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Move to keep Assam out of land swap deal

By Spl Correspondent
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NEW DELHI, April 16 � Confusion prevails over the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh, with the Ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs crossing swords over exclusion of Assam from the proposed Constitution amendment Bill due to be tabled in the second sitting of the Budget session.

On Wednesday, when Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told newsmen that the Constitution amendment Bill to ratify the Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement is likely to be introduced in Parliament with a major change by delinking Assam, it caught the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials by surprise.

A draft Cabinet note is being readied keeping Assam out of the purview of the pact following a decision by the government, Rijiju had announced.

The Centre�s move came after huge resentment in Assam � which goes to poll next year � over the land swap deal that has landed the State BJP in a spot. The BJP leaders, though unhappy, had refrained from speaking out openly against the pending Bill. But it has been learnt that they had pleaded with the Central leadership to keep the Bill in abeyance until after 2016 Assembly polls.

Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said that they were unaware of any move to amend the proposed Bill, which has been vetted and cleared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Sources pointed out that the Bill is an outcome of the agreement signed between India and Bangladesh in 2011, during the visit of the then Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh.

The Protocol to the 1974 LBA, signed on September 6 2011, paves the way for settlement of the outstanding land boundary issues between the two countries. This agreement will contribute to a stable and peaceful boundary and create an environment conducive to enhanced bilateral cooperation. It will result in better management and coordination of the border and strengthen our ability to deal with smuggling, illegal activities and other trans-border crimes.

The 2011 Protocol has been prepared with the full support and concurrence of the State governments concerned � Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal.

It was further pointed out as the LBA was signed between two countries, India cannot change the agreement unilaterally at least without consultations with Dhaka. Clearance by Parliament is required for ratifying the agreement.

Assam is set to lose around 268.39 acres in the final arrangement with Bangladesh under LBA, but does not get any land in return.

West Bengal is supposed to lose 1,957 acres, but get 2,398 acres, while Meghalaya will lose 41 acres and get 250 acres in return from Bangladesh.

However, according to the revised plan, the Indo-Bangladesh LBA will now involve only West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya on the Indian side.

Rijiju has informed that Assam will be �kept out for now� from the ambit of the LBA with Bangladesh. There were a lot of �protests and problems� in Assam over the LBA. �So, Assam will be kept out of the LBA for now. We are moving in that direction. This is beneficial for both countries,� Rijiju said.

Meanwhile, a senior BJP central leader told this newspaper that the Assam unit has been told about the possibility of the LBA being brought for passage in the ensuing session of the Parliament.

BJP national president Amit Shah, who is currently on a tour of the North-east and scheduled to touch down in Assam on the last leg of his tour, is likely to discuss the issue with the Assam BJP leaders, said sources.

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Move to keep Assam out of land swap deal

NEW DELHI, April 16 � Confusion prevails over the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh, with the Ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs crossing swords over exclusion of Assam from the proposed Constitution amendment Bill due to be tabled in the second sitting of the Budget session.

On Wednesday, when Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told newsmen that the Constitution amendment Bill to ratify the Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement is likely to be introduced in Parliament with a major change by delinking Assam, it caught the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials by surprise.

A draft Cabinet note is being readied keeping Assam out of the purview of the pact following a decision by the government, Rijiju had announced.

The Centre�s move came after huge resentment in Assam � which goes to poll next year � over the land swap deal that has landed the State BJP in a spot. The BJP leaders, though unhappy, had refrained from speaking out openly against the pending Bill. But it has been learnt that they had pleaded with the Central leadership to keep the Bill in abeyance until after 2016 Assembly polls.

Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said that they were unaware of any move to amend the proposed Bill, which has been vetted and cleared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Sources pointed out that the Bill is an outcome of the agreement signed between India and Bangladesh in 2011, during the visit of the then Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh.

The Protocol to the 1974 LBA, signed on September 6 2011, paves the way for settlement of the outstanding land boundary issues between the two countries. This agreement will contribute to a stable and peaceful boundary and create an environment conducive to enhanced bilateral cooperation. It will result in better management and coordination of the border and strengthen our ability to deal with smuggling, illegal activities and other trans-border crimes.

The 2011 Protocol has been prepared with the full support and concurrence of the State governments concerned � Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal.

It was further pointed out as the LBA was signed between two countries, India cannot change the agreement unilaterally at least without consultations with Dhaka. Clearance by Parliament is required for ratifying the agreement.

Assam is set to lose around 268.39 acres in the final arrangement with Bangladesh under LBA, but does not get any land in return.

West Bengal is supposed to lose 1,957 acres, but get 2,398 acres, while Meghalaya will lose 41 acres and get 250 acres in return from Bangladesh.

However, according to the revised plan, the Indo-Bangladesh LBA will now involve only West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya on the Indian side.

Rijiju has informed that Assam will be �kept out for now� from the ambit of the LBA with Bangladesh. There were a lot of �protests and problems� in Assam over the LBA. �So, Assam will be kept out of the LBA for now. We are moving in that direction. This is beneficial for both countries,� Rijiju said.

Meanwhile, a senior BJP central leader told this newspaper that the Assam unit has been told about the possibility of the LBA being brought for passage in the ensuing session of the Parliament.

BJP national president Amit Shah, who is currently on a tour of the North-east and scheduled to touch down in Assam on the last leg of his tour, is likely to discuss the issue with the Assam BJP leaders, said sources.