NEW DELHI: After 41 years, India on Saturday finally settled all of its boundary issues with Bangladesh, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended a new $2 billion line of credit on his first-ever visit to Dhaka. While the Teesta river treaty was not scheduled to be signed, Modi noted that rivers should not be a source of discord.
When Modi arrived at Shahjalal international airport, he was welcomed on the tarmac by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, breaking protocol. From the airport, Modi went to the monument built in tribute to the 1971 Liberation War and the residence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which is now a museum.
In the afternoon, he had a tete-e-tete with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
In a truly historic moment, foreign secretaries of the two countries — S Jaishankar and M Shahidul Haque — exchanged the instruments of ratification, while Modi, Hasina and Mamata applauded. It brought an end to uncertainty faced by nearly 50,000 stateless people in enclaves, a peculiar legacy of 18th century royal politics and thereafter perpetuated through Partition.
Along with the instruments of ratification, the two foreign secretaries exchanged modalities for implementing the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol. There are 111 Bangladeshi enclaves in India that house 37,369 people, while 14,215 people live in 55 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh.
A special economic zone for India, for which a location is being finalised, will be key to increase Indian instruments. Among the 22 agreements signed is a memorandum of understanding for the special economic zone.