New Delhi: Bangladesh’s junior foreign minister M. Shahriar Alam has reportedly cancelled his participation in next week’s Raisina Dialogue. This marks the third such cancellation of a ministerial visit within a month.
Minister of state for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam was listed as a speaker at the Raisina Dialogue which begins next week. The Raisina Dialogue is an annual platform, backed by the Indian ministry of external affairs, for a three-day discussion on global issues, attended by foreign ministers, diplomats and experts.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that while his visit had been on schedule till a day earlier, but it has now been changed. According to Bangladeshi embassy officials, Alam would be travelling with Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina to Abu Dhabi. He would also attend a meeting of Bangladeshi heads of missions in the region.
There has been no response from the Indian ministry of external affairs, so far.
Last month, Bangladesh foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen cancelled his trip to Delhi, just 24 hours before his arrival. Momen was scheduled to attend the ministerial keynote session of Delhi Dialogue and Indian Ocean Dialogue on Friday and then hold a breakfast meeting with external affairs minister S. Jaishankar. New Delhi and Dhaka, however, maintained that the visit had been postponed as Momen had to take part in two important national events.
The cancellation took place just after the Indian parliament approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which introduced religion as a criterion for citizenship for the first time since independence.
At the same time, Bangladesh home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also cancelled his private visit to Meghalaya. Kamal told Indian TV channel Times Now that he had been advised by foreign office to avoid Meghalaya due to the disturbances.
Relations between India and Bangladesh have improved and strengthened since Sheikh Hasina assumed charge as prime minister. However, there have been strains in the last few months over utterances of Indian ministers describing Bangladeshi migrants as ‘termites’, as well as, claims of minority repression in the south Asian state.
The MEA had to clarify that Indian home minister Amit Shah had only been referring to atrocities against minorities under the previous government run by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.