B’desh rules out security threat to PM Modi’s visit amid protests by ‘few’ Left, Islamist groups


Dhaka: Bangladesh has ruled out any security threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the country later this week and said “few” left wing and hardline Islamist groups are against his trip but there is “nothing to worry” about them.

Prime Minister Modi will visit Bangladesh from March 26 to 27 to attend the celebrations of the golden jubilee of the country’s independence and the birth centenary of its founder ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This would be his first trip to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are proud to invite him (Modi) to Bangladesh… people are with us (the government),” Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Saturday night.

Momen said, “Only a few can oppose this visit and let them do it”. “There is nothing to worry about (their protests),” he added.

“Bangladesh is a democratic country where people have the right to express their opinion and the government is not worried about it,” he said, adding that the protesters are “few in number” and just taking the advantage of the “freedom of expression”.

Prime Minister Modi and heads of state and government from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives will be among the distinguished foreign guests to join the celebrations under separate schedules.

Momen said authorities have taken every required step to ensure the security of all visiting foreign dignitaries.

Some hardline Islamists, left-leaning groups and civil society members recently staged demonstrations against Modi’s visit, referring to India”s new citizenship law.

Meanwhile, Junior Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam urged “those who are giving different opinions to show respect for the invited guests if they have respect for the Bangabandhu as Father of the Nation and love for the country”.

He specifically asked the groups and figures associated with the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to refrain from “exhibiting double-standards by opposing Modi’s visit since they tried to appease him during his first term of the government”.

During his visit, Modi will also visit two Hindu temples in southwestern Shatkhira and Gopalganj districts, largely inhabited by the Hindu Matua community, a large number of them hailing from West Bengal.

Asked whether there was any link between Modi’s interaction with the Matua community and elections in West Bengal, Alam said: “it is not a concern of Bangladesh if his visit has any link to politics.

“We’re happy that Modi will visit different places outside Dhaka. He’s our guest and he’s willing to go outside Dhaka. It’ll help grow our tourism sector. So, it’s a good thing for us”. PTI