Skip to main content

Bangladesh considers Tripura an 'inspired partner' rather than West Bengal or Assam

By Samara Ashrat* 

Recently, while addressing an election rally in Tripura, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed, Bangladesh played an important role in the development of Tripura during the tenure of the BJP government. He also said that there has been a lot more activity and exchange between Northeast India than in the past.
Road and rail connectivity with Bangladesh is gradually getting stronger. Tripura is becoming the “gateway” to Southeast Asia. Modi also mentioned that electricity is now being supplied to Bangladesh from Tripura.
There is a saying in the South Asian region that, if Bangladesh is India-locked, Tripura is Bangladesh-locked. So, the relationship between Bangladesh and Tripura is a long one; it is civilizational, historical, lingual, and cultural. 
From time immemorial, the people of Tripura and Bangladesh, have shared their problems and prosperity. Tripura and Bangladesh share a porous border, which stretches over 856-kilometer-long border, constituting 85 percent of Tripura's border.
Tripura and Bangladesh have a special history. During Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, the people of Tripura welcomed more Bangladeshi refugees per capita into their homes than in any other civil war situation in history.
When Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Tripura, it was significant too. Since its inception in 1971, no Bangladeshi head of state or government has visited India’s Northeast. This visit rebalanced the relations between India and Bangladesh.

Existing projects

There are several existing infrastructural projects between Tripura and Bangladesh. The inauguration of Maitri Setu over the Feni River was one of those landmark projects between Tripura and Bangladesh. Tripura will emerge as the gateway to Southeast Asia once the Maitri bridge, linking Sabroom with Bangladesh's Ramgarh, is thrown open for the public. This bridge is Located only 74 km away from Chittagong port.
Another project is the Agartala–Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway link. This railway is expected to be completed in June 2023. When it will be completed, it will connect Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India (10.6 kilometers) and then connect Nischintapur to Agartala railway station (5.46 kilometers) in India. The scope of trade relations would open with the introduction of the Agartala-Akhaura railway line. 
Not only that, but India also plans to develop an integrated checkpost and cargo handling facility at Nischintapur, which is the junction point of the Agartala-Akhaura rail link at Tripura.
This rail link will reduce the journey time between Agartala and Kolkata by passing through Dhaka instead of Guwahati. The travel time between Agartala and Kolkata will be reduced to 10 hours from the current 31 hours as it will travel a mere 550 km instead of 1,600.
With the completion of connectivity projects, Tripura would emerge as a well-connected state from a ‘landlocked’ one
India and Bangladesh currently have four operational rail links between West Bengal and Western Bangladesh -- Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Radhikapur-Biral, and Singhabad-Rohanpur. The last two are also notified of the use of Nepalese transit traffic. The present line will not only help people from Agartala but also those from Mizoram, which is 150 kilometers away.
With the completion of these two connectivity projects -- the Feni bridge connecting Sabroom, Tripura with Chittagong, Bangladesh, and the Agartala-Akhaura rail line, Tripura would emerge as a well-connected state from a ‘landlocked’ one. In this way, Tripura will develop its connectivity and relations by connecting India, Myanmar, and Thailand through roadways.
Tripura’s Maharaja Bir Bikram airport would be the third international airport in the landlocked Northeastern region after its new terminal is completed by this year. After the completion of this airport, flights between Agartala and Dhaka, as well as other cities like Chittagong and Sylhet would be operated.
Not only that, recently Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Pranay Verma has shown interest to invest in new airports in Bangladesh to facilitate the connectivity of northeastern states. Air connectivity will not only strengthen the connectivity between Bangladesh, the Indian mainland, and Tripura but also between India and ASEAN countries.
Tripura can be a reliable and strategic partner for Bangladesh. Tripura is an inspired partner for Bangladesh rather than West Bengal or Assam. There is a key cultural affinity that will surely make social and intellectual exchanges with Bangladesh more meaningful. Both countries now have a mutual and abiding interest in ensuring that Tripura leads the India-Bangladesh relationship.
For too long, Bangladesh has looked westwards to Assam and West Bengal to engage with India; it must now pivot and look east to Tripura and Mizoram. For Bangladesh, too, Tripura can be the gateway to Myanmar and ASEAN, through Mizoram. As there is some reciprocal benefit, it is high time India should play its Bangladesh card for Tripura and initiated more trade, investments, and connectivity projects.
---
*PhD fellow, University of Bucharest

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Palm oil industry 'deceptively using' geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice.