Indian foreign ministry spokespersons Arindam Bagchi

India does not want to make any comments on the arrests of opposition leaders in Bangladesh. However, it clearly states that, as a close and friend and partner, it respects the democratic process in Bangladesh. India will continue in its support for Bangladesh’s development as a stable, peaceful and progressive country.

These comments were made by the Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday at the ministry’s weekly briefing.

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BNP and like-minded parties have been in a movement, demanding the resignation of the government and national elections under a non-partisan government. After an outbreak of clashes centering BNP’s grand rally at Naya Paltan in Dhaka on 28 October, the party’s leaders and activists are being arrested. The United Nations and the European Union have expressed concern at the indiscriminate arrests of the opposition leaders and activists.

At the foreign ministry’s briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, questions were asked about India’s stand concerning these arrests. It was said that India had made no statement so far on the arrests and India’s views on the matter were not known.

Replying to the question, Arindam Bagchi said, the comments on suppression of the opposition, arrests of the leaders and sending them to jail were not his comments, they were of the questioner. He then said that India did not want to comment in the policies of any other country.

Explaining his statement, Arindam Bagchi said Bangladesh’s election was Bangladesh’s internal matter. The people of the country would determine their future. But India was a close friend and partner of the country. In that sense, India respected the democratic process in Bangladesh. India would continue it its support for Bangladesh’s development as a stable, peaceful and developing country.

This is the first time India has given a clear statement about its position on the prevailing political situation in Bangladesh centering the election. The statement was made on the eve of the meeting between the foreign ministers and defence ministers of India and the United States. US secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to take part in the meetings to be held on Friday. Other than bilateral relations, the meeting is likely to discuss regional matters as well.

The stands of India and the US on the issue of Bangladesh’s election are somewhat contradictory. The US has imposed a visa policy and adopted other measures as well, aimed at ensuring fair, free and peaceful elections in Bangladesh.

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