NEW DELHI — India and Bangladesh are set to sign extradition and visa agreements, as the neighbors take steps to improve ties and formally deny criminals sanctuary on either side of their common border.
The deals will be finalized during Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s two-day visit to Bangladesh that began on Monday.
Shinde and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, are taking up an extradition treaty that will allow the two countries to hand over criminals in a process that has so far been informal.
For India, this means the chance of getting custody of rebel leaders from the country’s northeast who have crossed into Bangladesh. For Dhaka, it means having access to Bangladeshi criminals who are in Indian custody.
Bharat Karnad, with India’s Center for Policy Research, says such a treaty will provide further encouragement for Bangladesh to better police its side of the border.
“They will be more attentive to our concerns, in terms of apprehending rebels and others who might crossover, that’s the safe kind of save haven that a friendly Bangladesh will deny these northeastern insurgencies and insurrections,” said Karnad.
Bangladeshi political science professor Ataur Rahman also welcomes such a treaty as a positive step in improving relations. But, he says, in the Bangladeshi public’s perception the deadly shootings by Indian forces of unarmed Bangladeshi civilians trying to cross the border is a greater concern that needs to be addressed.
“The people are not fully assured that India will keep its promises, a lot of work should be done from the Indian side that relations are on the right track and that it will continue to develop in a positive vain in the future,” said Rahman.
During the Indian home minister’s trip, Indian and Bangladeshi officials are also signing an agreement to remove visa restrictions for business persons, students and those traveling between the two counties for medical reasons. One more step, analysts say, that will help in forging stronger ties.