Dhaka – Return of Rohingya Muslims, who crossed into Bangladesh fleeing persecution in Myanmar, is must to restore regional normalcy, Indian External Affairs Minister said on Sunday.
Sushma Swaraj, who arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit for bilateral talks, came up with the views at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the latter’s Ganabhabna official residence.
“It is clear, normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Swaraj told reporters in Dhaka Sunday after a meeting with her Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.
The Indian minister arrived in Dhaka at a time when aid agencies estimated more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed the border after Myanmar army launched offensive on the minority group in Rakhine state on August 25.
“India is deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar. We have urged that the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population,” she said.
Swaraj at the meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that Myanmar must repatriate their nationals.
“Myanmar may punish the terrorists, not innocent people,” the Indian minister was quoted to have said by Prime Minister Hasina’s spokesman after a meeting between them.
Swaraj described the exodus of Rohingya Muslims as burden for Bangladesh.
“It’s a big burden for Bangladesh, and how long Bangladesh will bear this?” she was quoted as saying by Ihsanul Karim, the spokesman.
Indian High Commission at a press statement said on the issue of displaced persons from Rakhine State, the minister reaffirmed India’s continued support in responding to the influx.
Under ‘Operation Insaniyat’, India provided 1000 tons of relief material for about 500,000 displaced persons.
Prime Minister Hasina appreciated the help extended by India. Swaraj stressed that India was deeply concerned at the situation in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
It is imperative that normalcy in the state is restored expeditiously and a lasting solution found at the earliest.
The Indian gifted to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh memorabilia of the Liberation War of 1971 to be displayed in the Liberation War Museum. The memorabilia includes military equipment utilized by the joint forces of India and Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971 as well as large number of artefacts and documents including historical photographs, archival audio and video clippings, maps, battle records, newspaper clippings, documentary films etc.
The memorabilia is proposed to be displayed at Bangladesh National Museum, Shahbagh and Museum of Independence, Suhrawardy Udyan, Dhaka.
Earlier, Swaraj co-chaired the 4th Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) along with Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.
The two ministers discussed various bilateral cooperation, identified thrust areas and reviewed the progress made following the visits of the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in June 2015 and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India in April 2017.
Ali handed over the Instrument of Ratification of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to Swaraj.
Two memorandum of understanding were signed in presence of the ministers at the JCC. Indian government will provide a grant assistance to the tune of Rs.9.97 crores for establishing a skill development centre in Khulna which will have Tool and Die manufacturing facility as well as a dairy processing plant.
A cheque of equivalent to BDT 10 cores was also handed over to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority for the maintenance of inland waterway routes under the framework of the Protocol on Inland Water Transport Authority used by both India and Bangladesh.