Tuesday, February 01, 2005

INDIA: Delhi watch gives Dhaka scare - 01FEB [3 NEWS CLIPPINGS]


01. Delhi watch gives Dhaka scare
02. India to send security team to assess security situation in Dhaka
03. India to send team to Dhaka ahead of summit


01. Delhi watch gives Dhaka scare

New Delhi, Jan. 31: The Bangladesh government is worried whether India
will take the initiative to convince South Asian neighbours that the
forthcoming Saarc summit in Dhaka should be called off because of
deteriorating law and order in that country.

Even as preparations are in full swing for Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and his team's visit to Dhaka, India feels the situation in
Bangladesh in the wake of the killing of a senior Awami League leader
last week is "grave".

A senior official said: "We are keeping a close watch over the
situation in Dhaka. In our assessment, the situation is grave. But as
of now, we are committed towards attending the Saarc summit."

The summit was earlier to be held in January but was re-scheduled in
the wake of the December 26 tsunami.

Shamsul Kibira, a former finance minister and senior leader of the
Opposition Awami League, along with his nephew Shah Manjurul Huda and
three others, were killed in an explosion at a political rally in
Bangladesh's Habibgunj district last week.

The Saarc summit is scheduled to be held on February 6 and 7. But
foreign minister K. Natwar Singh, who is to leave for Dhaka on
February 4 to attend the meeting of the Saarc foreign ministers
preceding it, today described the situation as "very distressing" and
"very worrying".

He said: "It was very distressing and very worrying. We immediately
sent our condolences to the family of Kibira." Asked whether the
incident will affect the Saarc summit, the minister said: "I hope it
will not."

However, the Indian establishment is keeping a close watch on the
situation in Bangladesh where the Awami League has been holding an
indefinite hartal. Indications suggest the Bangladesh National Party
coalition government has been making all arrangements to ensure that
the summit goes on as scheduled and the heads of governments and their
delegation members are provided adequate security.

But the situation may turn for the worse if the Awami League and its
supporters decide to resort to violence to draw attention to the
"persecution of political opponents" in Bangladesh. If they manage to
force postponement of the summit, they will be able to prove that
there has been a total breakdown of law and order in the country.

For India, making any move to get the summit postponed can be irksome.
Irrespective of whether it is Delhi or any other South Asian country
which takes the initiative, in the Bangladeshi establishment the
needle of suspicion will turn towards India. If that happens, it is
likely to bring back the strain in bilateral relations which have, of
late, seen more "lows" than "highs".

India has made it clear it will raise its concern on the series of
attacks on the Opposition in Bangladesh with the BNP leadership during
talks. Both the foreign minister and the Prime Minister are likely to
have separate meetings with their Bangladeshi counterparts in the next
few days on bilateral and regional issues.

In its official statement, India has condemned the attack on Kibira
and described it as a "direct attack on the fabric of democracy".
Delhi's disappointment with the BNP government stems from the fact
that since August last year, such attacks on the Opposition seem to
have become its policy.

The BNP is not likely to take to the Indian criticism and may dub it
as Delhi's attempt to "meddle in its internal affairs". But India is
firm on its stand as it fears that the growth of fundamentalist forces
is not limited to Bangladesh alone and may have an adverse impact on
the entire neighbourhood.



02. India to send security team to assess security situation in Dhaka

NEW DELHI, Feb. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- India is sending a high-level
security team to Dhaka to make an assessment of the security situation
in the Bangladesh capital ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's
arrival there to attend the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation summit, the Indo-Asian News Service reported Tuesday.

Asked about violent incidents in Bangladesh, including last week's
bombing of an opposition rally at Habiganj, external affairs ministry
spokesman Navtej Sarna said: "What I can tell youis that a high-level
security team is being dispatched from India today (Tuesday) to make a
fresh assessment of the situation on the ground."

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to leave for Dhaka Saturday for thetwo-day
summit that starts Sunday.

A senior Indian official Monday said India was "deeply concerned"
about the situation in Bangladesh and saw a pattern in the attempts to
assassinate opposition leaders.

Describing the situation in that country as "grave," the official
said: "Anyone who is concerned about democracy in Bangladesh will be
concerned about what is happening there."

A former minister and four Awami League workers were killed andnearly
100 injured in the attack on the rally, which came five months after
party leader and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina escaped an
attempt on her life when a rally she was addressing in Dhaka was
attacked in a similar fashion. Enditem



03. India to send team to Dhaka ahead of summit

Press Trust of India

New Delhi:

Concerned over the violence in Bangladesh and with four days to go
before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to Dhaka for the SAARC
Summit, India on Tuesday decided to despatch a high-level security
team there to make a fresh assessment of the situation on the ground.

Asked about the fate of the SAARC Summit scheduled for February 6 and
7, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said "with regard
to developments relating to SAARC Summit and the situation in Dhaka,
what I can tell you is that a high-level security team is being
despatched from India today to make a fresh assessment of the
situation on the ground".