Dhaka, Delhi seal LBA deal ending prolonged enclave disputes

DHAKA : Bangladesh and India on Saturday signed and exchanged the historic instruments of ratification on Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) formalising the long-pending issue between the two countries, reports UNB.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and Indian External Affairs Ministry Secretary Dr S Jaishankar exchanged the document on behalf of their respective countries.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the exchange of ratification instruments.
“History is made as the Instruments of Ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement are exchanged,” Indian Prime Minister’s Office tweeted after the exchange ceremony.
The Secretaries also exchanged original instruments of ratification signed by the Bangladesh Prime and Indian President and letter of modalities for implementation of the LBA of 1974 and the protocol 2011.
Now that the agreement and protocol would soon be implemented and it is Bangladesh’s expectation that the quality of life of some 51,000 people in the enclaves will improved significantly.
All the inhabitants of the 162 enclaves can now look forward to having national identity and enjoy the same benefits and services as others living outside the enclaves.
Right after independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman undertook the initiative to permanently settle the border issues in a just and peaceful manner. As a result, the historic Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) was signed in 1974 between Bangabandhu and Indira Gandhi.
The Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad gave effect to the agreement by amending certain provisions of the Bangladesh Constitution through the Third Constitutional Amendment of 1974. In 2011, a protocol was signed to further streamline the issues related to implementation of demarcation.
Earlier this month, the people of the two countries saw the live telecast of the proceedings in the Indian Parliament when the bill for amending the constitution was placed for ratifying the LBA. The unanimous adoption of the bill in Lok Shabha and Rajya Shabha is a manifestation of the goodwill and love of the people of India for the people of Bangladesh, according to Foreign Ministry here.
Bangladesh was deeply touched by the sentiments expressed by some of the parliamentarians who became emotional while expressing their support for the bill and reminiscing their association with the 1971 War of Liberation.
At the time of partition in 1947, the boundary drawn created a humanitarian crisis. The issue of enclaves resulted in serious administrative complications.
The people living in enclaves practically could not enjoy the fruits of independence. Till date, they remain deprived of the full legal rights as citizens of either country and do not have full access to basic amenities.
They are living a miserable life as practically stateless persons. With the ratification of LBA, both countries would now be able to free the inhabitants of enclaves from poverty and deprivation and give them what they deserve as citizens of either country. Resolution of the land boundary issue will also have positive impacts on some other related areas such as border management.
Both countries are now formulating a work plan to deal with various issues such as change of citizenship of the people living in enclaves, their rehabilitation, ownership of land, acceptability of documents, voter registration, civic facilities, infra-structural development and so on.