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Hopeful of India inking Teesta accord, say Bangladesh MPs

New Delhi,Diplomacy,Indo-Pak/Pakistan, Fri, 30 Nov 2012 IANS

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) Relations between Bangladesh and India, marked by ups and downs earlier, are on an even keel now and Dhaka is hopeful of the Teesta water sharing accord being inked soon, said the visiting parliamentarians from that country here Friday.

The visit of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief and former premier Khaleda Zia to India in October, during which she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee, "opened a new window" in relations for both countries, said BNP MP Moudud Ahmed at a press meet here.

Ahmed was part of a 12-member multi-party parliamentary team from Bangladesh that interacted with journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps here.

"India is too large a neighbour, but we must have good working relations to resolve issues that we have.. In the last 20 years, sometimes our relations went cool, but it was never disrupted.. The visit (of Zia) demonstrates that issues unresolved will be resolved with mutual resolve and engagement," he said.

The failure to ink the Teesta accord during Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh last year was a "major disappointment", said Tofail Ahmed, an MP of the ruling Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed.

The Teesta accord could not be signed after West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at the last moment raised objections on the quantum of water to be shared.

"It is unfortunate that due to internal problems, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, could not sign the Teesta accord... It was a great disappointment and very embarrassing for both India and the people of Bangladesh," said Moudud Ahmed, adding that they used the event to attack the ruling Awami League over it.

"We request India to enter into the Teesta agreement... We value our friendship with India," said Tarana Halim, an Awami League MP.

The parliamentary delegation met Indian parliamentarians and members of civil society and Indian media persons during their visit. The issue of "border killings" was also raised.

According to the Bangladesh team, a total of 48 Bangladeshi nationals have been killed by "trigger happy" personnel of India's Border Security Force (BSF).

"Though the number of killings has come down this year, we want it become zero," said Moudud Ahmed, adding that "these killings arouse a lot emotional outburst". India and Bangladesh share a 4,096-km porous border.

"To shoot a person cant be accepted... We have been assured by the government of India that no shooting will take place, but it is continuing," said Tofail Ahmed.

The issue of the Land Boundary Agreement was also raised by the team during its talks here.

"The Bangladesh parliament has ratified the agreement, but unfortunately India has not done it so far," said Tofail Ahmed.

Manmohan Singh had inked the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), an updated version of the Indira-Mujib accord of 1974. The accord's ratification needs a constitutional amendment. The constitutional amendment to ratify the boundary agreement got the nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in July this year.

The team also raised the issue of the Taipamukh dam, being built by India in Manipur on the Barak river, to which Bangladesh has raised objections.

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