Millennium Post

Historic Mamata visit ends Teesta acrimony

West Bengal and Bangladesh are inching closer to resolving all vexed issues, courtesy Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is visiting Dhaka. A historic breakthrough has been achieved on the contentious enclave transfer issue while Mamata on Saturday assured Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of a “positive role” in resolving the outstanding Teesta River issue to protect interests of both sides.

Banerjee has assured Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that Indian Parliament will soon ratify the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) to resolve the long pending enclave issue. On the Teesta River issue, Dhaka is happy with her positive overtures, which they hope will take concrete shape when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Bangladesh in March.

“India and Bangladesh have two issues. One was land boundary. We have solved the issue and the other, Teesta water issue will be solved soon. People of both countries will work together. Let us think about solutions instead of problems. When one problem has been solved, the other one will be solved too, I believe that. We pray that both Bengals keep prospering. Jai Hind. Joy Bangla,” she said.

Hasina’s media adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said: “Mamata Banerjee assured her (Hasina) of playing a positive role on the issue of water sharing (Teesta River) and protecting the interests of Bangladesh and India.” Banerjee, after meeting Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Gono Bhaban, said: “Have trust in me. Her (Sheikh Hasina) warmth and grace made me emotional. The visit was constructive, positive and may I say, historic!.”

Banerjee told Hasina that she had already done her part in the procedure of LBA ratification for amending the Indian Constitution in line with the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement signed between Bangladesh’s first President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

“I hope the coming Lok Sabha session which starts on 23rd of the current month will ratify the treaty,” Chowdhury quoted Banerjee as saying. Dhaka has rolled out the red carpet for Banerjee, expecting her visit to expedite settlement of crucial pending issues of Teesta and LBA since West Bengal has a stake.

India has said it is keen to reach an “internal consensus” on the Teesta deal while the bill is now pending in Parliament for ratifying the LBA with New Delhi assuring Dhaka of signing the deal soon after ensuring consensus of all stakeholders.

Earlier in the day, along with her delegates, Banerjee paid homage to the language martyrs by placing a wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar on the occasion of “Amar Ekushey” (International Mother Language Day or Bhasha Divas) and to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Dhanmandi.
“I am deeply overwhelmed  to experience this historic moment. It is one of the most memorable moments in my life to be present at Shaheed Minar, Dhaka to pay my homage on International Mother Language Day,” she tweeted, while adding, “Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina ji is my favourite didi (elder sister). I have invited her to West Bengal.” Banerjee will be reaching Kolkata tonight.

Banerjee’s Dhaka visit is being regarded as a significant diplomatic move to improve ties with Bangladesh over Teesta and LBA. She was on a three day official tour as a Chief Guest to attend “Bhasha Divas” commemorated every year on February 21. Under LBA, India will have to transfer 111 enclaves (land with people belonging to Bangladesh but encircled by Indian Territory) measuring 17, 160.63 acres to Bangladesh and will receive from Bangladesh 51 enclaves measuring 7, 110.2 acres.

In addition, India will acquire 2777.038 acres adverse possession areas and transfer 2267.682 acres adverse possession areas to Bangladesh. On Sunday, Banerjee is going to Bihar to attend Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar’s swearing-in-ceremony as the next Chief Minister of the state. “Nitish ji has invited me to his oath ceremony on Sunday. Yes, I am attending. Looking forward,” she had tweeted from Dhaka.
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