Insurgents may derail Indo-Bangla ties: Mukherjee

Insurgents may derail Indo-Bangla ties: Mukherjee

India "deeply appreciates" the efforts of Bangladesh to tackle terrorism as the menace was a common concern of the two neighbours, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here last evening.

The two sides will continue to be closely engaged for enhanced bilateral security cooperation, he told a press briefing after the signing ceremony of a USD 1 billion loan deal for Bangladesh, the largest line of credit received by Dhaka.

Mukherjee identified "security cooperation" as an area that engaged the attention of both the countries "given our common desire to root out the forces of extremism and terrorism from our midst".

"Insurgents and insurgent groups have the potential to affect our relations," warned Mukherjee, the first senior Indian leader to visit Bangladesh after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's landmark trip to New Delhi in January.

Bangladesh and India had signed three agreements to combat terrorism and cross border crimes alongside mutual legal assistance and transfer of sentenced persons and an MoU on power cooperation during Hasina's India tour.

Hasina had promised not to allow Indian separatist groups to use Bangladeshi soil. Arbinda Rajkhowa, the chief of banned separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), along with its deputy military chief was handed over to Indian authorities by Bangladesh in December last year.

Hasina, who survived a grenade attack on August 21, 2004 when HuJI activists hurled 13 grenades at her rally, has underlined her government's determination to root out terrorism from the country. She has looked beyond her country's borders to tackle the terror menace by floating the idea of a regional mechanism involving all states in South Asia.

Bangladesh has witnessed a massive anti-terrorism clampdown over the last few years that has led to the arrest of several suspected Pakistani militants belonging to outfits like Laskar-e-Toiba.

Pakistan-based militant groups like LeT, Harkat-ul Mujahideen, JeM and HuJI are among 15 foreign terror organisations operating in Bangladesh, using the country as a safe shelter or transit to infiltrate India.

The Indo-Bangla ties have been on the upswing since Hasina came to power after the landmark general election in December 2008. "This one-billion-dollar line of credit is the largest ever given by India to any country," Mukherjee, who was here on a brief visit yesterday, said.

"I am confident that this line of credit will be the stepping stone for a shared destiny and will transform our bilateral engagement," he said at the function to ink the loan deal.
In the largest-ever loan India has given to any foreign country, it signed an agreement with Bangladesh to extend a USD 1 billion credit line for developing 14 infrastructure projects, mostly in the communications sector.

The loan agreement was signed between the Exim Bank of India and the Economic Relations Department of Bangladesh in the presence of Mukherjee. Bangladeshi Finance Minister A M A Muhith said the massive loan would boost economic ties between the two sides and go a long way to upgrade the country's transport infrastructure which is "in extremely bad shape".

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