India and Bangladesh to hold joint events on Mujib Barsha
According to an Indian spokesperson there was no discussion of issues like Teesta water sharing, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and The Citizenship (Amendment) Act during Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Bangladesh.
“They (the issues) were not raised,” said India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, responding to queries of journalists in a virtual bulletin on Thursday.
Shringla came to Bangladesh on August 18 on a two day visit to warm up Indo-Bangla relations and meet with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Aug 19.
Srivastava said discussions during this meeting centred on the hundredth birth anniversary year of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which started from March 2020 to continue till March 2021.
The meetings also discussed 50 years of liberation of Bangladesh as well as establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh in 2021, he added.
“India plans to issue a commemorative stamp honoring Bangabandhu in Mujib Barsha. The two countries also proposed to hold joint events on the occasion,” said Srivastava.
“You will also recall our prime minister paid tribute to Bangabandhu in a video message at the inaugural of Mujib Barsha celebrations in March,” he added.
Srivastav said both sides also discussed the Covid-19 situation during this visit.
Regarding the meeting between Indian foreign secretary and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said both sides agreed to continue discussions concerning vaccines and therapeutics.
Discussions on ongoing projects
“Another significant area of discussion was India’s development assistance in Bangladesh as well as power and connectivity projects. Several of these projects, including Rampal Maitree Power Plant, the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, and rail links between Akhaura-Agartala, Chilahatai-Haldibari, and Khulna-Mongla, are expected to be completed by next year,” he added.
The Indian spokesman also said it was proposed that the next meeting of the joint consultative commission at the level of foreign ministers should be convened shortly to review the entire bilateral relationship, including these projects.
He said it was also proposed that a high-level monitoring mechanism be set up to regularly review progress of the ongoing projects.
“Our proposal to launch the travel air bubble between the two countries opening limited flights for official, business, and medical travel, was appreciated by the Bangladeshi side. There were discussions relating to the area of security, including fencing and joint efforts to prevent trans-border crimes,” he added.
The issue of safe repatriation of internally displaced persons from Rakhine state also came up for discussion, said Srivastava.
During the visit, the Indian foreign secretary also met Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and comprehensively discussed all issues of interest.
In the last few years, India and Bangladesh have amicably resolved complex issues including the matter of land and maritime borders.
They also took several initiatives to enhance connectivity and trade, including commencement of the movement of Indian cargo from Agartala to Kolkata via Chittagong, expansion of the scope of protocol that governs trade and transit on inland waterways, the gift of 10 locomotives to Bangladesh recently, and the introduction of parcel train service between the two countries, said the Indian spokesperson.
India will continue to work on ensuring the return of Tablighi Jamaat from Bangladesh is facilitated, he added.