India, Bangladesh to ease visa norms

After Pakistan, India is set to sign a liberal visa agreement with Bangladesh when Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde flies to Dhaka on a three-day official trip on January 28.

The tone of the scheduled trip has already been set by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who told mediapersons in Dhaka that there are no border disputes with India before her maiden Moscow visit, which would be music to mandarins in the South Block given the harrowing time they are confronted by Pakistan.

Hasina said that she was successful in settling the “long-standing disputes with India over the division of the Ganges River water resources”, as well as in settling the border demarcation issue within two years, a news agency reported.

The revised travel arrangement, extradition treaty and exchange of strip maps identifying land location to match with revenue records along 4068 km fence of bordering states between the two nations are the other highlights of the proposed visit, government sources said.

During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in 2011, the two neighbours had signed a historic pact to exchange 162 enclaves between themselves. However, the UPA government will have to amendment the Constitution to settle the enclaves issue, which are patches of land each country holds in other jurisdiction.The two countries had reached an agreement on demarcation of the border and exchange of enclaves in 1974, covering 111 enclaves in India and 51 on the other side of the fence that houses about 51,000 people. After settling the issues, the enclaves residents would have the right either to continue in their respective areas or choose the country they want to move on.

The draft of the visa agreement, allowing relaxed travel norms for businessmen and citizens above 65 years and children below 12 as agreed with Pakistan, has been approved by both governments.

Ministry sources said that Hasina government has returned draft extradition treaty with some suggested changes to the ministry of external affairs, which the Union Cabinet has to clear before Shinde trip to Dhaka.

“We hope, both the treaties will be signed during the Home Minister’s visit to Bangladesh,” a Home Ministry official said.

January 14, 2013

DH News Service



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