Agartala: The Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Kolkata under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has decided not to issue fresh India-Bangladesh Passports (IBP) after November 30, an official said here on Wednesday.
Existed for 41 years, the IBPs already issued would remain valid till the expiry of their duration.
"After November 15 no fresh application for the IBP would be accepted and no fresh IBP would be issued after November 30," a top Tripura government official told a news agency.
"As per the Revised Travel Arrangements (RTA) between India and Bangladesh signed on January 28 this year, it has been decided by the MEA to discontinue issuance of IBP with effect from November 30," the official said, quoting a notification of the RPO.
He added that the RPO has already informed all the state governments concerned that no IBPs would be issued after November 30.
Following an India-Bangladesh agreement, the IBP was introduced as a special travel document in August 1972 to facilitate travel between the two countries.
During the past over four decades, the MEA delegated powers to the state governments of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal bordering Bangladesh to issue IBPs to their residents willing to visit Bangladesh only.
The RPO notification said: "In order to implement the RTA between the two countries and to phase out issuance of the IBP, some course of action has been approved by the Indian government for execution. However, IBPs already issued would remain valid till the expiry of their period."
"No new application for IBP would be accepted by any of the eight state governments concerned after November 15 and all applications received on or before that date should be processed and IBPs issued expeditiously," it stated.
The official said that Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is likely to take up the matter with the MEA to continue the IBP until the setting up of the proposed mini passport seva kendra (passport service centre) in Agartala.
A mini passport seva kendra under the RPO, Kolkata, would be set up in Agartala for which the Tripura government has already allotted accommodation.
"The MEA had pointed out that the security features of the IBPs are not foolproof and it is being forged to do unlawful purposes. Even there are instances that the forged IBPs have been used by the underground elements," an official of the Regional Passport Office in Kolkata told a news agencty.
A senior police official said here that the Bangladeshi citizens through false documents managed the IBPs to do nefarious work on both sides of the border.
Citizens of northeastern region, especially Bengali-speaking people, frequently visit Bangladesh as they have relatives there.
Many people in the region were born in Bangladesh and subsequently migrated to India during the turbulent times of 1971, when an estimated two crore people escaped the erstwhile East Pakistan and took shelter in Indian states as refugees.
Many people of Tripura and other northeastern states have been going to Kolkata and rest of India through Bangladesh, which is a shorter route than by mainland.