Bangladesh Foreign Minister puts off India visit amid Citizenship Bill protests

Refuting reports that his visit was cancelled due to the situation arising out of the passage of the Citizenship Bill, Abdul Momen said he was required to participate in the Martyred Intellectuals Day (Buddijibi Debosh) event in the country.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen cancelled his three-day visit to India, which was scheduled to begin from Thursday, even as protests continued to roil the northeast, especially in Assam, a day after the Parliament passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Momen was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi at 5.20 pm on Thursday for the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue. Refuting reports that his visit was cancelled due to the situation arising out of the passage of the Citizenship Bill, Momen said he was required to participate in the Martyred Intellectuals Day (Buddijibi Debosh) event in the country.

“I had to cancel my trip to New Delhi as I have to participate in the ‘Buddijibi Debosh’ and ‘Bijoy Debosh’ and more so as our State Minister is out of the country in Madrid and our Foreign Secretary is in The Hague,” ANI quoted Momen as saying.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister said the Director-General would attend the summit in his place. “Given the increasing demand at home, I have decided to cancel the visit. However, I am looking forward to attending the next meeting in January. I am sending our DG to attend the event,” Momen further said.

The development comes a day after Momen said the Citizenship Bill could weaken India’s character as a secular nation while rejecting allegations that the minorities were facing religious persecution in his country.

“India is historically a tolerant country which believes in secularism (but) their position will be weakened if they deviate from that,” he told reporters in Dhaka.

Momen said the allegations of repression of minorities in Bangladesh were “untrue”. “Whoever gave them the information, it is not correct. Many important decisions of our country are taken by persons belonging to different religions… we never judge anybody by their religion,” he said.

Source: The Indian Express

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