P.K.BALACHANDRAN | 2 MARCH, 2020
Bangladesh Protests Delhi Violence on Eve of PM Modi Visit
Photo: Demonstration in Dhaka against Modi’s visit
Despite increasing protests in Bangladesh against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary celebrations in Dhaka on March 17, the pro-India Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh is going ahead with his visit.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen told reporters in Dhaka on Sunday, that the violence in Delhi is India’s “domestic affair” and that Modi was invited for the function on March 17 because India had played a major part in the liberation of Bangladesh. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will be in Dhaka to prepare for the visit, that includes signing of MoUs.
It is clear that Prime Minister Hasina does not want to rock Bangla-India relations during the celebrations for which she has invited many world leaders apart from Modi.
However, the Delhi violence is expected to cast a shadow. With the media reporting on Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s public statement in West Bengal that the Bangladeshi “illegal immigrants” are “termites” who ought to be got rid of.
PM is expected to deliver the keynote address at the Mujib centenary.
The recent pogrom in North-East Delhi which claimed over 46 lives has triggered off massive protests. Bangladeshi students have organised rallies protesting Modi’s visit.
What should be of particular concern to India is the fact that known friends of India and pro-Hasina outfits are also protesting against the large scale violence in Delhi and Modi’s visit.
Bangladeshi Media Reports
Here are excerpts from media reports on the anti-Modi demonstrations in Bangladesh:
Addressing a rally organized by the “Bangladesh General Students Rights Protection Council” at the Anti-hooliganism Raju Memorial, the Dhaka University Central Student’s Union (DUCSU) Vice-President, Nurul Huq Nur, vowed to stop Modi from joining Mujib’s birth centenary.
“If a man like Modi attends the program, it will be a disgrace to the common people of Bangladesh and also Mujib who upheld secularism and religious harmony in Bangladesh. Indian Muslims are targets of Modi and the terrorists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). They want to destroy religious harmony in India. All this will adversely affect religious harmony in the whole of South Asia,” Nur said.
It is significant that the leader of Dhaka University students has raised his voice as the students of that university have played a big role in all political movements in Bangladesh since the Bengali language movement in 1952.
Left student organizations such as the Bangladesh Chhatra Union and Revolutionary Student Youth Unity on held separate rallies on the Dhaka University campus on Friday in protest against the attacks in Delhi.
At the Dhaka University anti-terrorism Raju Memorial sculpture, protesters offered mass prayers with both Muslim and Hindu rituals for those killed in the Delhi violence
In a mass protest in Dhaka under the banner of ‘Like-minded Islamic Parties’, the pro-government Hefajat-e-Islam’s Vice-President Nur Hossain Kasemi, also appealed for the cancelation of the invitation to Modi. However, he added that Muslims in Bangladesh should protect non-Muslims and maintain communal harmony.
“We believe in communal harmony. Therefore, peace should be maintained so that no non-Muslim is affected here,’ Nur Hossain, who is also the Secretary General of the Jamiat Ulama- e-Islam Bangladesh, said.
About 3000 people paraded on Bijoy Nagar street carrying placards saying “Stop killing Muslims,”. They torched an effigy of the Indian PM following the rally. The Bangladesh Anjumane Talamije Islamia Sylhet organized a rally of some 10,000 people in Sobhanighat after the Jumma prayers. The Sylhet city unit of the Jamiat Ulama e Islam Bangladesh and its student front, demonstrated in front of the party’s office at Bandar Bazar in the city after the Jumma prayers.
More than 5,000 Jamiat leaders and activists took part in the procession that gathered in a rally at City Point after parading different city roads. An effigy of the Indian Prime Minister was burnt, news reports said.
In Sylhet, thousands gathered under the banner of Ulama-Mashayekh Parishad Sylhet, a platform of Muslim clerics, and took out a procession after the Jumma prayers. They paraded through a number of streets in the city center and then held a rally in front of Sylhet Nagar Bhaban at Bandar Bazar.
The Parishad leaders condemned the Indian government’s indifference to extremist Hindus killing Muslims and torching their homes, assets, mosques and educational institutions.
Leftists and Secularists Protest
The Progressive Students’ Alliance organized a procession on the DU campus to condemn the Hindu fundamentalists’ attacks on religious minorities in Delhi and urged the Hasina government not to welcome Modi in Bangladesh.
In Dhaka, the “Ganosamhati Andolan” and the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) demonstrated in front of the National Press Club protesting against ‘extremist attacks’ on ant-Citizenship law protesters in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. Speakers said that the Indian Prime Minister, his BJP political party, and their front Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had designed the deadly campaign against minority Muslims. They vowed to resist Modi from joining Sheikh Mujib’s birth centenary program in Dhaka.
Ganosamhati’s chief Coordinator, Zonayed Saki, dubbed Modi a ‘religious extremist’ and the mastermind of the attacks “in a bid to play the age-old divide-and-rule card between Hindus and Muslims to cement his power.” Saki warned that such violence in India could spread across South Asia.
Chaired by Bazlur Rashid Firoj, the LDA rally was addressed, among others, by the United Communist League central leader Abdus Satter, and Socialist Party of Bangladesh central leaders Khalequzzaman, Hamidul Haque, Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh general secretary Saiful Huq, Democratic Revolutionary Party general secretary Mushrefa Mishu, Communist Party of Bangladesh leader Kafi Ratan.
According to reports, on Thursday, 12 well-known citizens of Bangladesh expressed grave concern over the ongoing spate of clashes in the Indian capital between people for and against the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act.
Citizens who signed a Joint Statement against the violence were Anisuzzaman, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Hasan Azizul Haque, Anupam Sen, Hasan Imam, Sarwar Ali, Ramendu Majumder, Mofidul Haque, Tariq Ali, Mamunur Rashid, Nasiruddin Yousuff and Golam Kuddus.
The statement said that if the situation in Delhi is not contained, it might create instability in the region. Terming India as a “friendly neighbor” and a “proven ally” for being the “biggest help” during Bangladesh’s Liberation War, they said that the ongoing violence in India will be detrimental to the peace, democracy, development and communal harmony in this South Asian region.
‘We also call upon the people in Bangladesh who believe in the spirit of our independence to uphold the country’s communal harmony,’ the statement said.
Further, the Jatiya Mukti Council, Naya Ganatantrik Gono Morcha, Jatiya Ganatantrik Gono Morcha and Jatiya Gonofront in a joint statement said that the Indian Prime Minister is trying to destroy the unity of South Asia by stoking “communal fires”. The Sammilita Sangskritik Jote also expressed its concern and called on the Indian government to take effective and immediate steps to stop the violence in India.
Social and political forces in India have been protesting against the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act which discriminates against Muslims seeking asylum in India on religious grounds, while allowing non-Muslims to apply for Indian citizenship if they are discriminated against in any of the following Muslim majority countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.