No religious persecution during Hasina-led term: India

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 21:19, Dec 12, 2019 | Updated : 21:28, Dec 12, 2019

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar PHOTO/ANIIn a move which seems to a bid of damage control, New Delhi said that there was no religious persecution in Bangladesh under the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government.
"... We have explained that religious persecution is not happening under the present government in Bangladesh. Migrants who have sought refuge in India from Bangladesh have faced persecution and abuse on religious grounds during the military rule and also under the previous government in Bangladesh," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told the media on Thursday (Dec 12).
It comes hours after two Bangladeshi ministers cancelled their visits to the country.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen scheduled to arrive New Delhi on Thursday on a three-day visit to attend the Indian Ocean Dialogue (IOD), when he was scheduled for bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on the sidelines.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan cancelled his scheduled trip to Meghalaya on Friday (Dec 13) upon invitation of the northeastern state's chief minister.
India's foreign office (MEA), however, says that the cancellations should not be linked with protests in Northeast against Citizenship Amendment Bill.
MEA spokesperson Kumar told the media that "there seems to be some confusion" and that India had never said there was religious persecution in Bangladesh under the Hasina administration.
It comes after Foreign Minister Momen termed as "untrue” the allegations of minority repression in Bangladesh by Indian Home Minister Amit Shah. “Whoever gave them (Indian government) the information, it is not correct," said Momen.
While tabling the citizenship bill in parliament on Dec 9, Shah had said there was no religious persecution of minorities in Bangladesh under the tenure of former Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, according to reports by Indian media.
He had attacked Khaleda Zia-led BNP government and listed a number of instances of gangrape of Hindu women and vandalism of Hindu houses and temples under her tenure.
MEA spokesperson Kumar said that New Delhi acknowledged and was aware that the incumbent administration in Bangladesh "has taken several steps to address the concerns of minorities living there as per their Constitutional provisions".
Following green lights from the lower house, India upper house, the Rajya Sabha, late on Wednesday (Dec 11) passed the citizenship amendment bill.
According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
Hours earlier bill was passed, Foreign Minister Momen told the media in Dhaka that it could weaken India’s historic character as a secular nation and rejected the allegations that the minorities are facing religious persecution in Bangladesh.