Bangladesh is a “so-called friend” and poses a bigger security challenge to India than Pakistan and China, junior home minister Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said on Thursday in controversial remarks that come against the backdrop of efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries.
“It is not only China or Pakistan but Bangladesh poses an equally bigger challenge to our national security, I know it because I get to see that closely,” Mr Ahir, 63, said at a homeland security event organized by industry body Assocham, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
In the same speech, the 63-year-old minister, a four-time lawmaker from Maharashtra, also shared his perspective on two other neighbours. China, he said, was “not a very close friend”. As for Pakistan, he said no one could stop India if it tried to get back Pakistan-occupied Kashmir from Pakistan “because it is our right and we will make efforts to get it back”.
The minister had last week traveled to Assam to review steps taken by India’s border guarding force, the Border Security Force, to secure the border with Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh is only a so-called friend because evidently it has caused India most harm through illegal intrusion and as such going ahead it is only the smart technologies which will help us curb this menace,” the minister said.
But his remarks are seen to be at variance with India’s official stand on Bangladesh and China.
Just last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had launched a string of connectivity projects that PM Modi had stressed would give the “historic bond” between the people of the two countries “a fresh boost”.
The minister, however, did not stop at Bangladesh, and offered his perspective on China as well.
According to a statement by Assocham, the minister spoke on the recent intrusion attempts by China.
“China today is not a very close friend of ours, they have always raised problems for the country. And be it China, Myanmar, Bangladesh or terrorists coming into India through Pakistan we need to utilise and we will promote the usage of various modern technologies to curb intrusion,” he said.