Saturday, 22 January, 2022

On reopening closed routes with India

Shared history, culture, language and heritage between the two South Asian neighbours – Bangladesh and India - go back thousands of years. Such a relationship, which is so deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of the people, including generations of family kinship, is impossible to be severed by a simple line drawn between them. Therefore, though the partition of 1947 drew a line on the map between the then East Pakistan and India, it could not sever the deeply rooted ties between the people of East and West Bengal and the other adjacent Indian states. All along the bordering states, families having members on both sides of the international border continued to visit the other side for decades after the partition to get together with relatives on weddings, Eid, puja or similar family occasions. But since the Indo-Pak war of 1965, most of the road, rail and waterways linking the people of the two Bengals were more or less shutdown. This caused much difficulties for many families to meet members living on the other side.

Apart from the human factor, trade and commerce between the two friendly neighbours require improved connectivity to reduce time and cost of transportation of goods and services. As stated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, 2021 is a landmark year for Bangladesh. Therefore, it is a call of time on the occasion of three auspicious celebrations - the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’ independence, the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two neighbours to restore the road, rail and waterway connections between our two countries. Such a wish has been reflected in the statement of the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, visiting Bangladesh to take part in the Victory Day celebrations, ending the year-long festivities for the three auspicious events.

In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has brought to the fore the supreme importance of greater connectivity for vital necessities like medical support, vaccines, sending medicines from one to another, etc. Many other services between India and Bangladesh will be facilitated with the restoration and renewal of the age-old commuting systems which were once shutdown for various political and other reasons. That it took a long half a century following the independence of Bangladesh for reconnecting, is late enough. But then, better late than never.