What are the benefits of agreements with India, asks BNP

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir speaks at the press conference on 25 JuneSuvra Kanti Das

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has said the agreements signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent India visit go against the interest of Bangladesh. The BNP standing committee has raised concerns regarding the independence and sovereignty of the country.

The BNP secretary general has also said they are going to announce programmes in protest of these agreements from a press conference on Friday.

He disclosed the decisions taken in the standing committee meeting at a press conference at the party chairperson’s office in the capital’s Gulshan on Tuesday.

BNP said a total of 10 agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoU) were signed during the prime minister’s recent visit to India. Mirza Fakhrul has raised questions regarding the benefits of these agreements.

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The leaders of de facto opposition, BNP, expressed deep concern over these agreements in the standing committee meeting, Mirza Fakhrul said adding, “BNP rejects these agreements as they go against the interest of Bangladesh. I want to say clearly that the BNP was created in the interest of protecting the sovereignty of the country. BNP will take all measures to protect the independence and sovereignty of the country. We will hold a press conference on the 28 June (Friday) in this regard. After that we will announce programmes if necessary.”

BNP secretary general clarified that this movement is not against India, but against the government of Bangladesh. He said that the government is completely failing to realise the demands from India.

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“She wants to sign the agreement without settling the water share. Water is needed first. The Teesta project is going to start without settling that issue because the project means a lot of money. That money is the real purpose.”

Mirza Fakhrul said that the standing committee thinks that this "illegal government" is plotting to make Bangladesh dependent on India.

‘What are the benefits of Bangladesh in these agreements?’

Upon her return from India, the prime minister termed the rail connectivity agreement as opening the gateway of communication.

In response to a question regarding this, Mirza Fakhrul said, “What is the benefit of Bangladesh in creating a corridor through the country instead of using the chicken neck (a narrow part in Indian territories)? Can you say? The whole profit is their (India’s).”

In response to BNP’s objections over these agreements prime minister Sheikh Hasina said, “Now there is no way to keep the windows closed. Does the BNP want that?”

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In response, Mirza Fakhrul said, “Never. Our windows will always remain opened. There will be connectivity, but not at the expense of our own interest. There will be no deal before settling the water issues. You (prime minister) are doing nothing about the water. They are killing people along the border. Was there any word regarding this in those agreements? No there was nothing.”

Mirza Fakhrul said they discussed the agreements signed with India in detail in the standing committee meeting. They realised that the agreements on sharing of common river water, border killing, railway communication from one end of India to the other through Bangladesh in the name of connectivity, postal and telecommunication agreement, military training cooperation in strategic and operational sectors, drug agreement, free movement of Indian vessels in Bangladesh’s maritime border and the agreement between India's inspace and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in Bangladesh, the agreement between the Ministry of Railways of the two countries, and the agreements between the two countries in maritime research have undermined the interest of Bangladesh.

Regarding St Martin’s Island

The BNP standing committee also expressed deep concerns regarding the snap in communication between the St Martin’s Island and the mainland following the recent incidents of opening fire targeting Bangladeshi vessels on the Naf River from Myanmar territories. The party has urged the government to explain the matter to people of the country immediately.

They also condemned the abnormal rise in the prices of daily essentials, in particular the 10-40 per cent rise in medicine prices. Besides, the BNP also demanded compensation for the flood-affected people in the Sylhet division.

‘Movement hasn’t finished’

In response to a question, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the BNP hasn’t moved away from their movement and that there is no reason to undermine the movement they have been waging over the last 15-16 years.

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“Our movement to revive democracy cost hundreds of lives. Around 6 million people have been subjected to trumped up cases. Some 27,000 people were arrested in just two days. We have not seen success yet due to the excessive repressive policy of this government. However, no movement towards the path of justice has ever failed, neither will ours,” the BNP secretary general asserted.