[International Relations] India and Bangladesh (Bilateral Relation)

Background:-

* Longest boundary: 4096 km
* Common cultural ties and history of national movement

1971 liberationa
  •  India provided haven to refugees
  •  Provided aid, training and shelter for the exiled govt of Bangladesh
 1972: Treaty of friendship, cooperation and peace
  •  Aka Indira-Mujib treaty
 1975: Assassination of Mujib
  •  Establishment of military regimes that sought to distance Bangladesh from India
* ULFA started operating its bases from the territory of Bangladesh
* Bangladesh alleged that India was supporting the Shanti Bahini insurgency in the Chittagong Hill tracts

 Some points
  •  Our geographical proximity makes us natural partners
  •  Common cultural identity can promote this partnership
  • After years of negotiation, recent reports suggest that India is close to resolving its border dispute with Bangladesh, now that the current Indian government supports a resolution. Territorial changes in India need to be approved via constitutional  amendment which explains why it would be most difficult for India to make territorial swaps with China or Pakistan without the entire Indian establishment being on board. Previous attempts at exchanging territory with Bangladesh all ran into trouble because of whichever party was in opposition in the Indian Parliament at the time.

  • The present agreement is known as the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) and was negotiated by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Bangladesh in 2011. The currently ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposed the agreement at the time and thus the agreement did not go through. This is the same agreement that the BJP is now supporting. The reason given for this U-turn was given by Prime Minister Modi on Sunday in a speech given in Assam, which borders Bangladesh to the north. Modi declared that his government would in fact ratify the agreement in order to improve India’s security and curb illegal immigration from Bangladesh. With all major Indian parties now in favor of a border agreement with Bangladesh, an  amendment to the Indian constitution is expected to pass quickly and without much political difficulty.

  • Bangladesh’s border with India is an interesting and unique case of a dispute – one that cannot be compared with India’s border disputes with other countries. The nature of the Indo-Bangladeshi border makes a resolution involving a territorial swap all but necessary. Strewn along Bangladesh’s northern border with India are hundreds of enclaves. There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh – Indian territory completely surrounded by Bangladesh, and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India. Some of these enclaves are second order enclaves. The result is an archipelago of enclaves along the Indo-Bangladeshi border.

  • The Indo-Bangladesh border is also home to the world’s only third order enclave, the Indian Dahala Khagrabari. To see just how crazy this is, understand that this means that it is a piece of India within Bangladesh, within India, within Bangladesh.

  • India’s strange boundary with Bangladesh came about because of pre-colonial politics during the Mughal Empire. While most of Bengal was a Mughal province, the state of Cooch Behar remained independent to its north. However, landowners from both Bengal and Cooch Behar owned properties and fiefs on both sides of the border, which resulted in the present situation. Sovereignty in this period in South Asia was not necessarily the result of straight territorial boundaries but a function of who paid taxes and was subordinate to whom. The current borders seem to be the “result of peace treaties in 1711 and 1713 between the kingdom of Cooch Behar and the Mughal Empire, ending a long series of wars in which the Mughals wrested several districts from Cooch Behar.” A popular legend stating that the enclaves are the result of local rulers wagering villages in games of chess is anecdotal. Later on Cooch Behar became a princely state under British protection while Bengal was a province in British India. When Bengal was partitioned in 1947, a part of it became part of India and a part East Pakistan (later Bangladesh), while the princely state of Cooch Behar joined India. As a result, parts of it were surrounded by non-Indian territory and parts of East Pakistan were in India as a result of Cooch Behar joining India.

  • When Bangladesh became independent in 1971, India and Bangladesh attempted to resolve the problem of their enclaves. A 1974 agreement signed between then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Bangladesh’s leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not ratified in India. The present treaty is broadly similar to the original one. India will acquire 51 enclaves and 2,777 acres of land and transfer 111 enclaves and 2,267 acres to Bangladesh. There is no doubt that this deal will be strongly beneficial for both India and Bangladesh by finally resolving a long standing cause of tension between both countries. It is also in the interests of the people of the enclaves, as it will finally give them access to the services of India and Bangladesh.

Everything you need to know: Land swap in offing with Bangladesh to end disputes :- 

1. What is the genesis of the Land Boundary dispute?
  • India and Bangladesh have a common land boundary of approximately 4,096.7 km. The India-East Pakistan land boundary was determined as per the Radcliffe Award of 1947. Disputes arose out of some provisions in the award.
2. What is the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) of 1974?

  • It was an agreement signed on May 16, 1974, soon after the independence of Bangladesh, to find a solution to the complex nature of border demarcation. While Bangladesh ratified the agreement, India didn’t as it involved seceding territory and indicating these precise areas on the ground. The 1974 agreement provided that India would retain half of Berubari Union No. 12 and in exchange Bangladesh would retain the Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves. The Agreement further provided that India would lease in perpetuity to Bangladesh a small area near Dahagram and Angarpota (the “Tin Bigha” corridor) for the purpose of connecting Dahagram and Angarpota with Bangladesh.

  • Finally the agreement was implemented in entirety, though India did not ratify, with the exception of three issues pertaining to un-demarcated land boundary of approximately 6.1 km in three sectors — Daikhata-56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River-Belonia (Tripura) and Lathitila-Dumabari (Assam); exchange of enclaves; and adverse possessions.
3. What is the issue of enclaves?

  • The flawed nature of the Partition left 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh (17,160.63 acres) and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India (7,110.02 acres). Their inhabitants do not enjoy full legal rights as citizens of either country or proper facilities such as electricity, schools and health services. Even law and order agencies do not have proper access to these areas.A joint headcount estimates the population in the enclaves to be around 51,549 (37,334 of them in Indian enclaves within Bangladesh).
4. What does the LBA say on enclaves?
  • It states that people in these areas have the right to stay where they are as nationals of the State to which the areas were transferred. But a joint India-Bangladesh delegation that visited these enclaves in May 2007 found that people residing in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi enclaves in India did not want to leave their land and would rather be in the country where they had lived all their lives. Movement of people, if any, is therefore expected to be minimum.
5. What about land ‘in adverse possession’?
  • ‘An adverse possession’ is territory that is contiguous to India’s border and within Indian control, but which is legally part of Bangladesh. Residents of these adverse possessions are Indian citizens. The same applies to Bangladeshi adverse possessions. In respect of adverse possessions, India is to receive 2,777.038 acres of land and to transfer 2267.682 acres to Bangladesh.However, the reality is that the area to be transferred is already in the possession of Bangladesh and its handing over to Bangladesh is merely a procedural acceptance of the de facto situation on the ground.
6. What happened when the LBA was signed in 2011?

  • The protocol was signed by the two countries on September 6, 2011, after written concurrence of the concerned state governments was obtained. People living in the border areas were not to be dislocated. The protocol only addresses the unresolved issues of the 1974 LBA. It does not depart from it on any point other than the maintenance of status quo on adverse possessions and only adds details on some other aspects of the 1974 LBA.
7. What about the concerns of Assam?

  • Regarding adverse possessions of Pallathal and Nayagaon in Assam, the interests of tea and betel-leaf planters have been protected while finalising the border between India and Bangladesh in this sector. With regard to demarcation of the Lathitilla and Dumabari sector, the line drawn by Radcliff and actual position on the ground has been followed.
8. What about the people living in these areas?

  • Over time, it became extremely difficult to implement the terms of 1974 LBA as it meant uprooting people living in adverse possessions from the land in which they had lived all their lives and to which they had developed sentimental and religious attachments. Both India and Bangladesh, therefore, agreed to maintain the status quo in addressing the issue of adverse possessions instead of exchanging them as was earlier required for in the LBA 1974.

1 comment:

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