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Modi’s visit to Bangladesh deferred

Bangladesh told India fresh dates for the commemorative events would be conveyed later.

Sabrangindia 11 Mar 2020

modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has calked off a visit to Bangladesh to participate in celebrations marking the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The reasons stated by Delhi attribute the decision to Dhaka’s deferring public events after the detection of Coronavirus infections. Modi and other world leaders had been invited to participate in a rally on March 17 to mark the start of the celebrations.

Incidentally, Bangladesh’s decision came against the backdrop of large-scale protests against India’s controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the targeted, communal violence in New Delhi that killed close to 50 people though the death toll may be higher. Several Bangladeshi political parties and groups had opposed Modi’s participation in the celebrations under the circumstanced.

On Sunday, Bangladeshi officials said the launch of the birth centenary celebrations of the country’s founder would be scaled down or postponed after three Coronavirus infections were detected. India received a formal notification from Bangladesh about these public events being deferred because of the detection of coronavirus cases and the larger global public health situation, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

“The impact of this deferment applies also to the large gathering planned for March 17, at which the prime minister of India was invited,” he told the media. “In this context, prime minister’s visit to Bangladesh next week at the invitation of …Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is being deferred...India is ready to work with Bangladesh, as partners, to combat the spread of this disease in our shared neighbourhood,” he added.

This is the second international visit by Modi that has been called off because of COVID-19-related concerns. Last week, India put off his visit to Brussels for the India-EU Summit on March 13. Bangladesh told India fresh dates for the commemorative events would be conveyed later. People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity the two sides are looking at the possibility of Modi joining the small-scale inauguration of the celebrations on March 17 through video conferencing.

Hasina, who took several steps to address India’s security concerns and worked assiduously to forge better relations with Modi, has faced widespread criticism within Bangladesh since leaders of India’s ruling BJP began talking of deporting all the people left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. She has raised the NRC issue with Modi during their last two meetings in September and October.

This criticism increased after the Indian Parliament passed the CAA last December and again after the sectarian violence in New Delhi. Following the weekly Friday prayers on March 6, large numbers of people joined protests in Dhaka and other cities opposing the Indian leader’s visit. A grouping of 46 Islamic organisations called on the government to withdraw the invitation to the Indian premier.

People familiar with developments in Dhaka said there was also anger among younger leaders of Hasina’s Awami League party, who believe the CAA and related issues have strengthened the hands of their opponents in hardline parties. Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who served as the first president of Bangladesh and later as prime minister before his assassination in August 1975.

New Delhi has dismissed criticism of the CAA, saying it’s an internal matter, and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla assured his Bangladeshi interlocutors during a visit to Dhaka this month the NRC had no implications for Bangladesh.

Former ambassador Rajiv Dogra said the CAA, irrespective of whether it was a correct move, had impacted relations with friendly countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh. “This is even more so in the case of Bangladesh, which is more sensitive and with which relations have been excellent. It was a diplomatic disaster to lump it with Pakistan in the CAA as countries that persecute minorities,” he said.

“This was an opportunity that was exploited by Sheikh Hasina’s opponents and the recent protests were a warning that the Indian premier’s visit, if it had gone ahead, would have had more negatives than positives. It’s hard to accept the reasoning that a cherished event in Bangladesh was deferred solely because of a few cases of Coronavirus,” he added.

Modi’s visit to Bangladesh deferred

Bangladesh told India fresh dates for the commemorative events would be conveyed later.

modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has calked off a visit to Bangladesh to participate in celebrations marking the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The reasons stated by Delhi attribute the decision to Dhaka’s deferring public events after the detection of Coronavirus infections. Modi and other world leaders had been invited to participate in a rally on March 17 to mark the start of the celebrations.

Incidentally, Bangladesh’s decision came against the backdrop of large-scale protests against India’s controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the targeted, communal violence in New Delhi that killed close to 50 people though the death toll may be higher. Several Bangladeshi political parties and groups had opposed Modi’s participation in the celebrations under the circumstanced.

On Sunday, Bangladeshi officials said the launch of the birth centenary celebrations of the country’s founder would be scaled down or postponed after three Coronavirus infections were detected. India received a formal notification from Bangladesh about these public events being deferred because of the detection of coronavirus cases and the larger global public health situation, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

“The impact of this deferment applies also to the large gathering planned for March 17, at which the prime minister of India was invited,” he told the media. “In this context, prime minister’s visit to Bangladesh next week at the invitation of …Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is being deferred...India is ready to work with Bangladesh, as partners, to combat the spread of this disease in our shared neighbourhood,” he added.

This is the second international visit by Modi that has been called off because of COVID-19-related concerns. Last week, India put off his visit to Brussels for the India-EU Summit on March 13. Bangladesh told India fresh dates for the commemorative events would be conveyed later. People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity the two sides are looking at the possibility of Modi joining the small-scale inauguration of the celebrations on March 17 through video conferencing.

Hasina, who took several steps to address India’s security concerns and worked assiduously to forge better relations with Modi, has faced widespread criticism within Bangladesh since leaders of India’s ruling BJP began talking of deporting all the people left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. She has raised the NRC issue with Modi during their last two meetings in September and October.

This criticism increased after the Indian Parliament passed the CAA last December and again after the sectarian violence in New Delhi. Following the weekly Friday prayers on March 6, large numbers of people joined protests in Dhaka and other cities opposing the Indian leader’s visit. A grouping of 46 Islamic organisations called on the government to withdraw the invitation to the Indian premier.

People familiar with developments in Dhaka said there was also anger among younger leaders of Hasina’s Awami League party, who believe the CAA and related issues have strengthened the hands of their opponents in hardline parties. Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who served as the first president of Bangladesh and later as prime minister before his assassination in August 1975.

New Delhi has dismissed criticism of the CAA, saying it’s an internal matter, and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla assured his Bangladeshi interlocutors during a visit to Dhaka this month the NRC had no implications for Bangladesh.

Former ambassador Rajiv Dogra said the CAA, irrespective of whether it was a correct move, had impacted relations with friendly countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh. “This is even more so in the case of Bangladesh, which is more sensitive and with which relations have been excellent. It was a diplomatic disaster to lump it with Pakistan in the CAA as countries that persecute minorities,” he said.

“This was an opportunity that was exploited by Sheikh Hasina’s opponents and the recent protests were a warning that the Indian premier’s visit, if it had gone ahead, would have had more negatives than positives. It’s hard to accept the reasoning that a cherished event in Bangladesh was deferred solely because of a few cases of Coronavirus,” he added.

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