‘India, Bangladesh settled border disputes peacefully’

Agartala, Dec 31 (IANS) Bangladesh has settled all its border disputes with India peacefully and improved ties with its closest neighbour, Dipu Moni, the country’s former Foreign Minister, said here.

“Though we had sought intervention of the international court to settle the dispute over the ocean border between India and Bangladesh, it was settled peacefully a few years back without harming the friendship,” Moni said on Friday.

“India and Bangladesh mutually and peacefully settled land border disputes, exchanged long pending enclaves and resolved various other issues,” she said.

As part of the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement in 1974 and its 2011 Protocol, India gave away to Bangladesh 110 of the 111 enclaves and received 51 enclaves on July 31 midnight last year.

Moni, currently the president of the parliamentary board on foreign affairs and member of Bangladesh parliament, said the common enemies of the two neighbours were poverty and terrorism.

“Despite domestic criticism, Bangladesh has helped India to transport turbines and heavy machinery through its territories to set up a giant power project in Tripura by government owned ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation). We have also helped India to ferry foodgrain and transport fuel to northeast states using Bangladeshi ports and roads.”

Moni said Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has progressed a lot and its development has been acclaimed by the international community.

The 51-year-old Awami League leader said that in Bangladesh all basic services were available at the people’s doorstep.

Praising Tripura and India’s contribution to the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, she said that Agartala was the war capital of the nine-month-long war that created a sovereign Bangladesh from Pakistan.

“Bangladesh would never forget the sacrifice of lives of 18,000 Indian Army soldiers during the war,” she said, adding that during the war, 10 million men, women and children from the then East Pakistan took shelter in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.

“Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi toured many countries to garner support from the international community for the cause of Bangladesh.”

“Over 1,600,000 Bangladeshis — a number larger than the state’s then total population of 1,500,000 — had taken shelter in Tripura alone,” she said.

The ‘Mukti Juddha’ (Liberation War), as it is called in Bangladesh, later turned into a full-scale India-Pakistan war, leading to the surrender of nearly 93,000 Pakistani soldiers in Dhaka on December 16, 1971.

India was the first nation to recognise Bangladesh as a sovereign country.

Operation Cactus Lily was launched on December 3, 1971 by the Indian Army in East Pakistan.

It was a brilliantly planned and meticulously executed military operation, culminating in the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops in East Pakistan.

The operation is marked as one of the finest military operations in the history of the Indian Army.

–IANS

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