Agartala: The 41-year-old system to issue Indo- Bangla special passport for the people living in northeast and West Bengal ceased to exist following instruction by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), official sources said on Monday.
The system prevailed since 1972 after Independence of Bangladesh to ease out the movement of people between the two regions as thousands of Bengalis had migrated from the then East Pakistan following partition of the sub-continent in 1947.
It ceased to exist from Saturday, November 30 and officials said it was done on security reasons.
On January 28, MEA decided not to issue Indo-Bangla passport (IBP) to implement Revised Travel Arrangements (RTA) between the two countries.
A notification issued by the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Kolkata 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.
MEA`s decision to close the system has drawn condemnation from state Industries and Commerce Minister Jitendra Choudhury.
"When the business between the neighbouring country and the region has enhanced this would create obstructions in movement of people of the two countries and affect bilateral relations," he told reporters.
He said the Tripura government opposed MEA`s move and requested them to continue issue of the passport until the proposed Mini Passport Service Centre is set up in Agartala.
Ruling CPI-M spokesperson Gautam Das said, "Bangladesh is our neighbouring country and we have lingual and cultural affinity and of late we have strengthened our relations in various ways. So, the system should be resumed. At the same time we also demand setting up of a full fledged Passport office in the state."
Opposition Congress spokesman Ashok Sinha said there should be an alternative. "We want immediate setting up of a passport office in the state".