Delhi stresses ‘mutual sensitivity’ in ties with Dhaka

India and Bangladesh recognise the importance of “mutual sensitivity” in fostering good neighbourly relations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

The remarks from the official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava come days after Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen urged India to avoid actions that could create cracks in the relationship especially in view of the upcoming construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“We are confident that both sides appreciate, mutual sensitivity and mutual respect in building further on this relationship,” said Mr. Srivastava during the weekly briefing of the MEA when asked to respond to Mr. Momen’s comments.

The Hindu had reported Mr. Momen’s comments where he said “both the government and the society” of India have the responsibility of sustaining good relationship with Bangladesh.

“India and Bangladesh share a historic and arterial relationship. We will not allow this (temple construction) to hurt ties but I would still urge that India should not allow any development that can fracture our beautiful and deep relationship,” Mr Momen had said speaking exclusively to The Hindu.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, speaking during a ceremony to hand over of 10 locomotives to Bangldesh Railways on Monday, had described Bangladesh as a “role model” of good neighbourly relation in South Asia.

The ceremonies to mark the commencement of the construction of the temple in Ayodhya on August 5 are scheduled to be telecast on Indian TV channels.

Commentators in Dhaka told The Hindu that while the temple construction is an internal matter of India, there is bound to be an impact in Bangladesh given its links to the demolition of the Babri masjid. Tureen Afroze, an advocate and leading secular activist of Dhaka has cautioned that the Ayodhya event will dramatically increase the influence of the fundamentalist forces in Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has cracked down on the extremist and fundamentalist forces. But recent months have seen major public rallies organised by the Hefazat E Islam. The group had threatened to disrupt the planned March visit of Prime Minister Modi to Dhaka which was ultimately cancelled because of the COVID-19 issue. They also organised a massive rally in Dhaka in protest against the riots in Delhi.

Mr. Srivastava said the locomotives that India handed over to Bangladesh on 27 July were provided from “existing inventory”. His response was prompted by reports in Dhaka’s Bhorer Kagoj which reported that the locomotives had been in use at least for five to seven years.

“These locos have been provided from our existing inventory based on specific requests and urgent requirement of Bangldesh,” said Mr. Srivastava.

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