POST TIME: 1 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 March, 2018 03:13:20 AM
Indian army chief’s uncalled for remarks

Indian army chief’s uncalled for remarks

Indian army chief  General Bipin Rawat’s statement that Bangladesh was being used for ‘proxy war’ by Pakistan with the help of China is absolutely uncalled for and will not do any good to the bilateral relations between the two neighbours. His implication that Pakistan is fighting this war by generating illegal infiltration of Bangladeshis into northeast India is rather disturbing and hardly based on solid evidence. The army chief should have realized that such observations could lead to diplomatic frictions with Bangladesh and other neighbours.

It is interesting to note that many Indian analysts, newspapers and political observers have slammed their army chief’s utterances made on February 21.

For the first time since the speech a senior government functionary gave his reaction Tuesday. Though it came a bit late, Bangladesh’s home ministry finally categorically denied the general’s observation about infiltration. While the general’s Indian critics questioned the decorum of their army chief speaking on a political issue, many of them chose not to say anything about the imagined ‘proxy war’ and in the past many Indian observers have supported the view, overtly or covertly, that Bangladeshis are indeed entering India illegally in large numbers. Indian politicians often indulge in selling this misinformation to whip up support domestically, but the demagogue nature of this politics is not welcome to Bangladesh.

Moreover, for decades Bangladesh is faring well economically and India is not that lucrative a place to go for a living for Bangladeshis. Though currently per capita income of Bangladesh is still way behind the India’s, the truth is the rate of inequality is much greater in India and Bangladesh is better placed than India in many social and economic indicators.

Still, scary is the development in Assam where registration of its legal citizens is proceeding and, in the initial incomplete count, 15 million Assamese people, mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims, have been left out. What would the Indian authorities do with illegal migrants when their final list is prepared? There are two views: the unregistered people might be relegated to second class citizens without any voting rights or they might be pushed back to Bangladesh.

If the latter is true, Bangladesh has every reason to feel disturbed at the Indian general’s remark as this might be an anticipatory maneuver to the real push-back. That is why Bangladesh, currently grappling with Rohingya influx problem, should take the general’s remark very seriously and get the matter settled with India.


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Indian army chief’s unbecoming comments and implications (27-02-2018)

Bangladeshis’ ‘influx’ a proxy war by Pakistan with China help (23-02-2018)