Bangladesh Minister of State for Water Resources Muhammad Nazrul Islam on Friday said his country has a “zero tolerance” policy for dealing with militants and does not allow its territory to be used for insurgent camps. The Minister, who was here to attend a two-day international seminar, told PTI that the Sheikh Hasina government is taking serious steps against insurgents and terrorist groups that tried to use Bangladeshi territory as a “safe haven”.
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“Our forces have removed a number of insurgent camps from Bangladesh and leaders of the terrorist groups, including Assam’s ULFA, were arrested and handed over to India,” he said. India and Bangladesh have agreed on issues like dealing with insurgents by signing an agreement for not allowing their territories for militant camps, he said.
“Information sharing is extremely important for dealing with the insurgent outfits operating in the border areas,” he said. Islam said Bangladesh has trade links to Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya, but Dhaka wants “better connectivity” which will facilitate business ties with other northeastern states, including Mizoram.
“Our Prime Minister wants maximum connectivity with our neighbours so that trade can benefit all countries concerned,” he said. Connectivity through waterways to the region, he said, would boost trade of both the countries. Describing bilateral trade as “extremely imbalanced”, Islam said trade volume worth around USD 7.5 billion was “hugely in favour of India, Bangladesh exports to India was around USD 900 million”.
He said if the other northeastern states of India were as open to trade with Bangladesh as Tripura, there would be a “tremendous scope” for business in the region. With Bangladesh engaging in mega projects, the neighbouring country requires huge amount of construction materials, industrial chemicals and fuel like natural gas, which could be easily imported from the northeastern region following improvement of connectivity, he said.
Similarly, the land-locked northeast region of India can have the shortest sea route through Chittagong port via the Brahmaputra, Barak and Karnaphuli after completion of the mega port projects being undertaken by Bangladesh, he said.