Tell Hasina-ji to send hilsa this year too: Mamata tells Tipu Munshi

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Bangladesh is likely to export hilsa to India during this year's Durga Puja festival as well.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made a special exemption for India in the last couple of years from the blanket ban on hilsa export, said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi in Kolkata yesterday, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

Bangladesh exported about 2,500 tonnes of hilsa during the last Durga Puja to India.

Munshi, who met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee earlier this week during his trip to Kolkata, said she raised the issue of hilsa exports, pointing out that the Bangladeshi reception to her demand has always been positive.

"Mamata-di told me, 'Hasina-ji ke ilish pathate bolben' (tell Sheikh Hasina to send hilsa this year too)," Munshi said.

PM Hasina has used exports and gifts of hilsa as part of her diplomacy toolkit with India. Her first gift of hilsa was to Jyoti Basu, the then chief minister of West Bengal, in what many saw as part of sweeteners to hasten the Farakka water-sharing agreement.

In 2013, when the then Indian President Pranab Mukherjee went to an official dinner during his trip to Dhaka, she laid out a large banquet where hilsa was the main item.

In 2016, ahead of Mamata Banerjee's swearing-in ceremony, a gift of 20 kg of hilsa was flown in for her table as part of the congratulatory message.

However, Mamata has remained steadfast in her opposition to the sharing of Teesta riverways for the last 11 years.

Meanwhile, the commerce minister reached Aizawl, the capital city of the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram today on a three-day visit during which he would hold a joint inspection of a few possible sites for a border trade "haat" (market) between Mizoram and Bangladesh.

Mizoram shares a 318 km border with Bangladesh. At least four border haats are planned to be set up along the Mizoram-Bangladesh border beside the integrated check post at Kawrpuichhuah.

Tipu would visit the proposed border haat at Silsury village in western Mizoram's Mamit district as well as an integrated check post at Kawrpuichhuah in Lunglei district in the southern part of the state on the Indo-Bangladesh border along with Lalthangliana on Saturday, officials said.

The visiting Bangladeshi minister would also visit Reiek, a mountainous tourist spot in Mamit district, about 29 km from state capital Aizawl on Sunday.

He will also meet Chief Minister Zoramthanga and address a press conference before he returns to Kolkata on Monday.