NRC is an internal, legal process: Narendra Modi assures Sheikh Hasina

“We will keep our eyes open as this (NRC process) proceeds,” says Bangladesh Foreign Secretary.

Updated - December 03, 2021 07:11 am IST

Published - October 05, 2019 10:57 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Green light:  PM Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart  Sheikh Hasina inaugurating projects through video link after holding talks in New Delhi on Saturday.

Green light: PM Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina inaugurating projects through video link after holding talks in New Delhi on Saturday.

Two weeks after they met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again assured Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the issue of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, officials said, after a meeting between the two in Delhi on Saturday.

They also discussed the fate of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, witnessed the exchange of seven MoUs, agreements in the areas of water-sharing, implementation of India’s Lines of Credit, a coastal surveillance system, as well as education, culture and youth. They inaugurated three projects, including one for the export of LPG cooking gas from Bangladesh to India.

“We think and have been assured that it is an internal matter of India. PM Modi has explained to PM Hasina how India intends to include everyone in the process. Our relations are the best of the best. But we will keep our eyes open to what we see as this proceeds,” said Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque.

Responding to a question from The Hindu about the 1.9 million people declared non-citizens, whom Home Minister Amit Shah has said would be deported, Mr. Haque said, “We shouldn’t make a crisis out of nothing, and wait and see. We are keeping a watch.”

According to officials, concerns over the NRC were raised by Ms. Hasina, and Mr. Modi explained that the NRC is a legal process that only relates to India, at present. “NRC is a court-mandated process, which is ongoing, and we will see as the situation emerges,” said an official.


According to the major agreements on river water issues, Bangladesh has agreed to allow India to withdraw 1.82 cusecs water from the Feni river for a drinking water supply project in Tripura. Procedural data for the use of two Bangladeshi ports for goods from India was also exchanges as the two sides committed to greater connectivity between the two countries.

No deal on rivers

However, India and Bangladesh failed to conclude a framework agreement to optimise the use of waters from six rivers including the Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar, which has been discussed for several months.

According to a joint statement issued after the bilateral meeting, Mr. Modi and Ms. Hasina have directed officials to complete the six-river agreement as well as a feasibility study for the Ganga-Padma barrage project as part of an upgraded version of the 1996 Ganga Water Sharing treaty.

No progress was reported on the long pending Teesta water sharing agreement either, said the joint statement, but “Prime Minister Modi informed that his government is working with all stakeholders in India for conclusion of the Agreement soonest possible,” indicating that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has not withdrawn her opposition to the agreement.

Rohingya crisis

The other issue that came up during the talks was the plight of nearly a million Rohingya refugees who are currently staying in camps in Cox Bazaar. Ms. Hasina reportedly requested Mr. Modi to use his “good relations” with the Myanmar government to facilitate the return of all the refugees, while appreciating the aid India has given to refugees in Bangladesh as well as 250 homes built for them in Myanmar.

When asked if Bangladesh was holding back Hindu Refugees from Rakhine state to send them back along with the majority Muslim Rohingya community, Mr. Haque denied that they were holding anyone back.

“We have twice made facilities for Rohingyas to go back so we have not stopped anyone from going back whose citizenship has been verified [by Myanmar]. The border is open from our side and we want them to go back as soon as possible,” he said.

During the meeting, Ms. Hasina also invited Mr. Modi to visit Bangladesh for the birth centenary celebrations of her father and the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, next year, which he is expected to accept.

Ms. Hasina was in Delhi for a four day visit to address the World Economic Forum India summit. On Sunday she will meet with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, as well as film director Shyam Benegal who is directing a film on Mujibur Rahman, before leaving for Dhaka.

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