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Neighbourhood First: EAM Jaishankar To Visit Bangladesh Next Week

Indian Defense News 2019-08-19 00:00:00

Bangladesh, has reached out to India seeking help in handling the huge influx of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar


Jaishankar has met with his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr. A K Momen recently in New Delhi and prior to that on the sidelines of the 5th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia or CICA in Tajikistan.


In his first visit as external affairs minister, S Jaishankar will be visiting Dhaka next week in an effort to further strengthen the relations between the two countries. Topping the agenda of his two day visit from Aug 20 to the neighbouring country is expected to focus on illegal immigration, connectivity, Rohingya crisis as well as water sharing of 54 rivers including the long-pending Teesta River water issue.


Jaishankar has met with his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr. A K Momen recently in New Delhi and prior to that on the sidelines of the 5th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia or CICA in Tajikistan.


The two countries over the last three years have inked almost 60 plus agreements, and have also resolved the decades-old land boundary as well as maritime issues. However the issue of sharing the Teesta River water continues to remain on the table for discussion.


The visit according to officers is reciprocal and is ahead of the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in early winter. This will be Hasina’s first visit after assuming office for the third time consecutively.


Besides connectivity and trade-related issues, when Hasina meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the expected agenda would include all bilateral and regional issues, sharing of water in 54 common rivers and the Teesta in particular.


What is Teesta Issue?


In 2011 the deal for water sharing of this river was expected to be inked in 2011, but had to be pushed back as there were objections raised by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.


The water of the Teesta River is very critical for Bangladesh.


The deal despite best efforts by the government has been getting delayed as the West Bengal government is raising objections.


Rohingya Crisis


Bangladesh, has reached out to India seeking help in handling the huge influx of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. Dhaka has asked New Delhi to urge Myanmar to take back the refugees who have taken shelter in the country.


It is estimated according to the United Nations that more than 745,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state and have entered into Bangladesh.


New Delhi has already talked to the Myanmar government and its military authorities and urged them to bring back Rohingyas as soon as possible.


Illegal Immigration


If India insists on Bangladesh to accept illegal immigration relationship will sour, says an expert.


Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Gautam Lahiri, Bangladesh Expert has urged India to handle the issue of illegal immigration carefully and to ignore domestic compulsion amidst apprehensions that Bangladesh might get closer to China.


Due to her domestic politics compulsion, Hasina may not be in a position to tow India’s line, he says.


In his view, when Jaishankar visits Dhaka, as an astute diplomat, he will try to find a middle ground on this issue.


“India is trying to woo Bangladesh by committing to Teesta agreement and in lieu of that South Block wants some concession on the illegal immigration issue,” Lahiri opines.


Though the relations between the two countries have been very strong, in recent months there have been some issues related to the contentious issue of ‘illegal immigration’ from Bangladesh that is affecting the relationship.


In a recent meeting between Home Minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Khan and India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has proposed that there should be a mechanism to deal with the growing illegal immigration.


According to Lahiri, the ongoing process of the National Register of Citizen (NRC) in Assam was not mentioned, however for the first time India’s concern regarding the illegal movement of undocumented persons across the border was raised. Bangladesh maintains that no such migration is taking place to India after 1971.


While there may be a difference of opinion on the illegal immigrants, India will fully support Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s development agenda, Lahiri adds.