India yesterday came out in full support of the Sheikh Hasina government for the drive against militancy, saying the Bangladesh prime minister has taken “strong steps” to deal with the issue.
“Bangladesh government is sparing no effort to stop the attacks. 3,000 people have been arrested. Sheikh Hasina has taken strong steps and Islamic leaders have condemned the killings. It shows the mentality of the country's people,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the media in New Delhi.
She was answering questions on the recent killings in Bangladesh, reports Our New Delhi Correspondent.
Suspected militants attacked and killed university professors, writers, publishers, secular bloggers, gay rights activists, foreigners, policemen and members of religious minorities in the last few months.
Swaraj's comments came days after West Bengal units of Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress party voiced concern over the recent killings in Bangladesh and asked Bangladesh to put a stop to it.
On Friday, in a speech at the inaugural session of West Bengal Legislative Assembly, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi offered condolences to the families of the victims of “terrorist attacks” in Bangladesh, reports Our Kolkata Correspondent.
Yesterday, Swaraj said India had already taken up with the Hasina government the issue of the threat received by the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka and asked the Bangladesh authorities to beef up security on the Mission premises in Gopibagh.
On June 15, the head Hindu priest of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka got a threat to his life.
Asked if India accepts only Hindu refugees from other countries, Swaraj said, “Our refugee policy favours all persecuted minorities.”
BJP, CONGRESS VOICE CONCERN
On Saturday, West Bengal Congress President Adhir Chowdhury said he had written to Swaraj, and also urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to use her cordial relationship with Hasina to address the issue.
His comments came after a special resolution was adopted at the BJP's state executive meeting in Siliguri on Friday condemning the attacks on minorities in Bangladesh.
"Communal forces in Bangladesh have been systematically targeting the minorities, including Hindu, Christian and Buddhists, and secular and liberal minded citizens. We came to know that the Hindu priest at Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka received a death threat. We are concerned about the present situation in Bangladesh,” said Adhir Chowdhury.
The Congress leader, however, said he has full faith in Bangladesh government.
"Everyone knows the bond shared between West Bengal and Bangladesh. And the cordial relationship that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shares with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We have not heard about any active response from Banerjee so far," he said.
"Bengal being a neighbouring state [of Bangladesh] should be careful about the rise of communal forces in our state too. The state government is maintaining a complete silence on this matter. The state government remains unfazed on this matter,” he alleged.
INDIAN ENVOY VISITS RK MISSION
India has expressed satisfaction over the increased security at the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka after its head priest got a death threat.
The neighbouring country also conveyed the message that it was ready to extend all sorts of cooperation if Bangladesh wants it, reports Our Diplomatic Correspondent in Dhaka.
During his visit to the Mission yesterday, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian high commissioner in Dhaka, told journalists, “We have the fullest confidence that the authorities in Bangladesh are more than capable of providing safety and security for their own citizens.... The security arrangement around the mission cannot be better. We are quite satisfied with the arrangement. Although I am only a visitor here, I can only say things seem to be under control.”
“We have to recognise that the responsibility of protecting the citizens of Bangladesh is the job of the government of Bangladesh.
“We do see that the government of Bangladesh has taken very very strong measures to ensure that all people of the country including minority communities are provided security as much as possible,” he added.
Shringla said they also understand that the magnitude of the challenges is quite significant.
“As a neighbour, as a friend of Bangladesh, as partner of Bangladesh, we can only offer our fullest support and assistance for anything where our support might be required, but otherwise we are fully confident about the capacity and the capabilities and also the resolution of the government to address the issue,” said Shringla.
The Indian High Commission officials are in constant touch with the Ramakrishna Mission authorities and the Bangladesh government since the death threat was made, he added.
The Indian envoy was accompanied by First Secretary (Political & Information) Rajesh Uike, First Secretary (Consular) Ramakant Gupta and Press Attaché Ranjan Mondal.
SWARAJ ON TEESTA
Replying to a query on the Teesta water-sharing treaty, Sushma Swaraj said India is taking initiatives to conclude the deal.
"There are three parties in this. India, Bangladesh, West Bengal government. There were assembly elections in West Bengal. Now that elections are over and Mamata Banerjee is back as Chief Minister, the federal Indian government will begin talks with Mamata government to finalise the Teesta water sharing treaty.”
Swaraj said no talks on the Teesta issue could be held with the West Bengal government for the last few months because the state was busy with the elections. But with the polls over, the process of talks would resume soon.
It is possible to solve the Teesta issue if the West Bengal government, New Delhi and Dhaka join hands with a firm resolve, she added.
There have been obstacles to the Teesta deal since September 2011 when Mamata, scheduled to visit Dhaka with the then Indian PM Manmohan Singh, opted out of the trip opposing the agreement.