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Diplomacy

Yet Again, Amit Shah's 'Unacceptable' Remarks Leave Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Upset

The Indian home minister's knowledge of Bangladesh is 'very limited', A.K. Abdul Momen said.

New Delhi: Bangladeshi foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen has objected to Indian home minister Amit Shah’s remarks, asserting that the latter’s knowledge about Bangladesh is “very limited”.

Shah, who is campaigning for the West Bengal assembly elections, told the Kolkata-based newspaper Anandabazar Patrika that poor people from Bangladesh were entering India as even now they did not get enough to eat in their own country.

Momen responded in Dhaka that such remarks are “unacceptable”, especially when relations between Bangladesh and India are improving.

“There are many wise people in the world who do not see even after looking, and do not understand, even after knowing. But if he (Amit Shah) had said something like that, I would say his knowledge about Bangladesh is very limited. No one dies of hunger in our country now. There’s no ‘monga’ (seasonal poverty and hunger in northern districts of Bangladesh) either,” the Bangladeshi foreign minister told Prothom Alo.

He noted that while there was a shortage of employment for educated people, there was no such scarcity of low-skilled jobs. He also pointed out that over 100,000 Indian nationals work in Bangladesh. “We do not need to go to India,” he said.

Momen pointed out that Bangladesh is ahead of India in several indices. While almost 90% of the people in Bangladesh use fairly good latrines, over 50% of people in India do not have proper toilets, he claimed.

The home minister’s remarks come in the wake of the high-profile visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take part in celebrations to mark the country’s golden jubilee and the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. A major theme of Modi’s visit had to been to laud Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the socio-economic growth in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the front page of The Daily Star, Bangladesh’s biggest-selling newspaper, had a report on Thursday on how politicians in West Bengal were using the ‘Bangladesh card’ in the campaign.

Amit Shah’s previous statements about Bangladesh are already well-known in the country.

In December 2019, Shah had claimed that Hindus had “found it impossible” to practice their religion in Bangladesh when he introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha in December 2019,

Momen had termed Shah’s claims as “untrue” and “unwarranted”. “If he [Amit Shah] stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see the exemplary communal harmony in our country,” he added.

A year earlier, Amit Shah had said Bangladeshi migrants were “like termites”. There had been no official reaction from the Bangladesh government, but it had been widely reported in the media with negative comments.