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India 'studying' B'desh situation

A senior official says the deteriorating security situation is a cause for worry, writes Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 15:54 IST

India's envoy to Bangladesh Pinak R Chakravarty has reached Dhaka, but finds himself unable to begin official duties because he has not been able to present his credentials of office. According to a Dhaka-based diplomat, there is no one to whom he can present his credentials, a pre-requisite before any country's envoy can begin official duties.

Shortly after Chakravarty reached, the Awami League-led political alliance declined to participate in national elections, and the head of the caretaker government in Bangladesh, Iajuddin Ahmed, proclaimed a state of emergency.

Ahmed declared a state of emergency on Thursday evening, suspending fundamental rights as described in the Constitution, a day after thousands of army troops and paramilitary forces were deployed across the country to maintain law and order and aide the civil administration in the smooth conduct of elections.

Curfew has also been imposed in the capital Dhaka, between 10 pm and 5 am, an Indian working with an NGO in Dhaka told HT.

Elections, according to observers, were now unlikely to be held on January 22, as previously scheduled. The conduct of free and fair elections was in doubt, diplomats said, after the Awami League-led 14 party alliance pulled out from the electoral process, prompting the United Nations, the European Union and the Commonwealth to suspend their election monitoring duties earlier on Thursday.

Asked about Thursday's developments and the declaration of emergency in Bangladesh, the spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, Navtej Sarna, said India was closely studying the evolving situation.

In a statement on Thursday night, Sarna said, "We are closely studying the evolving situation. It remains our hope that the people of Bangladesh will be allowed to exercise their democratic right to choose their own government in a free and fair process through credible elections in which all major political parties are in a position to participate."

The deteriorating security situation in Bangladesh is a cause for serious concern, a senior official said, and directly impacts India, as the growing violence and bitter rivalry between the major political combines allows the Islamic fundamentalists, some affiliated to the Al-Qaeda, to gain credibility with the populace.

A diplomat from a western nation said the next step in the evolving situation could be the resignation of Ahmed and the formation of an all-party National Government, with Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus as the head.

While Yunus has turned down a similar offer when former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia demitted office in October, diplomats said he is likely to accept the offer now. Yunus enjoys widespread credibility and would be acceptable to all political groups.

The possibility of an army takeover has also not been ruled out, a former Indian envoy to Bangladesh said. But that would be a last option.

Email Nilova Roy Chaudhury: nilova @hindustantimes.com