Keep up pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingyas, says Sheikh Hasina at event with PM Narendra Modi
Accommodating Rohingya refugees is an issue on which the establishments in Delhi and Dhaka differ. The Narendra Modi-led government wants to deport all Rohingya refugees, who are considered as the most persecuted ethnic minority in the world.india Updated: May 25, 2018 17:46 IST
Pressure must be kept on Myanmar government to take back their Rohingya people, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in the presence of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Santiniketan on Friday.
“There are 11 lakh Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. We have given them shelter due to humanitarian consideration, we want them to go back to their land. We cannot help offering shelter to oppressed people. We appeal to all to keep up pressure on the government of Myanmar to take them back,” Hasina said during the inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan, a centre to further cultural cooperation between India and Bangladesh.
“When the question of giving them shelter in Bangladesh was raised, I said if we could feed 16 crore people. We could also offer food to a few lakhs. If need be, we would share our food,” said Hasina, who turned emotional during the speech.
Accommodating Rohingya refugees is an issue on which the establishments in Delhi and Dhaka differ. Settlement of refugees from Myanmar is an issue that also divides the ruling party of West Bengal and the establishment in Delhi.
While the Modi government wants to deport all Rohingya refugees, who are considered as the most persecuted ethnic minority in the world, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed support for them last year.
Several dozens of Rohingya families have been accommodated in different villages of the South 24 Parganas district by NGOs, an initiative that received the tacit support of local Trinamool Congress leaders.
Issues Between Neighbours
The Bangladesh Prime Minister also hinted at issues with India, but did not mention them in the inauguration programme.
“Neighbours do have problems, but we can resolve them through discussions. I don’t want to bring it up and spoil this excellent programme,” Hasina said.
“India and Bangladesh have settled many issues through mutual talks in the past. For example, I was touched by the proactive role played by all political parties in India is settling the land boundary issues. People living in enclaves along the border of our countries for decades found home. However some issues are yet to be addressed. I would not like to rake up these issues on this special occasion,” Hasina said.
“India and Bangladesh need to work together more closely and address common issues such as poverty and hunger,” she added.
In his speech, Modi said that the relations between India and Bangladesh have entered a golden phase, highlighting the expanding road and rail connectivity projects, cooperation in power sectors, land boundary agreement between the two countries.
“The type of progress that Bangladesh has attained in social sectors and in the area of poverty alleviation provides encouragement to us in India too,” Modi remarked.
After the programme, Hasina had a 30-minute meeting with Modi behind closed doors. Despite speculations, Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee did not attend the meeting. She left Santiniketan immediately after the function without even having lunch at the venue.
Banerjee is scheduled to meet Hasina in Kolkata on Saturday afternoon. “The Teesta water accord might come up for discussion at the meeting. The two leaders are also expected to talk on the Rohingyas,” said a senior state government official who did not wish to be named.
Earlier, while addressing the 49th convocation at Visva Bharati, Modi urged the students to turn 100 villages around Santiniketan self-sufficient and thus celebrate 100 years of the university in 2021.
“The villages should have power and LPG, children should receive vaccines, villagers should be able to fill up digital forms,” Modi said.
He also referred to a few Central projects such as Swachh Bharat that might help the students in this effort.
This was Modi’s first visit to Visva Bharati as Prime Minister. This is the only Central university of which he is the chancellor.