New Delhi: Hours after Bangladesh’s foreign minister AK Abdul Momen called off his scheduled two-day visit to India, the neighbour’s home minister Asaduzzaman Khan has also cancelled a visit.
Khan was to visit Shillong to attend an event by the freedom fighters welfare trust for the support by people in the region for Bangladesh liberation in the war of 1971.
The cancellation was reportedly prompted by the law and order situation in northeast India following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill by the Parliament, which has sparked massive protests, including in Shillong.
Earlier in the day, Momen had called off his scheduled visit to India after saying that the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill could weaken India's historic character as a secular nation and rejecting the allegations that minorities are facing religious persecution in his country.
After the cancellation, the Indian government had tried to control the damage and said that the religious persecution of minorities talked about during the discussion on CAB was "in reference to military regimes and past governments."
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the cancellation of the visits should not be linked with the Citizenship Bill and maintained that ties between the two neighbours remained good.
“The visit has been postponed due to domestic issues in Bangladesh in connection with their Victory Day on December 16. The speculation that it has something to do with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed by our Parliament on Wednesday are unwarranted,” he said.
But diplomatic sources said the trips were cancelled over the situation arising out of the passage of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament.
Parliament on Wednesday had passed the contentious legislation by which members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, after facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and be given Indian citizenship.
This triggered massive protests in the Northeast region, especially in Tripura and Assam, amid fears that the indigenous identity would be threatened.
Bangladesh has rejected the allegations of persecution, with Momen terming as "untrue the allegations of minority repression in Bangladesh by India's Home Minister Amit Shah, saying whoever gave them the information, it is not correct".
While Bangladesh is known to be India’s “good friend”, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has been an irritant in ties. The issue has been discussed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina, who has raised the matter with him at least twice.