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We are looking forward to Narendra Modi’s assurance on sharing Teesta waters: B’desh minister

The relation between Bangladesh and India has climbed to new heights during the tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Obaidul Quader, minister for road transport and bridges and general secretary of ruling Awami League in Bangladesh.

kolkata Updated: Dec 21, 2017 15:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
India,Bangladesh,Narendra Modi
File photo of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee inaugurating a rail link and bus service to Bangladesh on April 8, 2017. (HT Photo)

The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh is still looking forward to the Teesta water sharing agreement that was discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dhaka visit in June 2015, Obaidul Quader, minister for road transport and bridges, Bangladesh and general secretary of ruling Awami League said in Kolkata.

“Discussion are still going on. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Bangladesh, he assured our Prime Minister that the waters of Teesta will be shared. We are looking forward to his assurance,” remarked Quader on Wednesday. He is also the general secretary of ruling Awami League.

Read: Resolution of Teesta will transform India-Bangladesh ties: Sheikh Hasina

The veteran politician of Bangladesh also said that they are eagerly looking forward to a “practical, realistic and reasonable” solution to the question.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has consistently maintained that the Teesta does not have enough waters to be shared with Bangladesh. She said there are other rivers, waters of which can be shared with the neighbouring country. (HT Photo)

Speaking in Delhi in April this year at a reception organised by a policy advocacy group, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that her Indian counterpart has reiterated his government’s strong resolve to conclude the water sharing treaty at the earliest.

The next general elections in Bangladesh are supposed to be held in late 2018. Clinching an agreement to share waters of the Teesta is politically important for Awami League.

However, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is opposed to the idea of sharing waters of the Teesta with the neighbouring country. Her logic: there is just not enough waters in the river to be shared, and if the agreement is signed the people in north Bengal will suffer badly.

Read: India should stand by ally Sheikh Hasina on the Rohingya crisis

Mamata Banerjee has instead put forward a suggestion that waters of other rivers such as Torsa and Sankosh be shared with Bangladesh.

But Quader refused to be drawn into the alternative that the Bengal chief minister suggested. “It is her personal opinion. We are having talks with the government of India. The agreement will also take place with the Union government. The point (of other rivers) should be settled between the two governments of India,” he remarked.

Describing the ties with India as a time-tested one, Quader mentioned how the relation between the two neighbouring countries have a new high during the tenure of Narendra Modi. “The enclave exchange was extremely important. Prime Minister Modi took an important role in it,” he said.

Read: Teesta water deal: One issue where Mamata loses nothing by sitting tight

Quader also said that Dhaka is investigating whether there is a Pakistan hand behind the militant elements among the Rohingyas.

“We have got intelligence reports that ISI has a role in the conspiracy of militant Rohingya elements. We think Pakistan has got a hand in it. We are investigating it,” he remarked.

The Sheikh Hasina government earlier blamed Pakistan and the ISI for their role in terror activities on the soil of Bangladesh including the series of murder of free-thinking bloggers and the attacks such as the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016.

Bangladesh opened its borders for the Rohingya refugees on August 25, following which more than six lakh refugees have poured in. Dhaka is worried about terror elements sneaking in as a part of the wave.

“Whenever there is a positive development in Bangladesh, Pakistan reacts negatively. Every time there is a decision announcing sentences for the culprits during the 1971 liberation war, Pakistan makes a negative comment.... They should remember Bangladesh is ahead of their country in development indicators such as literacy and life expectancy,” quipped Quader.

“They are ahead of us only in making a nuclear bomb.”

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 15:58 IST