NEW DELHI, Dec 11 � AGP, BJP and BPF MPs of the State opposed ratification of the India-Bangladesh land boundary protocol, calling for further clarifications on different aspects of the land swap deal. An estimated 17,000 people may have to be accepted by India.
At least 10 MPs belonging to the State turned up for a briefing organised by External Affairs Minister, Salman Khursid at his South Block office here this morning. But barring the Congress MPs, others appeared unconvinced about the land transfer deal signed during Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh�s Dhaka visit.
Those who turned up to attend the briefing included Minister of State for DoNER, Paban Singh Ghatowar, former union minister, Bijoy Krishna Handique, Naznin Faroque, Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya, Biswajeet Daimary, Bijoya Chakravarty, Ramen Deka, Rajen Gohain and Kabindra Purkayastha besides Kumar Deepak Das, among others.
The MPs were told that the implementation of the protocol would allow the two countries to focus on unlocking the full potential for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation through enhanced security, trade, transit and development. It is also expected to result in better management and coordination of the border and strengthening of India�s ability to deal with smuggling, illegal activities and other trans-border crimes.
The MEA officials made a power-point presentation to the MPs explaining the benefits of the deal. Bangladesh�s cooperation would be critical in facilitating and strengthening connectivity to the North-east, important for the development of the region.
The State�s MPs were told that Assam was a separate case and the only principle followed was to protect the State�s interest. In case of Assam, it would have meant transfer of 738.85 acres to Bangladesh.
Through negotiation, it was decided that the area to be transferred to Bangladesh would be reduced to 269.39 acres. �Consequently, only a small portion of territory in adverse possession of Bangladesh in Assam (269.39 acres) is to be retained by Bangladesh and the rest (496.46 acres) would be physically transferred to us,� it was explained.
�Thus in Assam, it was not a matter of giving land but retaining what we were set to lose,� the MPs were assured.
India would receive 2777.038 acres of land and would transfer 2267.682 acres of land to Bangladesh. However, the reality is that the area to be transferred was already in the possession of Bangladesh and India, respectively. The handing over of this area is, therefore, merely a procedural acceptance of the de facto situation on the ground.
According to sources, the unconvinced MPs sought clarifications about the proposed land transfer agreement and exchange of population.
BJP MP Bijoya Chakravarty asked some probing questions wondering whether the deal with Bangladesh was in fact a plebiscite. In response to her question, the MEA officials clarified that an estimated 17000 people living in enclaves in adverse possession may have to be accepted by India.
Chakravarty further asked whether the Indira-Mujib Pact had any sanctity because it has never been ratified by the Parliament in the last 31 years.
A senior Congress MP told this newspaper that they have conveyed to Khursid that there was a need for broader consultations with the MPs before the Bill was introduced in the Parliament. As reported the MEA has been trying to hard sell the agreement
Regarding the land in adverse possession in Assam, the MPs were told that land under adverse possession at Nayagaon in Bangladesh before the 2011 protocol (145 acres) would be transferred to India. While at Pallathal Bangladesh, which had possession of 400 acres would get about 74.54 acres after ratification of the protocol.
Meanwhile, in a Lok Sabha reply, Minister of State for Home Affairs, M Ramachandran said that the protocol to the agreement concerning the demarcation of the Land boundary between India and Bangladesh subject to ratification by the governments of the two countries shall enter into force on the date of exchange of instruments. The protocol is based on the situation on the ground taking into account the wishes of the people residing in the areas involved and was prepared in close consultation with the State Government concerned.