Sunday, 29 January, 2023

It Won’t Be Possible to Ruin Bangladesh-India Friendship Easily

Jayanta Ghosal

It Won’t Be Possible to Ruin Bangladesh-India Friendship Easily

Biswajit Daimary, the Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly in India, returned home after paying a visit to Dhaka along with a 62-member delegation. There were 35 lawmakers in the team. For the time being, it was an innocent visit. While staying in Bangladesh, the Chief Minister of Assam said, “Sheikh Hasina is like a goddess. We have come to see what she has done for the development of Bangladesh.” After independence, how did she move the country forward capitalising on the democratic process? Observing it, Daimary came back home with his team. Through the statement, he tried to make it clear that Bangladesh as an independent country is closer to the Indian state of Assam geographically. In mindset too, both are closer to each other. Only there is separation on the frontier, in administration and sovereignty. Daimary unhesitatingly expressed that he will try to emulate the model of development of Bangladesh in Assam. 

The state of Assam is being ruled by the BJP. The chief minister of the state is Himanta Biswa Sharma. The speaker of the ruling party sat in dialogue more than once. He held meetings with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Following a dinner held at the guest house of Foreign Service, he said that we share one river, Brahmaputra, the same soil, sky and weather. He went back to his country leaving behind a message for unity. Can it be that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unaware of this? It cannot be so.

We should keep in mind that Narendra Modi is a Prime Minister who regularly monitors through the ministry of foreign affairs every trifle matter, even events like foreign tours whether it is of a chief minister or a speaker. We shall have to remember that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma is very close to the Home Minister. On the issue of infiltration, he is politically vocal.

The ruling BJP has reiterated that the government is determined to enforce the citizenship bill and the CAC will surely come into effect. It is hard to believe that the central government was not aware of Speaker Daimary’s tour. The visit took place at a time when the election is imminent in Bangladesh. Polling is being held in the Indian states one after another. Lok Sabha elections will be held in 2024. Against the backdrop of the Ukraine war, India is tasked with presiding over the G20. Although Bangladesh is not a member of G-20, yet it was invited to take part. That is why Daimary’s Bangladesh tour is very important. Diplomatically also the visit is significant.

He again visited Rangamati district that is inhabited by the Asamiya community people. His entry to Bangladesh on November 29 morning by land through Akhaura land port via Brahmanbaria also bears a symbolic significance. He sat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Later Sheikh Hasina expressed optimism that the import of fuel oil from India through pipeline will be started from next year. In fact, the two countries are determined to implement the project next year. The eastern states of India are the neighbours of Bangladesh. It is very important for Bangladesh. It is also important to stabilise Assam’s relationship with Bangladesh.

Last Sunday he met with the Prime Minister at Ganobhaban. On behalf of Bangladesh, Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal were present. He also had long parleys with Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury. All issues including building of a friendship IBFBL pipeline along 130-KM Indo-Bangladesh border and implementation of border haat (market) came up during discussions.

Recently, Indian High Commissioner Pranay Kumar Verma went to Dhaka. On arrival, he passed busy times. Bangladesh reminded about Indian commitment on Rohingiya issue. India informed that it is giving due importance to the issue. Before going to Bangladesh, the Speaker of Assam did enough homework from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra has gone to Myanmar. In Rakhine, different projects have been taken on Rohingya affairs where India had joined. An effort is underway to jointly combat the problem.

It can be said that India and Bangladesh will be able to surmount the obstacles on the way of friendship. A new horizon will be opened. Because of various reasons, there arose problems in  northeastern states of India. In recent times disputes arose between Assam and Meghalaya. It is most important to bring the situation under control. According to Indian intelligence sources, China and Pakistan have jointly become active in creating unrest in the northeastern states of India. 

Zia-ul-Haq in his theory of Operation Tupac planned to divide the northeastern states of India. Operation Tupac-1 was meant for Kashmir and  Operation Tupac-2 for the northeastern states of India. As part of the plan, Pakistan is still engaged in a shadow war. Recently, a new chief has taken over the charge in Pakistan Army. The future relationship with Pakistan is uncertain. The SCO meeting is coming. At that meeting, Pakistan and China have been invited; India itself will preside over the SCO meet. In such a situation, it is important on the part of India to give priority to its relationship with Bangladesh. Enemy sides are out to ruin that relationship. Publicity campaigns and ill efforts are going on to make the relationship unstable. Through the tour of the Assamese Speaker, Indian PM Narendra Modi has taken a significant step.

It becomes more conspicuous when Indian State Minister for Foreign Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh visited Bangladesh ahead of the G-20 summit to hand over an invitation letter and discussed related issues. India is going to formally invite Bangladesh. A blueprint is also being prepared about the role of Bangladesh. So, it can be said that the flower will ultimately blossom. It is not possible on the part of the enemies to ruin the Indo-Bangladesh amity so easily.

In a great country like India, it is an urgency to maintain unity among the northeastern states. The conflict which has begun on the Assam-Meghalaya border is undesirable. A group of villagers of Meghalaya set fire to an office of the Forest Department in Karbi Anglong district of Assam. Equipped with stick-rod-sickle, a group of villagers of West Jayantiya district’s Mokhra village under Meghalaya raided the Bit office of Kherni forestry in Karbi Anglong. They broke the furniture and motorbikes parked outside and destroyed all files. Later, they set fire to the Bit office. The attackers fled before the arrival of the police. As soon as an Assamese vehicle enters Meghalaya, it is attacked. The police in Assam have reportedly restricted vehicles with Assam registration numbers from going to Meghalaya. Five citizens of Meghalaya were killed by the firing of Assam police. In this full season of tourism, the tourists are in danger. As a result, internet service has been stopped, curfew has been imposed. Assam-Meghalaya road communication has been snapped and problems arose over goods transportation. The Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sharma, has issued a statement denouncing police firing.

In such a situation, it is an urgency to keep the Indian states united and strengthen Assam’s relationship with neighbouring Bangladesh. Under the situation, the role of Bangladesh is very positive. So, India is grateful to the Government of Bangladesh. With this understanding, it is necessary to march forward.


The writer is a senior

journalist based in New Delhi

Translated by Z A M Khairuzzaman