New Delhi, October 5 (BDNews24.com): The much-talked-about Assam’s citizenship exercise has not been mentioned in the 53-point joint statement issued after the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
Modi, however, once again says his government is working with all stakeholders in India for the signing of the Teesta river water-sharing agreement in the “soonest possible” time.
The two leaders agreed to expedite safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to their homes in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Before Hasina’s official visit began on Oct 3, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen had told journalists that Dhaka would raise all the contentious issues, including Teesta and the Assam’s National Register of Citizens or NRC, during the meeting.
When the two leaders met on Saturday, they expressed “satisfaction” over the “excellent” state of bilateral relations based on “deep historical and fraternal ties, which reflect an all-encompassing bilateral partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding that transcends a strategic partnership”.
They held “productive and comprehensive” discussions, during which they reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relations, and exchanged views on regional issues, according to the statement.
Both premiers agreed to fully utilise various opportunities for advancing mutually beneficial partnership in both conventional and non-conventional areas, and to ensure that their “irreversible” partnership enhances the legacy started with the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
They presided over the ceremony to exchange seven bilateral MoUs or agreements signed during the visit and also inaugurated via video link three bilateral projects.
>> MoU for providing a coastal surveillance system.
>> Standard Operating Procedure or SOP on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of goods to and from India.
>> MoU on withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from the Feni River by India for drinking water supply scheme for Sabroom town, Tripura.
>> Agreement concerning implementation of the Lines of Credit or LoCs committed by India to Bangladesh.
>> MoU between the University of Hyderabad and the University of Dhaka.
>> Renewal of Cultural Exchange Programme.
>> MoU on cooperation in youth affairs.
Hasina highlighted that the people of Bangladesh are “awaiting early signing and implementation of the Framework of Interim Agreement for sharing of the Teesta waters, as agreed upon by both governments in 2011”.
Modi in reply informed that his government is “working with all stakeholders in India for conclusion of the Agreement soonest possible”, a position which New Delhi is maintaining since 2011 following the objection of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the deal.
Assam’s NRC has raised concerns in Bangladesh recently as many fear that those rendered non-citizens of India may be pushed into Bangladesh.
But India maintains that it is their internal issue which in no way will affect Bangladesh, a promise that the foreign minister earlier said Dhaka trusts.
This is the first visit of Hasina to New Delhi after her reelection and the publication of the NRC list in Assam.
Modi had earlier assured her in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that there will be no impact of the NRC on Bangladesh, according to her spokesperson.
Indian Help For Rohingya Rehabilitation
Modi appreciated Bangladesh’s generosity in sheltering and providing humanitarian assistance to the forcibly displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
India will supply a fifth tranche of humanitarian assistance to support Hasina administration’s humanitarian efforts to shelter the refugees in temporary camps in Cox’s Bazar, he said.
The aid will comprise tents, relief and rescue materials as well as 1,000 sewing machines for skill development of forcibly displaced women from Myanmar.
In addition, India has completed a first project to build 250 houses in Rakhine State, and is now preparing to implement another set of socio-economic development projects in the area.
Hasina conveyed the gratitude of her government for the humanitarian assistance provided by India since September, 2017 to help meet the needs of the refugees.
Both leaders agreed on the need for greater efforts for facilitating the Rohingya Muslims’ return, including by improving security situation and socio-economic conditions in Rakhine.