Maritime Cooperation Between Bangladesh and India: Rescue of 20 Bangladeshi by the Indian Coast Guard

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“It is great gesture of our fishermen. We have arranged food for these fishermen brought to Raidighi and urged the administration to arrange their safe return.”

-Haradhan Moyra

Secretary of the South Sundarban Fishermen and Fish Workers’ Union

Maritime cooperation between Bangladesh and India is a significant part of their bilateral relations. In 2014, these two neighboring countries demarcated their maritime boundary in such a peaceful way that should be portrayed as a textbook example of cooperation for all the countries with maritime disputes where Bangladesh secured 19,467 sq. km of the 25,602 sq. km sea area of the Bay of Bengal. Having age-old connections in every other prospect of cooperation, the relationship strengthened further in different phases of history by conducting quite a few MoUs and agreements regarding maritime affairs. Both countries have done and dusted many gestures that showcase the strong relationship between the two nations and maritime affairs encircled a lot in the aspects. The recent incident of rescuing 20 Bangladeshi by the Indian Coast Guard and handing them over with special proceedings enchanted the senectitude cooperative relationship status between the two states. However, the trust has not been earned by both actors in a hurried manner but through a series of gestures and official proceedings. There was also a normative approach from both countries shown in different periods of time. And the recent rescue operation is the cumulation of all the actions taken by the two states.

The issue of rescuing foreign personnel inside national marine boundaries is not a new phenomenon. Rather through different sources, it can be personified that there are incidents like this happened before. But the compassion and empathy shown by the government authorities and the locals and the quick response to hand them over to their own country is something that is not so common in recent history. Besides, the role of the two regimes should also be acknowledged as to how swiftly and effectively they acted. Hence the escapade becomes a phenomenon. The write-up will delineate the issue and the ramifications of the event.

20 Bangladeshi fishermen were extricated by the Indian Coast Guard from the sea after their boats overturned off Sagar Island, close to the India-Bangladesh International Maritime Border Line (IMBL). The start of the search and rescue operation was prompted by the discovery of the capsized boats by a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft on a surveillance mission after Cyclone Sitrang made landfall. An Indian Coast Guard plane dropped a life raft nearby, and it remained there until the survivors boarded it. The fishermen were turned over to the Bangladesh Coast Guard in accordance with the most recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Dhaka and Delhi.

There will be some assertive implications of the event since it reflects the positivity in the relations between the two states.

– Syed Raiyan Amir is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA). Previously, he served as a Research Assistant at United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and International Republican Institute (IRI).

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