Agartala: Bangladesh has given shelter to 10 lakh distressed Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar despite its economic and demographic problems and a longstanding row with Myanmar, a top Bangladesh official said here.
“Bangladesh has (had) disputes with Myanmar for many years. Despite our economic and other burdens, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has decided to provide shelter to the hapless 10 lakh Rohingyas entirely on humanitarian grounds,” Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Adviser (media) Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury told reporters late on Saturday.
He said that after horrific atrocities, Myanmar Army evicted the innocent Rohingyas. “Systematic rapes, massacres, torture and setting fire to their homes and assets in Rakhine state” forced Rohingya Muslims to flee their traditional homeland.
“This cruel persecution (was) aimed at making Rakhine state a Rohingya-free zone.”
Pointing out that over the past several years, five lakh Rohingyas had taken shelter in southeast Bangladesh, he said that in the past six weeks over 550,000 more Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh.
“If Bangladesh does not give shelter to the ill-fated Rohingyas, where would they go? However, our government and the security forces are alert so that in future no security threat emerges out of the large number of Rohingyas and their temporary camps,” Chowdhury added.
The official said the minorities, specially the Hindus, were very much safe in Bangladesh with over 30,000 Durga Pujas, 777 more than last year, held this year in the Muslim-dominated nation.
Chowdhury, who was here on a two-day visit to attend a cultural meet, said bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh were regarded as historic and, of late, they have reached new heights due to the joint efforts of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina.
“Bangladesh aspires for further enhancing the long friendship with India. Despite the Teesta water dispute, India (has been) helping Bangladesh a lot and supporting the latter’s causes, including the Rohingya issue.”
The visiting official said the (Bangladesh) Prime Minister had already declared that the country’s soil would not be allowed to be used by militants and other “inimical elements of northeast India”.
“Currently, there is no militant camp or hideout of northeast India terrorist outfits (that) exists in Bangladesh territory.”
He said people from both sides want improved relations between the two neighbours. Last year, 14 lakh Bangladeshis visited India for different purposes such as business, medical treatment and travel.
Five Indian states — West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) — share India’s 4,096-km border with Bangladesh.