PM Modi said NRC is India’s internal issue: Bangladesh envoy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured Bangladesh the implementation of the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) is an “internal issue” that will be resolved internally, Bangladesh high commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali said on Friday.
During an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps here, Ali also called on India and other regional powers to do more for the repatriation to Myanmar of 1.1 million Rohingya refugees who had taken shelter in Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Rakhine state.
After some 1.9 million people were left out of the final version of the NRC in Assam in August, statements by BJP leaders that these people would be deported have sparked concerns among the public in Bangladesh. These concerns have been exacerbated by plans to implement the NRC across India.
Answering a flurry of questions on the NRC issue, Ali, who is set to end his stint in India by the yearend, said: “Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has said it is our internal matter and we will resolve it internally.”
He added the Indian leadership had also said “Bangladesh need not be concerned about” the NRC issue. “Nobody has so far been sent back to Bangladesh, because this is an internal matter you will resolve,” he said.
The governments of India and Bangladesh have no option but to cooperate on issues such as the NRC and there is a “constant degree of interaction between our two leaderships and as of now, they have never raised it (NRC) bilaterally”, he said.
Ali sidestepped questions on remarks by BJP leaders about the deportation of people left out of the NRC in Assam by saying, “I have to deal with the government, I don’t deal with political propaganda.”
While appreciating India’s generous aid for the Rohingya refugees, including relief materials and building homes to rehabilitate returning refugees in Rakhine state, ali said, “But you will all agree with me that displacement of 1.1 million Rohingya refugees on our border is a major security threat for all of us and it is all the more necessary to repatriate them back to their country with full citizenship and full rights.”
He added, “The onus is on the international community, and more so on the regional countries, to help push the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees as fast as we can. Now we want India to exercise its good offices along with other regional powers in Asia for the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.
“Because the Rohingya are my problem today but it could be a problem for New Delhi tomorrow. Believe me, the Rohingya are absolutely desperate, and unless and until we can repatriate them, they could fall in the wrong hands.”
Describing Bangladesh as India’s “closest and friendliest neighbour”, Ali said his country’s relationship with China was limited to trade. China, he said, was well positioned to provide the sort of large-scale investments needed to make Bangladesh a middle income country.
“Among South Asian countries, the least Chinese penetration in terms of investment is in Bangladesh, and the debt situation with China is under strict control as we are apprehensive of the debt trap faced by others,” he said.