India today announced that it has liberalised the visa policy for people from of Bangladesh to promote economic engagement meet its commitment to removing trade and non-tariff barriers between the two countries.
"There is no formal agreement between India and Bangladesh on the visa regime ... but as a step towards showing India's commitment to joining hands with Dhaka in giving a boost to the economic prosperity of Bangladesh and its people, we have decided to adopt a liberal visa regime," India's ambassador to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran said at a function in Dhaka.
The two countries agreed in October this year at the home secretary level to hold an exclusive meeting to work out procedures and modalities for easier visas at the earliest. However, India has not waited for joint working group (JWG) to be set up to sort out the liberal visa regime issue and has gone ahead unilaterally to simplify visa procedures for senior citizens, Saran said on the sidelines of the "India Show" organised by the ministry of commerce and industry and trade body FICCI.
During his visit to Dhaka in September last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said it would take steps to remove trade and non-tariff barriers between India and Bangladesh.
India at present gives nearly 500,000 visas to Bangladesh nationals every year and with a new visa regime in place, this figure is likely to witness a massive hike, Saran said.
Saran said the India mission in Dhaka has decided to grant liberal visa permits to businessmen, artists and for tourism purposes.