President Pranab Mukherjee ended his maiden visit abroad to Bangladesh on Tuesday with a clear message to the political leadership in Dhaka that strongly called for protection of the rights of Hindu minorities there while hoping that their internal political differences would be resolved through the process of dialogue.
A two-page statement that Mukherjee read out on board the Presidential flight on Tuesday evening made it clear that concerns in India over the political turmoil in Bangladesh over the past few days and its fallout on other communities is growing. In the wake of a war crimes tribunal order to award the death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee last month and the violence that has followed,there have been reports of Hindus and their temples being targeted leading to many fleeing to India.
We are hopeful that internal political differences can be resolved through dialogue and that the rights of all communities would be fully respected, he said. The political content of Mukherjees remarks was not lost,an MP who was also part of the official delegation asserted,saying it not only carried a message for Bangladesh but also for those in India where it was bound to resonate among the majority community,particularly in an election year.
Sources said the President and his advisers had earlier written minorities to refer to the minority Hindus in Bangladesh but ultimately decided to replace it with the phrase all communities.
Mukherjee also indicated that he had raised the issue,albeit in an indirect manner,with the Bangladeshi political leadership during his interactions. He said he had excellent discussions with them where he underlined that a democratic,secular and progressive Bangladesh is in Indias interest.
In this context,we conveyed to all our interlocutors the need for an inclusive political process; and the maintenance of communal peace and harmony, he said.
Interestingly,during his visit to his Shoshurbari the village Bhadrabilla of his in-laws in Narail district,Mukherjee also prayed at the familys Kali temple and met with about a hundred odd relatives of his wife Shuvra.
A beaming Mukherjee,clearly happy with the warmth and affection that he was accorded in Bangladesh in the last three days,said he firmly believed that a strong,stable and rapidly developing Bangladesh is in the interest of not only its people but the entire region.