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Hasina calls for Rohingyas’ return to Myanmar from Bangladesh, seeks India’s help

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Kolkata: In a significant move, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday pressed for the Rohingyas’ return to Myanmar while seeking India’s assistance to her government to repatriate them to their country.

However, Sheikh Hasina openly defended her government’s shelter to Rohingyas in Bangladesh in presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose government ruled out any shelter to the Rohingyas in the country citing serious security concerns.

Sheikh Hasina was speaking at Bangladesh Bhaban in Visva Bharati University (VBU) campus in Santiniketan of Birbhum after inaugurating the building along with PM Modi.

Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who supported Rohingyas’ shelter in the state, and West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi were also present at the inauguration.

On a two-day India visit, Sheikh Hasina arrived at Kolkata from Dhaka on Friday morning with a delegation.

She travelled to Santiniketan where she attended the VBU convocation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being the Acharya of the premiere academic institution, Mamata Banerjee and Keshari Nath Tripathi.

In her address at Bangladesh Bhavan, Sheikh Hasina said, “You know nearly 11 lakhs of Rohingyas have taken shelter on the Bangladeshi soil. We have given them shelter on humanitarian grounds. We want them to return to their homeland quickly. We can not help but offering shelter to the people who have been subjected to torture. We also could not and that is why we offered them shelter.”

She elaborated, “Bangladesh is a country of 16 crores population. When Rehana, my younger sister, asked me: Can’t you feed around 5–7 lakhs of people when you feed around 16 lakhs, I told her I can do it also certainly. If needed, we will share our food and only then we will have our food.” Sheikh Hasina’s comments earned her a thunderous applause in the auditorium.

She added, “We seek help from all. We want a pressure to be created on the Myanmar government so that it takes back the Rohingyas. We want peace to prevail upon this region.”

In sharp contrast, Rohingya issue remained untouched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who delivered his address after the Bangladesh PM at the programme.

Sheikh Hasina also praised the effort of exchange of enclaves: Chhit Mahal between the two countries.

“You will find that wars have been continuing between many countries in the world over the exchange of enclaves,” she told the audience.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister mentioned, “But we, India and Bangladesh, exchanged the enclaves in a cordial environment with a feeling of brotherhood and amidst of joy. I consider it an example in the world where two neighbouring countries could do it finally with a festive spirit. Frankly speaking, I turned so emotional that I could not control my tears in eyes. I felt that the way the amount of support we received from India in 1971, our neighbour, which is a big friend of ours also, again stood by us and made such a huge contribution.”

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