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Agartala/Guwahati: The signing of the historic Land Boundary Agreement, notwithstanding some opposition in Assam, and trade and connectivity are the key issues which have generated keen interest in India’s northeastern states about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day Bangladesh visit that began on Saturday.
In a historic step, India and Bangladesh during the day moved to swap land enclaves in each other’s territory as they ratified the more than 40-year-old LBA at a ceremony witnessed by Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
The agreement envisages transfer of 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh. Dhaka is to transfer 51 enclaves spread over 7,110.02 acres to India. A 6.1-km undefined border stretch will be demarcated. The four Indian border states involved in the exchange of territories are Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura – all in the northeast – and West Bengal.
With the Teesta accord, which Bangladesh considers very important, not on the agenda, diplomatic experts were banking on the land swap deal – set to be concluded on June 6 on day one of Modi’s visit – as a “significant chapter” in India-Bangladesh relations, which could in turn pave the way for fresh openings in bilateral ties.
Veena Sikri, former Indian envoy to Bangladesh, termed the LBA the high point of the visit as it would help in taking the bilateral relations between the two neighbours into an era of connectivity, which would tremendously help the northeastern states.
Northeast-based independent journalist Sanath Chakrabarty termed the LBA signing a welcome step.
“The initiative shows that the Modi government does not want to carry the baggage of the past. They want to solve the issues in a more proactive way, this is a good move,” he said.
“However, there are issues which are irritants. The Land Boundary Agreement has also been opposed by several sections. There issues of rehabilitation and resettlement of the people to be affected by the LBA,” he said, adding that one also has to observe how Bangladesh reciprocates to this.
Modi, Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also flagged off the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus services.
The two countries signed 22 pacts, including agreements on coastal shipping, renewal of protocol on inland water transit and trade, on prevention of human trafficking and on prevention of smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes.
The two nations also concluded the memorandum of understanding on use of Chittagong and Mongla ports, while the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) signed a deal for leasing of international bandwidth for internet at Akhaura in Tripura.
Stressing on connectivity, Modi said Bangladesh’s decision to allow transit of power equipment and foodgrain to the northeast “echoes the strength of your human values and our shared economic opportunities”.
On Sunday, Modi and Hasina are scheduled to open the Kamalasagar (Tripura)-Kasba (Bangladesh) border haat. The border haat will be the second in Tripura and the fourth along the India-Bangladesh border.
These border haats are being set up at costs ranging from Rs.2.4-3 crore incurred by the Indian commerce ministry to boost trade in local produce of areas on the two sides.
Tripura Chamber of Commerce and Industries president M.L. Dey said Bangladesh’s trade and business with the northeastern states was much higher compared to the rest of India.
“Considering this scope, both India and Bangladesh must take more mutual steps to increase the trades and various economic activities between Bangladesh and eight northeastern states of India.”
Noted economist Sekhar Paul said economic cooperation between India and Bangladesh “must go hand in hand with strong political support from the highest places of the two close neighbours”.
The eight northeastern states, including Sikkim, are largely dependent on Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other bigger states in India for food grains, essential commodities and household goods.
“Trade between the northeastern states and Bangladesh are gradually increasing every year. With Modi’s visit, the cross border trade might further boost up,” Habul Biswas, secretary of the Exporters-importers Association of Tripura, told IANS.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar earlier told IANS the visit was expected to immensely benefit the northeastern states.
He said Dhaka helped “a lot” to tame decades of terrorism in Tripura.
But he pointed out that some camps of northeastern militants still existed in Bangladesh. (IANS)
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.