India, Bangladesh seal historic land swap deal

India and Bangladesh today sealed a historic land swap agreement that will settle a 41-year-old land boundary dispute through exchange of territories by the two countries, removing a major irritant in bilateral ties.

 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee  

The historic agreement was signed on the first day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden two-day visit to Bangladesh.

The documents relating to the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) were exchanged in the presence of Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The agreement aims at acquiring territories by India and the transfer of those territories to Bangladesh through retaining of adverse possession in pursuance of the 1974 agreement between the two nations.

The Parliament had, a few weeks ago, unanimously approved a Constitution amendment bill to give full effect to the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 with Bangladesh and the related 2011 Protocol.

''History is made as the Instruments of Ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement are exchanged,'' Modi tweeted.

The exchange of documents paves way for the operationalisation of the 1974 India-Bangladesh LBA that provides for exchange of 161 enclaves between the two countries. About 111 border enclaves will be transferred to Bangladesh in exchange for 51 that will become part of India.

Ahead of his visit, Modi had said the agreement marked a ''watershed moment'' in India's ties with Bangladesh.

Under the agreement, India will have an advantage of 500 acres and 10,000 acres will go to Bangladesh.

The agreement also settles the question of citizenship for over 50,000 people.

The issue has been a major irritant in ties between the two countries which share a 4,096-km-long border, most of which is porous.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also flagged off the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus services.

Modi paid his respects to Bangladesh's first PM Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum. He also paid homage to the martyrs of the Liberation War of 1971 at the National Martyrs' Memorial in Dhaka.

Modi tweets in English and Bangla, thanks his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina for the warm welcome. ''Thank you PM Sheikh Hasina for the warm welcome. I look forward to a very good visit that will strengthen ties between India & Bangladesh,'' he said.

 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina  

Modi was given a red carpet welcome. Breaking protocol, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received PM Narendra Modi at the airport.

 ''India and Bangladesh have developed into a relationship of win-win situation. I consider PM Modi's visit as a landmark visit,'' ANI quoted Gowher Rizvi, foreign policy advisor to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, as saying.

''Impressive thing about PM Modi is that he has an outstanding reputation as a "doer" in the international scene. PM Modi is able to separate national politics from national interest,'' Rizvi added.

Rizvi expressed hope that the agreement on Teesta water sharing deal will be signed ''sooner than later''. He also stated that Bangladesh has taken sternest possible action to end cross border movement and all forms of terrorism.''

Prime Minister Modi also expressed hope that the political resolve and mutual goodwill shown with the Land Boundary Agreement will help the two sides reach a fair solution on Teesta and Feni Rivers. ''We should also work together to renew and clean our rivers,'' he said.

Bangladeshi media described Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden visit to the country as "historic" and "a visit of high hopes".

Newspapers and news channels gave wide coverage to Modi's visit that begins today as news were accompanied with photographs of Modi and his schedule and deals that are expected to be signed.

Describing Bangladesh as an "exceptional neighbour", India yesterday said Prime Minister Modi's "historic" visit will help the two sides to consolidate and deepen cooperation in key areas of power, energy and connectivity.