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28 February, 2018 12:01:33 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 28 February, 2018 08:34:39 PM

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Untrue, unhelpful for ‘excellent’ ties

Home minister tells The Independent
HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Untrue, unhelpful for ‘excellent’ ties

Bangladesh has dismissed outright the remarks of Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat, who recently said that Pakistan with the help of China waged a proxy war with his country through infiltration of Bangladeshis into northeast India to keep the area disturbed.

The home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, described the remarks as untrue, unfounded and not helpful for the relationship between the two neighbouring countries.

He also unequivocally brushed aside the notion that Bangladeshis enter India illegally. This is the first comment by anyone from the government regarding General Rawat’s remarks, made on February 21, that caused stir and resentment in the country.

Earlier, senior officials of the foreign ministry replied, “No comment” when the reaction of the ministry was sought.

Even, Bangladesh High Commissioner in New Delhi refused to comment over the Indian Army chief’s remarks.

Former top diplomats also strongly criticised the remarks of the Indian army chief and said these types of statements undermine all the good gestures Bangladesh shows to India and lands the government in Dhaka in an uncomfortable situation.

The Chinese embassy as well as the Pakistan high commission in Dhaka also rejected the claims of the Indian army chief, who is facing widespread criticism in his own country for the remarks.

The request of a comment from the Indian high commission in Dhaka was not entertained. However, State Minister for India External Affairs Ministry VK Singh, who is also a former army chief, spoke to Indian media in defence of General Rawat.

“The remarks of the Indian Army chief are untrue without any foundation. And, it does not help the excellent brotherly relationship between Bangladesh and India,” Home Minister Khan told The Independent yesterday.

 “I can tell you clearly that there is no infiltration from Bangladesh into India. Those who go do so with proper visas,” said the minister about the infiltration.

“Our BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) is always watchful. So, there is no question of illegal immigration,” he said.“We will never allow our soil to be used by anybody,” the minister said, on the alleged involvement of China and Pakistan. “This is also not true. He (Rawat) said what he said because he does not know. I would say that the army chief should have known better,” the minister said, mentioning that even in India, his remarks are being criticised.

“The relationship between Bangladesh and India is excellent and we want to keep it this way. Both the countries are trying to better the relationship,” said Khan.

Two former top diplomats expressed their dismay over the comments of the Indian army chief and the role of the government in responding to the words. They also said Bangladesh deserves much more from India than this, given the concessions Dhaka made for New Delhi.

“If you ask me, I would say the government should react strongly to the very unfortunate remarks of the Indian army chief involving Bangladesh in such a manner,” former Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain said. To a question, he said that on many occasions Dhaka goes out of its way to extend cooperation to Delhi in many aspects. “Giving too much always does not bring good results. Every relationship has to be based on mutual respect and benefit,” he added.

“General Rawat shouldn’t have said what he said. His remarks were way out of line and far from truth,” said Humayun Kabir, a former secretary of the foreign ministry.

“This type of remark definitely undermines the good gestures of our government to India,” he said, adding that this kind of situation also puts the government in an ‘uncomfortable situation’, as it attaches very high importance to the relationship with India. “They are totally baseless and unfounded. The Indian army chief can say whatever he likes. But, there is no truth in it,” a senior diplomat at the Pakistan high commission said on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to make any comment without the approval from Islamabad.

“The remarks of the Indian army chief have been noted. They are not true,” said a diplomat at the Chinese embassy wishing anonymity also due to the issue related to authorisation to speak publicly. Speaking at a conference in India on February 21, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said a ‘planned’ influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast is taking place as part of a proxy warfare by Pakistan with support from China with an aim to keep the area disturbed.

“A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbor (Pakistan). They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare,” General Rawat said, talking about the influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast of India.

“I think the proxy game is very well played by our western neighbour, supported by our northern border (China) to keep the area disturbed. We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it,” he said.

Rawat also said infiltration from Bangladesh is happening for two reasons and one of them is lebensraum or (lack of) living space: Bangladesh is running short of space as a large part of Bangladesh gets flooded during monsoon.  So, infiltration from Bangladesh will continue as the country has got very concentrated area to stay in, the general added.

Many Indian analysts, newspapers and several opposition parties strongly criticised the Indian army chief’s remarks. An editorial in The Indian Express described General Rawat’s remarks as “disturbing”, and said they “threaten to hurt the balance of India’s relations with Bangladesh, China and Pakistan and undo the gains.” Many also objected to the use of the German word ‘lebensraum’ in the context of Bangladeshi immigration and said it is ‘problematic given its close association with Nazi policies’ in Eastern Europe in the 20th century.

 

Related News:

Indian army chief’s unbecoming comments and implications (27-02-2018)

Bangladeshis’ ‘influx’ a proxy war by Pakistan with China help (23-02-2018)

 

 

 

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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