The Government of India informed the Bangladesh regarding the ratification of 1974 Indira-Mujib pact, during the home secretary-level talks on 19 July 2013.
- Indian Government informed that it wanted to ratify the 1974 Indira-Mujib pact for demarcation of boundaries and for exchange of 161 adversely held enclaves with a population of about 50000 people.
- For implementation of Indira-Mujib pact, Indian Government will have to introduce a Constitutional Amendment Bill in parliament according to Indian Constitution.
- The Government of India is planning to bring a constitutional amendment Bill during the forthcoming monsoon session, beginning August 5 2013, for implementation of the Indo-Bangla land boundary agreement.
- Bangladesh Parliament has already approved the land boundary deal, India needs to introduce a constitutional amendment bill because its implementation involves territory swap.
Indira-Mujib Pact 1974
• In 1974, India and Bangladesh entered into an agreement on borders. Popularly known as Indira-Mujib Pact, the two signatories of the pact were the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Bangladesh Prime Minister Mujib-ur-Rehman.
• This agreement sought to cover the demarcation of the land boundary between the two countries and other related issues.
• Article 5 of the Agreement stipulated that: This agreement shall be subject to ratification by the Governments of India and Bangladesh and Instruments of Ratification shall be exchanged as early as possible.
• The Agreement shall take effect from the date of the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification.
• On 28 November 1974 Bangladesh Parliament had passed the Constitution (Third Amendment) Act, 1974 ratifying the Indira – Mujib Accord.
This Agreement was signed in two originals by both the Prime Ministers on May 16, 1974. On November 28, 1974 Bangladesh Parliament had passed the Constitution (Third Amendment) Act, 1974 ratifying the Indira – Mujib Accord. Since passing this Amendment and ratifying this Agreement as per Art 5 of it the Bangladesh Government has repeatedly taunted India for not doing their bit by getting the same in Indian Parliament.
It is true that Government of India has not been able to get the Parliament’s nod for the Agreement in all these four decades.
One of the reasons could be the flawed nature of the Agreement. In the form it was agreed upon by both the former PMs that it would have certainly created a huge backlash in India, at least over some sections of the Agreement.
- Almost after 40 years the Government of India suddenly woke up and decided to ratify the Agreement in our Parliament.
- Thankfully, since this flawed agreement involves Indian Territory being transferred to Bangladesh without any compensation from the other side, it required an amendment to our Constitution as well.
- In an earlier case of Berubari transfer – the Supreme Court of India had mandated that the Government can only play with the territory of India through a Constitutional Amendment that will have the support of the majority members of the Parliament and two thirds of the members present.
The current session of the Parliament is likely to witness the introduction of the Constitution Amendment Bill for the purpose of ratifying the four-decades-old India – Mujib Accord.
There are three major issues that are still pending calling for implementation to make this agreement fully operational.
There is a 6.1 kilometre long stretch on the border between the two countries which is still not demarcated. It is spread in three sectors;
Daikhata – 56 in West Bengal, Muhuri river – Belonia in Tripura and Lathitila-Dumabari in Assam.
- The partition of India in 1947 had created a peculiar situation in Bengal, which was divided into two.
- A total of 152 enclaves on both sides became a contentious issue.
- Enclaves are land-locked areas in each country that don’t belong to that country.
- There were historical reasons for this situation, For instance, if the Nawab of Bengal had gifted land to a Sardar, perhaps post Partition, the gifted part of the land remained in Pakistan, with the rest of the Sardar’s territory becoming a part of Independent India.
- There are about 111 such enclaves that belong to India but remain to this day in Bangladesh territory.
- They measure an area of approx. 17,161 acres.
- Similarly there are 51 enclaves in India measuring approximately 7,110 acres that belong to Bangladesh.
- All the enclaves belonging to Bangladesh are located in the Coochbehar district of West Bengal whereas all the Indian enclaves in Bangladesh fall in four districts – Panchagarh, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Nilphamari.
3. Adverse possession:
- The third major issue is adverse possession.
- Adverse possession means areas occupied by people of each country across its boundary in the other country.
- These are human encroachments leading to settlement of people for decades in areas along undemarcated borders inside the territory of the other country.
- Although it is very difficult to identify each and every adverse possession area the two governments have so far identified 14 places where border realignment is needed.
- Six of them are in West Bengal; two are in Assam, five in Meghalaya and one in Tripura.
What INDIA can do to earn positively towards
this pact ?
- India should delete the clause of not demanding compensation for the excess land being transferred to Bangladesh through exchange of enclaves.
- Bangladesh should be asked to compensate for the excess land that it is getting.
- Just as India leased land in perpetuity, Bangladesh too can lease land to India, which is equivalent of the excess land that it is getting along the narrow Chicken’s Neck area (Siliguri corridor) . That would be of great strategic help for India.