In a fresh boost to India-Bangladesh relations, the two countries inked an extradition treaty and a liberalised visa agreement in Dhaka. The extradition treaty, enabling deportation of wanted criminals hiding or resident in each other’s country, helps both sides. India has long expressed its desire for Bangladesh to hand over Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia.
Similarly, Dhaka has been requesting New Delhi to locate and hand over two convicted killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman believed to be hiding in India. Besides, several criminals wanted in India and Bangladesh continue to operate with impunity from each other’s territory. The extradition treaty should help process these requests as well as curb the cross-border criminal nexus.
Meanwhile, the liberalised visa regime will enhance people-to-people contact. Besides facilitating trade and business ties relaxing visa restrictions significantly reduces the scope of illegal movement of people, and thereby associated criminal activities.
The new agreement introduces multiple entry tourist and medical visas valid up to a year, five-year visas for businessmen, relaxed professional visas and other concessions for senior citizens and children. All these mark a noteworthy shift from the cumbersome visa process that was hitherto applicable.
But what is truly significant is the signal that these developments send out. Uptil now, barring trade and investment concessions there was little that Dhaka could market internally as a substantial gain from the bilateral relationship.
Coming in a poll year in Bangladesh, the extradition treaty and the visa pact should rectify this perception. An expansive vision of the relationship must see such measures as an appetiser for bigger things to come, which would transform India-Bangladesh ties and turn them into true partners.
New Delhi could do much more. The Teesta water-sharing treaty — spiked by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the last minute — and the exchange of enclaves are emotive issues in Bangladesh.
With Mamata no longer part of the UPA dispensation at the Centre, the latter must now push through the Teesta accord and ratify the enclaves swap. This in turn will make it easier for Dhaka to facilitate the much-vaunted transit deal that New Delhi seeks. Such a transit agreement, integrating the northeast with the rest of the country while also facilitating its ‘Look East’ policy, would be a huge strategic gain for India.
Source: Times of India