‘India Mishandling Bilateral Issues Will Give Bangladeshi Radicals Chance To Discredit Sheikh Hasina’

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Ties between India and Bangladesh have been on an upswing under Sheikh Hasina’s government. The Bangladeshi leader won her third straight term in office in December 2018 and was in New Delhi last week—her first visit after the Narendra Modi government too returned to power for a second term in May. While bilateral relations have been described as “excellent” by both sides, some matters of concern regarding India remain. Security analyst Shantanu Mukharji, a specialist on Bangladesh, flags the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam and the Rohingya refugee issue as irritants in bilateral ties. In this interview with SNI Deputy Editor Parul Chandra, Mukharji says any mishandling of the Rohingya issue by India—there are a little over a million currently sheltering in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh—could give Sheikh Hasina’s detractors a handle to beat her with. Taking note of her crackdown on fundamentalist elements in her country, Mukharji warns that New Delhi must work closely with Dhaka on intelligence sharing to keep a check on terror elements. As for the controversial NRC, Mukharji says while New Delhi has been dextrous so far in its handling of the issue, the common man in Bangladesh remains uneasy with the possibility of people of Bangladeshi-origin being thrown out India. The anti-Bangladeshi rhetoric of some Indian leaders has added fuel to the fire, he says.

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