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Arrest of Mujib killer bodes well for India-Bangladesh ties

There cannot be a better gift for Hasina than the deportation of her father’s killer, say sources

The unexpected return of a high-value fugitive from India to Bangladesh indicates the revival of positive sentiments in India-Bangladesh ties, diplomatic sources have acknowledged. Captain Abdul Majed, one of the members of the military hit squad that killed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his immediate family in 1975, was arrested on Tuesday at a bus stop in Dhaka.

It is learnt that Majed had informed authorities in Dhaka that he was based in West Bengal for decades and that he returned because the ongoing lockdown in India has made life difficult for him. However, sources said there is unlikely to be an immediate formal bilateral official acknowledgement of the arrival of Majed from exile in India because of diplomatic reasons.

Sources also informed that he has already confessed to his participation in the murders committed in the Dhandmondi residence of the Mujib family in the early hours of August 15, 1975, saying this arrest is going to boost bilateral ties. “There cannot be a better gift for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina than the arrest and deportation of her father’s killer, in the Mujib centenary year,” said a source familiar with the internal exchanges between the two sides.

Ties between the two capitals had been strained in recent months especially after Dhaka cancelled a series of ministerial level visits hinting at displeasure at the current state of affairs. The arrest of the convicted killer of the founding figure of Bangladesh is likely to help in recovering “the lost ground”, said the official.

The Supreme Court in Bangladesh had upheld the death sentence for Abdul Majed in 2009 and it is expected that the government of Sheikh Hasina will carry it out though the situation will become clearer in the coming days. After months of volatility in ties, relations seem to have taken off with the arrival of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla who took over in late January. Mr. Shringla, who earlier served as envoy to Bangladesh, visited Dhaka soon thereafter and held extensive talks with Sheikh Hasina and other officials. Officials maintained close coordination in the subsequent weeks despite the disruption caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak that prompted cancellation of the Mujib centenary event and the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka.

Indian actions like the launching of the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund on March 15 and the warm message on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered by Mr. Modi via video link on March 17 also helped ties. “I am also happy to mention that in the last five-six years, India and Bangladesh have scripted a golden chapter of bilateral ties and given new dimension and direction to our partnership,” said PM Modi pitching for greater trust in bilateral ties.

Though most of the members of the original death squad have passed away, Majed is considered to be among a few who managed to elude the law enforcement authorities of Bangladesh till Tuesday. It is known that Bangladesh is in contact with a few western countries for the possible repatriation of the other convicted killers.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 10:02:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/arrest-of-mujib-killer-bodes-well-for-india-bangladesh-ties/article31293692.ece

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