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Dhaka in the dark on land deal

No information conveyed to us, says Bangladesh Foreign Minister.

The Union government says it would like to bring a Constitution Amendment Bill on the revised Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh to Parliament next week.

But officials in Dhaka say they have received no “official communication” about the revisions, which propose leaving Assam out of the agreement for now.

The Union Cabinet cleared the revised Bill this week after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj briefed it on the changes and reportedly said they had been cleared with the Bangladesh government.

However, speaking to The Hindu in Dhaka, Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam said: “We know nothing formally yet. We will analyse and give our opinion only once we know.”

A key negotiator for the agreement, former Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Karim, told The Hindu that leaving Assam out could “complicate” the deal.

“The agreement was negotiated as a package. It would create complications if any part of the package is taken out,” he said.

Mr. Alam told presspersons that the agreement was reached in 1974, and the protocol signed in 2011 would only be “implemented as agreed.”

The new formula involves handing over land or “adverse possessions” and enclaves from Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal, totalling 1,999 acres, but will not include approximately 268 acres from Assam, officials said.

Congress to block revised LBA Bill in Rajya Sabha

Since the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh requires a change in India’s boundaries, a Constitution amendment with two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament is required for the revised Bill.



At its meeting on Thursday, the Business Advisory Committee of Parliament could not agree on scheduling the Bill because of the Congress’s opposition. Congress leaders say they will block the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority, unless Assam is included. “If we take Assam out of the agreement, our borders will remain vulnerable to infiltration. To ensure security, the agreement must be implemented in full,” a party MP from Assam, Gaurav Gogoi, said.



However, speaking to The Hindu earlier this week, senior Ministers were confident of clearing the revised Bill in Parliament and with the Bangladesh government that has waited for years for the agreement to be ratified. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reportedly keen on visiting Bangladesh in June with the agreement tied up. The government has received support for the agreement from the Trinamool Congress, which was opposed to the Bill during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance.



The Trinamool’s shift comes after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to Bangladesh earlier this year, and an assurance from the government that a rehabilitation package will be announced for the people of the State affected by the land swap.



1974

  • May 16: India-Bangladesh Agreement inked, not ratified
  • India has 111 enclaves within Bangaldesh (70 square km)
  • Bangladesh has 51 enclaves in India (28 square km)
  • Most enclaves are in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.

2011

  • September 6: Bangladesh and India sign protocol to pact

2013

  • December 18: The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013, introduced in Rajya Sabha
  • Bill amends the First Schedule of the Constitution that defines the area of each State, Union Territory

2015

  • April 29: Cabinet clears the revised land boundary agreement delinking Assam.
  • Centre likely to introduce revised Bill in Parliament next week


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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 9:08:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dhaka-in-the-dark-on-land-deal/article7162325.ece

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