New Delhi: Over the last one-and-a-half-year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have constantly berated Bangladesh, often claiming that the nation is underdeveloped and that its citizens from there have been infiltrating India. The latest person to do that was union minister Amit Shah during an election rally on April 15. However, his choice of words have seemingly caused cracks in international relations between both countries now.
Amit Shah, in his latest claim, said that that Bangladeshi people “infiltrate” India as development has “not reached bordering areas”. In response, Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen termed Shah’s remark unacceptable, and even urged Indian ministers to “increase their knowledge”. Momen even flagged such statements, and added that these are not good for the friendly relationship that exists between India and Bangladesh.
Not only that, Momen went on to point out that Bangladesh has in fact performed better than India on many indices. Media reports quoted Momen stating that 90 percent of people in Bangladesh use latrines whereas, in India, over 50 percent do not have toilets. This should be telling enough for Shah, who doesn’t seem to be bothered that his statements as country’s home minister are likely to damage diplomatic relations.
Earlier, Shah had even said that infiltrators (from Bangladesh) are not limiting themselves to West Bengal, and that they are spreading to various Indian states, including Jammu and Kashmir. Reacting to it, Momen said that Bangladesh has performed better than India on many social indices, and even added that employment opportunities for less-educated are he said that although there were fewer jobs for well-educated people, there was no shortage of jobs for less-educated persons.
Moreover, Momen, while maintaining that Bangladeshi people “do not go to India”, pointed out that over one lakh Indians are working in his country. It may be mentioned that India’s is currently ranked 94 among 107 countries as per the Global Hunger Index. In the same index, Bangladesh and Pakistan stand at 75 and 88 .
In 2019, former Bangladeshi high commissioner to India, Syed Muazzam Ali, had said that Bangladeshis prefer to go to Italy by swimming across the Mediterranean Sea than going to India. He stated then that it was happening due to the difference of per capita income between India and Bangladesh is reducing.
With the Narendra Modi-led government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (in 2019), and BJP leaders constantly berating Bangladeshi citizens (in what is essentially considered to be anti-Muslime jibes), the relationship between India and Bangladesh has soured. Shah’s statements now during the ongoing West Bengal elections are also likely to exacerbate it more.