New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate a historical rail link between both countries, which has now been upgraded, during the summit meeting on 17 December, according to Vikram Doraiswami, the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh.
The rail link that connects Haldibari in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal with Bangladesh’s Chilahati will be one of the key connectivity projects between both countries. It had been made defunct during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan.
“The Chilahati-Haldibari rail link will be upgraded; upgradation of this rail link will be inaugurated… Far more areas of cooperation are possible if we work in a bottom-up way, which is to say if we look at a micro level where we can address them much faster,” Doraiswami said at an event organised by Asian Confluence, a think-tank.
“For instance, on the issue of connectivity, at the macro level it always seems to be an India want and a Bangladesh give but actually if you break that down, the movement of goods and services or the services to move goods into NE India is a Bangladesh give and a Bangladesh get as much as it is an India get,” he added.
The work on renovating the rail link, which will open after a gap of 55 years, was completed in January this year. Haldibari is located about 4.5 km from the international border. Apart from West Bengal, the new route passes through Jharkhand and Bihar.
‘Bangladesh can benefit from rising incomes in Northeast’
The Indian envoy also said that “Bangladesh can benefit from rising incomes in the northeastern states and northeastern states can benefit from rising incomes in Bangladesh” if connectivity and people-to-people linkages are strengthened.
“The summit is an opportunity for us to look at the relationship and to have our leadership recognise the importance that we continue to attach to our partnership to see how even through the Covid pandemic we have found ways of continuing to work together,” Doraiswami said.
“We have agreed to utilise railways to deal with logistics constraints on our most important border crossing in Petrapole-Benapole, looking at ways in which BD and India can cooperate together in health services and solutions,” he added.
‘1971 bedrock of India-Bangladesh ties’
India and Bangladesh will jointly mark the 50th anniversary of the Bangladesh Liberation War, also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence. Bangladesh marks 16 December as ‘Victory Day.’
“We will also be looking at what we can do to mark our common history, which stems from 1971. We need to be clear in our own minds, in India and in BD, that the foundational bedrock for this relationship is 1971 because it establishes a framework that BD itself uses to consider its own identity and it is that identity with which we have worked during the liberation struggle, it is that identity that is central to what a better future for South Asia may look like,” Doraiswami said.
He also said that both leaders will discuss the importance of this aspect of their history and will look at strengthening the partnership.
He added that the summit will reflect how important “Bangladesh is, was and will always be to India”.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.