Dhaka, Delhi to prepare SOP to reduce travellers’ sufferings

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:08, Jan 26,2021

 
 

The governments of Bangladesh and India would prepare a standard operating procedure to streamline consular services for reducing sufferings of travellers of the two countries.

Senior foreign ministry officials of the two countries would discuss the matter in a secretary-level meeting titled ‘consular dialogue’ in New Delhi on Thursday, officials said.

Difficulties faced by travellers from both sides, opening of new entry and exit ports with India, transfer of detained persons, including sentenced prisoners, and reporting by travellers to distant police stations, among others, are expected to be discussed in the consular dialogue, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen told New Age. 

India has already proposed a draft of the standard operating procedure, a home ministry official said, adding that the Bangladesh side is working on a separate draft.

Foreign ministry secretary Mashfee Binte Shams would lead the Bangladesh side in the talks in which Indian external affairs ministry secretary Sanjay Bhattacharyya would lead the delegation of the country.

Most of the Bangladeshi travellers go to India for treatment, tourism and visiting shrines and many of them face immense difficulties, facing detention on trivial excuses by the Indian police and for lack of knowledge of local laws and for language barriers, an official said.

At least 1,600 Bangladeshis are now languishing in Indian prisons, hardly getting any legal help in most of the cases.

The Indian police seldom inform the Bangladesh missions immediately after detaining Bangladesh citizens, said the official, adding that the situation is not similar in Bangladesh.    

About 1,000 Indian citizens are in Bangladesh jails and in most of the cases, the police informed the Indian missions immediately after identification of the nationality of the detainees.

The two countries’ delegations would also discuss possibilities and scopes for easing transfer of the sentenced prisoners to their respective country.

The two sides are likely to discuss about the discriminatory penalties imposed by the Indian authorities based on religion of travellers, said an official in New Delhi.

Any Muslim traveller from Bangladesh requires paying $300 as penalty for overstaying in India up to 90 days, while travellers of any other religion requires paying 100 Rupees for an overstay up to 90 days.

India maintains discriminatory provisions based on religion for the overstaying travellers from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Indian missions in Bangladesh issued about 1.5 million visas in 2019 for travelling to the country, while Bangladesh missions issued less than three lakh visas to Indians.

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