July 30, 2007 / 2:37 PM / 12 years ago

Security concerns delay India-Bangladesh train link

KOLKATA (Reuters) - The resumption of a rail service between India and neighbouring Bangladesh has been delayed after New Delhi raised concerns over lack of security and poor infrastructure, officials said on Monday.

File photo shows men working on a rail track near the India-Bangladesh border station of Gede, 120 km northwest of Kolkata, July 26, 2007. The resumption of a rail service between India and Bangladesh has been delayed after New Delhi raised concerns over lack of security and poor infrastructure, officials said on Monday. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

The two countries had hoped to restart a passenger service between Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, and the Indian city of Kolkata, some 375 (235 miles) away, by early September, ending a 42-year break.

But Indian officials told a news conference they were still worried about security, as well as inadequate immigration and customs arrangements for the cross-border service.

“We should not rush into it without addressing the security aspects as things have gone wrong in this country on trains before,” said A.E. Ahmed, a senior Home (interior) Ministry official.

A similar train service runs between India and Pakistan, but in February a bomb attack on that service killed 68 people. Indian authorities were criticised for security lapses.

Ahmed said India wanted more security provisions near the international border line as well as inside Bangladesh territory. There also needed to be better buildings and facilities for immigration and customs at the border, he added.

Rail services between India and Bangladesh were suspended after the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, when Bangladesh was Pakistan’s eastern province. The service was not restored even after Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Bangladeshi officials, who arrived in Kolkata on a trial run of the train service on Sunday for talks with their Indian counterparts, said they planned to address India’s concerns.

“The talks have gone well and we hope to complete all the infrastructure requirements by mid-September,” said A.T.M. lsmail, head of the Bangladeshi delegation.

Normally friendly relations between India and Bangladesh have often been marred by border skirmishes, especially after India began fencing off parts of the 4,100-km (2,550 mile) border in 2002 to stop illegal migrants and suspected militants.

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