India should play key role in Rohingyas’ repatriation, says Hasina

Santiniketan: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Friday that India should play an important role in ensuring the safe repatriation of the Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar.

Addressing a gathering at the newly-inaugurated Bangladesh Bhavan here, Prime Minister Hasina said her government had provided humanitarian support to the Rohingyas”>Rohingyas while calling for international help to ensure that Myanmar takes back the refugees back to their country safely.

“Rohingyas”>Rohingyas have taken shelter in Bangladesh. We have given them a place on humanitarian grounds. We want them to return to their country as early as possible. I request you to help us to interact with Myanmar so that they take Rohingyas”>Rohingyas back,” she said. It may be recalled that in August last year, over 700,000 Rohingyas”>Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and are currently languishing in Bangladeshi refugee camps, most of them being concentrated in Cox’s Bazar.

The refugees have also accused security forces of committing mass killings and sexual assaults. Both Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed on a repatriation plan to ensure the safety and security of the Rohingyas”>Rohingyas back to their country within a specified time frame.

Recalling the Liberation War of 1971, she invoked former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was instrumental in securing the complete independence of Bangladesh (then called East Pakistan) from then West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan).

Prime Minister Hasina lambasted the erstwhile West Pakistan’s “oppressive” rule over Bangladesh claiming that its forces had suppressed the cultural heritage of the Bengalis and Rabindra Sangeet (Tagore Songs) was banned in the country.

She added that when the Pakistani forces were committing genocide on the people of Bangladesh, Gandhi had intervened in the middle and ensured that the Pakistani forces did not succeed.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister also called prominent poet Rabindranath Tagore a “great” as he composed two national anthems for India (Jana Gana Mana) and Bangladesh (Aamar Shonar Bangla – or My Golden Bengal).

“Rabindranath Tagore belongs to both the countries because he has written the national anthems of both the nations. He wrote most of his poems in Bangladesh and that is why we can claim a greater right over him,” Prime Minister Hasina further said.

Thanking India’s opposition parties for passing the landmark Land Boundary Agreement in the Parliament, Prime Minister Hasina said it gave an option to every citizen to become a proud Indian or a proud Bangladeshi.

Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Hasina inaugurated the Bangladesh Bhavan earlier on Friday to symbolically highlight the warm bilateral cultural ties between the two countries. The inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan inside the Vishwa Bharti University complex took place in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Bangladesh Bhavan features a museum that showcases renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore’s association with that country, the Liberation War of Bangladesh and Indo-Bangla relations.

It has been built at a cost of Rs. 25 crore, which was provided by the Bangladesh government. A fund of Rs. 10 crore would be given to help maintain the museum premises. Prime Minister Hasina, who is on a two-day visit to India, on the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, was received by Banerjee. As per reports, both Prime Ministers will hold a bilateral meeting. Prime Minister Hasina will return to Bangladesh on Saturday night.