New Delhi: Bangladesh foreign secretary Shahidul Haque on Saturday said his country was reassured by the explanations given by India that the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is an internal matter but added that Dhaka will keep a close eye on developments.
Briefing reporters on the outcome of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s four day visit to India that included a bilateral meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Haque said the NRC issue figured in the meeting on Saturday as well as a bilateral meet between the two prime ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.
“Prime Minister Modi has explained to Prime Minister Hasina the process that India has put up, in terms of making sure that everybody is eventually included in this, and we were told that this is an internal matter of India," Haque told reporters.
“Our relationship is currently the best of the best, and the relationship is extremely warm and friendly but at the same time, we are keeping our eyes quite open," he said.
When asked about statements coming from other quarters about sending back people who could not prove their Indian identity, Haque said: “This is internal matter and continue to believe in that and I think we shouldn’t make a crisis out of nothing at this stage and we should be able to wait and see."
India has prepared the NRC that lists out the names of Indian nationals while leaving out those who have not been able to prove their identity as Indians. Some 1.9 million people have been left out of the register and there are concerns in Dhaka that Bangladesh could be asked to take these people. Bangladesh already houses a large number of Rohingyas who fled Myanmar.
People familiar with the discussions on Saturday said the Bangladeshi side raised the NRC issue. The Indian side pointed out it was an “ongoing process" mandated and directed by India’s Supreme Court, whose final outcome was awaited, one of the people cited above said.
The Bangladeshi foreign secretary on his part noted that the movement of people was a global issue pointing to the example of the US and Mexico. There have “always been issues regarding mobility between neighbouring states," he said.
On the matter of the Rohingya refugees who are sheltered in Bangladesh, Haque said Modi and Hasina shared the view that the Rohingyas should be able to go back to their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
“India enjoys very good relations with Myanmar. So our prime minister has requested (India) to convince Myanmar authorities to take back their nationals," Haque said.
Describing bilateral relations as the “best" ever in years, Haque added that “the relationship is still growing in a very dynamic manner."
“Security, stability and progress is the core of our relationship," he said adding it “centres around our joint effort to curb terrorism, violent extremism and keep our border safe."