Amit Shah’s Remarks on Bangladeshi Infiltrators Cause Diplomatic Row with Dhaka

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Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen (Internet Photo)
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen (Internet Photo)

Such remarks from a friendly country are ‘unacceptable’, says Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen

NEW DELHI — Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent remark that people of Bangladesh come to India because they don’t have enough to eat in their country has caused a fresh row between two friendly countries.

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, A.K. Abdul Momen, has responded by saying that the minister’s knowledge of Bangladesh was “limited”. According to Dhaka-based daily Prothom Alo, Momen also said that such remarks from a friendly country are “unacceptable”

Earlier, in December 2019, Shah’s remarks in Parliament during debate over Citizenship Amendment Bill had caused at least three Bangladeshi ministers to cancel scheduled trips to India.

“There are many wise people in this world, some who don’t want to see even after looking, they don’t want to understand even after knowing about it. But, if he (Amit Shah) has said that, I would say that his knowledge about Bangladesh is limited. Nobody dies of hunger in Bangladesh. There are no Monga (seasonal poverty and hunger in northern districts of Bangladesh),” Momen said when his attention was drawn towards Shah’s interview to Kolkata’s Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika.

“Monga” is a seasonal phenomenon of poverty and hunger that affects people in the northern districts of Bangladesh.

Shah, who is currently busy electioneering in West Bengal, told Patrika interviewer last week that his Bharatiya Janata Party will stop infiltration from Bangladesh if it comes to power in West Bengal. Taking action against Bangladeshi infiltrators is one of the major poll promises of his party in the ongoing West Bengal Assembly elections. Several BJP leaders, including Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have repeatedly addressed the matter in election rallies.

Bangladesh rejects any suggestion that its nationals infiltrate into India. Momen stressed that Bangladesh was ahead of India on many social indices. “While almost 90 per cent of the people in Bangladesh use fairly good latrines, over 50 per cent people in India do not have proper toilets,” he said.

Momen also reminded Shah that over one lakh people from India work in Bangladesh. “We do not need to go to India,” he said.

In December 2019 and January 2020, Bangladesh called off a total of four high-level interactions with India in the span of 30 days. Soon after Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Bangladesh Home and Foreign Ministers cancelled their respective visits and, a week later, talks over the sharing of river data were also cancelled. This was followed a month later by Bangladesh Deputy Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam cancelling his visit to India.

The cancellations came amid tension between the two countries over the contentious citizenship law and NRC exercise (National Register of Citizens), as well as Amit Shah’s allegations of minorities being targeted by the Bangladeshi government. New Delhi later clarified that Shah’s remarks were meant for “abuse took place during previous government and military rule”.

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