Amit Shah’s knowledge ’limited’, Bangladesh on ’not enough to eat’ comment

'There are many knowledgeable people in the world who choose to remain blind despite seeing things,' foreign minister says

Since the Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2008, Delhi’s relations with its eastern neighbour soared, making Bangladesh one of India’s closest friends in the neighbourhood. Representational image: iStock

Bangladesh has objected to “unacceptable” remarks of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who recently said that poor people in that country did not get “enough to eat” so they migrated to India.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday (April 14) said Shah’s comment was a reflection of his “limited knowledge” about India’s eastern neighbour. Momen said Shah should know that “nobody dies of hunger in Bangladesh anymore”. He also cited that in many social development indices, Bangladesh was ahead of India.

In an interview with Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika, Shah had claimed that benefits of Bangladesh’s economic growth were yet to percolate among the poor in bordering areas. “So, poor people are not getting enough to eat. This is why illegal migration is still continuing,” Shah said, claiming that if the BJP was voted to power, it would firmly deal with the problem.

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The BJP came to power in Assam in 2016 by making the so-called problem of “illegal migrants” a major poll issue. It raised the same issue in the run-up to this year’s election.

Reacting to Shah’s comment, Momen told the Bangladesh media, “There are many knowledgeable people in the world who choose to remain blind despite seeing things. They pretend ignorance even after knowing things. I would say his [Amit Shah’s] knowledge about Bangladesh is limited. Nobody dies of hunger in Bangladesh.”

The minister claimed that while 50 per cent people in India do not have toilet facilities, 90 per cent Bangladeshis have access to decent washrooms.

He further said over 1 lakh Indians work in Bangladesh. India ranks 94 among 107 nations in Global Hunger Index 2020 while Bangladesh ranks 75.

Also read: India should keep Bangladesh close for fruition of Act East vision

Bangladesh’s leading English daily, the Dhaka Tribune wrote, “Shah has a long history of making hateful, insulting remarks about Bangladesh. On and off, he insults Bangladeshis going as far as describing them as termites.”

It said the BJP leader’s political rhetoric, based on “unfounded remarks” about Bangladesh, could jeopardise ties between the two countries.

While terming Shah’s remark as unacceptable, Momen said such remarks “create misunderstanding” in relations between Bangladesh and India, which are otherwise “so deep.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh only last month, making the neighbouring country his first port of call after the COVID-19 pandemic-infused global travel restriction was relaxed.

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