South Asia and Beyond

In Dhaka, Jaishankar Talks ‘No Crime, No Death’ Border

A delicate moment during a press briefing in Dhaka after talks between India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Bangladeshi counterpart Abdul Momen on Thursday. This was about the killings of Bangladeshi nationals on the border, and according to local media, 2020 saw the largest number of killings in 10 years.

Jaishankar’s response: “Every death is regrettable but we have to ask ourselves why is there a problem and the problem is because of crime. So our shared objective should be a no-crime no-death border.” But he also pointed out that reported deaths of Bangladeshi nationals “was fairly deep inside India”.

On the sensitive issue of sharing of river waters, Jaishankar indicated that the water resources secretaries of both countries would be meeting very soon. He made a strong pitch for connectivity, saying: “If we can get connectivity right … I can tell you the geoeconomics of the region will change. The Bay of Bengal will look very different.” He also suggested that Japan be brought in as a stakeholder in building connectivity in the region.

Jaishankar also called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and presented her two books on Bangladesh written by his late father K. Subrahmanyam, who was a civil servant. “These are amongst the first books written on Bangladesh in early 1972. He would’ve been proud to see Bangladesh’s remarkable progress,” tweeted Jaishankar.