India, Bangladesh sign historic land boundary agreement
Updated: 2015-06-07 09:10
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina clap during signing ceremony of agreements between India and Bangladesh in Dhaka June 6, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
DHAKA - India and Bangladesh signed an agreement on Saturday to simplify their 4,000-km (2,500-mile) border and clarify the identities of 52,000 living in enclaves, over four decades after the neighbours first tried to untangle complex territorial rights set down in 1713.
Under the deal, signed in Dhaka in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, the two countries will swap some 200 tiny enclaves dotted around the border. Their inhabitants have been deprived of public services and living in squalid conditions.
A string of trade and investment agreements accompanied the land deal, with $4.5 billion of investments in power and a $2 billion credit facility for Bangladesh unveiled on Saturday.
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.
Under the pact, each country will take over most of the enclaves on its territory and residents will have the right to stay where they are or move to the other side of the border.
"We have shown political consolidation and goodwill with the signing of this deal," Modi, who arrived Bangladesh on a two-day state visit, told a joint news conference.
Hasina said: "I salute all the citizens of India for supporting this bill in parliament."
The land accord was originally agreed in 1974 by Indira Gandhi of India and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh. Progress stopped for a long time, however, after Mujibur was assassinated in 1975 and subsequent governments failed to agree on the transfer of enclaves.
Dhaka's Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has described the deal, which has since been updated, as "a historic milestone in the relationship between the two neighboring south Asian countries."
The two prime ministers, along with the chief minister of West Bengal, India Mamata Banerjee, also inaugurated bus services along the border.