Amitabh Bhattsali : Bangladesh Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud, who is visiting India, said that although China is Bangladesh’s development partner, there is no comparison between India-Bangladesh relations with Dhaka’s relations with them or any other country. They have ‘blood relation’ with India.
Mahmood said that in his meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, issues like border killings, distribution of Teesta water, situation in Myanmar were discussed.
In response to questions from journalists at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia in Delhi on Thursday evening, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh commented that an anti-Indian section in his country conducts the so-called ‘India Out’ campaign from time to time, but this ‘campaign’ is becoming more serious.
Hasan Mahmood thanked the people, government and civil society of that country for thwarting the attempt to disrupt the democratic process in Bangladesh during the elections. He also said that the great progress Bangladesh has made in various fields under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in recent times would not have been possible if India had not provided assistance or had good relations with them.
Comparison of two bilateral relations
The foreign minister of Bangladesh was asked, is the relationship between Bangladesh and China not in conflict with the India-Bangladesh relationship?
There is also pressure from Western countries to maintain relations with China. How will the new foreign minister deal with this issue?
Hasan Mahmood replied, “Our relationship with India is incomparable to any other country. Because we are related by blood.”
“The people of India, the soldiers of India gave their blood. During the war of independence, India opened its borders and sheltered 10 million people.”
“Therefore, India-Bangladesh relations can’t be compared with any other country,” said Mahmud.
The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh also mentioned that China is an important partner in the development of Bangladesh.
He said, “China is our development partner. They are neighbors even if they are not next door to us.”
‘India Out’ campaign waning
A journalist wanted to know about the India Out campaign.
In response Hasan Mahmud said, “Our party has a bad reputation in Bangladesh that we are a pro-India party. But this drug no longer works. But there are anti-India people in Bangladesh.”
“We are actually a pro-Bangladesh party. There is an anti-India section in the country. They raise this issue during polls. And sometimes they want to inculcate anti-India sentiment in the minds of a section of people.”
“But the anti-India sentiment is diminishing. A large number of people understand that Bangladesh should have good relations with India for the development of the region. Good relations with the neighbor should be maintained for the development of the entire region. The majority believes that,” said Mahmud.
He was counter-questioned that anti-India slogans are being written on the streets of Bangladesh, Indian goods are being banned from being sold. What action do you plan to take?
The foreign minister said, “Bangladesh is a free society. Pluralist countries believe in democracy. Anyone can say whatever they want.”
“That’s why anti-India, anti-China, anti-US, anti-Europe, anti-Pakistan slogans are written on walls and posters. But these anti-India slogans don’t work like before.”
Thanks to India
Hasan Mahmud began his opening remarks with the context of the Bangladesh elections.
While saying that, he said, “Just after the election, there was a congratulatory message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In this regard, we would like to thank the people of India, the civil society and the government for standing by the democratic process of Bangladesh, to counter the efforts of a section to disrupt democracy.
Mr. Mahmood thanked India not only for the recent elections.
He said that during the time of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the great improvement in various fields, India-Bangladesh relations have become the best, it has been possible because of India’s support and good relations with India.
Tista issue discussed
Hasan Mahmud also said that the distribution of Teesta river water was discussed in his meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
In response to a question, he said, “Tista was discussed. The central government has no objection, the objection came from the state government.”
“Elections are coming here, the election process will start next month, the polls will be held in April-May. It has been discussed with Mr. Jaishankar that we will discuss the matter after the polls. We are sure that a solution will be found.”
Bangladesh Foreign Minister said during his opening remarks at the press conference that he had discussed many bilateral issues with Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
He was later questioned about border killings and the killing of a member of the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) inside Indian borders a couple of weeks ago.
It was also asked whether this issue came up in discussions with India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval or External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
In response Hasan Mahmud said, “Yes, the foreign minister discussed the matter with me. We’ve talked about the possibility of border guards using non-lethal weapons.”
“India apologized after that killing. We are looking into the matter, discussing it. The murder incident is also being investigated”, said Mahmud.
In response to a question, Hasan Mahmud said that not only the India-Bangladesh border, but also the border incidents of Myanmar, another neighboring country of Bangladesh, had been discussed with him by the Indian Foreign Minister.
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