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Bangladesh parliament to debate deals with India

Sunday, April 18, 2010 08:36:26 PM, IANS

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

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India-Bangladesh border coordination conference from Monday

Dhaka: Bangladesh parliament will discuss three deals with India pertaining to exchange of prisoners, combating international terrorism, and mutual help in criminal justice, signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s January visit to New Delhi.

The government has conceded a long-pending demand of the opposition that has alleged a “sell-out” to India. But the opposition reacted Sunday by saying that it did not believe a discussion would take place or serve any purpose.

The three agreements with India envisage joint cooperation on criminal justice issues, that was already underway.

The second concerns mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, and the transfer of sentenced persons between the two countries and a third deals with combating international terrorism, organised crime and illicit drug trafficking.

Ruling Awami League’s chief whip in parliament Abdus Shahid announced the government’s decision at a meeting organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) and five NGOs relating to the upcoming SAARC summit in Bhutan.

Main Opposition chief whip Zainul Abdin Farroque told newspaper website: “You cannot believe what the Awami League says. The treasury bench has several times broken its promises.”

The BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami have claimed that the agreements only secured Indian interests in helping New Delhi deal with its own separatist movements.

The government has rejected the claim.

Opposition leader Khaleda Zia Sunday told a party rally in Khulna in southwestern region that Hasina had failed to guard Bangladesh’s interests while talking to the Indian leadership.

Hasina had not protested the “killings” of Bangladeshi nationals by the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indian border guard, Zia alleged.

The issue has figured repeatedly in the bilateral talks at different levels and India has agreed to review the actions of its border guards who say they fire in self defence while detecting illegal, night-time movement of people found engaged in smuggling of goods, cattle, arms and drugs.

Bangladesh shares a 4,300-km border with India.

“During her visit to India, the prime minister did not protest the incidents on borders when the Indian border guards were killing Bangladeshis and looting properties getting into Bangladesh territory,” Star Online quoted Khaleda Zuia as saying.

Zia also alleged that the mutiny in February last year by troopers of the country’s border guard, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) was “a premeditated conspiracy to turn Bangladesh borders vulnerable”.

Hasina alleged in parliament last year that Zia was found “travelling in a car with curtains” during the February 25-26 mutiny that began at the BDR headquarters and spread to other units.

Seventy-one persons, including 57 Bangladesh Army officers on deputation to the BDR were killed.

Fifty eight troopers were awarded jail sentences by a special court Sunday, in addition to 79 convicted earlier for being part of the mutiny.





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