India, Bangladesh sign historic territory swap deal

DHAKA: In a historic step that brought to a closure the decades-old territorial dispute, India and Bangladesh signed a path-breaking agreement June 6 that formalized the 41-year-old Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, enabling the two countries to exchange land enclaves in each other’s territory.

The historic agreement was signed by the foreign secretaries of India and Bangladesh in the presence of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajed.

Marking a transformational moment in relations between the two neighbours, the Indian parliament had unanimously approved a Constitution Amendment Bill a few weeks ago to give full effect to the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 with Bangladesh and the related 2011 Protocol.

The deal will pave the way for the movement of the LBA that entails an exchange of 161 enclaves between the two countries. A total 111 border enclaves will be transferred to Bangladesh in exchange of 51 transferred to India. More than 50,000 people will be awarded citizenship after the agreement is implemented. The deal will also give freedom to the residents living on the border to choose where to live.

An upbeat Prime Minister Modi captured the historic import of the moment in his remarks at a joint media interaction with Sheikh Hasina. “The visit is at a historic moment. We have resolved a question that has lingered since Independence. Our two nations have a settled boundary. It will make our borders more secure and people’s life there more stable,” he said.

“Our Parliament’s approval of Land Boundary Agreement reflects the consensus in India on relations with Bangladesh. We accepted the settlement of the maritime boundary last year. It is evidence of the maturity of our ties and our shared commitment to international rules.”