Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday named Pakistan at least on four occasions during his 63-minute speech to 2,000 strong audience, as he spoke on terrorism, fake currency, connectivity and India’s track record on peace.
Saying that “terrorism has no borders”, he said India has been troubled by the menace for the last 40 years and named Pakistan for the spread. “What has the world got from this? All forces of humanity should unite and should isolate extremism. Tourism unites the world, terrorism divides,” he said, while commending Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina on her stand on “zero tolerance” to terrorism.
On the issue of fake currency, he said, “Kare khoi, khaye khoi aur badnaam Bangladesh ho…(somebody else does it, Bangladesh gets a bad name for it).”
On the issue of connectivity, he referred to Pakistan blocking the SAARC motor vehicles agreement last November, saying, “We had a proposal on connectivity in SAARC, wanted to do it, but not everybody is Bangladesh, so we could not get it on track. Should we then wait? But countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India have decided to make the connectivity happen.”
And, while making a case for India’s permanent membership at the United Nations Security Council, he reminded that the world cannot forget that India had 90,000 prisoners of war from Pakistan after the 1971 war, but did not play politics and shoot them in Bangladesh soil.
“These days, when people hijack a plane full of about 100-200 people, they can get anything they want. But, we had 90,000 prisoners, but didn’t bargain. This is our character on peace, and they ask for our credentials for the UN Security Council,” he said.
In his speech that was punctuated by applause and cheers, Modi also made a commitment to find a solution for the issue of Teesta water-sharing, stressing that water cannot be used for politics.
Speaking at the Bongobondhu international conference centre, as he wrapped up his visit, Modi said, “I have come to take Bangladesh along with me, but I will also have to take the states along. And, when I have come to Bangladesh, discussions have happened on Teesta.”
Saying that “panchhi, pawan aur paani” (birds, air and water) don’t need a visa, he said that water cannot be used for “political reasons” as its a “human issue”.
“Raste niklengey, koshish jaari rehni chahiye, vishwas tootna nahin chahiye, parinaam nikalke rahengey (the path will be found, we should keep up the efforts, we should not waver in faith, the results will be there)”, he said, amid loud applause.
He said that the world fights for land, but India and Bangladesh have made the land boundary agreement (LBA) not about land but one that “binds the hearts” of people. He even recalled that some have compared this to the “collapse of the Berlin wall”.
He mentioned the issue of border killings and said that bullets — whether fired from this side or the other — kill human beings.
Stressing that he and Sheikh Hasina’s minds are “perfectly matched”, he said that both are focussed on “vikaas (development)”. “India and Bangladesh are not just neighbours, but also want to go together (Hum paas paas hai, aur hum saath saath hain).”
The two countries signed a joint declaration “Notun Projonmo, nai disha”, and said that deliberations are underway involving all stakeholders with regard to conclusion of the Interim Agreements on sharing of waters of Teesta and Feni as soon as possible.
On the LBA, the two leaders gave directives to officials on both sides for “expeditious implementation” of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 protocol on the ground. They also asked them to “extend all facilities” to the residents of the enclaves and ensure that the “rights of all citizens are protected”.
On terrorism, they made an explicit commitment to “cooperate with each other by sharing information about groups and persons indulging in terrorism”.
On illegal immigration, the joint declaration made a nuanced reference, stressing the need for effective implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) for better border management so as to prevent “cross border criminal activities, irregular movement, incidents of violence and tragic loss of lives”.
They expressed confidence that the plan would enhance cooperation between the forces guarding the borders, and enable them to manage the identified vulnerable areas to prevent criminal activities, irregular movement, acts of violence and loss of lives.
“They agreed on the need to free the borders from criminal activities,” the statement said.
Modi also conveyed that the Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Power Project is not likely to be taken forward in its present form due to statutory requirements on the Indian side, and that India would not take any unilateral decision that may adversely impact Bangladesh.
They also decided to initiate an annual India-Bangladesh Energy Dialogue to be led jointly by India’s Secretary (Petroleum) and Secretary, Power Division of Bangladesh to undertake comprehensive energy sector cooperation including areas of coal, natural gas, LNG, supply of petroleum products in the sub-region, renewable energy, oil and gas pipelines, etc.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh conferred the prestigious liberation war honour on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his “active role” in its independence struggle and consolidating friendship with India.
Modi said that though he had entered politics quite late, he had been one of the many youth activists who had come to Delhi in response to Vajpayee’s call for Satyagraha for the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
He described himself as one of the crores of people who wanted this vision to be realised.
Modi also met BNP chief Khaleda Zia, during which he said that he was with democracy, but against extremism. He also met other political leaders, including Leader of Opposition Raushan Ershad and leaders from Left parties.
The Prime Minister started his day by performing a puja at the famous Dhaneshwari temple, and visiting the Ramakrishna Mission, and also launching a handful of projects at the Indian High Commission’s new chancery.