CAA is an internal matter of India, says Bangladesh Information Minister Hasan Mahmud

The comment on the CAA reflects the steady position of Bangladesh on the legislation which was enacted in 2019

November 01, 2022 09:42 pm | Updated 10:53 pm IST

NEW DELHI

The Information Minister of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmud on Tuesday said that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which was framed to grant Indian nationality to minorities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan is an “internal matter” of India and pointed out that there are fanatical groups that exist both in Bangladesh and India that are working to “undermine social harmony”.

Answering questions from journalists at the Press Club of India (PCI) Mr. Mahmud, a veteran leader of the Awami League reiterated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s comments regarding the Hindu minorities in Bangladesh and said that the followers of the Hindu faith in Bangladesh should not be regarded as a minority community as they belong to the mainstream of the country.

“CAA is your internal matter and with the fact that an appeal has been submitted in the Supreme Court, it has also become a legal issue,” said Mr. Mahmud in response to a question from The Hindu. He refused to delve deeper into the issue as the matter is now before the Supreme Court.

The comment on the CAA reflects the steady position of Bangladesh on the legislation which was enacted in 2019 but has remained unimplemented as the rules of the CAA has not been framed till now.

The issue returned to the headlines on Sunday after the Central government filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court that argued that the CAA is meant to provide “amnesty to specific communities” from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Minister did not respond to a question on whether mentioning of Bangladesh in an affidavit amounted to dragging the neighbouring country into India’s politico-legal battles.

Mr Mahmud strongly defended Dhaka’s record regarding minority rights and said that the Hindu festivals are celebrated freely in his country. “According to our constitution, everybody has equal rights. But there are some fanatical groups both in India and Bangladesh that try to ignite fanaticism and try to destabilise the harmony across religious groups. Our government has taken tough measures in the last couple of years against such miscreants and we have seen the festive manner in which Durga puja has taken place in Bangladesh this year,” said Mr. Mahmud.

He argued that seven hundred more Durga puja pandals were erected in 2022 in comparison to 2021 adding, “This was because the Government of Bangladesh has ensured security and safety of the people who follow the Hindu religion.” Bangladesh had witnessed communal violence during the Durga puja celebrations of 2021 when mobs attacked puja pandals in Brahmanbaria, Comilla, Rangpur and in parts of Chittagong.

This year, however, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan held preparatory meetings with the Durga Puja committees in Dhaka and provided security to all the puja pandals as per an agreement with the civil society groups.

Mr Mahmud praised India for its contribution to the 1971 war and acknowledged the support that Bangladesh received from India during the COVID-19 crisis.

He said the war in Ukraine has affected Bangladesh because of the commodities crisis that has accompanied the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine and said, “Our Prime Minister has said on many occasions that the war should be stopped and that there should be no sanctions as sanctions do not help anyone. The world economy is suffocating. As we have worked together in the last fifty-one years. In times to difficulty, we have to strengthen our ties as the world faces new challenges.” Mr. Mahmud argued. He also acknowledged India’s invitation to Bangladesh to participate in the 2023 G20 summit as a “guest country” saying that Bangladesh has accepted the invite.

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