India accords high priority to Bangladesh as a part of its Neighborhood First Policy and is looking to further strengthen ties

The India Bangladesh Rail Link Project is moving ahead with the Indian Railways beginning to install rail lines at No Man’s Land between Nilphamari’s Chilahati and Jalpaiguri’s Haldibari. The project is aimed at promoting connectivity between Bangladesh and India with these two passenger train routes.

A Dhaka Tribune report said that, as on Monday, the barbed wire fences separating the two countries were seen cut by Indian Railways’ officials with Border Security Force of India (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) present.

The report quoted the Chief of Public Relations for North-East Indian Railways Suvananda Chandra as saying, “We are installing the rail lines to establish easier connectivity between the two countries on train routes.”

The officer further noted that the installation is expected to be finished by September 30.

There are two rail connectivity projects between India and Bangladesh -- Agartala in India to Akhaura in Bangladesh, and Haldibari in India to Chilhati in Bangladesh.

Besides these two new rail links, there are four other existing links: Gede in India to Darshana in Bangladesh, Petrapole in India to Benapole in Bangladesh, Singhabad in India to Rohanpur in Bangladesh, and Radhikapur in India to Birol in Bangladesh.

It should be noted that India’s friendship with Bangladesh has only become stronger over the past few years through cooperation in new and technological areas.

As part of its Neighborhood First Policy, India accords high priority to Bangladesh as a friendly neighbor and hopes to develop ties in the areas of mutual interest.

On September 15, India marked the 56th anniversary of capacity-building cooperation with Bangladesh. Over 4,000 professionals have been trained in India and the training continued even in the times of Covid-19 as a part of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation.

“Marking 56th anniversary of capacity-building cooperation with #Bangladesh. Over 4000 professionals trained in India. In 2020, specialized e-ITEC courses on #COVID19 management strategies organized for Healthcare Professionals & Administrators from across #Bangladesh,” official handle of the High Commission of India in Bangladesh had tweeted.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla’s visit to Dhaka last month further led to both sides promising bilateral cooperation in the coming years in the areas of security, development, technology, and others.

Both sides have taken several initiatives to boost connectivity and trade, including the commencement of movement of Indian cargo from Agartala to Kolkata via Chattogram, and the expansion of the scope of the protocol governing trade and transit on inland waterways.