If the government really served the national interest and genuinely protected the country’s territorial integrity, they would not have acted unilaterally for the sole benefit and interest of India. They could argue with India that as the Agreement, according to Article 5, ‘shall take effect from the date of the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification’ and since India had not yet ratified the Agreement, it had not yet become effective.
By doing this the government could have avoided the ratification of the Act, amendment of the Constitution and hand over of the southern half of South Berubari to India. That would have put Bangladesh in a position of ‘equal footing’ and ‘equal bargaining power.’
After much Bangladesh government’s relatively weak diplomacy, India, instead of handing over sovereignty or lease in perpetuity, in 2011, proposed to lease the ‘Tin Bigha Corridor’ to Bangladesh for certain time. Later from September 2011 India opened the ‘Tin Bigha Corridor’ allowing 24 hour access of Bangladeshi nationals to Angarpota-Dohogram enclaves retaining its full sovereignty over the Corridor.
Surprisingly, this was celebrated widely by the current government and its supporters. Ironically, they forgot that Bangladesh deserved lease in perpetuity (endless lease) instead of mere allowing access, as per the 1974 Agreement. Although India allowed access in 2011 for 24 hour, the question should have been raised as to why India deprived Bangladesh for 37 years. Instead of granting lease in perpetuity, India allowed access for 24 hour which they could stop at any time without any notice.
There is no guarantee clause in the 2011 agreement. India can do whatever it wishes. It should be noted that the ‘Tin Bigha Corridor’ remained closed until 1992. It was kept open for six hours a day from 1992 to 1996 following an agreement between Bangladesh and India. Later, the time period was extended by another six hours during the previous Awami League government’s tenure resulting in the Corridor being kept open for 12 hours.
Furthermore, the sovereignty with the ‘Tin Bigha Corridor’ will continue to lay with India, as Indian Embassy issued a press release saying “Tin Bigha Area will continue to be manned efficiently by Indian personnel, as per the agreement between the two countries,” (UNB dated 19 October 2011).
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