India, Bangladesh ink extradition treaty, visa accord

Dhaka, Jan 28 (IANS) Bangladesh and India Monday signed two crucial agreements, an extradition treaty and a friendlier visa regime, on the first day of the two-day visit here of India's Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

Bangladesh Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir and Shinde signed the agreements on behalf of their countries, the Daily Star reported.

After their meeting, the two ministers announced the agreements at a joint press conference.

The extradition treaty, designed to tackle terrorism, however, has some "refusal provisions".

If extradition of some person poses a threat to national security, the country concerned might refuse the deportation request, a Bangladeshi home ministry official was quoted as saying.

The second accord signed Monday was for a friendlier visa regime for Bangladesh titled "Revised Travel Arrangement".

The visa agreement paves the way for removing restrictions on visits of businesspersons, students, patients, senior citizens above 65 years and children below 12.

According to the visa accord, businessmen from either side would be given a five-year multiple entry visa.

Those who want to travel on medical grounds would get two-year multiple entry visa, which is extendable for one more year.

In case of medical-purpose entry, as many as three attendants of a patient would be entitled to visa.

Bangladesh Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi, Minister of State for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tariq A. Karim and Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran were present at the meeting.

The extradition treaty will benefit India as it will pave the way for the deportation of a number of insurgent leaders currently lodged in Bangladeshi jails, including the general secretary of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Anup Chetia.

Chetia was arrested in Bangladesh in 1997 and sentenced to seven years in jail for illegal entry and possession of firearms.

Xinhua said Dhaka was also keen to sign the extradition treaty as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government wants India's help in nabbing and handing over two fugitive killers of Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Rahman's two killers, Captain (retd) Abdul Mazed and Risaldar (retd) Moslehuddin, are believed to be hiding in India, Xinhua said.

Bangladesh's Cabinet Secretary M. Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan later said that "no political detainee will be brought under the purview of the treaty".

Only people who have been convicted and accused in a criminal case will be exchanged under the treaty, he said.

He said Bangladesh, which has a similar treaty with Thailand, can cancel the treaty any time with a six-month notice.

Dhaka and New Delhi have been handing over criminals informally since Hasina took office in January 2009.

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