Anti-India Sentiment in Bangladesh Diminishing, Says Foreign Minister Mahmud

India-Bangladesh: Bangladesh Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud Thursday said the anti-India sentiments in his country are “diminishing” even as he expressed his gratitude to New Delhi for the “continuation of democracy” there which was marked by the comeback of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the fifth time. 

Bangladesh has been witnessing a sudden spike in anti-India campaign there which is apparently been driven by the opposition party there, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and it’s primarily Jamaat-e-Islami party. The anti-India sloganeering in Bangladesh has taken similar tone like in Maldives as they are also calling for an ‘India-Out’ campaign. 

“The anti-India sentiments there are diminishing… Anti-Indian elements are there in Bangladesh and those who spread that issue they try to utilize anti-India sentiments time to time but it is diminishing,” said Mahmud, a senior leader of the ruling Awami League party, addressing reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia. 

He said there are number of protests happening in Bangladesh almost every day as it is a “free society” and people have the right to protest. He said many such protests take place “anti-US, anti-China, anti-India.” 

The Foreign Minister said the important aspect about the bilateral ties is growing trade between India and Bangladesh. . 

He highlighted that it was due to India that Prime Minister Hasina could come back to power and it was “India’s assistance” that helped Bangladesh in “continuation of democracy” there. 

“India was beside us for continuation of democracy,” he said, adding that the BNP-Jamaat coalition did not leave any stone unturned to disrupt the democratic process of holding elections there. He also spoke about the violence unleashed by BNP-Jamaat, including attacking the residence of Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan, which was unprecedented. 

Mahmud added, “The current opposition party BNP and Jamaat has been trying to disrupt the democratic process. Despite all the hurdles democracy is thriving and inequality is reducing.” 

Teesta And Rohingya Issues Discussed 

The minister said during his two- day visit to New Delhi he discussed the Rohingya refugee issue with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar as well as National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. 

He said India and Bangladesh should “work together” in this matter and addressing the rising security challenges emanating from Myanmar. He also said that like India Bangladesh is also facing issues of Myanmar security forces entering Bangladesh and taking refuge there. 

“We had 340 Myanmar border guards and soldiers entering Bangladesh. On this issue we should work together (with India). We are in discussion with Myanmar also and they are willing to take them back,” he added. 

He said during the visit India and Myanmar also discussed the issue of 

We discussed the issue of killings of  Bangladesh border guards. “We are working on that,” he stressed. 

When asked about Bangladesh allowing China top “Fake news, completely bogus” … “Relationship with India is comparable to none.” 

Mahmud will be meeting Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday. However, he was unable to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was on his itinerary. On Friday, Mahmud will be going to Kolkata from where he will be leaving for Dhaka. 

During this visit, Bangladesh again raised the issue of Teesta River water dispute that has remained in limbo since 2011 due to stiff opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Water is a state subject in India.