Indo-Bangla passport scheme to be scrapped | india | Hindustan Times
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Indo-Bangla passport scheme to be scrapped

india Updated: Jul 11, 2006 10:52 IST

The India-Bangladesh Passport scheme, under which residents of the North Eastern states can avail a special document to travel only to Bangladesh, is all set to be scrapped after 34 years of its existence.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has reached the conclusion that a purpose of having such a scheme no more exists and that such a passport is a security risk as it can be misused easily.

The Ministry has communicated its intention to all the seven states of North East. Bangladesh has also been asked to scrap the scheme of having such a passport.

"It is time to review the India-Bangladesh passport scheme. It is time to change," a senior MEA official said.

The official said such passports were a security risk since these are "not machine readable and can be misused easily."

The MEA is of the view that the passport is being misused by militants, smugglers and traffickers of women and children.

"The original purpose for which this passport scheme was conceptualised also does not exist anymore," he said.

The special passport scheme, launched in 1972, soon after the creation of Bangladesh, was aimed at encouraging travel of people of North East to Bangladesh and vice versa as part of promotion of overall bilateral relations.

However, the relations between the two countries lately have not been too friendly besides which there have been concerns here over illegal influx of Bangladeshis.

India has been alleging that North East insurgents have training camps in Bangladesh and are operating from there. New Delhi has been complaining that Dhaka is not doing much on denying shelter to North East insurgents and stopping illegal migration of Bangladeshis here.

Dhaka has been denying existence of any North East training camps in Bangladesh despite India furnishing list of such facilities with their locations in that country.

On the significance of such a passport for the people of North East, the official said it is not in much demand and only few thousand people have availed of the facility.

Six North Eastern states have agreed to the MEA's intention but Tripura government has opposed the move, saying the scheme is of much benefit to the people of the region.