New Delhi, June 22: India and Bangladesh today came out with a joint statement despite differences on the fencing issue and Dhaka’s reluctance to get into a formal arrangement to share information on the arrest of Northeast insurgents on its soil.
The statement, which was almost ready after yesterday’s talks between foreign secretary Shyam Saran and his Bangladesh counterpart Hemayetuddin, was held up as officials debated the text of the final document for several hours.
With the political leaderships in Delhi and Dhaka keen to break the bilateral impasse, it was finally issued in the evening after both agreed to accommodate each other’s sensitivities.
India maintained it would continue fencing along the border taking care of the security concerns of both countries. But Bangladesh insisted this was tantamount to violating the 1975 agreement that no defensive structures would be built within 150 yards of the zero line.
In the end, both sides agreed to put on record their respective positions while maintaining the differences would not come in the way of development along the border.
“The Indian side emphasised its requirement for border fencing within and up to 150 yards of the international border. Bangladesh side stressed on the need to conform to the 1975 border guidelines and avoid any action that may impact adversely on the peace and stability in the border areas' Both sides agreed to facilitate repair and development works along the India-Bangladesh border,” the statement said.
But Hemayetuddin, who had a long meeting with Union home minister Shivraj Patil today, made it clear Dhaka was totally against the fencing. They also discussed the presence of Northeast insurgents and their camps in Bangladesh.
At yesterday’s talks between the foreign secretaries, Dhaka had said it was taking action against Northeast insurgent groups and criminals on its soil. It had also assured India it would not allow its territory to be used by any group or individuals for anti-Indian activities.
Satisfied with this, India asked Bangladesh to formally agree to an arrangement to share information on insurgents arrested by its authorities.
This would have come in handy in the case of Ulfa leader Anup Chetia. His jail term ended this February but India has not been informed about his whereabouts since. Nor has Dhaka made any move to hand him over to Delhi.
“The Indian side stressed the importance of continued action, consular access and the need for regular exchange of information'. the Bangladesh side also stressed the need for action against Bangladeshi miscreants and providing consular access,” the statement said.