CAB aftermath: Bangladesh's foreign minister cancels India visit, MEA responds
The sharp words which Union Home Minister Amit Shah used to describe the minorities' condition in neighboring countries ruffled Bangladesh's feathers. The country's foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said no one is treated unfairly. He also canceled his three-day visit to India which was scheduled to start today. Meanwhile, New Delhi asked not to read much into it.
Context: Shah said minorities shrunk in Bangladesh
Shah, who spearheaded the passage of CAB in both Houses, said Indian Muslims should not be concerned with the Bill, as it is a tool to help persecuted religious minorities. About Bangladesh, he said, the country had 22% minorities in 1947, and the number came down to 7.8% in 2011. He claimed most of the minorities have either been killed, converted or they fled.
Bangladesh doesn't torture its Hindus, claimed Momen
Taking strong offense at Shah's words, Momen said no one is a minority as everyone lives as equals, in Bangladesh. "What they are saying in regard to torture on Hindus is unwarranted as well as untrue...There are very few countries in the world where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh," he told Dhaka Tribune, and said Shah is being fed wrong information.
Further, he added India has problems of its own
"They (India) have many problems within their country. Let them fight among themselves. That does not bother us. As a friendly country, we hope that India will not do something that affects our friendly relationship," he went on.
Momen was supposed to arrive this evening, stay till Saturday
If Momen's words weren't enough, he also canceled his trip to India. He was scheduled to arrive at 5:20 pm, and stay till December 14. Playing down this development, Dhaka said Momen changed his plans due to other engagements. The Bangladeshi government released a statement saying the "increased demand" back home promoted the minister to dump the trip at the eleventh hour.
Here's what Momen said about this new development
"I had to cancel my trip to New Delhi as I have to participate in the 'Buddijibi Debosh' and 'Bijoy Debosh' and more so as our State Minister is out of the country in Madrid and our Foreign Secretary is in The Hague," Momen said.
Despite trip's cancellation, India said ties with Bangladesh are strong
Subsequently, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, said he understands Momen's explanation for canceling the trip. "Our relations are strong like our two leaders have said repeatedly said, and I don't think this cancellation will have any effect," he said. Reacting to Momen's earlier statements, Kumar said India knows religious persecution doesn't happen under the current regime.
Minorities suffered in Bangladesh under military rule: Kumar
"We've explained that religious persecution is not happening under the present government. Migrants who have sought refuge in India from Bangladesh have faced persecution and abuse on religious grounds during the military rule and also during the previous governments," Kumar went on.