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Dhaka opposition dissatisfied with Indian assurance on dam

world Updated: Jul 18, 2009 15:24 IST
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Protesters in Dhaka began a 'long march' against a dam across the border in northeastern India as Bangladesh's main opposition rejected Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance that no work would be started without holding talks.

Activists of Nirvik, an environmental organisation, on Friday set out on a six-day 264 km march to Sylhet to mobilise public opinion against the dam project.

The protesters started their long trek on foot from Muktangan after a rally where leaders of Nirvik and other organisations urged the government to take necessary steps to prevent the Indian government from constructing the dam.

Singh told Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier this week that it would do "nothing anti-Bangladesh" on the project over the Barak river, but the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said it was "dissatisfied".

Mounting pressures on the government and on India, the BNP on Friday renewed its demand for recall of Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty over a remark at a seminar that it termed as "interference in Bangladesh's affairs".

"We cannot rest assured at the statement of the Indian prime minister made during his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina," party vice chairman MK Anwar was quoted as saying.

New Age newspaper said opposition chief and two-term prime minister Khaleda Zia was expected to "disclose" some data that the party had collected.

Invited to join a team of parliamentarians and water resource experts to visit India on July 29 in response to an invitation from New Delhi, the BNP has been withholding nomination of two members.

Anwar said the party would not join the team unless "neutral" experts are included.

"The (Bangladesh) government is much interested in sending a parliamentary group and the BNP will not join such a group unless experts are included.

"Khaleda on June 29 sent a letter to Sheikh Hasina naming a six-member BNP delegation, which included four experts, for a visit to the dam site in Manipur," he said.

She had also sent a letter to the Indian prime minister asking him to desist from constructing the dam.