Controversy over B’desh decision to honour Tripura CM



Agartala: A controversy has arisen in Tripura over the Bangladesh government deciding to include Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in the list of 129 foreign dignitaries who contributed to the country's Liberation War in 1971, with the opposition Congress opposing it and dubbing it a 'distortion of history'.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on February 16 invited the chief minister as the National Committee of Bangladesh recommended his name to formally recognise his contribution to the Bangladesh Liberation War, a press statement issued by the government said.

She invited Sarkar to attend an official ceremony on March 27 as a friend of Bangladesh.

As the matter related to another country, it was referred to the union Ministry of External Affairs for consideration and giving necessary political clearance, the statement said.

Defending the Bangladesh government's decision to invite Sarkar, a ruling CPI-M release said, the Student Federation of India of which Sarkar was state secretary then had played a glorious role during the Liberation War.

However, Leader of Opposition belonging to the Congress Ratan Lal Nath said, "neither the chief minister nor his party the CPI-M played any role in the Bangladesh liberation war. They remained indifferent to the movement as China, the ideological mentor of CPI-M, had opposed it."

Stating it would be "a distortion of history" if Sarkar was recognised for his contribution, Nath has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention and to take up the issue with Bangladesh to "redress an injustice about to happen."

Nath in his letter to the prime minister on March 13, a copy of which was made available said on Monday, said that it was late Tripura chief minister Sachindra Lal Singh of Congress who had played a pro-active role in the Liberation War and arranged shelter for lakhs of Bangladeshi refugees in the state, but his name did not find a place in the list of Indians.

Expelled CPI-M leader and former MP, Ajay Biswas said, "Sarkar had no role during the War. The people of the state would be insulted if Sarkar receives the honour individually".

Stating the people of Tripura had made tremendous contribution to the Liberation War, he said, on the other hand if Sarkar received the honour on behalf of the people here then there would be no objection.

He also alleged that the Bangladesh Workers Party had influenced the decision of the neighbouring country.

PTI