The Indo- Bangladesh land swapping deal was signed by the two nations during visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 6th September 2011. Futures of some 162 enclaves were decided by this land agreement. Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947 these enclaves left without development by their respective country due problem of communication and lack of interest by the political authorities. These enclaves also remain as an obstacle in the way of completing the bare wire fence in the border that caused huge illegal migrants to Assam and other north eastern states. The conclusion of the deal could help India, particularly Assam to control illegal migrants from the neighbouring nation and could also helpful to sort out the long standing border disputes between the two nations.
Title: Indo-Bangladesh Land Swap Deal: A move towards settlement of border disputes
The origin of India-Bangladesh border disputes goes back to the time partition. The former East Pakistan was cut out of the territory of Assam and Bengal. Being a part of Pakistan, it was natural for East Pakistan (Bangladesh) to get involved in border disputes with India. India and Bangladesh have a common land boundary of approximately 4096.7 km, which was determined as per the Radcliffe Award of 1947, then with East Pakistan. The disputes arose out of some provisions in the Radcliffe Award, which were sought to be resolved through the Bagge Award of 1950, and another effort was made to settle these disputes by the Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958, but disputes in certain areas continued. On 16th May, 1974, the two countries signed an agreement to find a solution to the complex nature of the border demarcation involved. This agreement was not ratified as it involved transfer of territory, which requires a constitutional amendment.
In 1971, the East Pakistanis were revolted against the country's military junta based in West Pakistan. The Indian government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi extended military support to establish an independent Bangladesh. India got involved in the dispute for three reasons, to weaken and divide India's rival Pakistan, to ensure that the rebellion did not spill over into India's state of West Bengal and to resolve the problem of illegal migrants from East Pakistan to India. Nevertheless, the border disputes remained, involving enclaves of either state that were within the international border each other.
To promote friendship and mutual cooperation, in 1972 the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace” was signed between India and Bangladesh. On the basis of this treaty, both the state agreed to maintain international peace and security, opposition to imperialism, colonialism and racial discrimination, respect to sovereignty and integrity of each other, to assist and consult each other in the event of any foreign aggression and not to allow each other territory to establish any military base to any third country.
Initially, the Indo- Bangladesh relationship was very much cordial and cooperative. But after the assassination of Sheikh Mujjibur Rahman, the relationship started to change. India and Bangladesh shares about 4000 km of border and have not clearly demarcated their borders. The border cuts through villages and even homes. Bangladesh has 2749.16 km of Indian land in its possession in West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya. On the other hand, there are about 2922.25 acres of Bangladeshi land in adverse possession of India. Further, both India and Bangladesh have clashed on the issue of the Moore Island, which was discovered by India after it is creation in 1970 due to cyclones and tidal waves in Bay of Bengal. The border between India and Bangladesh are riverine at places in region where riverlets change course with each monsoon. Further, the borders are marked by unchecked passage. The unfenced border areas lead to smuggling of a variety of goods including drugs, stealing of cattle and crops etc.
Thought there are different areas of conflict between India and Bangladesh, but the main problem between the two neighbouring country is the border disputes. Bangladesh, on different occasions has been preventing Indian effort to install bare wire fence across the border to check illegal migrants. In April 1976, the borders out-post at Dumnikura, in Garo Hill district of Meghalaya was fired upon by Bangladeshi Rifles. In November 1976, the Bangladesh authority claimed an Indian area measuring about 8 hectars in Muhuri Char area in the Belonia sub-division of Tripura. It created the disputes between India and Bangladesh deeper when Bangladesh Rifle repeatedly opened fire upon the Indian farmers. The demarcation of borders along Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya had been pending due to certain changes in the course of Muhuri River. To sort out the matter, the first talk between Bangladesh Rifle and Indian Border Security Force representatives was held at Comila on 11th November 1976. But they could not reach to an agreement. Each side blamed the other for taking rigid and unreasonable stand. Bangladesh accused India of having unilaterally constructed nine spurs for deflecting the course of Muhuri river which India had refused. A second round of talk was held in Decca on 19th November 1976 and both the states agreed to prevent the recurrence of border incidents. After a meeting of the Joint River Commission constituted in 1977, it was declared on 20th November that both sides have tried to understand each other’s view point regarding the border near Muhuri Char land and both side decided to remove the irritants. A committee for river site and for determining the issue of spurs was instituted. The result of this move was not successful and on 22nd November, Bangladesh Rifles again resume firing in this sector. The civil defense excerised and the hectic activity on the Bangladesh side of the border further made the issue more complicated. To defense the situation, a 6 member Bangladesh delegation came to India on 12th December 1977 and held discussion with India over the issue of demarcation of border as stipulated in the 1974 Boundary Agreement. The talk again fails to produce an acceptable result. The Bangladeshi delegation refused to accept India’s step to normalize the situation on Tripura border. It demanded that the whole of Muhuri Char area should be made a “No Man’s land” with the provision for joint patrolling. This was a move to change the provision of 1974 agreement on which India did not agreed. The talk produces another small agreement whereby both the side agreed to maintain normalcy in Muhuri Char area.
- Quote paper
- Bhaskar Mili (Author), 2014, Indo-Bangladesh Land Swap Deal: A move towards settlement of border disputes, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/286531