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Indian cooperation boosts the growth and development of Bangladesh : says Information minister Hasan Mahmud


Kishore Sarkar

Dhaka, 15 December (HS) ; The growing cooperation and the unique and  diversified cultural and economic ties between India and Bangladesh have played a major role in opening the doors for further growth, development and prosperity of Bangladesh, feels Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud.   

In an exclusive interview to multilingual News Agency, Hindusthan Samachar here today, Dr Mahmud spoke on a wide range of issues from the anti-India rhetoric of  BNP Jamat and their communal politics in their country, to India's decision to shelter large number of Bangladeshi refugees in several bordering states after the 1971 Freedom Movement and even China's decision to give recognition to Bangladesh within 24 hours of the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.. 

About the common allegation of BNP Jamat that Awami League, the ruling party of Bangladesh, had surrendered to India, Dr Mahmud  described India's relations with his country as 'Historic'. The rich contribution of India would be remembered across the country with great respect for time immemorial, he said and recalled the role of the Indian Army in the Bangladesh War of Independence (of 1971)  when large number of Indian  soldiers had sacrificed their lives along with those of Bangladeshi Freedom Fighters. 

'Our friendship with India is time tested and much deep rooted than anybody could think of ', the Bangladesh Information minister said and categorically denied the BNP Jamat's claim in this regard.

Moreover, he said since India was the closest neighbour of Bangladesh having long international borders between them, it was quite natural that 'we enjoy a very close multidimensional relationship with India', . 

Once again turning his attention towards Awami League's close relations with India, Dr Mahmud said unlike BNP Jmant the ruling party did not believe in any shadowy transaction with India and always followed a transparent policy with its closest neighbour because 'we believe that with only on the basis of such close ties , Bangladesh could develop and prosper more in the coming days'.
On another Jamat allegation that the religious minorities in Bangladesh were being given higher positions and being transferred frequently (to safer areas), the Information minister said unlike Pakistan which was created on the basis religion, Bangladesh achieved its independence with the unequivocal support from all religious people including those of the Muslims, Hindus, Christians and the Buddhists..

Since our  country was not set up on the basis of religion , every Bangladeshi felt that he or she should be first known as a Bengali before being known by their religion, Dr Mahmud said.

Describing BNP Jamat as a communal and religiously fanatic party unlike Awami League, he said  it was very unfortunate that they believed the religion of an individual should come first before anybody was known as a Bengali. or a Bangladeshi.  As such they were not in favour of any increment or transfer to a good position of any religiously minority person.

'But on the contrary Awami League does it on the basis of proven ability and  qualification of a person, and not on the basis of his religion', Dr Mahmud  pointed out.

On China's decision to recognise Bangladesh a day after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Information minister said  China was one of closest allies of Pakistan during the war of Independence and as such unlike many other countries they did not recognise Bangladesh even after the war of independence. But they did it after the murder of Sheikh Muzibur Rahman.

However, China had now become one of the closest allies of Bangladesh and had been taking an active role in the growth of its economy, Dr Mahud said while once again paid glowing tributes to the  government of India for giving shelter to more than one crore refugees and even raised money by collecting subion from the common people for their upkeep. Many Indians in bordering states even  opened their door for Bangladeshi refugees in their houses, he said   
Finally, on the banning of Indian Hindi movies in Bangladesh when they are allowed in Pakistan, the Bangladesh Information minister informed that  only the screening of Bollywood films had been banned following protests from the Bangladesh Cultural Societies despite their huge demand from the Bangladeshi movie hall owners. However 'our cultural skies are still wide open and  there is no restriction for the production of Indo-Bangladesh joint venture in films.