India-Bangladesh relations: Time to move beyond connectivity
Sudha Ramachandran/ The Diplomat
A new railway link highlights the warm relations between the two countries; New Delhi should not let them get out of domestic politics.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina recently launched A railway link Between the two countries. The 10.5 km long railway line connects Haldibari in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal to Chilhati in Bangladesh.
The Haldibari-Chilhati railway line was one of several overland cross-border connections sacked after the 1965 India – Pakistan war. Bangladesh was then East Pakistan.
But even after separating from Pakistan to emerge as an independent country in 1971, cross-border relations remained severed, sparking a deeply troubled bilateral relationship between India and Bangladesh in the period between 1975 and 1996. Reflection. It was only after the Awami League that Bangladesh came to power in 1996 that bilateral relations began to improve and Indian and Bangladeshi governments began to restore road and rail connectivity.
In 1999, a bus service Connecting Kolkata to Dhaka Was inaugurated. Another connection Dhaka with Agartala Immediately in the Northeast of India.
In 2008, an old railway line between Kolkata and Dhaka, which was suspended for 43 years, was restored. This paved the way for the inauguration Maitri (Friendship) Express Between the two countries. Other railway lines, Which includes Petrapole (India) and Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) and Darshan (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) and Rohanpur (Bangladesh), and Radhikapur (India) and Birol (Bangladesh).
The Haldibari-Chilhati railway line is the latest trans-border link to be revived. More railway links are to be established this year.
India and Bangladesh share historical, civilizational and cultural ties; Bengali, which is spoken in both countries, has a strong bond. Bilateral relations have generally been warm, especially when the Awami League has been in power in Bangladesh.
Relations have improved a lot since he took over the reins of the Awami League in 2009. Dhaka has worked vigorously to address India’s concerns regarding anti-India terrorist groups seeking refuge on Bangladeshi soil. However, India has failed to address Bangladesh’s concerns over river water sharing; There is an agreement on the sharing of water of the Teesta River. Although the question of illegal immigration from Bangladesh to India has blunted bilateral relations for decades, recent Indian policies have caused considerable uneasiness in Dhaka.
The Modi government’s plan to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has raised fears over an imminent Exodus Bengali speaking people from Assam to Bangladesh. In addition to this Harassing hasina governmentIndian Home Minister Amit Shah’s derogatory statement to Bangladeshi immigrantsTermiteis angry Bangladeshis.
During the recent India-Bangladesh virtual summit, Modi described Bangladesh as “A” Main column “ India’s “neighborhood first” policy. From the beginning of his prime ministerial term, it was his “special priority” to strengthen India’s relations with Bangladesh, he said.
Officials say the Haldibari-Chilhati rail route will boost bilateral travel and trade relations and improve people-to-people contact.
But the pursuit of harmful policies for Bangladesh and derogatory remarks about Bangladeshis by Indian ministers have severely curtailed public goodwill for India in Bangladesh. New Delhi will need to do more than just provide road and rail routes to improve people-to-people contact between India and Bangladesh.