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Alarm in Dhaka over comments calling Bangladesh citizens ‘infiltrators’
There is widespread concern in Dhaka about comments from Indian political leaders targeting the citizens of Bangladesh. Sources have indicated that Bangladesh has not officially expressed concern about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam but is well aware about the growing domestic public alarm over the comments from India that often refer to Bangladesh citizens as ‘infiltrators’.
Diplomatic sources expressed surprise about the developments in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal that came just a day before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is to begin her visit here. On Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Kolkata seemed to draw equivalence between the citizens of Bangladesh and ‘infiltrators’ and said at a seminar, “All infiltrators will be thrown out.” At the same time, the police in Uttar Pradesh were ordered to identify and deport foreign nationals from Bangladesh.
“We do not yet know if these developments are giving a message to Dhaka and specifically to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, but certainly these comments are drawing attention to the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the drive against the Muslim Bengalis,” said a source.
The comments came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Ms. Hasina in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and conveyed that Dhaka should not worry about the fallout of the NRC process in Assam which left 1.9 million citizens out of the citizenship list. Mr. Modi’s comment followed the Indian diplomatic line conveyed by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar during his latest visit to Dhaka where he described the NRC in Assam as an “internal matter” of India.
However, Ms. Hasina conveyed to Mr. Modi in New York that the NRC had emerged as a “matter of great concern”. The communication was confirmed by Foreign Minister Abdul Momen. Ms. Hasina will reach Delhi on Thursday to participate in the India chapter of the World Economic Forum where she is expected to present her country as a success story and a major destination for international investments.
The diplomatic source indicated that Dhaka is aware of the difficult political relation between New Delhi and Kolkata but finds it unfortunate that the Muslim Bengalis are being presented as ‘infiltrators’ and “illegal immigrants”. He took note that the Citizenship Amendment Bill would exclude Muslim Bengalis opening the possibility of the community’s exclusion from India. “Where will they be sent?” he asked.
Sheersha Khobor / A A
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