BY S. VENKAT NARAYAN,
Our Special Correspondent
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Dhaka on March 26-27 for the centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the father of the nation, the 50th anniversary of the birth of Bangladesh, and five decades of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh.
Among the key takeaways from the visit are the launch of more border trading points between the two contiguous neighbours and connectivity projects linking India and Bangladesh.
Ahead of Modi’s visit, External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Dhaka last Thursday to firm up the agenda and possible deliverables, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Bangladesh is currently India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. India’s exports to Bangladesh in FY2018-19 stood at $ 9.21 billion and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were $1.04 billion.
Bangladesh marks Modi’s first visit abroad after a year when the Covid-19 pandemic brought all physical trips and meetings to a halt. This underlines the special place the eastern neighbour occupies in New Delhi’s “neighbourhood first” policy.
Ties with Dhaka have been described by officials as the “vital cog” in the “neighbourhood first” initiative. Dhaka is India’s biggest development partner in South Asia. New Delhi extended three lines of credit worth $8 billion in the past eight years for development of roads, railways, shipping, ports and other infrastructure.
Modi will inaugurate more “border haats” or trading markets. Last week, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran visited Assam and Meghalaya. In Meghalaya, he discussed the possibility of opening up new trading points along their common border. There are already four such points each in Meghalaya and Tripura.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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