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Sugato Bose says LBA would have solved Indo-Bangla border issue

If there is one important legislation that the winter session of Parliament did not introduce, it is the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh despite recommendations of the standing committee on external affairs and the an all-party consensus on the Bill, rues panel member and Trinamool Congress MP, Sugato Bose.

“Trinamool MPs haven’t just disrupted parliamentary proceedings in the winter session. We have tabled a report on the LBA after our deliberations. The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013, aimed at ratifying the LBA under the Indira-Mujib pact of 1974, is about exchanging areas and people on either side of the Indo-Bangla border,” says Bose.

The agreement, which was signed between the two countries in 2011, if ratified, would have solved the Indo-Bangladesh border dispute to a great extent, says Bose. As per the provisions of the Bill, India will exchange 111 enclaves, measuring 17,160 acres, with Bangladesh and receive 51 enclaves, covering 7,110 acres.

The standing committee, headed by Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, has Trinamool Congress’ Sugata Bose and BJP’s Ananthkumar Hegde and Varun Gandhi on board. In its report presented in the Lok Sabha, the panel said the pact may result in a “modest” demographic change in border areas and that security issues arising out of the exchange should be considered by the government. Almost 51,000 people live in these enclaves. The territories involved are in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.

The LBA was signed on May 16, 1974, soon after Bangladesh was born to find a solution to the complex nature of border demarcation. While the pact was ratified by the Bangladesh government in 1974, the pact was not ratified by India as it involved cession of territory. A modest demographic change in both the countries is expected to take place after the pact comes into force, the panel said. A mechanism to check the ‘bonafides’ of Bangladeshi residents who will be extended Indian citizenship would also have to be put in place.

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