Those who are above 65 and below 13 are eligible for 5-year multiple entry visas

India has decided to relax visa restrictions for Bangladeshi nationals above the age of 65 and below the age of 13. The decision was conveyed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her talks with the Bangladesh government, including meetings with her counterpart A.H. Mahmud Ali and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Senior citizens and young Bangladeshis will now be eligible for five-year multiple entry visas as against the one-year visa available earlier. However, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin clarified that there was “no proposal for visa free travel for Bangladeshi nationals to India.”

The announcement of visas-on-arrival for nationals of some countries, which was made by the UPA government in March, has also been held back after the Home Ministry cited concerns. “The issue of visa-on-arrival is something that Home Ministry is working on. There is still some distance to cover before decisions on when, how, and who from which countries will be covered by this policy,” Mr. Akbaruddin said in Dhaka.

During her meeting with Ms. Hasina, Ms. Swaraj handed over a special message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoping that the two countries will usher in a new era of “cooperation and connectivity,” accepting her invitation and inviting Ms. Hasina to visit India at her earliest convenience.

During the talks, India also confirmed the offer of enhancing power supply on the newly opened power-grid connection between both countries by 100 MW from the Palatana project in Tripura.

The two sides also discussed the Land Border Agreement (LBA), and official sources said Ms. Swaraj had said that its ratification in Parliament was under “active consideration” and that the government was “trying to build a national consensus” on the Teesta river water settlement promised by India in 2011. “The entire gamut of staple issues between both countries were discussed, which are understood to include India’s concerns over illegal immigration from Bangladesh,” Mr. Akbaruddin said. India has made several other announcements during Ms. Swaraj’s visit, her first in 16 years, including increasing the frequency of the Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express, and proposed a Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service as well, and officials described the visit as “constructive and successful.”