Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Land Boundary Bill

Uproar in Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha, upper house of the Indian parliament, witnessed an uproar yesterday as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid moved on to introduce a constitution amendment bill to help implement the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh.
The incident took place when Khurshid rose to move The Constitution (119th) Amendment Bill, 2013, amidst noises caused by the main opposition BJP over coal block allocation and bribery allegations in railway ministry.
Asom Gano Parishad (AGP), a former ruling party of north-eastern Indian state of Assam, lawmakers Kumar Deepak Das and Birendra Kumar Baishya raised slogans carrying placards against the bill and rushed towards Khurshid in a bid to snatch a copy of it from him.
Some congress members, including Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla, prevented them from snatching the bill.
Amid chaos, Khurshid sat down without the process of introduction of the bill being completed.
Following the incident, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House.
The constitution amendment bill seeks to give effect to the acquiring of territories by India, and transfer of certain territories to Bangladesh in pursuance of the agreement between the two countries.
Das and Baishya later told reporters that they were opposing the bill fearing it would lead to a secessionist movement in Assam, which was not in the country’s interest.
Baishya said this was not an issue of Assam but that of the sovereignty of the nation.
Das said, “The bill will start a secession movement. Therefore, we are opposing it and we will not let it be introduced in the parliament.”
Two AGP lawmakers said the federal government had signed a pact with Bangladesh, which was not known to the people of Assam.
The government was doing it for their political interest, not in the interest of Assam, they added.
As they were losing huge area of Assam to Bangladesh, they could not support the bill, the AGP lawmakers noted.
Against this backdrop, it is not clear when the bill will be introduced and the current budget session is scheduled to end on May 10.
The Bill was also listed for introduction in the Rajya Sabha last month, but the standoff between the Congress-led UPA government and the opposition on a range of issues had stalled proceedings in the parliament.
Under the land boundary agreement, Bangladesh and India will exchange 161 adversely-held enclaves to help implement the Indira-Mujib land boundary pact of 1974.
Bangladesh has already implemented the pact following approval from Bangladesh parliament.