NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan Kama on Saturday inaugurated what is probably the world’s largest integrated Indian Visa Application Center at Jamuna Future Park in Dhaka.
The state-of-the-art IVAC will have 48 counters and can cater to around 700 applicants simultaneously. Spread over 18,500 square feet, the IVAC will replace the existing centres in Motijheel and Uttara from July 15, while the remaining two centres in Dhaka - Gulshan and Mirpur Road - will also be shifted to this centre by August 31.
The existing e-token (appointment) system for submission of visa applications will also be withdrawn from July 15. Bangladeshis constitute one of the largest numbers of visitors from a single country to India. Last year 1.4 million visas were issued to Bangladeshi nationals. There are 12 visa centres in Bangladesh, the highest number India has in any country in the world.
Speaking to journalists after the inauguration, Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla said this was the largest Indian visa centre in the world, and possibly the largest anywhere.
Rajnath Singh landed in Dhaka Friday accompanied by a 12-member delegation comprising senior home ministry and Border Security Force (BSF) officials, and attended a dinner hosted by High Commissioner Shringla.
On Saturday, before inaugurating the IVAC, he held a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence to discuss terrorism, particularly the radicalization of youths by terrorist groups, as well as border security, counterfeit currencies, cattle smuggling, visa and processing and illegal immigration, and the Rohingya crisis.
Noting the cordial relationship with Bangladesh was at its peak, Singh stressed on the need for dialogue to eliminate terrorism and militancy from the region. "But, because of non-cooperation by some of the countries, it is not taking place," he said.
"Bangladesh does not allow its territory to be used by any terrorist individual, group and entity— against any state or people," Hasina told him.
Later Saturday, Singh visited the Bangladesh Police Academy in Sardah and jointly inaugurated the Bangladesh-India Friendship Building with Asaduzzaman Khan. He also paid homage to Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandu Museum, before offering prayers at the Dhakeshwari Temple. Asaduzzaman hosted a banquet for Singh in the evening.
On Sunday, Asaduzzaman and Rajnath will co-chair the 6th meeting of the Bangladesh-India Home minister-level talks at the Bangladesh Secretariat, before leaving for Delhi in the evening.