India’s Modi Signs Historic Border Settlement With Bangladesh

Narendra Modi & Sheikh Hasina
Indian PM Narendra Modi & Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka on June 6. Photographer: Munir uz Zaman/AFP via Getty Images

India and Bangladesh settled a decades-old border dispute on Saturday, ratifying a deal to swap enclaves in each other’s territory.

“We have resolved a question that has lingered since independence,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s said at a briefing in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, according to a transcript on the Indian government’s website. “Our two nations have a settled boundary.”

The 4,100-kilometer (2,550 mile) continuous land border, the world’s fifth longest, is strewn with pockets of territory held by one nation but surrounded by the other. The estimated 200,000 people residing in those areas can cross two international boundaries just to reach a school or hospital -- all while trying to avoid armed border guards.

In his address, Modi also announced a new credit line to Bangladesh worth $2 billion to support infrastructure and other development activities.

“Our development partnership is scaling new heights,” Modi said, referring to the previous line of credit of $800 million and $200 million in grants. India’s Reliance Power Ltd. and Adani Power Ltd. signed separate deals Saturday to potentially invest a combined $5.5 billion in Bangladesh to generate electricity.

The Land Boundary Agreement ratified today is an updated version of a 1974 deal and was approved by the Indian parliament last month. Modi and Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated two cross-border bus routes before exchanging instruments of ratification for the boundary settlement.

Citing the “political resolve and mutual goodwill” behind the Land Boundary Agreement, Modi expressed confidence to reach a solution on the disputed Teesta and Feni rivers.

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