Delay in India ratification of LBA worries Dhaka
Enclave settlement remains uncertainMustafizur Rahman
Dhaka is concerned about the fate of the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement as there is no positive sign for the passage of a constitutional amendment bill in he Indian parliament which is necessary to ratify the 1974 deal.
The bill was expected to be placed for passage in the current session of Rajya Sabha (the upper house) but the opposition Bharatya Janata Party has opposed the bill on the ground that they would lose more land to Bangladesh if the bill is passed.
In the latest move, India has assured Bangladesh of introducing the Constitution (119th) Amendment Bill 2013 to ratify the Indira-Mujib Land Boundary Agreement in the current session after failing to do it in the past budget session of the Indian parliament.
Officials in Dhaka, however, are in doubts if the bill could be passed in the current session that will end on August 30 with a host of other bills waiting to be be placed in Rajya Sabha.
The top BJP leadership has, moreover, reportedly made it clear to India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting in Delhi in the past week that it would not support the ratification of the agreement as India would lose more land to Bangladesh in exchanging 162 enclaves under the deal.
The BJP said that it could not support the bill as the party’s units in West Bengal and Assam were vehemently opposing it.
‘We are now worried whether the constitutional amendment bill would be passed in the ongoing session of the Indian parliament as it requires a political consensus… The central leadership of the BJP has support for the LBA ratification but its provincial leaders are opposing it,’ the Bangladesh home ministry’s additional secretary (political) Kamal Uddin Ahmed, also head of the Joint Boundary Working Group, said.
He told New Age that Dhaka had persistently pressured Delhi to expedite the ratification process, pending for an amendment to the Indian constitution and support of the two-thirds of lawmakers in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The Indian constitution needs to be amended because the LBA stipulates an exchange of territory.
Neither of the governments can get access to the enclaves along the border surrounded by the territory of the other state. The people living there have no national identity and they cannot travel to their home state without crossing the international border.
Dhaka and Delhi signed an additional protocol on the exchange of the enclaves during the visit of the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh in September 2011 with an aim to end sorrows and miseries of enclave people.
Bangladesh and India on September 6, 2011 signed the protocol on the land boundary agreement.
Subject to the ratification, the protocol included the exchange of enclaves, the transfer of land in the border in adverse possession and the settlement of 6.5 kilometres of undemarcated land boundary.
Residents of the enclaves — 111 of India inside Bangladesh and 51 of Bangladesh inside India — have been living in miseries as governments have failed to resolve the issue since partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.
India has kept pending ratification of the land boundary agreement signed on May 16, 1974, halting the settlement process of border demarcation and exchange of enclaves till date although Bangladesh ratified the treaty on November 27, 1974.
The enclave people both in India and Bangladesh are supposed to have ‘the right to stay where they are as citizens of the state to which the areas are transferred.’
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