State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has cancelled his visit to India as he will travel to the UAE with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today.
The foreign ministry in a statement yesterday said Shahriar was invited to join the Raisina Dialouge, organised by the Overseas Research Foundation (ORF) in collaboration with the India’s external affairs ministry, as a speaker.
However, he will not be able to attend the event as it “coincides with his visit to the UAE to accompany the prime minister of Bangladesh. A regret letter in this regard has already been sent to the ORF, the statement said.
It said no bilateral engagement was scheduled during the visit of Shahriar and that the “inability of his participation had no other connection.”
The Raisina Dialouge is scheduled to begin in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The annual multilateral conference addresses the most challenging issues facing the global community. Heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials, as well as major private sector executives, members of the media and academics from across the globe will be speaking at the event, according to ORF.
Asked if anyone would represent Shahriar at the dialogue, a Bangladesh foreign ministry official replied in the negative. “He was invited to the event as a speaker, not just as a participant.”
The cancellation of his visit comes just a month after Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan called off their scheduled visits to India amid protests in the neighbouring country over the passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill in parliament.
The Citizenship Amendment Act grants Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who faced “persecution” in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Critics say it discriminates against Muslims and violates Indian constitution’s secular tenets.
The act sparked furious protests as lakhs of people took to the streets across India. The demonstrations led to many deaths, including more than 20 in Uttar Pradesh alone.
On December 12, some people from processions and agitations knocked down two signposts of the Bangladesh mission, approximately 30 yards away from the chancery premises in Guwahati. The security vehicle escorting Bangladesh assistant high commissioner, Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur, from the airport to Guwahati city was attacked by mobs protesting adoption of the act.
Talking about CAB, Foreign Minister Momen had told reporters in Dhaka that the bill could weaken India’s “historic position” as a tolerant and secular country.
There were also concerns over the Indian National Register of Citizens (NRC) which excluded nearly two million people in Assam, raising fears they could be rendered stateless.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah on several occasions said the NRC would be implemented across India and all illegal migrants would be expelled.
Delhi has assured Dhaka that the NRC will not affect Bangladesh as it is an internal issue of India.