Visa seekers issue: Indian envoy to Dhaka wins unexpected support

DHAKA - Criticised for his remarks made against Bangladeshi visa seekers, Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty has won approval from an unexpected quarter. State Minister for Foreign affairs Hasan Mahmud said the envoy has “sympathy for Bangladeshis”.

“I feel he (Chakravarty) is a seasoned diplomat and a Bengali Indian. I do feel that he has sympathy for Bangladeshis,” Mahmud was quoted as saying by New Age newspaper Friday.

The remark came a day after the Bangladesh government ‘disapproved’ of Chakravarty’s observations that 80 percent of Bangladeshis seeking visa for India were “touts and brokers” and that 25,000 of the Bangladeshis going to India every year did not return home.

The Indian envoy spoke in response to criticism at a Bangladesh-India business meet. A delegate said that the serpentine queues of visa seekers outside the Indian High Commission could find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The high commission has clarified that the envoy’s remarks had been taken out of context and said the Indian mission in Dhaka and other cities have issued over half-a-million visas last year.

The remarks made in the presence of Commerce Minister Faruk Khan were criticised here and New Age in an editorial called the envoy’s behaviour ‘arrogant’.

New Age in an editorial Friday asked Dhaka to “uphold dignity of the country and its people” and warned that “New Delhi needs to realise that, in Chakravarty, it may have a loose cannon ball that, if not immediately reined in, could cause irreparable damage to India’s relations with Bangladesh”.

Chakravarty is already in the midst of another controversy for terming the critics of Tipaimukh dam that India proposes to build over Barak river in Manipur state as “so-called experts”.

Mahmud’s observation came as Bangladesh prepares to send a team of parliamentarians, officials and a water resource expert to visit the dam site next week.

Addressing the business meet, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said there was no issue between the two South Asian neighbours that could not be resolved through talks.

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