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Delhi violence and Bangladesh

Published : Wednesday, 4 March, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 203

Nizam Ahmed

Nizam Ahmed

When the members of a neighbouring family quarrel inside their home, it may remain an internal affairs. But when they start killing each other and indulge in arson, it becomes a matter of grave concern for the neighbours. Because the violence may destabilise the peaceful coexistence and even severely harm the entire community. The act of arson may also devour properties of every family in the community. So every deadly incident of a family can never be judged as an internal affairs for long.

The recent intensification of deadly violence that erupted in New Delhi over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by Indian parliament, has become an issue of concern for the country's neighbours not only in the South Asia, but also across the world. The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have expressed grave concern and urged the Indian government to protect the Muslim minorities, who like many other compatriots think that the CAA, has breached the secular principle of the country's constitution and violated the Muslim rights.

Bangladesh government is yet to show formal concern over the deteriorating situation in which as of on February 28 nearly 42 people mostly Muslims have been killed and more than 300 wounded. Besides, Hundreds of homes and vehicles were also torched.
Instead, Bangladesh on Sunday reiterated that the recent violence in Delhi centering CAA was India's internal affairs. Dhaka considers the recent Delhi violence as India's domestic issue and expects the authorities of that country to control it, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen told reporters.

But within hours of Momen's statement the cancellation of Speaker Shirin Sharmeen's scheduled India visit at the last moment on March 1 hints something different. During the anti-CAA protests and violence in India in December last Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Moment and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal skipped their respective schedule visits to India.

A couple of days earlier Bangladesh expressed its deep concern through 12 eminent citizens of the country over the spate of communal clashes occurred in the Indian capital New Delhi. In a joint statement on February 27 the eminent citizens said: "In the last few days the situation has deteriorated alarmingly, with violent attacks against the CAA protesters. If normalcy not restored, it may create instability in the region."

Terming India as a friendly neighbour and proven ally for being the biggest help during Bangladesh's Liberation War, they said the ongoing violence in India may be detrimental to the peace, democracy, development and communal harmony in this region. They urged Indian government and the citizens to protect the communal harmony and democratic ideologies in India. They also urged Bangladesh people to uphold the country's communal harmony.
The signatories of the joint statement are: Professor Anisuzzaman, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Hasan Azizul Haque, Anupam Sen, Hasan Imam, Sarwar Ali, Ramendu Majumder, Mofidul Hoque, Tariq Ali, Mamunur Rashid, Nasiruddin Yousuff and Golam Kuddus.

The eminent citizens through the joint statement upheld the obligation and the responsibilities of the independent nation of Bangladesh. With the statement they have probably salvaged the government which has been apparently shy to say the truth that might hurt its Indian counterpart. As the eminent personalities having valuable contributions to the country's long independence struggle including the Bangladesh Liberation War 1971 and the struggle for restoration of democracy after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, do support the incumbent government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the statement is likely to protect the government from public criticism for its silence over Delhi turmoil.

As the violence over CAA has turned into a communal violence backed by law enforcers and activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party against the Muslims in India, a number of socio-economic and religious organisations including Islamic groups urged Bangladesh government not to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Bangabandhu Centenary Celebrations scheduled to begin from March 17 next, the 100th birthday of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On February 28 thousands of Islamic political activists belonging to different groups staged noisy protests in Dhaka and several other cities against Delhi violence.

Meanwhile Students Against Fascism, a newly formed organisation of the Dhaka University on Sunday last urged the government to choose a secular personality instead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to represent India in Bangabandhu centenary celebrations.  They threatened action if Modi is invited in the Bangladesh national event. The students said the communal Narendra Modi had stained his hands with blood of the Muslim minority in order to implement the controversial CAA. The General Secretary of the Dhaka University Students Union also demanded no to invite Modi in the centenary celebrations.

Earlier the country's nine leading cultural organisations and the Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad in separate statements on February 28 also expressed concern over the clashes that took place  in the Indian capital. Its leaders also urged the India government and its people to come forward to protect those affected by the riots to promote peace, solidarity and amity and uphold the country's secular democracy.
In response to a widespread demand not to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Bangabandhu Centenary Celebrations, the ruling party Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said it would be ungratefulness to India which had greatly helped Bangladesh in its liberation war against Pakistan, if Modi was omitted from the guest list.

However, contradicting Obaidul Quader's view concerned quarter say for the friendly role in 1971, Bangladesh should not accept all wrong doings of incumbent Indian government, which is largely communal in terms of its manifesto and actions. They say Bangladesh government should let India know that it is deeply worried about government--backed sectarian clashes that erupted in New Delhi over the CAA.

The role of the Indian central government and the Delhi State government has been re-exposed highly communal after Delhi High Court Judge Justice S Muralidhar was transferred on February 27 after he grilled the law enforces  over the deadly violence in the capital.
A day earlier Justice Muralidhar said, "We cannot let another 1984-like (riot against Shikhs) event happen in this country" and asked the government - at the centre and in Delhi - to work together to combat unrelenting violence that hit parts of the national capital for a fourth consecutive day.

Meanwhile Indian opposition parties criticised the government's failure to control the violence, despite the use of tear gas, pellets and smoke grenades. Sonia Gandhi, President of the Opposition Congress party, called for the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, who is directly responsible for law and order in the capital.

Voicing concern over the recent violence in north-east Delhi, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said India is a secular country and people cannot be divided along religious lines. Lastly West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also joined anti-Modi chorus.

From February 22 to February 26 last mobs armed with swords, guns and acid raze parts of a northeastern district of the Indian capital during street battles between Hindus and minority Muslims. The unrest comes amid growing concerns at home and abroad about India's direction and the future of its 200 million Muslims since Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP swept to a second term last year.

Since winning a second term, Modi's government has revoked the partial autonomy of Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, and said it wants to conduct a nationwide citizens' register to weed out so called infiltrators. Together with the citizenship law, which fast-tracks claims for persecuted non-Muslim religious immigrants, this has stoked fears that Modi's master plan is to remould India as a Hindu nation. The citizenship law has sparked months of nationwide protests as well as clashes that killed more than 25 people in December.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla who arrived Monday on a two-day visit in Dhaka, interacting with Bangladesh senior officials and distinguished citizens probably well understood that the recent developments in India including the Delhi mayhem have been a matter of grave concern in this country. He might have sensed that some quarters including a section of the allies of the government here would stage protests if Modi joins the Bangabandhu centenary celebration.
The author is Business Editor, The Daily Observer

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