WITH BANGLADESH Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arriving Friday for a four-day visit, India and Bangladesh are set to sign agreements on passenger cruise, development of infrastructure for use of rivers for cargo movement, cooperation between the judiciary of the two countries, and co-production of movies, among others, officials said on Wednesday.
While issues of defence cooperation and counter-terrorism are expected to dominate the agenda during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hasina, the Indian side is expected to dwell upon the issue of illegal immigration to India.
Modi will host Hasina on April 8 for talks and a meal. President Pranab Mukherjee will also host a banquet for her.
Modi and Hasina are scheduled to jointly release the Hindi translation of Hasina’s father and Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s The Unfinished Memoirs.
The two leaders will also honour the 1,661 Indian soldiers who died in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. Seven families — four from the Army, and one each from Air Force, Navy and BSF — will be honoured by the two Prime Ministers. Hasina will hand over a cheque of Rs 5 lakh to each of these families.
The two leaders are also expected to announce that the Kolkata-Dhaka train — Maitree Express — will become a fully AC service from April 14, the Bengali new year. According to government data, 14.03 lakh Bangladeshi nationals were given visas by India in 2014-15 and 20,870 Bangladeshis overstayed. Of them, 8,387 people were deported.
Sources said the two sides will take stock of the issue of illegal immigration and cattle smuggling, which has been thorny issues in the relationship.
Speaking to visiting journalists from Bangladesh, MEA’s Joint Secretary (in charge of Bangladesh), Sripriya Ranganathan said, “This is not an ordinary visit. The relation is already at its best, but this visit will take it to a new high.”
She said that the countries are still working on overcoming “internal difficulty” to resolve the Teesta water-sharing issue. “In our system, we need to take the state government into confidence,” she said, referring to the West Bengal government’s role in the issue.
MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that New Delhi is attaching a “lot of importance” to Hasina’s visit. “This is a very important visit,” he added.