A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in New York, the two leaders are scheduled to meet for a bilateral meeting on Saturday in Delhi.
Sources said the contentious issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was discussed during their meeting in New York, where Hasina told Modi that it has become a matter of “great concern” for Bangladesh. Modi is learnt to have replied that there is “nothing to be worried” since India and Bangladesh have good relations.
However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has again reiterated that the government would first amend the existing citizenship norms — by the passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill — before it implements a nationwide NRC.
While speaking in Kolkata on Tuesday, Shah accused West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee of “misleading” the people.
“Mamata Banerjee is saying that lakhs of Hindu refugees will be thrown out of the country. I have come here to assure all my refugee brothers that there is no need to worry as the central government will not force them out,” Shah is reported to have said. “I want to assure all Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Christian refugees that you will not be forced to leave India. Don’t believe rumours. Mamata Didi is saying there will be no NRC in Bengal. But we will identify each and every infiltrator and drive them out,” he said.
All eyes on meet
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, who will be in Delhi to showcase the country’s economic achievements, will meet PM Narendra Modi for the second time in a week. With Home Minister Amit Shah upping the ante on NRC, Hasina’s meeting with Modi will be watched. Although Modi had reassured Hasina in New York, Shah’s comments have re-kindled the issue between Delhi and Dhaka.
In the light of these remarks by the Home Minister, the NRC issue could figure during the discussions between the two prime ministers.
However, sources said the Prime Minister has already assured Hasina on this matter. “It will depend on the Bangladesh PM. The Indian position will remain the same as articulated by the PM during their meeting in New York,” a source said.
Sources said that Hasina’s visit is primarily to attend the World Economic Forum in Delhi and the main focus is to pitch for better and improved economic ties with India and the rest of the world.
“This is a visit to attend the World Economic Forum in Delhi. But, there is a bilateral meeting. It is not a strictly bilateral visit,” a Bangladesh official said.
Hasina will hold a meeting with CEOs of top Indian companies on October 4 where she is likely to make a pitch for investments in Bangladesh.
In New York, the two leaders had also discussed sharing water of common rivers, including Teesta. But, there is no sign of any solution right now, sources said, citing West Bengal Chief Minister’s opposition to the pact.
During their upcoming meeting, three pacts are likely to be signed — the sharing of white shipping information, air services and the SOP on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India.