna city with Mongla seaport, Kulaura-Shahbazpur railway renovation, construction of friendship bridge over the river Feni, agreements on Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati Bus Service and its Protocol and Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala Bus Service and its Protocol, Agreement on Coastal Shipping between Bangladesh and India, Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (renewal) and Memorandum of Understanding on the use of Chittagong and Mongla Seaports.
Modi and Hasina jointly launched the bus services between Dhaka- Guwahati and Dhaka-Agartala to facilitate cross-border transportation between the two neighbouring countries more convenient and accessible.
Deals were also earmarked for enhancing economic cooperation including renewal of the Bilateral Trade Agreement, the Bilateral Cooperation on Agreement between Bangladesh Standards & Testing Institution (BSTI) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on Cooperation in the field of Standardization, Memorandum of Understanding between Bangladesh and India for extending a new Line of Credit (LoC) for $2 billion by the government of India to the government of Bangladesh, Memorandum of Understanding on Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and the India Ocean, Agreement between Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for leasing of international bandwidth for internet expansion, allocating special economic zones at Bheramara and Mongla for Indian investors and establishing Border Haat at Kamalasagar in Tripura.
The main aspects of the India-Bangladesh Joint Statement during the official visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India on 5 October, 2019 are efforts on border security and management, and how both the countries are working towards a win-win partnership.
These points include closer coordination between border forces to bring down the loss of civilian lives, simplifying people-people movement and entry/exit in checkpoints at Akhaura (Tripura) and Ghojadanga (West Bengal), closer cooperation against extremist and radical groups, terrorists, smugglers, smuggling of fake currency, and organised crime, a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, discussions on Integrated Check Posts; enhancing cooperation in the area of disaster management, withdrawal of port restrictions traded through Akhaura-Agartala port, discussions on anti-dumping, anti-circumvention duties imposed on multiple products, including on just products, from Bangladesh to India; and increasing the number of Border Haats to 12.
Diplomatic sources further say both the countries must move together for the peace, prosperity and regional security.
Maintaining Healthy Relations
Both the premiers also maintain a healthy relation too as they speak on the same tune on international issues.
Breaking the protocol, Indian premier Modi received his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina at the airport on her four-day official visit to India in 2017.
While inaugurating the Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express, Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi called for strengthening the bilateral relations further between the neighbouring countries for ensuring growth and prosperity.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the Bangladesh-India relationship is a historic one.
“The top leadership of the two countries has taken their relations to new heights through their political prudence,” he said.
“We’re very good friends and are deeply connected with each other’s joy and sorrow,” he added.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently said India would not take any move which would affect the interests of Bangladesh.
“The friendship between India and Bangladesh will remain unchanged. India will not take any move which will affect the interest of Bangladesh,” Singh said.
“The government of India thinks that the relations between the two countries have improved during the Awami League-led government,” he said.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das also said that the relations between Bangladesh and India have reached new heights.
Apart from these, Bangladesh also expresses its gratitude to India for its support during the Liberation War against Pakistan in 1971.
Bangladesh’s nine-month bloody war ended within nine days after India sent troops to fight the Pakistan army.
India also provided shelter to incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15 in 1975.
Sheikh Hasina returned to Bangladesh in 1981 after nearly six years in exile.
BDST: 1700 HRS, JULY 27, 2020