India-Bangladesh international bus service resumes operations from Tripura after two years

The Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata ‘Maitri’ (friendship) bus resumed service after a two-year hiatus on Friday from Akhaura Integrated Checkpoint (ICP) in the outskirts of Agartala city.

Agartala, which is one of the Indian state capitals closest to the international border, shares a connection with the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Tripura was effectively a hub of Muktijoddha training with several training camps and refugees settled in different parts of the state at that time.

Speaking to the media at the inaugural session on Friday morning, Tripura Transport Minister Pranajit Singha Roy said the reintroduction of the Indo-Bangla international bus service will strengthen the cultural and historical ties between Bangladesh and Tripura.

He also said that the international bus service would be of particular importance to Tripura since its conventional connectivity route is now down due to a landslide in Haflong. “Fifteen trains are operational in Tripura. But due to natural calamities, rail connectivity has been down for a month now. It will take time to fix it. Many people have to travel to other states for different reasons, including for treatment. The resumption of the Maitri bus service will be useful for ordinary people,” the minister said.

The Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata bus line will reach passengers in Dhaka in four years and will take 19 hours to reach Kolkata compared to the 35 hours of the train line that runs through Guwahati and the Siliguri “chicken neck” in West Bengal.

The bus service had high demand among people when it was operational before 2020 and was discontinued due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tripura Road Transport Corporation (TRTC) Chairman and Agartala Mayor Dipak Majumder said the international bus service will help develop tourism and bilateral relations.

The Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Arif Muhammad, and other officials from the neighboring country also joined the event. TRTC Managing Director Rajesh Kumar Das said the Indo-Bangladesh bus service resumed after the two countries’ ministries of interior and external affairs set out the terms and gave permission for the service. connectivity.

Maitri bus service operates a 40-seater bus and 28 passengers, including 22 Indian nationals and six Bangladeshi nationals, enjoyed the service of the first bus on the road after the two-year interval. The bus will run six days a week except Fridays.

According to TRTC officials, the trip will cost Rs 2,200 to travel from Agartala to Kolkata via Dhaka and Rs 900 to Dhaka.

According to reports from the local office of the Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh, around 500 to 600 applications are submitted daily for visas to travel to the neighboring country.

Most of these visa applications are for tourism or to meet relatives in Bangladesh, as many citizens of Tripura are those who emigrated during partition or before the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Tripura shares an 856 km long international border with Bangladesh, parts of which are still unfenced due to local conflicts.

Melvin Z. Madore