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Bangla land Bill back on Govt agenda

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 � The controversial Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh is back on the Centre�s agenda with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday revealing that political discussions on the Bill have begun.

In an interaction with the media on the completion of 100 days in office, the External Affairs Minister dealt with several issues, including India�s relation with its neighbours.

On extradition of ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, Swaraj confirming that substantial progress has been made and he is likely to be handed over soon. She, however, declined to give a deadline.

�Though I cannot set a deadline on the issue, it will happen soon,� the minister said. �I had raised the issue with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, when I met her in Dhaka,� she said.

The External Affairs Minister also confirmed that the issue had figured during the recently concluded Home Secretary level discussion. As reported, Bangladesh has conveyed to India that it is completing the legal formalities for extradition of Chetia to India.

Meanwhile, in what is likely to stir a controversy in Assam, Swaraj hinted that the NDA Government may press for the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Parliament.

Replying to questions, the External Affairs Minister said that the Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha was sent to the Standing Committee. Now that the Standing Committee has been constituted, I understand political discussions are under way on LBA,� she said.

The BJP along with smaller regional parties, including the AGP, had opposed the Bill and the State unit of the BJP had also registered its protest with the central leadership. The sudden change of stand on the Bill is likely to stir a hornet�s nest.

Meanwhile, the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting will get under way on September 20 and Bangladesh is likely to raise the issues of LBA and signing of the Teesta River Water Treaty.

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, AH Mahmood Ali is arriving in India on September 18 heading an 18-member delegation. The issues that are likely to figure in the meeting also include connectivity, trade and transit and commerce, among others.

Swaraj said that she had raised the issue of illegal migration with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh when she had visited Dhaka. She announced that her ministry has decided to open Passport Seva Kendras in all the States of the Northeast. �We are shortly opening a passport kendra in Meghalaya,� she added.

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