AFTER Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on 9th December 2019 diplomatic tension between Bangladesh and India has increased. Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said the CAA would weaken India’s position as a secular country, while Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal cancelled his and Momen’s scheduled visit to New Delhi.” Mohammad Touhid Hossain, a former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, said the CAA was now a “major irritant” in bilateral ties between India and Bangladesh and that a “message” had been sent through the visit’s cancelation. “It indicates that our government is unhappy with the situation,” he told Arab News. There have been protests across India resulting in violence and killings, mostly in areas controlled by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party such as northern Uttar Pradesh state. Senior diplomat Mohammad Zamir said parties should exercise restraint as it remained unclear what was currently happening in India.
Bangladesh rejects India’s claim that Bangladeshis have settled in India and should be repatriated. Bangladesh has taken the position that in fact India wants to settle millions of its citizens in Bangladesh. For years, there have been protests by Bangladesh over record number of Bangladeshis killed by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in the name of preventing illegal cross-border activities. On 7th June 2016, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had stated: “A total of 591 Bangladeshi citizens were killed by Indian Border Security Force and Indian citizens in the last 10 years”. Now they believe that the implementation of CAA will render millions of refugees (mainly Muslims) as stateless. And because of proximity, Bangladesh will have to bear the maximum brunt. The political leadership in Bangladesh is concerned that India may now “push” Muslim immigrants deemed illegal under CAA across the border.
The Bangladesh government had made a similar demand when PM Bangladesh was on a private visit to India after the NRC exercise was carried out in Assam. At the time, India had given a verbal assurance to Bangladesh that those rendered “foreigners” under the NRC in Assam will not be sent to Bangladesh. However, it had refused to give a written assurance, stating that the exercise was carried out as per directions of the Supreme Court. However, after passing of CAA in Parliament, fresh concerns have cropped up within the political leadership in Bangladesh that India may now “push” Muslim immigrants deemed illegal under the Act across the border. Fearing that Muslim refugees living in India might cross over to Bangladesh, the Bangladesh government on 31 December 2019 suspended mobile services in areas along the border, which shows that Bangladesh will not buckle under pressure this time round.
Media reported that the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) had issued an order for suspension of services on 30 December 2019. BTRC in its order to telecommunications service providers — Grameenphone, Teletalk, Robi and Banglalink — had asked them to suspend the network in border areas until further notice for the sake of the country’s security in the current circumstances. The decision has affected around 10 million users in 32 districts of Bangladesh along the border. The decision was taken by the government after a high-level meeting, which is reflective of the fact that Bangladesh government would continue taking measures to resist and frustrate India’s nefarious designs. Before disintegration of Pakistan, Farrakha Barrage was the bone of contention, but Bangladesh did not pursue the matter, because it was under obligation to India for having supported, what they called, independence movement.
Having that said, BJP government owing to its strength in Parliament has chosen a path to make India a pure breed Hindu country. The Citizenship Amendment Act is an injustice not only against the Muslim community but also Dalit, Tribal (Adivasi), Vanvasi, Tamil, Gorkha and atheist. The international community must take notice of the mess Indian government has created. Moreover, the arrogance and attitude of Indian government despite serious indicators and warnings clearly indicate a neo-Nazi mindset driven by RSS ideology. The Indian government has not paid any kind of attention to voices of concern from international community. Russians, US, UK, EU and OIC have communicated their point of view to Indian government. But BJP government is taking advantage of leverage of its huge market and trade relations ignoring all kinds of concern. A movement for demand of a new country by the CAA- affected population can sow seeds of its disintegration.
Showing utter disregard to the founding fathers of India, the BJP is bent upon making India a Hindu nationalist state. Its parent organization known as the RSS of which Modi is a member, is a Hindu nationalist party. Since the Indian state was founded, in 1947, the RSS and its foot soldiers have rejected one of the country’s ideals set forth by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — that the Indian state would be secular, and that the rights of all minorities would be protected. Since the RSS’ founding, in 1925, its leaders have propounded the view that India is a Hindu nation, and that Hindus should reign over the country’s minorities. It was a Hindu nationalist and former member of the RSS, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who murdered Gandhi in 1948, as he thought Gandhi was an appeaser of Muslims. As India’s communal divide worsens, Godse’s ghost is running free.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.