Teesta resolution will transform ties: Sheikh Hasina


Teesta resolution will transform ties: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

India-Bangladesh ties would undergo a “transformation” if the Teesta water sharing agreement is concluded, said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, disclosing that she had discussed the matter at length with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as well during her visit to India, and had received assurances from Prime Minister Modi.

Teesta, data“On Teesta issue, Prime Minister Modi once again reiterated his government’s strong resolve to conclude the water sharing treaty. Once it happens, the face of Indo-Bangladesh relations would undergo another transformation,” Ms. Hasina told an audience including ministers, diplomats and members of parliament at an India Foundation event in Delhi.

Breaking away from her written speech, Ms. Hasina said, “I didn’t know what Didi (Mamata Banerjee) would say. When I met her, she suggested something new (sharing water of other trans-border rivers). But then Modiji said, ‘we are here to look after it’ (Teesta).”

In a lighter vein, Ms. Hasina added, “We asked Didi for water, but at least we got electricity referring to the 100mW of power extra India has promised to provide in the joint statement issued during the visit.

In a speech marked with some emotional moments, when she discussed India’s contribution to Bangladesh’s liberation, and several touches of humour, Ms. Hasina set out the course of India-Bangladesh relations, which she said were the “friendliest” ties for Bangladesh and cut across party lines in India.

“The land boundary agreement was supported unanimously in the parliament, for which I am grateful. That was a historic moment that united all people from all parties in India, and joined them with people of Bangladesh. Like the 1971 war, when we shed blood together, side by side, this was another such moment,” Ms. Hasina said, visibly tearing up during the speech.

The event was presided over by BJP leader L.K. Advani, who commended Ms. Hasina for forging relations with India as a neighbour that “all leaders in the region” should follow as an example. Mr. Advani said he had known Ms. Hasina for several decades.

Ms. Hasina also recounted her time in India after the assassination of her father and her entire family including her mother and her brothers in 1975, when she was abroad with her sister. “When we were homeless and countryless Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said we could live here. Everyone was very welcoming to us,” Ms. Hasina said, disclosing that she had been allotted a home very near Mr. Advani’s home in Delhi’s Pandara Park.

Ms. Hasina thanked Mr. Modi for promising India’s support for Bangladesh’s campaign at the United Nations to have March 25 declared as “Genocide day” in remembrance of the atrocities by the Pakistani army during Bangladesh’s liberation war including three million people killed and 200,000 women raped. “We can forgive, but we can never forget,” said Ms. Hasina about the campaign.