New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina brought up her country’s concerns over the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue as well as discussed the Rohingya refugee crisis with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during talks in New Delhi on Saturday.
The talks were held in an “atmosphere of great cordiality and warmth,” with the two countries deciding to boost defence cooperation in the form of maritime surveillance and tackling the menace of terrorism.
Indian government sources on Saturday said, “On the NRC, the matter did come up. It was pointed out that it was an ongoing process and taking place under court direction. We will have to await the full outcome of this whole process. They asked us what is happening in the process and what is going to happen because we have to see where this process leads. It is court-mandated and court-directed. As the process moves ahead, we’ll see how the situation emerges.”
The controversy over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam continues even as Bangla-desh has been consistently maintaining that it would not take back any alleged illegal immigrants from Assam in the wake of the completion of the NRC process in the northeastern Indian state. Bangla-desh has been maintaining that any alleged illegal immigrants in India are not Bangladeshis. The NRC had been prepared to reportedly identify Indian citizens living in Assam since March 24, 1971, or before. Out of 3.3 crore applicants, over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final NRC published recently.
On the Rohingya issue, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina “conveyed the gratitude” of her government “for the humanitarian assistance provided by India since September 2017 to help meet the needs of the displaced persons from Myanmar.”
The two neighbours inked seven pacts including an MoU on establishment of coastal surveillance radar system in Bangladesh and conclusion of standard operating procedures for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports that will make movement of goods from the Indian hinterland to the northeastern states much easier.
The two leaders launched three projects through a video link that includes import of bulk LPG gas from Bangladesh, something that will reduce the prices of LPG supply to India’s northeastern states.
A joint statement issued by the two countries said “both leaders emphasised the need for greater cooperation to commemorate the two important anniversary years — Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary in 2020 and 50 years of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation, and the establishment of India-Bangladesh bilateral diplomatic ties in year 2021.”
This is significant, given that India is extremely keen to strengthen the historical legacy of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina’s father, whose leadership led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 from Pakistan after Indian military intervention. Pakistan’s influence in Bangladesh has considerably waned under the Government of Sheikh Hasina and this is something that New Delhi hopes will continue.
Meanwhile, the pacts inked also included one for “withdrawal of 1.82 lakh cusec of water from Feni by India for drinking water supply scheme for Sabroom town, Tripura, India and another for cooperation between the University of Hyderabad and University of Dhaka.”...