Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called Sheikh Hasina to break the news that Indian parliament’s lower house has passed the Land Boundary Agreement, agencies report. The telephone call came no sooner had the Lok Sabha cleared the way for swap of enclaves, her Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhuri said. A day after the Rajya Sabha passed the bill, Prime Minister Hasina hailed it as her government’s “diplomatic success”.
Lok Sabha’s passage will allow implementation of the LBA that includes exchange of 162 enclaves in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya. Bangladeshi enclaves have around 14,000 residents while Indian enclaves are home to 37,000. Modi hailed the move as “a historic milestone” in India-Bangladesh relations, saying it ensured “a permanent settlement” of land boundary issue with Bangladesh.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, he hoped the deal would contribute to a “stable and peaceful boundary, better management and coordination of the border and enhanced security”. The LBA has been an outstanding issue since Bangladesh’s independence. Not much progress had been made since the 1974 Indira-Mujib agreement. A seemingly elated Modi wrote: “Spoke to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and conveyed my greetings to the people of Bangladesh on this landmark occasion.” In a letter to Hasina in March, the Indian prime minister said he would like to visit Dhaka “soon” without specifying a date. Sources in New Delhi said Modi did not want to go there ‘empty-handed’.
The agreement was supposed to be signed during former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s 2011 Dhaka visit but West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s stern opposition stalled it. Modi thanked all political parties and states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal for their cooperation that, he said, would “mark a fresh chapter in our ties with Bangladesh”.
“This reflects the collective will of the nation to build constructive relations with our neighbours,” the Indian prime minister wrote on his official Twitter handle.