Bangladesh Ministers call off trips

Dhaka hasn’t spelt out reasons, but MEA says ‘domestic issues’

Published - December 13, 2019 02:01 am IST - New Delhi

Bangladesh on Thursday cancelled the scheduled India visits by its Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momin and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, diplomatic sources said.

Dhaka has not yet given a reason, but it is understood that it is a sign of its displeasure over repeated reference by the Indian political leadership to alleged minority persecution in Bangladesh.

Mr. Momin was supposed land on Thursday on a three-day visit from December 12 to 14. He is one of the first foreign leaders to respond to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s reference to “atrocities” against Hindu women in Bangladesh, while introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha.

“There are very few countries where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh. If he [Amit Shah] stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see exemplary communal harmony,” Mr. Momin said.

‘No persecution’

He told the Bengali service of BBC that religious persecution did not exist in Bangladesh. “We believe that religion is a personal affair, but festivals belong to all.”

Mr. Momin, who should have been the keynote speaker at Friday’s combined session of Delhi Dialogue XI and Indian Ocean Dialogue VI, said: “We can say that the condition of the minority communities in Bangladesh is very good now. Those who went abroad earlier are now returning home.”

Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan was expected to attend an event in Shillong on Friday to pay tribute to the sacrifice of the guerrillas of Mukti Bahini who assisted India in the war against Pakistan in 1971.

It is learnt that Dhaka was concerned about the law and order situation in Meghalaya, where protests were reported following the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Parliament.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar maintained that Dhaka had conveyed that its Ministers cancelled their India visit because of “domestic issues pertaining to the commemoration of the ‘Victory Day’ in Bangladesh on December 16”.

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