Not official yet, but Bangladesh unease with CAB apparent
Bangladesh is maintaining officially that the cancellation of the visit by Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen is due to domestic engagements, but the displeasure with New Delhi on the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is barely concealed.
Bangladesh media has reported that Foreign Ministry officials have claimed that the cancellation of the Foreign Minister's trip is not linked to the passage of the CAB Bill and subsequent protests in India.
For the cancellation of the visit, several other reasons have been cited, including the preparation for the celebration of the Victory Day, and the absence of State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque in the country.
India has also maintained that the cancellation of the visit is not linked to the CAB Bill. Speaking to the media, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Bangladesh's Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen had conveyed that he had changed his programme on account of domestic issues pertaining to the commemoration of the Victory Day of Bangladesh on December 16.
"They have informed us about the postponement of the visit. They have also conveyed that the minister had changed his programme on account of domestic issues pertaining to the commemoration of the Victory Day of Bangladesh on December 16," Kumar said.
He added that any speculation that this development is connected with the legislation adopted by Parliament regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill is "unwarranted". Kumar said both nations believe that this is the golden age of their relationship.
"We never said there was religious persecution in Bangladesh during the current government's tenure", he added.
The trip cancellation comes close on the heels of remarks made by Abdul Momen, who outrightly rejected Indian Home Minister Amit Shah's remarks on the condition of religious minorities in the country.
Dhaka Tribune reported that "The Indian minister, during a debate on their controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sobha on Monday night, said Hindus, a religious minority in Bangladesh, had "found it impossible" to undertake their religious activities in the country".
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday night, Abdul Momen said: "What they are saying in regards to torture of Hindus is unwarranted as well as untrue.
"There are a very few countries in the world where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh. We have no minorities. We are all equal. If he (Amit Shah) stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see the exemplary communal harmony in our country," he added.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Minister also feared the neighbouring country's citizenship law could rather affect its historic character as a secular nation, as per media reports.
Another Bangladesh newspaper, The Daily Star said in an editorial, "Coming on the heels of the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) policy in Assam, does the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), one wonders, herald the end of a pluralistic and secular India, and the fulfilment of the dream of the RSS and its founders like Savarkar?".
"What is so ominously clear is the end of a pluralistic and secular state as far as India is concerned, because the Bill, once the legislative process is completed, will strike at the very fundamental principles and ethos on which the country's founding fathers had established it. And it will validate communal politics in India, which the BJP government had no pretentions about since it came to power", the editorial said.
"This, along with the NRC, we are constrained to say, is blatantly discriminatory towards the Muslims. What we see as even more worrisome is that the CAB directly encourages migration of Hindus from Bangladesh", the editorial added.
"What we see now is the retrogression of a nation which once exemplified "unity in diversity" to an exclusively Hindu state where only one religion will prevail. That, we regrettably say, will strike at the very soul of India. And the consequence of this policy will certainly reach its neighbouring countries too, to which India may not remain impervious", the Daily Star said.IANS