Agartala, Oct 27: Trade ties and bus services between Bangladesh and India took a hit as violence rocked the neighbouring country as the opposition-sponsored 60-hour countrywide shutdown began Sunday, officials said here.
The country’s main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led the 18-party alliance that called the nationwide shutdown beginning 6 a.m. Sunday, and it is set to continue until 6 p.m. of Oct 29.
The opposition is demanding that a caretaker government be installed during the general elections, and that the elections be held early 2014.
According to bdnews24.com, an online news portal in Bangladesh, violence in the country since Saturday has claimed at least 12 lives, and many vehicles, shops and government assets have been damaged.
“Trade between Bangladesh and India’s northeastern states was badly affected as hundreds of goods-laden trucks and other vehicles were stranded on either side of the borders adjoining Tripura and Meghalaya because of the shutdown in that country,” a customs official told IANS in Agartala.
Agartala Exporters-Importers Association general secretary Habul Biswas told reporters that over 700 workers are involved in the trading at the Akhaurah checkpost and other LCSs (Land Customs Stations) in Tripura, but as labourers of Bangladesh were not available, and truck operators feared for the security of their vehicles, the export-import business has been crippled.
Akhaurah is one of the most important international trading land ports in northeast India adjacent to Agartala city. On average, about 200 Bangladeshi trucks loaded with goods come to Tripura every day.
Biswas said that business worth Rs.15 million, on average, takes place daily through Akhaurah, the second-most important international trading land port along the India-Bangladesh border, after the Petrapol-Banepole checkpost in West Bengal.
Trade between India and Bangladesh has been taking place through Akhaurah and five other LCSs in Tripura, which shares an 856-km border with Bangladesh.
The situation in Bangladesh also led to the suspension of the Dhaka-Agartala bus service.
“For security reasons, buses between Dhaka and Agartala are not plying. The bus service is expected to resume after the situation in Bangladesh returns to normal,” an official of the Tripura Road Transport Corporation, one of the operators of the Dhaka-Agartala bus service, said.
He added that a group of tourists from Tripura who went to Bangladesh recently cut short their trip in that country and returned Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Border Security Force (BSF) has further tightened security all along the India-Bangladesh border.
“We have deployed additional troopers along the entire Indo-Bangla border. Senior officials of the BSF are closely supervising the situation. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (banning ny assembly of five or more people) have been promulgated along the international borders,” a BSF spokesman told IANS.
India shares a 4,096-km border with Bangladesh, of which 2,216 km is with West Bengal, 856 km with Tripura, 443 km with Meghalaya, 318 km with Mizoram and 262 km with Assam.
A large portion of the International Border is unfenced and porous.