Bangladesh foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen has cancelled his three – day visit to Delhi to attend the sixth edition of the Indian Ocean Dialogue and the combined session of the Delhi Dialogue XI.
A foreign minister official here said the trip was cancelled at the very last minute as Momen was to fly to Delhi today (Thursday).
He said the foreign minister has cancelled his trip due to “complications arising out of the CAB-NRC process”.
But a Bangladesh high commission press release said that the foreign minister had to cancel the trip “due to some sudden pressing national events at home”.
It said he has to participate in two important national events – the observance of Martyred Intellectuals Day on December 14 and the Victory Day on December 16.
But these events are a regular feature in Bangladesh and Momen had given his consent to attend the Indian Ocean Dialogue and the Delhi Dialogue, fully aware of the conflicting programmes.
Bangladesh is perhaps trying to send a strong signal because it feels India has brushed aside its apprehensions over the NRC-CAB process.
“Home Minister Amit Shah is defaming our country by equating us with Pakistan and blaming us for the persecution of minorities. Hindus are much safer here than Muslims are in India,” said a senior Awami League leader, but on condition of anonymity.
He said his party was desperate to hold back Hindus who are loyal voters of Awami League and make a difference in at least 50 of the 300-member parliament.
In fact, Bangladesh foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen picked up cudgels with the Indian home minister after the passage of CAB about the repression of minorities in Bangladesh and described as inaccurate.
Momen termed “untrue the allegations of minority repression in Bangladesh by Home Minister Amit Shah, saying whoever gave them the information, it is not correct”.
Momen told media persons here that Shah should stay in Bangladesh for a few months to check the state of communal harmony.
“What they are saying in regard to torture on Hindus is unwarranted as well as untrue…There are a very few countries in the world where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh. We have no minorities. We are all equal. If he (Amit Shah) stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see the exemplary communal harmony in our country,” Momen said.
The Bangladesh minister said that his country was concerned with the matter if it would change the countries’ relationship.
“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,” Momen said in a veiled warning that clearly had the nod of his leader PM Hasina.
Momen was supposed to hold talks on bilateral issues with external affairs minister S Jaishanker during his Delhi visit.
The two Track 1.5 dialogues to be held at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra here consecutively on two days from December 13 aimed at building an inclusive approach for a “cooperative, free, and rules-based Indo-Pacific” region.
Hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs the dialogues–which are key elements of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and the India-ASEAN calendars respectively-will be held consecutively and on similar, Indo-Pacific themes.
The 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue on December 13 on the theme “Indo-Pacific: Re-imagining the Indian Ocean through an Expanded Geography”.
It is being organised with the assistance of the Indian Council for World Affairs.
Delhi Dialogue XI will start on the evening of December 13 and will run through to the evening of December 14.
The theme for this year’s Delhi Dialogue is “Advancing Partnership in Indo-Pacific”, and is being organised with the assistance of the Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries.
The announcement of an ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific at the ASEAN Summit in June 2019 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s enunciation of India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2018 are important drivers of MEA’s current effort to locate the Indian Ocean Dialogue and the Delhi Dialogue within the concept of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific, the MEA said in a statement.