PM Narendra Modi leaves on Saturday (June 6th, 2015) on a two-day “historic” visit to Bangladesh where he will hold talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and ink several agreements. The land swap agreement will be the centerpiece along with other agreements related to connectivity and trade, a simpler visa regime and cooperation in the field of energy and water security.
As part of the land swap agreement, Bangladesh and India will seal a contract simplifying their 4,000 km border, over four decades after the neighbours first tried to untangle complex territorial rights in 1713.
In 1974, the then leaders of the two countries – Indira Gandhi of India and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh – agreed to swap almost 200 enclaves of land located in one country but officially belonging to the other. But with the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (in 1975), along with the almost all the members of his family, the process of the agreement stopped for a long time.
The agreement, which has since been updated, will be “a historic milestone in the relationship between the two neighbouring South Asian countries.
Established by a treaty between two former princely states, the 106 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 92 Bangladeshi enclaves in India are islands of foreign territory inside each country, most of them close to the official border. Their inhabitants – about 37,330 in Indian enclaves and 14,200 in Bangladeshi enclaves – are deprived of public services because their governments have no access to them. Under the agreement, each country will take over most of the enclaves on its territory and inhabitants will have the right to stay where they are or move to the other side of the border.
This will be a great move in streamlining foreign relations with Bangladesh. Also, this agreement will bring life of thousands of Indians and Bangladeshi people at ease.