Middlemen luring Rohingyas from India to Bangladesh; India is not pushing them, says foreign minister Momen
Bangladesh believes in the Indian assurance on the conclusion of the much talked-about Teesta water sharing agreement, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Saturday, noting that there is no reason to worry about that.
He also said he is unable to specify any date for the Teesta agreement and that Dhaka is only hoping that the deal will be inked.
Momen said the Indian government is not sending Rohingyas to Bangladesh. Rather, some middlemen are luring these persecuted people to come to the country.
He was briefing reporters at the VIP lounge of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport upon his return from India yesterday, completing his three-day maiden overseas trip after taking oath of office.
“Listen, I am always hopeful. India and Bangladesh have solved many big problems. Based on this hope we have developed a sense of confidence and sense of mutual trust. I believe in that. And, they have assured us and I very much believe in that,” said the Foreign Minister when asked how hopeful he is about the assurance given to him by the Indians.
“Not only Teesta; we have many rivers. Why are we only talking about this river. Fifty four (common) rivers are in our discussions. Slowly, we’ll solve (issues related to) all of them. In terms of solution, we have advanced a lot. Time is passing, but it will be done. There is no cause for worry,” he added.
To another question on the same issue, Momen said: “I cannot give any date. We are only hoping.”
“We discussed all the common rivers, including Teesta, and we are hopeful,” he told another questioner.
Teesta water sharing was scheduled to be signed on September 6, 2011, in Dhaka during the visit of then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but this could not happen due to last-minute objections from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
When asked if he raised the issue of deportation and push in of Rohingyas from India, the Foreign Minister said: “The (Indian) government did not send them. Some middlemen have enticed them so they come to Bangladesh. If they are Rohingyas, the Indian government will not send them to Bangladesh. They will be sent to their country of origin.
“I have put forward a new proposal as to how to repatriate the Rohingyas. I have sought their help as to how to repatriate them as soon as possible. We have said to them that we want your help,” he said, without elaborating.
When asked what kind of assistance he asked for, Momen said: “We have sought assistance from them. They will decide how they can help us.”
To another question in regards to possible Indian assistance on the Rohingyas, he said: “Since the government assumed office, I discussed with all to find out how to repatriate the Rohingyas as soon as possible.”
“I am emphasizing one thing. If Rohingyas live here for a longer period of time and if this problem lingers, there may surface different types of problems. There may be some radicalism. In the interest of Bangladesh, Myanmar and other countries of the region, this problem needs to be solved quickly. This is what I proposed,” he added.
The Foreign Minister also said that he talked about economic diplomacy regarding which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formulated some roadmaps.
“To implement those, we need the partnership and assistance of all. And, the response was very positive,” he said.
Describing the visit as good, Momen said that basically, it was a goodwill visit and a wide range of issues were discussed in the JCC meeting.
He said that his decision to choose India as his first overseas visit has been praised by all he met.