Significance of Sheikh Hasina’s second India trip in a month

Dhaka, Delhi, India, Bangladesh, Narendra Modi, Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be visiting India from June 21, which will be her second trip to the oldest and largest democracy in the world within the gap of just 15 days. Earlier, from June 8-10 she visited India to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Sheikh Hasina’s forthcoming visit will be the first bilateral held by India under the Modi 3.0 government. According to Hindustan Times, Bangladesh is keen on setting up a bilateral meeting between Hasina and Modi before the former departs for a 3-days official visit to China from July 9-12 as an effort to strike a balance between Dhaka and Delhi.

Media reports say the one-day-long summit between Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi will center on defense partnership, cross-border connectivity, trade, among other things. According to the Economic Times report, the two sides will also discuss holding a joint military exercise. India has already offered a US$500 million line of credit to Dhaka which is yet to be utilized.

PM Modi and Hasina will also review the overall bilateral relationship along with assessing the various developmental projects undertaken by both countries including road, rail and connectivity.

Meanwhile, according to Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs source, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to pay an official visit to Bangladesh sometime this year, when Bangladesh shall accord a grand reception to the Indian Prime Minister.

Dhaka’s leading English newspaper The Daily Star in a report quoting sources in Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi and Indian Ministry of External Affairs said, “The decision for a bilateral visit to India is somewhat sudden, but leadership of the two countries wanted to have the visit now after the elections in both countries”.

The sources further said the leaders of the two countries want to advance the existing relations that have deepened over more than a decade, especially in trade and connectivity.

Commenting on Sheikh Hasina’s July 9-12 official trip, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Yao Wen told reporters, Beijing is emphasizing on boosting investment in Bangladesh and enhancing bilateral relations. He emphasized the visit’s significance in promoting trade, investment, and cultural exchange, aligning with Dhaka’s aspirations for ‘Vision 2041’ and the actualization of a ‘Smart Bangladesh’.

Ambassador Yao Wen said, “It will be another historical one. It will be a game-changer. It will open a new chapter”.

It may be mentioned here that the historical ties between Bangladesh and India are deeply rooted, with India playing a pivotal role in Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971. However, it is under the leadership of Modi and Hasina that these ties have been significantly strengthened.

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Commenting on the existing relationship between Dhaka and New Delhi, Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League said, “the relationship between Bangladesh and India has reached unprecedented levels of cooperation and mutual respect under the visionary leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina”. The dynamic leadership of Modi and Hasina has fostered stronger bilateral ties, enhancing collaboration across various sectors including trade, connectivity, defense and cultural exchange.

Narendra Modi’s leadership since 2014 has been characterized by a proactive and strategic approach to foreign policy, particularly with neighboring countries. His relationship with Sheikh Hasina has been marked by mutual respect and a shared vision for regional stability and prosperity. This camaraderie has played a crucial role in overcoming historical challenges and fostering a spirit of collaboration and trust.

In my opinion, the forthcoming official visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India should be seen as extremely important because of a number of issues that includes, the recent murder of Bangladeshi lawmaker in West Bengal and shocking revelation of a fact that the Trinamool Congress administration under Mamata Banerjee has been letting terrorists, fugitives, jihadists and Rohingyas regularly infiltrate into India by illegally crossing the Indo-Bangladesh borders and enjoy opportunity of using West Bengal, including its capital city Kolkata as safe haven.

Another crucial issue is Bangladesh Prime Minister’s recent remarks about several Western nations, including the United States and Britain conspiring to create a Christian state taking parts of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. This was disclosed by Sheikh Hasina when she told top leaders of 14-party alliance of ruling Awami League stating, a plot is on to carve out “a Christian state like East Timor” taking parts from Bangladesh and Myanmar”. Although she refrained from mentioning the name of India, it was clearly stated in a number of articles penned by me which appeared in local and international media. Later the matter was also echoed in a number of Indian news outlets thus proving, there is a serious ongoing conspiracy of the Western nations to carve out a Christian state within Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.

It may be mentioned here that, talking to Russian media outlet Sputnik, two prominent figures in the ruling Awami League government provided further details on this Western conspiracy.

Commenting on Bangladesh Prime Minister’s statement, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, former Media Advisor to the Bangladesh Prime Minister said, “the prime minister doesn’t speak without proper proof. I am sure she must have thought out well before making these statements”.

He warned that another US base in South Asia would have security implications not only for Dhaka but also for New Delhi.

Another prominent leader of the ruling party, Squadron Leader (retired) Sadrul Ahmed Khan, who is a member of the Awami League’s finance and planning affairs sub-committee told Sputnik, “it was clear that the US has been trying to make inroads in the South Asian region through its support for anti-government forces, which include the National Unity Government (NUG) and People’s Defense Forces (PDF)”.

He added, “As the Kuki-Chin rebels in Myanmar are majority Christian, they appear relatively prone to manipulations by foreign actors. The Kuki-Chin rebels in Myanmar’s China state are involved in intense fighting with the Myanmar government forces”.

Khan, meanwhile, pointed out that America’s tacit backing of Kuki-Chin rebels has security implications for not only Bangladesh and Myanmar but also India, which also has a large population of the ethnic group in the northeastern states, such as Manipur.

Sputnik in its report said, “Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh claimed in February that the “unnatural growth” of Chin-Kuki-Zo tribes has implications for national security. The north-eastern Indian state has been experiencing ethnic clashes between the majority Meiteis and Kuki-Zo groups since last May, leading to over 200 deaths and tens of thousands of people being internally displaced”.

Earlier, in June 2023, there was a rumor in Dhaka stating Washington is demanding St. Martin Island in exchange for favor of the ruling Awami League government.

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