The Indian Ministry of External Affairs have made a reactionary statement yesterday claiming Bangladesh-India ties are a role model for the region. They claimed the relations are mutually respectful.
Unfortunately their statements do not match the ground realities of the present.
How can relations be respectful when India’s Home Minister made it a habit to disparage Bangladeshi people? Moreover killings of Bangladeshi citizens by Indian troops continues to be normalised in line with their aggressive anti-Bangladeshi policies. More Bangladeshi’s were killed by Indian security forces in the border than in actual terrorist attacks.
The Indians are also very intolerant of Bangladesh having any sort of ties with other major countries, especially China. They attempted to dictate to Bangladesh on whom the country can allocate important projects to or if those projects can even be “permitted” by New Delhi. This was apparent when Bangladesh awarded several airport contracts to Chinese companies.
The Indian government also continues to sabotage Bangladesh’s economy and obtain unfair advantages including transit and water resources for free in the name of “friendship”.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declined to meet the Indian High Commissioner in the country for over four months even after repeated requests. Bangladesh also cancelled visits of its senior ministers to India including the Foreign Minister, Home Affairs Minister and the Commerce Minister. These actions at senior level shows Bangladesh has grown tired of India’s false friendship.
China’s continued investment and assistance in the infrastructure and defence sectors have irked India. The Indians tried on various occasions to interfere in Bangladesh-China relations.
Fortunately for Bangladesh and China they failed in most cases.
Indian media gloat about their nation’s assistance during the 1971 war and remind about Pakistan’s role during that terrible period each time Bangladesh and Pakistan try to engage in a meaningful dialogue.
A mini-pandemonium occurred in New Delhi after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently. They discussed general matters including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, seasonal floods and as well as Kashmir issue.
Bangladesh, like Pakistan is concerned about the conditions of the Muslim minority community in India who face systematic state level oppression. The growing anti-Muslim oppression in India has irked the Bangladesh government, which is always in favour of a secular system.
India desperately tried to repair the strained ties by providing 10 used railways engines to Bangladesh Railway (BR). Bangladesh Railway (BR) has a shortage of trains with most of its equipment past their prime.
To remedy this they proposed to lease 10 engines from India as a gap filling measure until new trains are delivered from the United States and South Korea. Bangladesh is also heavily importing rail equipment from Indonesia.
On 29 July Bangladesh Railway signed a contract with South Korean firms POSCO International and Sung Shin RST to supply 20 DMU locomotives and 150 metre-gauge passenger carriages in a contract valued at BDT 6.583 billion. The equipment will be delivered within 18 to 30 months of the contract signing date as per agreement.
In sharp contrast India provided sub-standard rail equipment made in Punjab when Bangladesh was forced to purchase railway equipment from India according to the strict condition of a credit package offered by India to save their sick industries by selling over-priced, low quality carriages to Bangladesh.
The definition of friendship and mutual respect is universal except for in India. They treat their “friends” as worse than they do with their enemies because not only is the Indian government willing to use violence and threats against smaller nations but also taking undue advantage in trade, natural resources and inter-country transit.
Bangladesh government is now looking at alternative options to India. The options increase due to advances in Bangladesh’s own economy and willingness of other countries to establish better cooperation with Bangladesh without malicious intent like that of India.
Already many Indian businesses particularly their retail and healthcare sectors are suffering from a lack of Bangladeshi clients. It will continue to worsen as Bangladeshis now prefer Bali over West Bengal for holidays.