India can ‘do a lot’ to help Bangladesh cope with Rohingya issue: Hasina

Updated on Sep 06, 2022 07:39 AM IST

Asked specifically about what India can do on the issue of Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina said: “India is a big country. It can do a lot.”

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)
By, New Delhi

India can “do a lot” to help Bangladesh cope with the issue of Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Monday, a day ahead of her meeting with her Indian counterpart.

During a brief informal interaction with reporters on the sidelines of a reception hosted by the Bangladesh high commission, Hasina also spoke of the potential for the two countries to work together on the dredging and rejuvenation of cross-border rivers. (Also Read | Gautam Adani meets Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina: ‘committed to…by Bijoy Dibosh’)

Asked specifically about what India can do on the issue of Rohingya refugees, Hasina said: “India is a big country. It can do a lot.”

Bangladesh currently shelters more than a million Rohingya refugees who fled from Rakhine state in neighbouring Myanmar. Pressure has been growing from the Bangladeshi people for the repatriation of the refugees and Dhaka has asked New Delhi to use its influence with the Myanmarese leadership to help with efforts to send the Rohingya back to Rakhine.

Hasina spoke of her government’s plans to dredge and rejuvenate various rivers and said Bangladesh and India could work jointly on this issue. Bangladesh, she said, is a lower riparian state and the waters of cross-border rivers would anyway flow into the country.

The dredging and desilting of rivers will improve the flow, she said, adding on a lighter note that the Indian side could facilitate this work by providing a line of credit.

Hasina noted there was consensus on issues related to Bangladesh among all parties in India’s Parliament and this helped the two sides tackle issues such as the settlement of land and maritime borders in recent years.

Hasina also said she had expected to meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during her current visit but it had not happened. “She is like a sister, I can meet her whenever I want…We have always had good relations,” she said.

The Bangladesh premier, who began a four-day visit on Monday, will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. The two sides are expected to sign six to seven agreements during the talks.

Hasina visited the shrine of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Chishti on Monday evening after a meeting with external affairs minister S Jaishankar.

“Delighted to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh this evening. The warmth and frequency of our leadership level contacts is a testimony to our close neighborly partnership,” Jaishankar said in a tweet after the meeting.

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