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India-Bangladesh Ratify Land Deal: Bus Services Flagged Off Today

Chumthang News Service,    
Imphal/6 June/2015: India and Bangladesh on Saturday moved to exchange land enclaves in each other’s territory as both sides ratified the over 40-year-old Land Boundary Agreement at a formal signing ceremony attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also attended the ceremony to operationalise the land swap. Modi tweeted: “History is made as the Instruments of Ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement are exchanged.” A tweet by external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “‘Historic’ doesn’t really do justice to this red-letter day. Exchange of Instruments of Ratification of LBA.”

The land swap agreement envisages transfer of 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh, while Dhaka is to transfer 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India. A 6.1-km undefined border stretch will be demarcated. The LBA was inked on May 16, 1974 by then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and her Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Bangladesh’s Jatiya Sangsad had ratified the LBA immediately after. As it involved the transfer of territory, which required constitutional amendment, the process took time in India. A protocol on the LBA was also signed by both sides on September 6, 2011.

The four Indian border states involved in the exchange of territories are Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal. The 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh include 12 in Kurigram district, 59 in Nilphamari and 36 in Panhagarh. The Indian enclaves are home to nearly 37,000 people while Bangladeshi enclaves have about 14,000 people.

According to the agreement, the people of the enclaves can choose citizenship of either country. The settlement of the LBA comes as both countries have settled their maritime boundary.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee today flagged off the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus services in Dhaka. “Connecting lands, binding hearts. PM @narendramodi and PM Sheikh Hasina flag off buses to Guwahati and Agartala,” Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry spokesman, tweeted.

Prior to flagging of the services, the three leaders boarded the buses and greeted the passengers. The Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala service will reduce the travel time between the capitals of India’s West Bengal and Tripura states by one-third.
Source: North East Today     

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