Thursday, August 04, 2011

India-Bangladesh relation – New Berlin Wall is opening

Sonia Gandhi with Shiekh Hasina on her recent visit here
SWADESH ROY

SONIA GANDHI president of Indian National Congress and the chief of National Democratic Aliens of India came to Dhaka to join an autism conference of South Asia on 25 July. It was a non-political visit but at the end, it proves that visit was a highly diplomatic and political. It has reached its purpose successfully. The visit of Sonia Gandhi was essential for the confidence building of the people of Bangladesh. It is true that, for a long time the relation of India Bangladesh is not good. The 1790-mile iron fence of the India Bangladesh land border is enough to clear, what the relation was going between India and Bangladesh. One of the Bangladeshi political leaders has called this fence ‘a New Berlin Wall’. Now it is not the time to discuss what circumstances was bound to make it but it is the time to open the New Berlin Wall. It is clear, Sonia Gandhi has come to open the New Berlin Wall and she has done it. She is successful to convey the message to the Bangladeshi people that, India is a real friend of Bangladesh, which they were in 1971; and not only these two countries, India wants a good relation with their neighbors. India is a regional supper power and going to be an economic power of the world. So it is needed to prove to their small neighbors that India is a real friend of their neighbors, not a threat. Besides, in the present world, politics is not the only main component of the friendship of the two countries. Economy and trade is the main component of the friendship. However, it is also true that, to make an economic and trade relation you have to first make a good political relation and you have to settle all political disputes. Bangladesh and India is doing that.

The people of Bangladesh are thinking that, India- Bangladesh relation will be cemented at the time of the visit of Indian Prime Minister and that will be a new start. On the other hand, many Indian Newspapers already said that, it has already started. It starts from the time of the Sheikh Hasina’s visit on January 2010. During the time of the Sheikh Hasina’s visit, two countries declare a joint communiqué. That joint communiqué is the start of the new relationship. Bangladesh has done a lot to establish this good relationship. Bangladesh has deported more or less all the extremist of India who took shelter in Bangladesh. For a long time they were operating their operation to use Bangladeshi shelter or land. There is an allegation they were taking help of a military intelligence of a particular country. Besides that, extremist group were involved in arms smuggling. One of their leaders Paresh Barua is now one of the main accused of a big arms smuggling case in Bangladesh. He is now absconding but is not in Bangladesh. Intelligence of Bangladesh confirms that, he is now in a hill of the border of Myanmar and China. There is only leader of the extremist group of India in the jail of Bangladesh. He is the general secretary of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). He is popularly known as Anup Chetia though his real name is Golap Barua. Bangladesh will hand him over to India before the visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Indian Prime Minister will visit Bangladesh on 6 to 7 September of this year. Therefore, before the visit of Indian Prime Minister at Bangladesh is going to settle all the political issues which are obstruction for making a good relation. So a ray of hope is shown that, India will settle all the political disputes at the time of the visit of Indian Prime. Government source of Bangladesh is assuring that, at the time of Indian Prime visit, two rivers water sharing treaty will be signed. These two rivers are common river of India and Bangladesh, one is Teesta, and another is Feni Rivers. Besides that a limited transit facility treaty between India and Bangladesh will be singed.

To build up this new relation Bangladesh has done his work first but last couple of month India is showing a good shine. There are three important minister have visited to Bangladesh. Indian commerce minister came first and an agreement has been signed. From that time Nepal is getting transit facility through India. Besides that, India gave some tariff facility on Bangladeshi goods. However, it is a start. If India and Bangladesh wanted to strengthen their new relation these two countries have to go a long way in commerce sector. These two countries have to realize that, in the present world, commerce sector can make a profound relation with any countries. So, these two countries have to think about many new avenues for trade. In that case, India can think that, they will make a tariff free zone for Bangladeshi goods in their eastern part of the country. That will be a new getaway for boost up economy of eastern part of India and Bangladesh.

Indian foreign minister came to visit Bangladesh on 6 July. At the time of the Indian foreign minister visit two agreements has been singed. According to one of the agreements, Bhutanese vehicles will get free movement facilities between India and Bangladesh land customs. It is surely remarkable in terms of regional connectivity. While it opens up doors for Bhutan, it can also be regarded as a preview of other positive things that could happen within South Asia. Indian home minister came to visit Bangladesh on 29 July. An agreement namely Border Management Plan has been signed on 30 July. Besides that, Indian home minister said, Indian authorities have already issued strict instructions for ‘not to fire’ under any circumstances while people from Bangladesh or from India try to illegally cross the border. They have pledged to put an end of killings of Bangladeshi nationals. The killing of Bangladeshi nationals by Indian Border Security Force is a big problem for Bangladesh. They kill Bangladeshi national frequently. According to American foreign policy magazine since 2000, Indian troops have shot and killed nearly 1000 people. So to build up a deep relation between Bangladesh and India, it has to be stopped and before Indian Prime Minister’s visit and in the mean time India has to prove that, they have stopped it. Indian home minister told that, it would not happen further; now they have to prove it. However, there declaration, their attitude is showing that, they are going to do it. All of their works express that, they are trying to make a good atmosphere before the visit of their Prime Minister and to start a new. So, now one can hope that New Berlin Wall is going to open.

First published in Times of Assam, India, August 03, 2011


Swadesh Roy is the Executive Editor of the Dainik Janakantha published from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at swadeshroy@gmail.com