Dhaka: Ahead of summit level talks with Bangladesh, India has suggested re-drawing of the international boundary "in a small way" to end daily hassles to thousands of people living in border areas.
Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty mooted the idea Sunday, prior to his departure to take up an ambassadorial posting in Thailand. It’s a subject that could be taken up when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina meets her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on January 11.
According to official sources here, there is a stretch of 6.5 km unmarked border, and some 110 enclaves are inside Bangladesh while 55 are in Indian territory. Enclaves are small territories that belong to Bangladesh but are located within India and vice versa.
In an interview to The Daily Star newspaper published Sunday, Chakravarty said the people who live in enclaves have to cross international border every day for cultivation and they need to follow the official formalities as well as clearance from the Bangladesh Rifles and India`s Border Security Force.
Though the people are allowed to cross the border for cultivation, this everyday problem can be resolved through exchange of enclaves, which would require redrawing the international border in a small way, he opined.
The international border was demarcated in 1947 between India and then East Pakistan by the British through what was called the Radcliff Award, named after the official who drew the boundaries partitioning India on the basis of Hindu and Muslim majority.
Chakravarty said during joint visits of Indian and Bangladesh officials in the past, it was found that people of the enclaves do not want to leave the land in which they have settled, worked and have farms.
"These pieces of land are all contiguous, so there is a possibility that we redraw the international border and finish this problem once and for all. Of course we will need a joint survey, which we will start soon after the summit meeting of the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh," he stated.
The Indian diplomat said: "We have only 6.2 km of undemarcated border when we have settled dispute over 4,000 km. My suggestion is, let us draw the line along the places where status quo is imposed."
Asked whether there is any progress made in this regard, Chakravarty said the issues have been discussed at the highest level and by and large there are agreements in principle.
"The unmarked land and enclaves are not in a position of great strategic importance, so it is doable," he was quoted as saying.