Bangladesh envoy sees stronger ties with NE

Staff Reporter

Shillong, March 30: To describe the relation between India and Bangladesh, one has to borrow the thoughts of renowned poet Kaji Nazrul Islam, “They are two flowers in the same branch”.

If Bangladesh remembers India’s support during the liberation war of 1971 with gratitude, it also looks forward to further strengthening the bilateral ties with the neighbour in the coming years.

Meghalaya and Assam have the potential to become the commercial and logistics hub in the South East Asian region in the next two decades, said Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur, the assistant high commissioner of Bangladesh, today during a programme in the city to celebrate the neighbouring country’s 50 years of freedom.

Speaking on bilateral ties and trade prospects between the two countries through the northeastern region of India, Tanvir Monsur said it would be a win-win situation for both the countries, including Meghalaya, if proper connectivity is developed.

In this context, he mentioned his interaction with Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, saying the latter showed him the map of the region sharing borders with Bangladesh and told him about the connectivity and subsequent trade potential.

According to a recent World Bank report, “seamless transport connectivity between India and Bangladesh has the potential to increase national income by as much as 17% in Bangladesh and 8% in India”. Currently, bilateral trade accounts for only about 10% of Bangladesh’s trade and 1% of India’s trade.

Remembering India’s contribution to the freedom of Bangladesh, Monsur especially mentioned the role of Meghalaya. “This place played a crucial role… there were many training camps (for Bangladesh freedom fighters) in Meghalaya. My father was trained in one of the camps in Baghmara,” he reminisced and expressed hope that ties with the northeastern state would strengthen in the future.

During felicitation of senior citizens of Shillong who were directly involved in helping muktijoddha (freedom fighters), Ahmad Husain remembered how, as a young man, he and his brother Afzal Husain, along with several of their friends, had to bury bodies of young fighters.

“The first body that we buried was of a young man who was shot on the chest. He was wearing only a lungi… I still remember the image,” said Husain.

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who was the chief guest at the programme, said the state government is giving priority to the Shillong-Tamabil road to improve connectivity.

“We want to improve relations and invest in infrastructure… The work has just started and hopefully within three years’ time, it (the road) will be done,” he added.

The minister, who represents the Pynursla constituency that is close to the Bangladesh border, also stressed the need for more border haats and a strong land customs system.