India and Bangladesh are set to reopen after the Chilahati-Haldibari railway line was cut off nearly 55 years ago in the 1965 war.
The rail link will be inaugurated on Thursday during the Virtual Summit of the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to visit Bangladesh in March this year, but the visit had to be postponed due to the abrupt start of Kovid-19. The virtual summit between PM Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina comes on Thursday, a day after the two countries’ victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.
Over the years, India and Bangladesh have been maintaining the highest level of regular exchanges. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid an official visit to India in October 2019. In March 2020, Prime Minister Modi gave a video message on the historic occasion of Mujib Borsho. The two leaders were in regular contact during the epidemic.
With the aim of enhancing transport and connectivity between the two countries, the leadership on both sides is committed to restoring and implementing the six rail links that existed between the two countries prior to 1965. The Haldibari-Chilahati railway line is part of the Broad Gauge main line from Kolkata to Siliguri.
However, the war of 1965 effectively severed all railway ties between the two countries. To restore comfort on both sides, rail links are being restored, increasing connectivity and people-to-people contacts on both sides.
With the inauguration of the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link, five of the six rail links are currently operational. The other four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh connecting West Bengal with Bangladesh are Petropol (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh), Gade (India) – Darshan (Bangladesh), Sinhabad (India) – Rohanpur (Bangladesh), and Radhikapur (India). –Birol (Bangladesh).
The Haldibari-Chilahati route will increase connectivity from Bangladesh to Assam and West Bengal. This link will improve rail network access and promote the region’s bilateral trade and economic development. Currently, rail link facilitates the transportation of goods. The passenger movement will also begin as soon as the necessary infrastructure is in place on both sides.