Bangladesh Islami Front India

Bangladesh Islami Front Rejects India Out Campaign

Bangladesh’s far right political party Bangladesh Islami Front has completely rejected a recent ‘India Out’ social media campaign in Bangladesh. The campaign has sharpened after Sheikh Hasina, who is seen to be close to India, won a record fourth term in the recently concluded national elections. 

S U M Abdus Samad, the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Islami Front on Tuesday hit out at the online campaign especially saying it was driven by hard-line elements who spread hate and misinformation. The Islami front is a small independent party which had put up 37 candidates in the recently concluded polls.

In an interview to ANI during his visit to New Delhi, Abdus Samad said cordial ties are crucial for both the neighbouring countries as he highlighted the increased connectivity in recent years.

“There is misinformation there since the beginning that India brought a lot of stuff from Bangladesh in 1971 and also did brutal acts. This kind of misinformation is there. So it is a must for India to show that we are not against Bangladesh, but we are friends”, said Samad.

In Bangladesh, an “India Out” campaign has sparked off on social media. Led by medical professional Pinaki Bhattacharya, who describes himself as an exiled blogger, online activist and human rights defender, the campaign called for the boycott of Indian goods following the results of the elections.

Bhattacharya’s social media followers, which number about 53000 on X and 6000 on Instagram, claim that the movement is fuelled by the Indian government’s unilateral support for Sheikh Hasina’s administration in Bangladesh. The bloggers allege that the elections in Bangladesh were neither free nor fair.

Bloggers running this campaign have been using three hashtags: #Indiaout #BoycottIndia and #BoycottIndianproducts.

A report by Digital Forensics and Research and Analytics Centre reveals that the trend of boycotts on social media does not appear natural.

“A closer examination of this trend reveals that the group that began this campaign has always been engaged in anti-India activities in Bangladesh. Several users among them, are either indirectly associated with the political parties of Bangladesh (mainly BNP), or claim to be their supporters”, said the DFRAC report.

D-FRAC is a non-partisan and independent media organisation which focuses on fact-checking and identifying hate speech.

S U M Abdus Samad reiterated that this was just misinformation being spread, and that Bangladesh has been witnessing rapid growth and development for several years under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Abdus Samad praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and said, “Since the Sheikh Hasina government came into power, there has been a growth in Bangladesh’s development. In 10-20 years, the development in Dhaka, Chittagong which we see now – if one knows about the suffering before – seeing it presently, it won’t be recognizable now”.

The Secretary General of the Bangladesh Islami Front also stressed on the continuous improvement in people to people contact and connectivity between India and Bangladesh.

“There is now train connectivity from Akhaura… Akhaura- Brahmanbaria. Trade is also happening from river fronts to Assam and Tripura. The connectivity has increased. Items are also being exported and imported to Chittagong port. There is connectivity in Ramgarh as well”, said S U M Abdus Samad.

When asked about terrorism and religious fundamentalism in South Asia and Pakistan’s role, Samad emphasized the need for an establishment in Islamabad that does not let terrorism flourish.

“Pakistan has no impact in South Asia as such. But there should be a good government there to curb terrorism. There should be a government in Pakistan, which does not let terrorism flourish in South Asia”.

He condemned terrorism and religious fundamentalism and said, “Terrorism is against Islam. Killing an innocent has no place in Islam. We are against terrorism. Someone who is a terrorist, cannot be a good Muslim”.

The message from the Islami Front leader is clear, the so called ‘India-Out’ campaign appears is confined to a small group online with support of Pro Pakistan political parties like the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party and smaller radical parties. The campaign is unlikely to affect India-Bangladesh relations which is on solid ground. (ANI)

For more details visit us:

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Hasina Vows To Work With India For Economic Progress Of Her Country

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who secured her fifth term in the recent general elections, outlined her plans for the country’s international relations and highlighted the strong bond between Bangladesh and India.

She expressed gratitude towards India, emphasising its pivotal role in supporting Bangladesh during critical moments in history.

In a press conference at her residence, Ganabhaban, in Dhaka, she responded to a question from ANI about her plans for Bangladesh’s international engagement over the next five years and the ties with India, saying, “India is a great friend of Bangladesh. They supported us in 1971 and 1975. We consider India our next-door neighbour. I really appreciate that we have a wonderful relationship with India.”

The Prime Minister stressed the historical significance of India’s support during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 and the subsequent challenges faced by the nation in 1975. She hailed the enduring friendship between the two countries and reiterated the importance of India as a key ally.

“In the next 5 years, our main focus will be on economic progress and fulfilling all the work that we have started. We have already declared our manifesto, and we follow our election manifesto whenever we prepare our budget and try to fulfil our promises. The development of the people and our country is our main aim,” Sheikh Hasina added.

She further expressed her commitment to serving the people of Bangladesh, emphasising the responsibility she feels towards the citizens who have repeatedly voted for her.

“I try to work for my people. With motherly affection, I look after my people. Our people gave me this opportunity. Time and again, people have voted for me, and that is why I am here…I am just a common person but I always feel responsible for my people. I feel this is the opportunity to serve my people and ensure them a better life,” she also said.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s aspirations for the future, Sheikh Hasina outlined the country’s goal to develop a smart population, smart government, smart economy, and smart society by 2041. She emphasised the importance of training the younger generation for the challenges of the future.

“By nature, our people are very smart, and as I mentioned, we want to train our younger generation for the future. It is our target to develop the country by 2041. Smart population, smart government, smart economy, and smart society are our main aims,” the Prime Minister affirmed.

Hasina also addressed concerns about individuals with ties to terrorist organisations or engaged in illegal activities refraining from contesting elections. She asserted that the victory in elections is a result of the people’s choices and is not influenced by those avoiding participation due to such affiliations.

Hasina was re-elected for a fifth term in the national election that was conducted on Sunday amidst the boycott by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by former PM Khaleda Zia, who is currently in jail. (ANI)

For more details visit us:

Indo-Bangladesh Infra Projects

Modi, Hasina Jointly Launch Indo-Bangladesh Infra Projects

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated three Indian-assisted development projects via video conferencing on Wednesday.

The three projects are the Akhaura- Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link, Khulna – Mongla Port Rail Line and Unit – II of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant in Rampal, Bangladesh.

The inauguration of rail and power sector projects between India and Bangladesh lay focus on strengthened ties and partnership between the two countries.

“The joint inauguration of these important projects manifests the firm friendship and collaboration between our two friendly countries. I would like to thank PM Modi for the warm hospitality during my visit in September 2023 to attend the G20 Summit,” the Bangladesh Prime Minister said

“I express my gratitude for your commitment to strengthening the bonds of friendship between our two countries, Sheikh Hasina said.

The Akhaura-Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link project has been executed under a Government of India grant assistance of Rs 392.52 crore extended to Bangladesh. The length of the rail link is 12.24 km with a 6.78 km Dual Gauge rail line in Bangladesh and 5.46 km in Tripura.

The Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line Project has been implemented under the Government of India’s concessional Line of Credit with a total project cost of USD 388.92 million. The project entails the construction of approximately 65 km of broad gauge rail route between Mongla Port and the existing rail network in Khulna. With this, Mongla, the second largest port of Bangladesh, gets connected with the broad-gauge railway network.

The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, under an Indian Concessional Financing Scheme loan of 1.6 billion US dollars, is a 1320 MW Super Thermal Power Plant located in Rampal in Khulna Division of Bangladesh. The project has been implemented by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited which is a 50:50 Joint Venture company between India’s NTPC Ltd and Bangladesh Power Development Board. These projects will strengthen connectivity and energy security in the region.

During the inauguration ceremony, Sheikh Hasina also extended greetings to Prime Minister Modi and the people of India in advance of Diwali.

“I would conclude her by conveying warm greetings in advance for the upcoming Diwali. I wish Your Excellency PM Modi and the people of India a very Happy Diwali,” the Bangladesh Prime Minister said.

Over the last decade, the Bangladesh-India Friendship Dialogue has served as a critical platform for strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations. The theme of this year’s Dialogue is ‘Fostering a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership’, BNN News reported.

Earlier this March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, a cross-border energy pipeline, built at an estimated cost of Rs 377 crore, of which the Bangladesh portion of the pipeline was built at a cost of approx. Rs 285 crore, which has been borne by the Government of India under grant assistance, read Prime Minister’s Office press release.

The Pipeline has the capacity to transport 1 Million Metric Ton Per Annum (MMTPA) of High-Speed Diesel (HSD). It will supply High-Speed Diesel initially to seven districts in northern Bangladesh.

The operation of India- Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline will put in place a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective and environment-friendly mode of transporting HSD from India to Bangladesh.

Moreover, in September, the 15th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) between India and Bangladesh was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the two nations discussed various bilateral issues, including removal of port restrictions, the groundwork for the commencement of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

The meeting was co-chaired by the Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Vipul Bansal and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh, Noor Md. Mahbubul Haq.

The Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) Meetings between India and Bangladesh are held annually to discuss key trade-related issues and “explore opportunities for economic and technical collaboration, promotion, facilitation, expansion and diversification of trade between the two countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.”

Moreover, these meetings play a crucial role in quickly resolving bilateral issues by removing trade barriers, simplifying customs procedures, improvement of infrastructure, logistics, and transit facilities to facilitate smoother cross-border trade. (ANI)

For more details visit

Mamata: Centre Did Not Allow Me To Meet Hasina

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday lambasted the BJP-led Centre for not inviting her to meet visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Addressing her party members at Netaji Indoor Stadium here, Banerjee said, “This is the first time the Prime Minister of Bangladesh came to India and did not come to Bengal despite her desire to meet me.”
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said she wanted to know why the BJP-led Centre was worried about her meeting with Hasina. Mamata said she should not speak on bilateral ties or external affairs of the country. She further alleged that the Centre attempts to prevent her from visiting foreign countries whenever she was invited.

“I do not know why they (BJP) are so angry. They also did not let me go to many places including Chicago and China to attend events. While BJP attends invitations globally, they stop us from attending the same. We ask: How long will you continue your autocracy?” Mamata said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is on a four-day visit to India to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, arrived in New Delhi on Monday.

Bangladesh is an important partner under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

Soon after arriving in New Delhi on Monday, Bangladesh Prime Minister met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and held bilateral talks to review and further strengthen the relationship between both countries at Hyderabad House, following which seven MoUs have been signed between the two countries.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during the joint press statement at Hyderabad House, expressed hope that the issue of Teesta water sharing with India will be resolved soon. “The two countries have resolved many outstanding issues and we hope that all outstanding issues, including Teesta water-sharing treaty, would be concluded at an early date,” she said in a joint statement with PM Narendra Modi.

The Teesta river dispute is an important point of bilateral talks between India and Bangladesh. Both countries signed an agreement in 2011 to share surface waters at the Farakka Barrage near their mutual border.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reservations over the Teesta water sharing with Bangladesh.

Hasina also met President Droupadi Murmu and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar in New Delhi. On Tuesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called on Hasina. (ANI))

Seven MoUs Signed Between India, Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh signed seven Memorandum of understanding (MoUs) on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina in Delhi.

India-Bangladesh delegation-level talks led by PM Modi and Hasina were commenced at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
“India-Bangladesh delegation level talks led by PM @narendramodi & PM Sheikh Hasina commence. On the agenda are issues related to connectivity, energy, water resources, trade & investment, border management & security, development partnership and regional & multilateral matters,” the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

Earlier, Hasina laid a wreath and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. She received a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Soon after the welcome, the Bangladesh Prime Minister said she feels happy to be in India every time while noting significant ties between New Delhi and Dhaka.

“India is our friend. Whenever I come here, it is a pleasure for me, especially because we always recall the contribution India has made during our liberation war. We have a friendly relationship, we are cooperating with each other,” the Bangladesh Premier said today.

ALSO READ- India-Bangladesh Ties: Shared Interests, Mutual Progress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Bangladesh PM Hasina as she arrived at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Hasina shook hands with PM Modi. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was also present. Rashtrapati Bhavan was decked up for Hasina’s welcome. She is set to meet President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar today.

Hasina began her four-day visit to India yesterday as Bangladesh is an essential partner under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

Soon after arriving in New Delhi on Monday, the Bangladesh Prime Minister met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and discussed issues of bilateral interest. She also visited Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, a prominent pilgrimage tourist attraction in Delhi.

PM Hasina was welcomed by Darshana Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles and Railways in New Delhi upon her arrival here on Monday.

Hasina’s visit is crucial and will further strengthen the multifaceted relationship between India and Bangladesh.

Soon after arriving in New Delhi on Monday, the Bangladesh Prime Minister met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and discussed issues of bilateral interest. She also visited Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, a prominent pilgrimage tourist attraction in Delhi.

PM Hasina was welcomed by Darshana Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles and Railways in New Delhi upon her arrival here on Monday.

Hasina’s visit is crucial and will further strengthen the multifaceted relationship between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Prime Minister also got clicked with the dancers who welcomed her.

This is her first visit after both nations’ bilateral relations touched their 50th year in 2021. Last year also marked the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and the 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nation.

PM Modi visited Bangladesh in 2021. Maitri Diwas celebrations were held in 20 capitals around the world including Delhi and Dhaka. (ANI)

Hasina Meets Modi At Hyderabad House

Hasina Meets Modi At Hyderabad House

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her Indian counterpart PM Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House on Tuesday.

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina laid a wreath and paid tribute at Rajghat. She received a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Soon after the welcome, Bangladesh Prime Minister said she feels happy to be in India every time while noting significant ties between New Delhi and Dhaka.

“India is our friend. Whenever I come here, it is pleasure for me, especially because we always recall the contribution India has made during our liberation war. We have a friendly relationship, we are cooperating with each other,” the Bangladeshi Prime Minister said today.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Bangladesh PM Hasina as she arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Hasina shook hands with PM Modi. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was also present.

Rashtrapati Bhavan was decked up for Hasina’s welcome. She is set to meet President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar today.

Hasina began her four-day visit to India yesterday as Bangladesh is an essential partner under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

Soon after arriving in New Delhi on Monday, Bangladesh Prime Minister met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and discussed issues of bilateral interest. She also visited Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, a prominent pilgrimage tourist attraction in Delhi.

PM Hasina was welcomed by Darshana Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles and Railways in New Delhi upon her arrival here on Monday.

Hasina’s visit is crucial and will further strengthen the multifaceted relationship between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Prime Minister also got clicked with the dancers who welcomed her. Issues, which are on top of the agenda are upgrading defence cooperation, expanding regional connectivity initiatives and establishing stability in South Asia.

This is her first visit after both nations’ bilateral relations touched their 50th year in 2021. Last year also marked the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and the 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nation.

PM Modi visited Bangladesh in 2021. Maitri Diwas celebrations were held in 20 capitals around the world including Delhi and Dhaka. Prime Ministers of both countries have met 12 times since 2015.

India and Bangladesh have sought to create a model for regional cooperation besides reviving several connectivity initiatives over the last few years. The Akhaura-Agartala rail link will reopen soon, and it is anticipated that Agartala and Chittagong will be connected by air in a few weeks.

India has been a hub of medical treatment for Bangladesh nationals. Of the 2.8 lakh visas issued in 2021, 2.3 lakh were medical visas. Bangladesh is currently India’s biggest visa operation globally. In 2019, 13.63 lakh visas were issued. (ANI)

‘Violence Against Hindus Sad But I Have Faith In Hasina Govt’

Banani Mukherjee Das (35), a PR professional from Kolkata, says India can take a lesson or two from its neighbours to make the minority communities feel safe

I have been watching the events unfolding in Bangladesh ever since the controversy erupted during Durga Puja this year beginning from Comilla. Many people have lost their lives and many a Hindu homes and businesses have been attacked. Be it any religion at the receiving end, I feel sad that people continue to fight and even hurt and kill one another over religious beliefs. More so because my family has its roots in Bangladesh. We belonged to Dhaka before my grandfather shifted to India.

It seems we haven’t learnt any lessons from the pandemic? In raging Covid days, people across the world had transcended barriers of caste, creed, religion etc. to help each other in the name of empathy and humanity. All that camaraderie looks frayed now.

There are reports that Hosain Iqbal, the main perpetrator was of an unsound mind and didn’t realise the consequences his actions would carry. But couldn’t the security have been strengthened, given it is such a huge festival, in fact the biggest festival for Bengali Hindus? And even if one person placed the Quran and then spread rumours about it, why were others so quick to believe and get enraged? The undercurrents of discomfort between communities are there in most parts of the world, they come to the surface only occasionally though.

Das says minority communities can contribute a country’s growth only when they feel safe

I must add that the spirit of syncretism is alive and thriving in Kolkata and will continue to be so. According to me, Mamata Banerjee has ensured that the seeds of hatred cannot be sown in Bengal, especially Kolkata. Like Didi, I feel that the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina or in other words, most women leaders often try to douse the fire of hatred rather than fan the flames.

People across the world are unequivocally praising Bangladesh’s handling of the whole incident, and condemnation from the civil society as a singular voice. I also like how she handled the whole Rohingya crisis which could have been avoided by another woman leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

ALSO READ: Attacks On Hindus In Bangladesh Amid Pujo Is Shocking

Recently there was this case in Pakistan also when a Hindu temple was attacked and the Pakistani government also acted swiftly. Perhaps India could learn a lesson or two about how to handle the rights of minorities and that they should not be scared of being who they are. There have been reports that Bangladesh has overtaken India in GDP per capita, and has better employment opportunities, especially for women. India is below Bangladesh in the Hunger Index as well. I believe Bangladesh has learnt its lesson that hatred doesn’t help a country and its people thrive, only a few people benefit from spreading hatred.

When minorities are respected and feel safe, they feel freer to contribute to their maximum potential and it benefits the country at large. I loved how Sheikh Hasina said that Hindus had contributed equally in Bangladesh’s freedom fight and the same goes for India’ s freedom struggle.

I hope we can sustain the lessons we have learnt from the pandemic and not give in to hatred. We should not lend weight to rumours either. If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we all survive when we help each other survive. There is always a place for love.

Indo-Bangladesh Infra Projects

Delhi-Dhaka Ties Stand The Test Of Time

The government of Bangladesh has been enjoying great cooperation from India ever since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power in January 2009.

The Indian government headed by Narendra Modi has extended wholehearted support for Bangladesh for rebuilding its economy and its infrastructural development. In return, the Sheikh Hasina government has set a unique example of cooperation and reciprocation out of which the people of both countries would reap ample benefit. The transit, trans-shipment and building regional connectivity, including the waterways, would immensely facilitate and promote trade, commerce and tourism.

A number of issues, including the most critical and complex border problem, which had been hanging for about 40 years despite the inking of a treaty by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi, was resolved in a unprecedented bills passed in the Indian Parliament with unanimous support by all members of both the houses.

In response to that genial gesture, the Sheikh Hasina government has set an example of a new reality of cooperation. India-Bangladesh relations are based mainly on the solid historic bond of social, political, economic and cultural tradition. India played a vital role and provided substantial diplomatic, economic and military support to Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971.

India was the first country to recognise Bangladesh as a sovereign and independent state and established diplomatic ties with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971.

Bangladesh and India are two countries bound by the inalienable link of history, religion, culture, language and kinship. But the relationship between the two friendly nations is based on sovereignty, equality, trust, understanding and win-win partnership that goes far beyond a strategic partnership.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the architect of Bangladesh-India relations. Both Bangabandhu and his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi were firm believers in democracy and secular ideology. Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi have further strengthened the relations Mujib and Indira forged between the next-door neighbours.

There are more than 50 bilateral institutional mechanisms between Bangladesh and India in the areas of security, trade and commerce, power and energy, transport and connectivity, science and technology, defence, riverine and maritime affairs and so on.

Bangladesh and India share 4,097 kilometres of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours. The two countries also share 54 common rivers. Bilateral trade between them has grown steadily over the last decade.

There are lots of common and bilateral issues between these two neighbours. Both countries are promise-bound to maintain these healthy relations without interrelations. Some of the issues, including regional road connectivity, cooperation in power and energy sector, land border agreement, easy visa process, Bangladesh-India rail services, are vital and significantly beneficial to both the countries.

Regional Road Connectivity

The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative is a sub-regional entity in Eastern South Asia. It meets through an official representation of member states to formulate, implement and review quadrilateral agreements across areas such as water resources management, connectivity of power, transport, and infrastructure.

In February of this year, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal agreed on the need to finalise the passenger and cargo protocols for implementation of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA).

Moreover, according to the transport ministers of the four BBIN members, 30 transport corridors will be transformed into economic corridors. This will potentially increase intraregional trade within South Asia by almost 60 per cent and with the rest of the world by over 30 per cent.

Recently, ECNEC cleared an 846-crore Bangladeshi taka project to widen the Baraiyarhat-Heyanko-Ramgarhroad under Chattogram and Khagrachhari districts, aiming to boost export and import between Bangladesh and India. The approval came from the 5th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year chaired by Sheikh Hasina.

According to a report of South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC), Bangladesh, India and Nepal conducted a trial bus service run on April 24-25 2018. Two buses left Dhaka for Kathmandu in Nepal, carrying delegates from the three countries and the Asian Development Bank. The bus service will strengthen sub-regional connectivity and help tourists and entrepreneurs, including those who travel to West Bengal for medical tourism.

Land Border Agreement

On June 6, 2015, the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement came into force, following the exchange of instruments of ratification by Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi during the latter’s state visit to Bangladesh. The agreement provides for the exchange of enclaves of Indian and Bangladesh territory, which remained unresolved following the partition in 1947.

Following the agreement, India and Bangladesh exchanged control of 162 enclaves. The move was branded as akin to the fall of the Berlin Wall by politicians.

Until August 1, about 50,000 people were living in 111 Bangladeshi and 51 Indian enclaves on the India-Bangladesh border, cut off from their parent countries. Daily chores such as visiting the market were cumbersome process because they involved crossing national boundaries.

The Land Boundary Agreement played a historic role in advancing the exchange of 111 enclaves (17,160.63 acres) from India to Bangladesh and reciprocatively the latter transferred 51 enclaves (7,110.02 acres) to India. In addition, the choice of citizenship in either country was offered by states to enclave residents.

Easy Visa Process

India-Bangladesh visa rules were being gradually relaxed and five-year visas would be granted to students, senior citizens and patients. Earlier in 2018, an agreement, Revised Travel Arrangement (RTA)-2018, stated that freedom fighters and elderly Bangladeshi nationals will get five-year multiple visas from India. Easy and hassle-free visa services have been ensured for the travellers of the two countries.

Bangladesh-India Rail Services

Transport between India and Bangladesh bears much historical and political significance for both the countries. A direct Kolkata-Agartala link running via Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is being developed by both the countries. The Maitri Express (Friendship Express) was launched to revive a railway link between Kolkata and Dhaka that had been shut 43 years ago.

The first container train arrived from India via Benapole-Petrapole rail link carrying FMCG cargo and fabrics loaded in 50 containers, and those were handed over to Bangladesh on July 26 this year. With this container train service, a huge opportunity has opened up for bilateral trade via rail. Bangladesh Railway’s freight trains, noted for bringing stones and fly ash as raw materials for cement, from India, are now used to bring onion, garlic and ginger and other essentials amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In July this year, India handed over 10 broad-gauge diesel-based locomotives to Bangladesh that have a residual life of at least 28 years. These are 3,300 horse-power locomotives that can run at a speed of 120 km/hr. These 10 locomotives are expected to increase the use of the rail sector.

Cooperation in Power and Energy Sector

Cooperation in the power and energy sector has become one of the hallmarks of India-Bangladesh relations. Bangladesh is currently importing about 660 MW of power from India. In March 2016, the two Prime Ministers inaugurated the export of power from Tripura to Bangladesh as well as the export of internet bandwidth to Tripura from Bangladesh.

Five hundred megawatts of electricity was added to Bangladesh’s national grid from India in 2018 as part of India-Bangladesh cooperation in power and energy sector. Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the power supply to Bangladesh-India Power Interconnection Grid at Bheramara of Kushtia through a videoconference. In September last year, Bangladesh signed an agreement to buy 718 megawatts of electricity from India’s Reliance Power over the next 22 years.

Earlier, the Bangladesh Prime Minister unveiled her power import plan and said, “We plan to import 9,000 MW of electricity from our neighbours by 2041 under a regional cooperation framework and I hope India will remain by our side in this endeavour.”

There are several other issues where Bangladesh and India have developed the highest level of friendship and bilateral relations. These two friendly neighbours are also great examples of greater understanding, dialogue, diplomacy and regional cooperation.

The author is the editor-in-chief of Bangladesh Post (ANI)

Bangladesh – The Next Asian Tiger

Last December, after witnessing Bangladesh’s ‘Bijoy Divas’, the day in 1971 Pakistani military had surrendered to Indian and Bangladeshi joint command, I experienced a sad, solemn moment at the home of its founding father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was assassinated along with 20 of his family members on August 15, 1975.

On that fateful night of August 14-15, a group of serving and retired Bangladesh Army officers had, in a planned conspiracy, stormed this house located in Dhanmondi Residential Area. After killing other inmates including his wife, three sons, one of them just ten, and two daughters-in-law, one of them pregnant, they confronted Mujib as he came down from the second floor bedroom.

They demanded he resign. When he refused, he was gunned down. Bullet marks bear testimony and rose petals spread where Mujib fell remind of the mayhem. Then posted at Dhaka, I had reported that coup d’etat. As memories came rushing, the passage of almost 45 years couldn’t steel my senses. I cried while signing the Visitors’ Book.

India had played a key role in 1971. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s government hosted ten million refugees. On diplomatic front, she could persuade lawmakers like the US’ Edward Kennedy, sections of the international media, artistes like violinist Yehudi Menuhin and philosophers like France’s Andre Malraux. But she could not shake the Western governments driven by Cold War bias.  

Signing the Friendship and Peace Treaty with the then Soviet Union, India, when attacked, responded with full military fury. Its confidence showed at the massive rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan that Indira addressed, with fighter jets providing air cover.

The two-week war ended with surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers. It was the swiftest and most decisive outcome of a war since the World War II. And precisely three months later, the Indian Army left, its departing columns saluting Mujib. There is no precedence.

Viewed in the backdrop of the Cold War, this was a debacle for the West. Bangladesh was not recognized for long by the West and the Islamic world. An unrepentant Henry Kissinger called Mujib “history’s favourite fool.”

That Mujib’s assassination, like Chile’s Salvadore Allende, was a conspiracy is glossed over today, post-Cold war. American journalist Lawrence Lifschultz, in his book ‘Bangladesh: An Unfinished Revolution’, writes that the “CIA station chief in Dhaka, Philip Cherry, was actively involved in the killing of the Father of the Nation—Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.” Cherry, of course, denied this. His boss, the US Ambassador, said he was unaware. But, among the many pointers, one is of Cherry’s woman colleague being friendly to Major Shariful Haq Dalim, one of the “killer majors”, who announced on the radio Mujib’s killing and the success of the coup.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh – March Towards Prosperity

Final touches to the conspiracy were given during Dhaka visit of the first Pakistani trade delegation barely ten days before it unravelled. It included a retired Pakistan Army major general, a former Intelligence chief. As per official itinerary, the delegation met Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed, then Commerce Minister. Within hours of Mujib’s assassination, Moshtaque became the President.

Moshtaque replaced the national slogan “Joy Bangla” with “Bangladesh Zindabad”. He was removed in November 1975 after he had signed the Indemnity Ordinance that blocked any punishment to the “killer majors”. Two decades later, after Hasina Government took office, the National Assembly repealed it.

In office, Mujib left a mixed record. An astute politician and agitator, his experience of and hold over governance were poor. He fought against heavy odds, even natural calamities like drought and flood during his short tenure that witnessed chaos and food shortages. Bangladesh came to be called an “international basket case.”

Daughters Hasina and Rehana escaped the massacre as they were in Germany. They were hosted for six years at a safe house in New Delhi, protected from hostile governments in Dhaka. This has been a less-known chapter of India helping in the well-being of Bangladesh.

This contemporary history, it seems, is poised to take a full circle. Pakistan and Bangladesh are set to normalize relations, almost half-a-century after they were violently snapped. A thaw is building. Imran Khan last month phoned Hasina to invite her to Islamabad.

This will be epochal for the generation of Indians that suffered while hosting ten million refugees in 1971, paying Refugee Relief Tax. Those who fought and families of those who died in the conflict that year, may find this heart-breaking.

But shorn of Indian sentiments, and that of Bangladesh’s own freedom fighters, this is also inevitable when seen from a larger prism. After all, Vietnam, last century’s most violated nation, has normalized ties with the US.

ALSO READ: Pak Bid To Court Bangladesh Will Fall Flat

Times are a-changing. The US is about to hand over Rashed Chowdhury, one of the “killer majors”, to be hanged by Dhaka, so that the latter doesn’t get too close to Beijing!

The regional context explains it better. There is definitely a nudge from China that has crossed the Himalayas. It is wooing all of South Asia, once India’s backyard, with its deep pockets and political determination.

For Pakistan, if the Indian enemy’s enemy (China) has been a long-time friend and now a saviour, then the enemy’s friend (Bangladesh) should be more so. It would be is getting back at India.

Arguably, Pakistan under Khan and his mentors, the Army, is trying to cleanse its image as militancy hotbed. Unable to sell its line to the world since India ended Kashmir’s special status, reaching out to Bangladesh serves multiple purposes: a) it can hope to be seen as a conciliator in the western eye and also please the Muslim ummah, b) it can in the long run hope to drive a wedge between Delhi and Dhaka when the latter is already peeved with the Modi Government’s Hindutva agenda and; c) it can tug at the sentiments of those that once lived as part of Pakistan and enjoyed privileges.

Although Khan renewed invitation to Hasina to visit Pakistan, it seems unlikely for now as she prepares to lead Bangladesh into 50th anniversary celebrations, already underway. She wouldn’t like to answer this query: liberation from whom? Would she invite Khan to the celebrations, the way her father had invited Z A Bhutto to Dhaka in 1974?

A rush is unlikely. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen asked the Pakistani envoy who met him that Pakistan formally apologize for 1971. Khan can’t sell this to the army, forget his people.

Undoubtedly, it is for Bangladesh to decide how to respond to Pakistan’s overtures. Separation from Pakistan was not only due to political and economic discrimination. Bengalis had shed blood to preserve their language and culture. That ethos sustains among emotion-driven Bangladeshis. It was evident while fighting the Islamist extremists.

One thing is clear. Bangladesh is not Pakistan’s neglected kid brother. Pakistani scholar Pervez Hoodbhoy last year extolled Bangladesh’s strides in numerous areas that have eluded his country.

He sees Bangladesh as the next Asian Tiger. Its population graph has reversed in Pakistan’s comparison. The health indicators are positive. “Bangladesh and Pakistan are different countries today because they perceive their national interest very differently. Bangladesh sees its future in human development and economic growth,” says Hoodbhoy.

“For Pakistan, human development comes a distant second. The bulk of national energies remain focused upon check-mating India. Relations with Afghanistan and Iran are therefore troubled; Pakistan accuses both of being excessively close to India. But the most expensive consequence of the security state mindset was the nurturing of extra state actors in the 1990s. Ultimately they had to be crushed after the APS massacre of Dec 16, 2014.” This, Hoodbhoy points out, “coincidentally, was the day Dhaka had fallen 43 years earlier.”

The writer can be reached at

Bangladesh – A Long And Firm March Towards Prosperity

Preparing to hug the half-century milestone, Bangladesh this month celebrated with aplomb its 49th Bijoy Divas or the Victory Day. On that day in 1971, over 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the Joint Command of India and Bangladeshi Mukti Bahini forces, permanently altering the world map.

That slice of history may mean many things to many people today. But to succeeding generations of those who went through political turmoil followed by ten months of organised violence, and ending in a decisive military victory, remains and shall remain forever an extraordinary moment.

The parade marking the occasion showed a confident Bangladesh. Military hardware was proudly displayed on the ground and in the sky. That combined with floats and tableaux of projects, programmes and achievements made for an impressive show.

Indian veterans led by Lt. Gen. (rtd.) R S Kadian marched and so did a contingent and band of the National Cadet Corps (NCC). It struck Muhammad Iqbal’s musical note, “Saare Jahan Se Achha,” that harks back to an undivided South Asia.

Bangladesh has assigned itself a two-year tryst by which time it will complete 50 years of independence. It wants the world to notice its rise from being dubbed the “international basket case” in initial years to become, at annual 8.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) rise, one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Putting its cheap work force to good use and with many plus points that have eluded most others among the least-developed countries (LDCs), Bangladesh has all the makings of a developing nation. Out of the food scarcity rut, it is diversifying farm and industrial output and even exporting surplus.

It aims to leap into the cyber-digital era with come-hither calls to anyone who cares to respond.  With its good debt servicing record, Bangladesh is an attractive investor’s destination. Both regional giants, China and India, are wooing and being wooed.

At independence, over 90 percent of its annual budget was foreign-financed. Two decades later, it was 70 percent and was 50 percent a decade back when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned to power.

The figure has now reversed. Ninety-two percent of the budget is being funded internally. Booming garment exports, some to marquee global brands and remittances from its 10 million working abroad contribute generously.

Bangladesh has long seen itself as a bridge between South and south-east Asia. With Cox’s Bazaar beach and Royal Bengal Tigers in the Sundarban, its tourism pitch is rising. People are warm and hospitable. But much needs done to improve infrastructure.

Many of Bangladesh’s human development indicators are better than others in the region. The economy is already the best-performing in South Asia, outdoing in proportional terms larger neighbour India and certainly, Pakistan, from which it violently separated.

Due to this past, Pakistan’s image remains negative in official and much of the popular discourse. India figures high despite the current concerns over two Indian laws with bearing on its east and northeast that encase Bangladesh. If persisted, they could have political fallout.

Sheikh Hasina cherishes India ties and has diligently worked to nurture them. For one, she has ended Indian militants’ run. She appreciates India’s contribution to Liberation and thereafter. She is trying hard to keep the current political and diplomatic discourse triggered by Indian laws, to the bare-minimum, so far. This reflects self-confidence and maturing of a nation of 165 million people.

There are other signs of a young nation with young people having the highest proportion in South Asia of women in every field. Farms and garment factories are ample proof of that. Exuberant crew members want to get photographed with passengers as part of the PR effort as more and more privately run airlines fly passengers in and out.

On political front, Hasina remains firm on punishing killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country’s foremost leader and her father in a 1975 military-led coup, and most of her family. The West is critical of the process employed and the Islamic world is unhappy. But both can’t ignore Bangladesh.   

Ethos of the Bengali language stir of the 1950s and the freedom movement remains strong in the face of religious extremists. When these forces inflicted violence in 2013, Muslims and Hindus together fought back at Dhaka’s Shahbag Avenue. This conflict remains a constant challenge.

Bangladesh is, uniquely both. An Islamic nation that, thanks to its culture, is also broadly secular. (Secularism as basic principle remains part of its Constitution). The society as a whole remains conservative, respectful of elders and displays overt religiosity.

This complex amalgamation ensures co-existence and diversity. With that comes a high measure of political stability, due principally to Hasina’s continuance in office for a third consecutive term. She looms large over the country’s horizon. Forbes’ ranks her 29th among the world’s most powerful woman.

As investors get attracted, she has forced Western governments to ignore her hard line on political opponents, especially the Jamaat-e-Islami. Her arch rival and two-term former premier, Begun Khaleda Zia, is ailing, ageing and denied bail, currently imprisoned for graft.

There are negative indicators, too, when it comes to transparency, sanitation, ease of doing business and media freedom that, as in the rest of South Asia, should hopefully improve with longer spells of political stability.

Contradictions seemingly persist and are growing with changes in other spheres. The pristine riverine scape of the boatman and his folk songs as one read in Tagore and Nazrul literature is slowly yielding place to increasing urbanization.

A provincial capital at Independence, Dhaka has become unbearably chaotic with 24×7 traffic snarls around high-rise buildings. As bridges and fly-overs struggle to make movement faster, a rapid mass transport system now under construction shall continue to add to the chaos, till it is completed.

These are but brief, broad-brush impressions, of one who has witnessed Bangladesh for over 45 years. Handicapped by inadequate knowledge, of language in particular, they are compensated, hopefully, by best wishes for bright future for its people.

The writer recently visited Bangladesh at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He can be reached at