NEW DELHI, Oct 5 - The ongoing National Register of Citizenship (NRC) process in Assam figured during bilateral dialogue between India and Bangladesh on Saturday, with India reiterating that it was a Supreme Court-mandated exercise.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the issue during the delegation level talks with India. Bangladesh wanted to know what was going on in Assam and the government�s stand on the NRC. India responded by stating that it was a court-mandated exercise and the due process of which has to be completed, sources said.
Earlier during his recent visit to the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly assured Hasina in New York that Bangladesh had nothing to worry about the NRC, since the two countries enjoyed good relations.
Meanwhile, at the end of the talks, the two sides signed a joint statement. Hasina and Modi later jointly inaugurated through video link three bilateral development partnership projects, including import of LPG from Bangladesh to Tripura.
The other projects are the Vivekananda Bhaban (students hostel) at Ramakrishna Mission, Dhaka and the Bangladesh-India Professional Skill Development Institute (BIPSDI) at the Institution of Diploma Engineers Bangladesh (IDEB), Khulna.
Further, the two countries also inked seven pacts, including MoUs for providing a coastal surveillance system, standard operating procedure (SOP) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from Feni river by India for a drinking water supply scheme at Sabroom town in Tripura, and implementation of lines of credit committed by India to Bangladesh.
The joint statement said that both sides recognised that increasing connectivity through air, water, rail and road offers mutually beneficial opportunity for enhancing economic cooperation between Bangladesh and the northeastern states of India and beyond.
The leaders welcomed the conclusion of SOP for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, particularly to and from the Northeast, which could create a win-win situation for both economies. As a further step to enhance road connectivity between both the countries, both leaders welcomed plans for commencement of Dhaka-Siliguri bus service.
Appreciating the positive impact of the border haats on the lives and livelihoods of the people living along the remote border areas, the leaders directed their officials to expedite establishment of twelve border haats which have been agreed to by both the countries.
In response to India�s request to withdraw port restrictions on products being traded through Akhaura-Agartala port, the Bangladesh side informed that the restrictions will be removed on most items of regular trade in the near future.
To facilitate better connectivity and simplify movement of passengers and goods between both the countries, both the leaders agreed to early operationalisation of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement for movement of goods and passengers between the member countries who are willing and ready; or to work towards a bilateral India-Bangladesh Motor Vehicles Agreement, as appropriate.
Both the leaders also directed the technical level committee of the Joint Rivers Commission to expeditiously exchange updated data and information, and prepare the draft framework of interim sharing agreements for the rivers � Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar, and to firm up the draft framework of interim sharing agreement of Feni river.
Modi appreciated the zero-tolerance policy of the Government of Bangladesh against terrorism and commended Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her resolute efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region. Recognising that terrorism remains one of the most significant threats to peace and stability of both the countries and the region, the two Prime Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror.
On the Rohingya issue, the two Prime Ministers agreed on the need to expedite safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of the displaced persons to their homes in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. They agreed on the need for greater efforts to be made to facilitate their return, including by improving security situation and socioeconomic conditions in Rakhine.
Hasina hailed Modi for India�s commitment to simplify travel requirements for Bangladesh nationals traveling by road or rail to India, and asked that in the spirit of reciprocity, all restrictions be lifted for Bangladeshi travellers using existing land ports. The two sides agreed that the remaining restrictions on entry and exit from land ports in India for citizens of Bangladesh travelling on valid documents would be removed in a phased manner, beginning with checkpoints at Akhaura (Tripura) and Ghojadanga (West Bengal).