Amid violent protests in Assam and Tripura over the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Parliament on Wednesday, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has cancelled his visit to India.
Momen was reportedly scheduled to visit India from December 12-14.
Clarifying on the same, the Bangladesh foreign minister said that he had to cancel his visit to New Delhi as he has to participate in the ‘Buddijibi Debosh’ and ‘Bijoy Debosh’ and because the State Minister is in Madrid and the country’s Foreign Secretary is in The Hague.
The Bangladesh minister further said that he is looking forward to attending the next meeting in January.
The cancellation of the visit comes in the wake of the Indian Parliament passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that seeks to give Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh after facing religious persecution there.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, while commenting on CAB, had said that “there are a very few countries where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh” while adding that “if Amit Shah stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see exemplary communal harmony in the country”.
“They (India) have many problems within their country. Let them fight among themselves. That does not bother us. As a friendly country, we hope that India will not do something that affects our friendly relationship,” the foreign minister was reported as saying by Bangladeshi media.
India has, however, declined to link the cancellation of the visit with the passing of the Citizenship Bill.
“He (AK Abdul Momen) has given his explanation on cancelling his visit. Our relationship is strong. As leaders of both the countries have said, this is the golden age of our relations,” External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
On the Bangladesh minister’s comment on CAB, Kumar said: “There seems to be some confusion. We have explained that religious persecution is not happening under the present government. Migrants who have sought refuge in India from Bangladesh have faced persecution and abuse on religious grounds during the military rule and also during the previous governments in Bangladesh. We have also acknowledged and are aware that the present government in Bangladesh has taken several steps to address the concerns of minorities living there as per their Constitutional provisions.”