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Foreign Minister cancels India visit

Published : Thursday, 12 December, 2019 at 4:36 PM  Count : 159

Foreign Minister cancels India visit

Foreign Minister cancels India visit

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has cancelled his visit to India, according to India based news channel NDTV. The cancellation also comes amid violent protests in the North East over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in India.

According to news agency ANI Momen was to visit India between December 12 and 14 to attend the Indian Ocean Dialogue and Delhi Dialogue XI, as well as hold talks on bilateral issues with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.  An advisory issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said he was expected in New Delhi at 5.20 pm.

"I had to cancel my trip to New Delhi as I have to participate in Buddijibi Debosh (Martyred Intellectuals Day - December 14) and Bijoy Debosh (Victory Day of Bangladesh - December 16) and more so as our State Minister is out of the country in Madrid and our Foreign Secretary is in The Hague. Given increasing demand at home, I decided to cancel his trip," Momen said, according to ANI.

Massive protests have broken out in Assam and parts of the North East following the passage of the controversial Citizenship Bill in the Rajya Sabha late Wednesday night. The bill, which looks to make Indian citizens of non-Muslim refugees facing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, has been targeted over discrimination on religious grounds and claims it violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

Opposition leaders repeatedly attacked the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, yesterday, with the Congress's Anand Sharma saying it "hurts the very soul of the Constitution" and P Chidambaram questioning the centre over exclusion of Sri Lanka Hindus, Rohingya Muslims and other persecuted religious minorities.

Earlier this week Momen, speaking to reporters in Dhaka, said allegations of repression of minorities in his country were "untrue".

"Whoever gave them the information, it is not correct. Many important decisions of our country are taken by persons belonging to different religions... we never judge anybody by their religion," he said.

Momen also praised India for being a "historically tolerant country" but he cautioned the government that that legacy of secularism could be "weakened" and that could affect India-Bangladesh ties.

"India is historically a tolerant country which believes in secularism (but) their position will be weakened if they deviate... so, naturally our people expect India won't do anything that could create anxiety among them," he said.

This morning thousands of people defied a city-wide curfew in place in Guwahati, the largest city in the state, since yesterday evening to take to the streets. Transport services to the region have been severely impacted as all train services to Assam and neighbouring Tripura have been suspended. Several airlines have cancelled flights to Guwahati and Dibrugarh.

Five columns of the Indian Army - each consisting of 70 personnel - have been deployed in Assam. Two deployed in Guwahati carried out flag marches, news agency PTI said, quoting Indian Army PRO Lt Col P Khongsai. Army personnel have also been deployed in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Jorhat districts, PTI reported, quoting officials.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in 10 districts of the state since Wednesday evening.

The controversial Citizenship Bill was cleared by the Rajya Sabha with 125 votes for and 99 against, two days after it sailed through the Lok Sabha where 334 MPs voted for and 106 voted against.


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