What do you have to say about the LBA being finally signed?
The signing of the LBA was a historic event that is being celebrated by both Bangladesh and India after a wait of 68 long years. At least 50,000 people had been suffering before the signing of the agreement. It is a landmark event for all these people, who were deprived of their basic rights as citizens of a country.
You visited some of the Bangla enclaves in India. How was the experience?
I went to Madhya Mashaldanga on August 1, a day before the enclave dwellers had a night-long celebration to mark the landmark event. There, I had the opportunity to meet 106-year-old Asgar Ali, the oldest citizen of the enclave, with whom I talked to over a cup of tea. The happiness reflected in his eyes is better felt than expressed. I touched his feet and wished him.
Why have people not come from Bangladesh yet?
The process has begun. There are different time frames for the process. They will definitely come by the deadline.
There have been talks about citizens of Indian enclaves being forced to stay back. The National Human Rights Commission has ordered an inquiry into it as well…I have no idea of any such thing happening and there is no point. Why would Bangladesh want to take the burden of 40,000 people? We would rather want them to return to India (laughs).
With the LBA now complete, do you see the Teesta deal happening soon?
The LBA is a milestone, opening many other doors of opportunities. The relationship between the two countries is at an all-time high. However, there are many other issues other than sharing of Teesta river water that need to be resolved. However, I am optimistic that the Teesta issue will be resolved soon and it it will not take another 68 years.
Do you think that connectivity between the two countries has impoved?
We are already on our way to a better connectivity between the neighbouring countries. A few days ago, bus services between Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala had started. Infrastructure is being developed for improved road connectivity between Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India. These are positive signals which promise to benefit the entire region of this continent.