The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Fence and enclaves sore points

Calcutta, Sept. 19: India and Bangladesh may have agreed in principle to work together but they differed on some key issues during the recently-concluded summit in Dhaka.

According to official sources, the issues where conflict remains pertain to the exchange of enclaves, fencing of the border from the Zero Point and harbouring of insurgent groups.

But state home secretary Amit Kiran Deb maintained that the two countries had positive talks and agreed to work jointly. He was in the team to Dhaka led by Union home secretary Dhirendra Singh.

'It will need long and sustained dialogues to iron out all the differences,' Deb said.

The sources, however, said that both countries had evolved a working group to deal with demarcation of boundary, enclaves and land in adverse position according to an agreement in 1974, but work did not proceed much since then.

When the topic came up at the Dhaka summit, Bangladesh sought speedy disposal of the enclaves exchange but India argued that it could not be undertaken in haste as it involved population exchange.

India has about 111 enclaves in Bangladesh, which in turn has about 115 in Indian territory. 'People living in these zones will have to be given the option of whether they want to be annexed with that particular country. Citizenship cannot be forced on them,' an official said.

This will also involve problems like land distribution because the population annexed with the particular country will have to be accommodated there.

Bangladesh also reportedly opposed India's policy on the barbed-wire fence erected along the border to check infiltration.

The fence, earlier erected 150 yards from the border, had divided several households in Cooch Behar and South Dinajpur across the barbed wire.

The Union home ministry later issued a directive that the fencing be constructed from the Zero Point. But Bangladesh is said to be unwilling to undertake any construction within 150 m from the Zero Point.

Bangladesh denied harbouring the ISI and insurgent groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) despite Deb's presentation on some of the rebels' interrogation. The insurgents had revealed how they were sheltered and trained in Bangladesh and received assistance from various quarters during their stay there.

Email This Page