Bangladesh signs $ 4.5 bn loan deal with India

Bangladesh signs $ 4.5 bn loan deal with India

Under the agreement, Bangladesh will have to purchase 65 to 75 per cent of the services, goods or works from the Indian market with the money to be provided under the new LoC.

Bangladesh signed a $ 4.5 billion third line of credit (LoC) agreement with India for its infrastructure and social sector development.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his Bangladeshi counterpart A.M.A Muhith after the two leaders held talks here.

BangladeshEconomic Relations Division Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam signed the deal on behalf of Bangladesh, while Managing Director of the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim) David Rasquinha signed for India.

To fund 17 major projects

The new Indian line of credit, worth a staggering $ 4.5 billion, will be used to fund 17 major projects in Bangladesh, which include electricity, railroads, roads, shipping and ports.

As with previous LoC agreements, Bangladesh will pay an interest rate of 1 per cent a year. It will have 20 years to pay back the loans, with a grace period of five years.

“Bangladesh has developed significantly on the socio-economic front in the past seven years,” Mr. Jaitley said after the signing of the deal. “We have stood by Bangladesh’s attempts to develop and we will do so in the future. This significant agreement is a continuation of that effort,” he said.

Mr. Muhith said, “Bangladesh and India have excellent relations at the moment.” “They stood by us during our independence. We hope they will continue to do so in the future,” he was quoted as saying by bdnews.

The $ 4.5 bn deal was announced during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in April. Mr. Jaitley’s trip to Bangladesh was used to finalise the agreement.

Under the agreement, Bangladesh will have to purchase 65 to 75 per cent of the services, goods or works from the Indian market with the money to be provided under the new LoC following the precedence of the previous two nearly identical agreements.

Bangladesh has two other LoCs open with India: the first one was signed in 2010, and the second one in 2016. These LoCs are collectively worth Tk3.06 billion, but till last year, the Bangladesh government has been able to use only $ 576 million.

Some projects under the first LoC of $ 862 million faced delay in implementation while the physical works of the 14 projects under the second LoC of $ 2 billion were yet to start.

– PTI, DHAKA, OCTOBER 04, 2017 

BSF pushes back Rohingya from Tripura

BSF pushes back Rohingya from Tripura

On instructions from the Home Ministry, the Border Security Force ( BSF ) recently pushed back four Rohingya Muslims who were trying to cross over an unfenced stretch on the Bangladesh border in Tripura.

This is the first instance of Rohingya being pushed back since the Home Ministry circular on August 19 to identify and deport them. BSF had identified 75 vulnerable locations on a 21-km stretch in Tripura. This year, 17 Rohingya Muslims were caught along the Tripura and Assam border. They were handed over to the police and action is being taken against them.

The Bengali dialect they speak is different from that spoken in India and Bangladesh. It is not difficult to identify them. They could have travelled from the Cox Bazar area [a large number of Rohingya has taken shelter here] in Bangladesh all the way to the Tripura border.

In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on September 18, the Centre said Rohingya were a threat to national security and “some of the unauthorised Rohingya immigrants had linkages with Pakistan-based terror organisations.” It said there was an organised influx of “illegal” immigrants from Mynamar through agents and touts facilitating illegal immigration of Rohingya into India via Benapole-Haridaspur (West Bengal), Hili (West Bengal), Sonamora (Tripura), Kolkata and Guwahati.

The first four points are authorised immigration checkpoints and manned by customs, immigration and BSF officials.

Asked to clarify if Rohingya were using authorised immigration checkpoints to enter India, a Home Ministry spokesperson said “illegal immigrants avoided the legal routes”.

“Such illegal immigration takes place surreptitiously through different possible entry points,” the spokesperson said.

In June, the Home Ministry constituted yet another committee to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border, a friendly country, with which it shares unfenced borders and unhindered movement of people across the border. The committee, headed by Rina Mitra, Special Secretary, Internal Security, visited the border areas last week.


Complete sealing of Indo-Pak border by Mar 2018

Complete sealing of Indo-Pak border with ‘smart fence’ by March 2018: BSF DG

Border Security Force DG KK Sharma said that the country’s relations with its eastern neighbour Bangladesh are “very good” at present.

Complete sealing of Indo-Pak border with 'smart fence' by March 2018: BSF DG

Sealing the Indian border with Pakistan is an immediate “priority” and a smart technology- aided fence will be in place along the Jammu sector by March next year, the BSF chief on Wednesday said.

Border Security Force DG K K Sharma, in the same breath, added that as the country’s relations with its eastern neighbour Bangladesh are “very good” at present, a similar plan to make the Indo-Bangla border impregnable would be taken up once the “resources” are available.

“My priority is Pakistan, as anything happens here (along the Indo-Pak border), it has grave consequences. We are working to ensure complete sealing of this border and make it more fortified,” the Director General said on sidelines of an event to announce the ‘BSF half marathon for martyrs’ to be held in October this year.

“We are implementing a comprehensive integrated border management (CBIM) plan and are running a pilot project to make our international border (IB) along Pakistan secure,” he said.
This project will be in place in the Jammu sector (of the IB) by March next year, Sharma said.

Asked if there were any similar plans for the 4,096-km long India-Bangladesh border, the DG replied “it is a question of priority”.

Both the governments of India and Bangladesh have good relations and the ties between the BSF and its counterpart Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) are also at an all-time high, the DG said.

“We are also conducting simultaneous coordinated patrolling wit the BGB … Once we have the resources (after completing the border sealing task with Pakistan), we will do it on the eastern side,” Sharma said.

He added that the project to create ‘smart fencing’ along the Indo-Bangla border has “not started” as of now along the eastern frontier.

The BSF DG’s statement comes in variance with that of Union home minister Rajnath Singh who has earlier said that the Assam portion of the Indo-Bangla border (about 200kms) will be completely sealed by the first half of 2018.

He added that the challenges of guarding these large borders on the two flanks of the country are very “dynamic” and hence the security requirements keep changing and nothing can be said to be adequate.

“We are modernising our equipments and the Indo-Pak border will be more fortified by the use of advanced technology. What we keep doing, I am sure, will have to be followed by my successor even,” he said.

Talking about the security situation along the Indo-Pak border, the BSF boss said terror “launch pads are always active to infiltrate terrorists from across the border into India”.

“We are committed to ensure fool proof security along the border despite all hardships and challenges at these two borders,” he said.

Sharma said since the last year, there has been no infiltration from across the IB that is under the absolute control of the force.

He added that these instances instead have taken place from the Line of Control (LoC), where the BSF is deployed under the operational command of the Army.

Talking about the half-marathon, the BSF chief said it will be held in the national capital on October 22, a day after the national police commemoration day, in the memory of its martyrs.

The families of the martyrs will be invited to witness and participate in it and the trophies of the event will be named after those personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty, he added.

The about 2.5-lakh personnel strong force was raised in December 1965.

-August 3, 2017, New Delhi

India plans major step against terrorism

India plans major step against terrorism, to seal international boundaries with Pakistan, Bangladesh soon


Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said India is pondering over sealing the international boundaries with Pakistan and Bangladesh soon. These borders would be sealed by 2018, he added.

Addressing the passing out parade of the Border Security Force Assistant Commandants at the BSF Academy in Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, Singh said: “India is planning to seal the international boundaries with Pakistan and Bangladesh as soon as possible. This could be India’s major step against terrorism and the problem of refugees.”

The minister added that the border with Pakistan would be sealed by 2018.

The decision has been taken in the wake of an increase in infiltration attempts, said Singh.

“The project will be periodically monitored by the Home Secretary at the Central level, the BSF from the security forces’ perspective and the Chief Secretaries at the state-level,” Singh said, adding that the government would apply technological solutions for sealing the border in difficult terrains.

Lauding the BSF personnel, the Home Minister stated that the force has changed the rules of engagement at international borders which have made it a known entity in the neighbouring countries.

“The BSF has changed rules of engagement at international borders. Now, the BSF is a known entity even in neighbouring countries,” Singh said.

Singh also spoke about the planning for an effective grievances redressal mechanism in the forces which will be implemented soon.

“We are planning for an effective grievances redressal mechanism in the forces. The forces are coming forward with such mechanism,” said Singh.

After the passing out parade, the Home Minister signed the visitors’ book at the BSF academy.

He also visited the national training centre for dogs at the BSF Academy.

-March 25, 2017, New Delhi


Pakistan pushing fake Rs 2,000 notes via Bangladesh border into India

Pakistan pushing fake Rs 2,000 notes via Bangladesh border into India

Pakistan pushing fake Rs 2,000 notes via Bangladesh border into India: Report

Pakistan-based counterfeiters are pushing fake Rs 2,000 notes through smugglers via the porous India-Bangladesh border, as per a media report.

The Indian Express quoted official sources as citing recent seizures and arrests made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Border Security Force (BSF).

The latest seizures were made on February 8 in Murshidabad.

The notes were seized from one Azizur Rahman (26) who hails from Malda in West Bengal and he is said to have been carrying 40 fake notes of Rs 2,000 denomination,

The Daily further quoted sources as saying that Rahman told investigators that they had been printed in Pakistan.

He also told them that the notes were printed allegedly with the help of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Then they had been smuggled across the border from Bangladesh.

Smugglers reportedly were required to pay Rs 400-600 in genuine currency for each fake Rs 2,000 note, depending on the quality, the report further quoted sources as citing interrogation records.

Moreover, at least 11 of the 17 security features in the new Rs 2,000 notes is said to have been replicated.

They include – transparent area, watermark, Ashoka Pillar emblem, the letters ‘Rs 2000’ on the left, the guarantee clause with the RBI governor’s signature and the denomination number in Devanagari on the front – The Indian Express quoted sources as saying.

The report further said that sources had said citing experts that the motif of Chandrayaan, the Swachh Bharat logo and the year of printing had been copied on the reverse side.

However, the print and paper quality of the seized counterfeits were poor.

But they supposedly resembled genuine notes and had the water mark and a crackling sound, similar to genuine currency.

First known attempt to smuggle fake currency was made in the last week of December 2016.

At that time samples from across the border were sent for approval to smugglers in Malda.

And the first seizures of such notes were recorded on January 22 and on February 4.

This time Piyarul Sheikh (16) and Digamber Mondol (42) were arrested by the local police and NIA, the report said.

Both hailed from Kaliachak in Malda.

The government on November 08, 2016 had announced the demonetisation of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes.

New Rs 500 and Rs 2000 banknotes were issued in their place.

-February 13, 2017, New Delhi


SAARC Summit in Islamabad likely to be cancelled

Big blow to Pakistan as SAARC Summit in Islamabad likely to be cancelled after India, 3 other countries boycott

Big blow to Pakistan as SAARC Summit in Islamabad likely to be cancelled after India, 3 other countries boycott

In a big diplomatic snub to Pakistan, the 19th SAARC Summit, due to be held in Islamabad on November 9-10, stands cancelled. The official confirmation, however, is still awaited.

Notably, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan – four of the eight members of the South Asian grouping – have pulled out of the summit, citing incitement of terrorism in the region.

Nepal, the current Chair of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, has not made an official announcement of cancellation as yet. However, sources at SAARC Secretariat have told that the summit has been cancelled and it will now take place next year. Current SAARC Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa, who is currently in New York and will return in two days, will make the announcement soon.

Earlier, Pakistan tried to put a brave face and said it would go ahead and host the event in November. Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria was quoted as saying that it was learnt from the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s tweet that India is not going to participate in the SAARC Summit, a decision he called “unfortunate”. The spokesperson also said Pakistan is committed to regional peace and will continue working for the broader interest of the people of the region, according to the report.

Separately, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said India is making a propaganda to foil the conference, according to Pakistan Today newspaper.

With the SAARC process based on consensus, even if one member does not attend, the summit is automatically postponed or cancelled. In this case, half of the eight-nation regional bloc has decided to skip the event, forcing the event to be called off.

Sri Lanka has already said that the SAARC Summit would not be possible without India’s participation.

India on Tuesday announced that it was pulling out of the Islamabad summit in the wake of the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir, which New Delhi has blamed on terrorists based in Pakistan.

The Uri attack came amid the dragging unrest and violence in Kashmir Valley that has left around 90 people dead since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.

In a statement on Tuesday, India said increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of SAARC member-states “by one country” have created an environment that was not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC summit.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India has conveyed to Nepal its decision not to attend the summit, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to go.

In its message to Nepal on Tuesday, Afghanistan said that because of “increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the summit”.

In a similar message to Nepal, Bangladesh said: “The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”

“Bangladesh, as the initiator of the SAARC process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere,” the message said.

“In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad.”

Bhutan, in its message, cited “the recent escalation of terrorism in the region” as the reason for its non-participation.

-September 28, 2016, New Delhi

Hindu priest stabbed in Bangladesh

Hindu priest stabbed in Bangladesh

A 48-year-old Hindu priest stabbed in Bangladesh and critically injured by unidentified assailants, a day after another priest from the minority community and a Buddhist leader were brutally hacked to death by machete-wielding ISIS militants.

Bhabasindhu Roy of the Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Temple in the southwestern Satkhira district was attacked inside the temple compound as he slept, police said.

Seven to eight assailants knocked at the door of the priest’s house. When he opened the door thinking it was the night guard, they stormed into in the house and attacked him with sharp weapons in his chest and back.

His condition is critical, police was quoted as saying by the Daily Star.

The attackers managed to escape before anyone managed to reach the spot, police said quoting Samitra Bor, wife of the victim.

The attack came just hours after gunmen stormed a restaurant in Dhaka’s high-security Gulshan diplomatic area and took 20 people hostage, including several foreigners.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in which two policemen were killed and 30 injured.

Yesterday, a Hindu priest and a Buddhist leader were brutally hacked to death by ISIS militants while another Hindu man survived a bid on his life in Bangladesh.

Shymanondo Das, in his mid 50s, was hacked by three motorcycle-borne assailants when he was plucking flowers for morning prayers at a garden in the Radhamodon Gopal Moth premises in Jhenaidah.

The attack on Das came hours after the murder of Buddhist man Mong Shwe Lung Marma, 55, in Bandarban.

Marma, a farmer of the ethnic community and a former ward-level leader of the ruling Awami League, was killed by machete-wielding assailants at Samshankhola.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation, is reeling from a wave of murders of secular, liberal activists and religious minorities.

Victims of the attacks by suspected Islamists have included secular bloggers, gay rights activists and followers of minority religions including Hindus, Christians and Muslim Sufis and Shiites.

-02 July 2016 | PTI | Dhaka

Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia to appear in court accused of sedition

Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia to appear in court accused of sedition

Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, head of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was ordered on Monday to appear in court to answer the charge of sedition, a move her supporters said was driven by politics.

The case comes amid rising concerns over the growth of Islamist militancy in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation, which saw a string of deadly attacks on secular writers, minorities and foreigners last year.

It was filed by Momtaz Uddin Ahmad Mehdi, a lawyer with the Bangladesh supreme court and a supporter of the ruling Awami League. He said that remarks Khaleda made last month about the 1971 war of independence were seditious. She had said there were “controversies” over the numbers who were killed.

He said the comment hurt him “as a patriot” and that as a citizen, he had a right to file the case.

Politics in poverty-stricken Bangladesh has for decades been marred by violent protests, nationwide strikes and bickering between supporters of Khaleda and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who have taken it in turns to lead the country.

An affiliate BNP group called for a countrywide protest for Tuesday. It was not immediately clear what chance the prosecution had of success in the case. Khaleda was ordered to appear in court on March 3. Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of the BNP, dismissed the case as politically motivated.

“This is nothing but a mockery and its aim is to deter Khaleda from politics,” he told reporters. “The intent of the government is to continue its repression of the opposition by police, making confrontational politics,” he said.

He said 17,000 opposition activists had been arrested since 2014 and 3,000 were still in jail.

 East Pakistan broke away to become independent Bangladesh in 1971 after a war between India and Pakistan. About three million people were killed, according to official accounts.

Hasina opened an inquiry into crimes committed during the war in 2010, paving the way for prosecutions by a war crimes tribunal that Islamists have denounced as part of a campaign aimed at weakening the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami, a key ally of the BNP.

Four opposition politicians, including three leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, have been convicted and executed since late 2013.
The executions have come amid a rise in Islamist militant violence, with militant groups claiming the murder of two foreigners and four secular writers and a publisher last year.
-Reuters | Jan 25, 2016