Friday, November 12, 2010

India-BD news updates (November 12, 2010)

1) India-BD boundary issues: Linky1 and Linky2

Bangladesh and India yesterday agreed that exchange of enclaves and territories in adverse possession between the two neighbours should be done in a "pragmatic manner in tune with ground realities". In a significant move aimed at resolving the long-pending boundary dispute, India and Bangladesh have agreed to take up a joint survey of Adverse Possession of Land (APLs) along Meghalaya – Bangladesh border, on a priority basis. On the contentious issue of territories under Adverse Possession, both sides reaffirmed that pending resolution of outstanding boundary issues, there should be no disturbance of the status quo and peaceful conditions shall be maintained in the border regions, as stipulated in Article 3 of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).

Both sides agreed to work constructively towards resolving differences to demarcate the land boundary in all three undemarcated segments including Daikhata-56, Lathitilla-Dumabari and Muhuri River (Belonia). The two sides agreed that there was a need to find a pragmatic solution to the issue keeping in mind the spirit of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) and also in the light of ground realities, the joint statement said.
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The Indian delegation was led by TS Tirumurti, joint secretary to the external affairs ministry, while the Bangladesh delegation was led by Dr Kamal Uddin Ahmed, joint secretary (political) to the home ministry. The meeting was the first in five years. The joint working group was set up in December 2000 to resolve matters relating to demarcation of the undemarcated boundary between India and Bangladesh, and other outstanding issues pertaining to territories in adverse possession, enclaves, and also erection of permanent boundary pillars where necessary on the demarcated boundary. The group had its first meeting in July 2001. The latest meeting was a follow-up of the visit by the Bangladesh prime minister to India in January this year, when she and her Indian counterpart had agreed to comprehensively address all outstanding issues keeping in view the spirit of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement.

2) ULFA arms haul case: Linky1 and Linky2
Who else could the higher authorities be, other than the usual higher authority?

In a sensational disclosure, the outlawed ULFA and the embassy of a South Asian country are said to have paid Rs 450 crore to higher-ups of the BNP-led four-party alliance government and intelligence agencies for safe transshipment of 10 truckloads of arms seized in Chittagong in 2004.

According to media reports in Bangladesh, detained former Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar, who is on a five-day remand, gave the information during interrogation at the Malibagh head office of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Babar though denied receiving any share of the amount, the reports quoting officials of the CID that is probing the cases, said. The former state minister claimed he knew everything but could not interfere in the matter as it was at the hands of “higher authorities.” Babar had to execute their orders, said the CID official quoting him. “Babar remained silent when he was asked about the higher authorities,” said the intelligence official.
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Ten truckloads of submachine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, other firearms and bullets were seized at the Karnaphuli coast in Chittagong April 2, 2004. The cache, detected by guards at a warehouse where it was hidden, was meant for the ULFA that was then staging violent attacks from Bangladeshi soil, media reports on the ongoing trial in a Chittagong court have said. The arms, purchased from China, were brought in a ship owned by a company belonging to Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury, a lawmaker and senior leader of Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

3) Meanwhile Dipu Moni entered Tripura through the Akhaura border and this is what she did: Linky

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, who laid the foundation of a Liberation War memorial and a commemorative park here, said yesterday that the establishment would be a source of inspiration for the freedom lovers of the world. “On full completion of the project, this tiny Chottakhola will be a place of inspiration for the freedom loving people of the world,” she said while addressing a huge gathering at Chottakhola, a border village at Rajanagar under Belonia of South Tripura. Chottakhola, 130 kilometres from Tripura's capital Agartala, had functioned as one of the 11 warfront-camps in Tripura in 1971. The village took a festive look yesterday as people from near and far gathered to witness the foundation laying ceremony.

Located near the international border, the Maitree Udyan is a park being built at Chottakhola as a tribute to Indian soldiers and Bangladeshi freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives during the Liberation War. A verdant 20 hectare-land dotted with seven hillocks and a lake will house a memorial and a museum to commemorate Indian soldiers and Mukti Bahini. The park, being built by Tripura government, will also have a statue of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the country's independence. The friendship park is near the Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary and a 500-year-old mosque, bordering Bangladesh. Talking to The Daily Star, Prof Mesbah Kamal of Dhaka University History department, who has been involved with the planning of the park and memorial, said the local people discovered a mosque on a hillock in the dense forest during the Babri Mosque row in 1992. He said the mosque has a similarity with the Babri Mosque and since December 6, 1992 people of Tripura have been arranging solidarity rally every year to maintain communal harmony.

Prof Mesbah Kamal said a museum exhibiting arms and ammunition, war materials, rare photographs, newspapers and war-time literature would also be set up in the area, which has already turned into a memorial and ecological conservation zone, about 130 km south of Agartala. Tripura Minister Jitendra Chaudhury told the gathering the memorial park was a long cherished demand of Tripura people as they were actively involved in the Liberation War. They provided all-out support to freedom fighters and sheltered around 1.6 million people, a number exceeding the then population of the state. The commemorative park, which will have a big tower from which parts of Noakhali and Feni would be visible, would cost around Rs 2.30 crore and would be funded by the Tripura state government.

4) But this is what she said: Linky

Visiting Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni today said her country would be open to the idea of having an extradition treaty with India if the need arose. “As it is, we have been co-operating with each other in tackling various issues, and there has so far been no hitch on any matter. But if at any stage, the need arises, we will have no objection in signing such a treaty,” she said.
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“During the past many years, issues of 3/4 enclaves have been resolved, and I am convinced, by the spirit of the joint communiqué issued after our Prime Minister’s visit to India and bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, all other pending issues will also be resolved,” Moni said.
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She conceded that China was planning to build a major road connecting Kunming in China with Chittagong in Bangladesh across Myanmar. “The matter was discussed and finalised during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to China but such things take time. As yet, we don’t know when the work will begin and when it will end,” she said. Moni denied reports attributed to her and the Bangladesh government that China would upgrade the Chittagong port. “This is not correct. What is correct is that we are planning a deep-sea port at Sondiya island in the Bay of Bengal, and have sought China’s help. The Chinese have also agreed in principle to help in the matter. The port will be accessible to all our neighbours — India, Nepal and Bhutan. In fact, we want our neighbours to use this port,” she said.

5) Lafarge sells cement to BD and the Indian Solicitor General cited security reasons and pleaded with the Supreme Court to not close the plant in Meghalaya. Now, some more action with the Jairam Ramesh ministry into the picture. Linky

Nearly 500 women from Nongkhlieh elaka today petitioned Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma against the proposal of Lafarge India Eastern Ltd to set up a 1.1-million tonne cement plant in the Jaintia Hills.
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The women, therefore, requested the chief minister to put an end to this transgression by outright rejection and cancellation of any application by Lafarge to set up its cement plant, mining proposals and the transfer of their land. Yesterday, a Church leader had petitioned the Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh not to issue environmental clearance to Lafarge.

6) Someone has to tell it point blank, but the other party has to be willing to listen: Linky

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar's observations on the huge prospect of trade and commerce that his and other northeastern states of India hold for Bangladesh made at a conference organised by Indian business and industry leaders in Agartala are highly encouraging for Bangladesh and its business community. That Bangladesh can immensely benefit from expanded trade relations with its closest neighbour need not be overemphasised. As the Indian business leaders pointed out at the conference, there is a huge market worth USD 20 billion for Bangladesh in the north-eastern Indian states alone. Oddly though, in spite of this enormous volume of business for Bangladesh to make from those outlying states of India, it is still trailing behind India with a large trade gap of over USD 3 billion.
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But we are hopeful that the Indian authorities are increasingly awakening to the fact that freer trade relations with Bangladesh is in the interest of both the countries. On this score, for enabling further expansion of trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India, the present level of connectivity has to be taken to greater heights. To this end, Bangladesh has already opened up the prospect of using its two seaports Chittagong and Mongla for India and two other South Asian states Nepal and Bhutan. It is hoped the region as a whole would seize the opportunity and turn these two ports as a hub of regional trade and commerce.

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