Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has laid emphasis on concluding the much-talked about Teesta water sharing agreement which was supposed to be signed about eight years ago, and putting a stop to the killing of Bangladeshis along the borders. At his first meeting with newly-appointed Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday, on the sidelines of the 5th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit, in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, the Bangladesh foreign minister brought to the notice of his counterpart, the need to put an end to the killings of Bangladeshi civilians along the border between the two countries, said a Foreign Ministry press release yesterday (Saturday).
A 15-year interim agreement on the water sharing of the international river was scheduled to be inked on September 5, 2011, during theIndian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka. But this did not happen due to last minute objections from the West Bengal Chief Minister. Despite repeated assurances from the Indian side, including from the former and incumbent Prime Ministers, there has not been any visible development in about the last eight years.
In April, 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, told a joint press conference with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina that the Teesta water sharing deal would be concluded during the tenure of his and Sheikh Hasina’s term in office. That too has not yet materialized. Officials concerned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Water Resources do not have any idea as to when this deal, a major irritant to the Dhaka-Delhi relationship, will be signed.
The killing of Bangladeshi civilians by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), another significant bone of contention in the ties between the two neighbours, has been continuing since the Independence of Bangladesh. Though it has gone down notably over very recent years, the killings have not completely stopped, as demanded by Bangladesh and as pledged by India. Bangladesh has long been calling for bringing the killings along the border to zero. At the meeting with Jaishankar, Dr Momen also asked for active Indian support and cooperation in resolving the Rohingya crisis, says the release.
The Indian External Affairs Minister assured there would be the necessary cooperation in this regard, saying that the government of Narendra Modi has demonstrated mature sensitivity in improving relations with its neighbours. Expressing satisfaction with the current state of relationship between Bangladesh and India, the ministers of India and Bangladesh expressed hope the relationship would grow further in the future. Jaishankar noted that as the gateway to India’s look east economic diplomacy, Bangladesh has unique potential and geopolitical advantage, saying that the strengthening of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) will be beneficial for both Dhaka and Delhi. India always places great emphasis on regional connectivity, he added.