Hours after Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen cancelled his scheduled visit to India, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday asserted the speculation that this development is connected with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019 is unwarranted. He stated that Bangladesh had already informed India of the postponement of Momen's visit as his programme had changed on account of domestic issues pertaining to the commemoration of the ‘Victory Day’ in Bangladesh on December 16.
Momen cancelled his visit to New Delhi, scheduled from December 12-14, amid violent protests in several parts of India over the CAB. He stated that in the wake of 'increasing demand at home' he had to cancel the visit, news agency ANI quoted him as speaking. He further said that he will attend the next meeting in January 2020, adding that the DG will attend this event.
"The Bangladesh side has already informed us of the postponement of the visit of Foreign Minister Momen which was earlier scheduled from December 12-14, 2019 including for the Sixth Indian Ocean Dialogue in New Delhi. The Bangladesh side has conveyed that the Minister has changed his programme on account of domestic issues pertaining to the commemoration of the ‘Victory Day’ in Bangladesh on December 16. Any speculation that this development is connected with legislation adopted by Parliament yesterday regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill is unwarranted," added Kumar.
On Momen's comment on the CAB, Kumar said, "There seems to be some confusion. We've explained that religious persecution is not happening under the present government. Migrants who have sought refuge in India from Bangladesh have faced persecution and abuse on religious grounds during the military rule and also during the previous governments in Bangladesh. We have also acknowledged and we are aware that the present government in Bangladesh has taken several steps to address the concerns of minorities living there as per their Constitutional provisions."
The MEA spokesperson added the specific comments made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the role of Bangabandhu and the actions taken by the present government in Bangladesh under the leadership of PM Sheikh Hasina. Kumar quoted Shah as saying, “Sir, as long as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was leading Bangladesh, everything worked very well. But once his government went, minorities began to be oppressed. I can tell you that a large number of Bangladeshi Hindus had to come here to seek refuge. Sir, the current government in Bangladesh is also taking care of religious minorities. It is making arrangements also for religious minorities, but there has been a long period in the past in between, during which people came to India on account of religious persecution. This Bill is only to give citizenship to those people who came at that time.”
Reacting to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's remarks on the Bill, he said, "Don't think we need to respond to every statement of Pakistan PM. All his statements are unwarranted, he should rather pay attention to the condition of minorities in Pakistan than comment on internal matters of India."
Speaking on the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between India and the US, he said that it will be held on December 18, 2019, in Washington DC, the US. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Foreign Minister S Jaishankar will lead the Indian delegation. They will meet their US counterparts for a comprehensive review of the foreign policy, defence and security issues in India-US relations.
On reports of the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, on December 15-16, be shifted out of Guwahati (Assam) and Imphal (Manipur), Kumar said, "We have no update to share right now."