BBC report disturbs communal amity within and beyond the borders of India and Bangladesh

BBC report says during Modi’s visit, Bangladesh witnessed protests by Islamic hard line group Hefazat-e-Islam as it was unhappy with Modi being invited to the country.

The British news outlet is infamous for its biases towards India or any Asian country, and enjoys projecting negative reports against a nation, culture and people. In the case of Bangladesh too, it has presented what was blatantly a fundamentalist, Muslim hardliner-led-protests which took place in some parts of Bangladesh after Prime Minister Modi’s visit.

Journalism demands objectivity, fair play of facts on ground and analysis. The British news outlet should know that the protests were carried out with an aim to embarrass the current dispensation in Bangladesh, which has adopted progressive and people-centric approach to push the country towards growth and development. On the other hand, there are fringe groups like Hefazat –e-Islam, which gripped by obscurantism, don’t understand what is good or bad for their country.

However, the Bangladesh government is probing into the role played by the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka in supporting and funding the agitation and embarrassing the Sheikh Hasina government.

Bangladesh parliament’s official Twitter wrote, “Pak HC #Dhaka’s #SecretFunding for @HIBofficial @Hefazot to protest against India & its PM @narendramodi. We, #secular & #democratic people of #Bangladesh condemn this attempt by Pak agency #ISI.”

Several members of Bangladesh Parliament or ‘Jatiyo Sangsad’ have even blamed Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for orchestrating protests and encouraging Islamists against India ahead of PM Modi’s visit.

This is not for the first time that Hefazat-e-Islam has created ruckus in the country. It has had a long aggressive past. In 2013, it sent students from its nationwide network of madrasas to Dhaka to counter the “Shahbagh movement” of students demanding the death penalty for all war criminals of 1971. The Hefazat-e-Islam also placed a list of 13 demands including punishment for atheist bloggers and changes to textbooks.

Bangladesh senior authorities and think tanks agree to the fact that there has been a surge in violence and the way Hefazat-e-Islam has worked after the change of guard in November. Unlike its founder Shah Ahmed Shafi who was often perceived to be soft on the ruling Awami League, the group’s new head Junaid Babu Nagari enjoys support from Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and fundamentalist groups such as the Jamaat-e-Islami.

In a recent commentary, a senior Bangladeshi journalist said the real reason for the protests against PM Modi’s visit was to signal that Hefazat-e-Islam under its new leadership was not the same party that Shah Ahmed Shafi had led.

So while all these facts and information proves that the protests were a part of internal political dimensions of Bangladesh, the BBC’s report bringing in the CAA angle into it, also needs a cross check.

Bangladesh has always maintained that CAA and NRC are India’s internal matters and the country is not affected by the new laws that India unveiled in 2019.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina during an interview with the Gulf News in January 2020, had said, “Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India.” On its part the Indian government has explained how the CAA wasn’t against any religion, but was for the betterment of people.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, in an explanation to Bangladesh in March 2020 said, “The CAA was actually a proactive legislation which had been brought into force by the Modi government in New Delhi on humanitarian grounds. In other words, we have hundreds of thousands of people who are currently in India, who are basically homeless and stateless. They will be allowed to seek citizenship on a faster track. That means instead of 10 years, they will get it in five years.”

Nonetheless, India and Bangladesh have always cherished a rich, old and warm relationship that has been anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities between the two countries. The win-win partnership that goes far beyond a strategic partnership and is based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding.

Hence, reports like the one published by BBC, are not just baseless but also create an environment of hatred and instigate young minds to indulge in violence and disturb the communal peace within and beyond the borders of a nation.