Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Hasina says – India’s new citizenship law unnecessary

The Hindu (19 January 2020) – India’s new citizenship law that aims to give rights to minority communities of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan was not necessary, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has said.

In a newspaper interview, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally assured her that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was an internal matter of India that would not affect her people.

“We don’t understand why (the Indian government) did it. It was not necessary,” Ms. Hasina told Gulf News in Abu Dhabi where she held high-level meetings. The statement is the first by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh since the controversial law, that has triggered protests across India, was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on December 11.

During the parliamentary debates, Home Minister Amit Shah repeatedly referred to persecution faced by minority communities, mainly the Hindus, in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan arguing that these groups should get citizenship rights in India. Ms. Hasina distanced her country from the line taken by the Indian government.

“It is an internal affair. Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India. The government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained that the NRC is an internal exercise of India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in October 2019,” she said during the interview.

Ms. Hasina’s government has said that minority communities did not leave her country because of persecution and maintained that there is no reverse migration from India either. “But within India, people are facing many problems,” she declared.

Subsequent to the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, Bangladesh cancelled several high-level meetings to India that included the visits of Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan among others. Last week, Dhaka cancelled the visit of its State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, who was to address the Raisina Dialogue.

Ms. Hasina highlighted the burden that Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees were placing on her country and said that the continued presence of the million plus Rohingya in Bangladesh would affect security and stability in the South Asian region. Experts and commentators in Dhaka have expressed concern that the CAA could trigger a Rohingya-like wave of migration to Bangladesh from India. The Ministry of External Affairs is yet to respond to the comment from the leader of Bangladesh.

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