On 7 May 2015, the Indian parliament unanimously cleared a bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh. All 331 members present in the House voted in favour of the bill, which will allow for exchange of territories between the two countries in accordance with the agreement signed between India and Bangladesh in 1974. Territories in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya are included in the bill. Neelam Deo, director at Gateway House, comments on the historic agreement.
“The ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh in the Rajya Sabha on 7 May 2015 is an extremely positive step which will further deepen the partnership between the two countries. Only a year ago, on 7 July 2014, the two countries had settled their maritime borders at an arbitration tribunal at The Hague.
Bangladesh will be the second neighbour – after Bhutan – with which India has arrived at a final land boundary agreement. This will hopefully show the way towards finalising a similar agreement with Nepal, and eventually, China.
It is unfortunate that it has taken India over 40 years to operationalise the agreement. It may be recalled that it was originally signed in 1974 and thereafter quickly ratified by Bangladesh. It is commendable that the Congress Party, that sits in the opposition, supported the bill even though the now-ruling BJP had resisted the agreement when it was in the opposition.
The ratification of the bill will give full citizenship rights to people in adverse possessions and enclaves. It will also be possible now to put in place measures to better manage the border, including the desecuritisation of border crossings on both sides, currently fraught with threats of detention or extortion from border squads.”
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Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations
Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations is a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai, India, established to engage India’s leading corporations and individuals in debate and scholarship on India’s foreign policy and the nation’s role in global affairs. Gateway House is independent, non-partisan and membership-based.