Dhaka – India has assured Bangladesh of helping rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who crossed into Bangladesh fleeing last year’s brutal military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.
Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters in London that India has changed its position on the Rohingya issue.
“India is helping for rehabilitation of the Rohingya,” Haque said after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister held a meeting on the sideline of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the British capital.
Indian position “is much closer to us”, the secretary said without elaborating.
Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims, who were stripped off Myanmar nationality in 1982, after they were forced to leave their homes in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
Nearly 700,000 of them crossed into Bangladesh after the Myanmar army launched a clampdown in August. The United Nations called the clampdown ‘ethnic cleansing’.
Although Buddhist-majority Myanmar is common neighbour for both Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Hindu-majority India, none of the refugees were allowed inside India after the Burmese attack.
Modi government rather wanted to deport nearly 40,000 Rohingya, who crossed into India long ago, living in camps in Delhi after the influx of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar began in August.
Both Bangladeshi and Indian leaders discussed about sharing water of a common river, Teesta. A deal for sharing of water at the transboundary river is due for many years now.
Bangladesh and India shares 54 common rivers, most of which were originated in the Indian hills.
All the issues between the two countries were discussed at the meeting, said the foreign secretary.
Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Principal Coordinator on the SDG Affairs Md Abul Kalam Azad attended the meeting.