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Talks took place about the imposed friendship. How a friendship can be imposed? Several events can make the ground. There can be a campaign carried out where significant part of the media will exasperatedly not let you forget about that friendship. Again, the same campaign can take care of the other task, that, all of not-so-friendly-acts of that ceremonial friend will be well covered and obstructed while reaching the people. The whole effort becomes even more illustrious if the regime is found to have the same exasperation.
It ain’t really our fault to get anxious when a minister of the current regime Ramesh Chandra Sen places his statement like Newton placed his laws of motion, saying, the Farakka Barrage in fact never had anything to do with floods and other related difficulties in Bangladesh; it was all about the problem we have been having in ourselves. So this is another way you can help impose a friendship, or at least can help abate the bitterness about that particular ‘friend’, unnoticed of the fact that the bitterness is getting to a hike.
But it becomes hard if the friend doesn’t cooperate. You know, you are teaching me that ‘Rahim is your friend! Rahim is your friend!’, and suddenly Rahim categorizes me that I will need this and that specific clearances from him to even seek permission to enter his home, this means Rahim is giving you a real hard time. It’s just like a physics tutor is teaching Newton’s 1st book while Newton is writing a 2nd book contradicting the 1st one.
India’s foreign policy toward Bangladesh for these years got the fame of harshness, and it doesn’t appear to get better even after Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister. Before 5 weeks passed after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home ending this January 2010 India trip, hailing immense success of her visit and hailing the reinstating of ‘strong’ Bangladesh-India ties, the Indian authority enlisted Bangladesh as one of the few countries whose citizens will need to have special security clearances from the Indian Home Ministry to join a seminar in India.
A press release by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of Indian government, published at 4:12pm Indian standard time on 18 February, 2010 describes an announcement from the Home Ministry of India that says, “As per the revised procedure, while the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) grants in-principle approval for holding the event, security clearance for grant of Conference Visa is required from this Ministry only in respect of participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Sudan and in respect of foreigners of Pak origin and Stateless persons.”
Well, it’s their land and it’s in fact their choice that who they will permit in what purpose and how. India as a sovereign state does have the right to design its own foreign policies, and even the minimum count of realism allows them to categorize the nationals and types of the entries they will like to approve or not.
Including Bangladesh in the list containing China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Iran etc. however came as a surprise. India’s relationship with other 7 nations have certain attributes which to some extent can justify such Indian sanctions to them for granting conference visas.
India has been having several military tensions turned to conflicts with China and Pakistan since 1960s, so sanctions for them are not bolts from the blue. Sri Lanka’s annihilating of RAW aided LTTE has stressed the India-Sri Lanka relationship. So sanctions for Sri Lanka too ain’t a surprise. Rather the Sri Lankan Army’s 2008 offensive was financially, diplomatically and militarily supported by China, so the China-India relationship was further stressed. Iran’s relation with presently India’s closest ally United States is sourest of all time, same applies to Sudan, so sanctions for Sudan and Iran are not bolts from the blue too.
But according to our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina including the entire of her cabinet, the tie between India and Bangladesh is unbreakable, right?
According to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whatever measure India takes in whatever consideration, it won’t show any aggression by any mean to any concern of Bangladesh, right?
According to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and many others inside or not inside her government, regimes of the past few years largely contributed in deterioration of Bangladesh-India ties, which Sheikh Hasina has been 100% successful to fix, 100% successful! Right?
And still the Bangladeshis are to be through the security filter to join conferences in India, rather accompanied by those who have longstanding or presently stressed ties with India.
After Sheikh Hasina returned Bangladesh from India last month, number of Bangladeshi political analysts came to the decision that any presentation of a stressed Bangladesh-India ties presently and any presentation showing India’s not-friendly-acts to Bangladesh are just insubstantial, old-fashioned and malicious propaganda to hamper the our ‘progressive tie’ with India. Now, if we ask them that why Bangladesh, having a ‘progressive’ and ‘mutually beneficiary’ tie with India as they have said, will have to be through the Indian filter of suppressing the public thoughts and freedom of expression, what the answers will be?
Indian political analysts and experts have already responded to the announcement and several pieces have been so far published criticizing such tendency of policing the free expression of opinions.
After the 2009 Awami League regime took office, tensions arose about the Tipaimukh barrage. With freshest memories about the damages Bangladesh conceded by the Farakka accord, the outcry emerged in Bangladesh against the Indian attempts at Tipaimukh. The unleashed group of intellectuals who wrote or spoke in support of the Tipaimukh barrage or kept mum shamelessly, were all turned down.
A certain manner that activism against India’s Tipaimukh efforts showed is, it associated activists both from Bangladesh and India where they worked with unity to an extent. Moreover their promotion with joint efforts and joint expressions were taking place both in Bangladesh and India. The recent decision of Indian Home Ministry hints at the Indian stance of policing public thoughts.
Special scrutiny for conference visa seekers hints at the effort by Indian analysts where the several attributes of a visa seeker like literary or activism contribution records, pattern of expression in previous seminars or conferences etc. will be scrutinized. This means, a conference about Tipaimukh Barrage in India will be participated by only those Bangladeshis who to the date haven’t even imagined about denouncing the aggressive Indian effort. Those who strongly protested the effort, in fact are the people for whom the filter in name of special security checkup has been set.
So, what about the friendship our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was talking about?