Sheikh Hasina stands as rock of Gibraltar against info-terrorists for India-Bangladesh ties

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 10-07-2024
Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh hasins pledging boosting the ties between two neighbours
Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh hasins pledging boosting the ties between two neighbours


Aleya Sekh

Soon after the news broke that Indian trains would be permitted to use Bangladesh as a corridor, a poster showing a snakehead superimposed on a train engine rolling across on social media. The snakehead was painted with the Indian flag while the flag of Bangladesh was photo-shopped to colour the map: all concocted to promote the belief that Bangladesh has fallen into Indian hands.

The social media campaign steered clear of the mutually beneficial clauses of the India-Bangladesh transit-sharing deal. As per this deal, Bangladesh will get access to Indian railway tracks for reaching out to Nepal and Bhutan.

Intra-regional South Asian trade is only 5 percent of the total trade, and that’s only 1/3 of what it could be, according to reliable estimates.

“So, if this were to translate into boosted inter-regional trade, we could see additional trade of about $44 billion,” noted a World Bank official in January.

The official pointed out that, in comparison, intra-regional trade is 25 percent of total trade in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 60 percent in the 27-member European Union (EU).

Election rally of Sheikh Hasina's party Awami League

“Greater integration is a source of growth and it’s also a source of prosperity and inclusion. We see benefits in multiple areas. If we were to have more free trade agreements and seamless connectivity, we could see some of these benefits,” said the World Bank official.

Another post on social media made another ridiculous claim: Padma Bridge has been built for Indians and not for Bangladeshis, further stoking a vicious anti-India campaign.

Since the bridge opened to the public, it has seen toll collection worth around Tk 16.48 billion from 12.7 million vehicles with every penny going into the coffers of the Bangladesh government.

However, these facts are excluded with the sole aim of whipping up a vicious anti-India campaign. A follower of Delwar Hossain Sayeddee, a notorious war criminal who sided with the Pakistan army and described freedom fighters as agents of India, posted another edited photo on social media marking the map of Bangladesh with Indian flag and edited photos of snakes plastered across the maps.

Some people from this anti-Indian brigade on Bangladesh's social media were predicting an Indian defeat in the T20 World Cup finals. After India’s victory, they started questioning the spectacular catch by Surya Kumar Yadav that sent David Miller back into the pavilion at a crucial juncture of the match.

Obviously, such posts provoke Indian reactions with a netizen asking Bangladeshis to ” go to South Africa for medical treatment and not come to India."

India has recently extended an e-medical visa facility for Bangladeshi patients seeking treatment in India which will help tens of thousands of them.

Train that runs between bangladesh and India

"Fact is there are millions in Bangladesh who look up to India for our role in liberating the country from Pakistani misrule. However, in the age of social media, even a few dozen netizens spewing vitriol against India may give the impression that the whole of Bangladesh is against India. These guys adversely impact bilateral ties, " says  Sukharanjan Dasgupta, author of Bangladesh.

The most vicious anti-Indian site uploaded from Bangladesh Is Basherkella, affiliated with Jamaat e Islami, which continues to glorify 1971 war criminals and runs an inflammatory campaign against minorities.  It has even shared quotes of war criminals asking Bangladeshis to wage war against India.

One post from the page shows a banner of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a convicted war criminal, and his quote calling for jihad against India with hashtag “Go Back India”.

The same platform ran a series of communal campaigns and calls for violence, carefully keeping out the war crimes perpetrated by criminals like Sayedee.

Years back, the supporters of Basherkella circulated a rumor on social media that the spiritual leader was sighted on the moon during the war crimes trial and unleashed a barrage of violence on liberals and minorities.

“These posts are an open instigation for violence,” says former Intelligence Bureau officer Benu Ghosh. This also echoes the “India Out “ campaign initiated by top BNP leaders like Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi. Like the combine failed to stop the polls, the Boycott India campaign fizzled out long back.

A Bangladeshi “human rights activist’ wrote on social media:

“Not for sale anymore. Sold in 1971 already”. How can a rights activist ignore the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Pakistan army on the Bengali people?

Members of armed resistance force Mukti Bahini with the Indian Army

Hundreds of posts spread hatred on social media but its fact-checkers do little to block this tide of disinformation. One of their fact checkers comes from a fundamentalist background, having spent years of his student life in Islami Chatra Shibir. He gets Facebook pages of secular bloggers taken down on flimsy grounds like the 1971 Pakistani mass graves are 'obscene' and ' provocative ' and even Bangladeshi editors take down articles which this 'fact checker' objects to because they worry over loss of revenue.

While such campaigns flood social media, the political speeches by BNP and Jamaat leaders both instigate and generate disinformation to ratchet public sentiment against India.

“The government has sold out the country to India..We must step in.. down with the government” thundered Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, cheered by party activists, at a rally held yesterday. But Indian media has run countless stories about BNP leaders quietly visiting India to parley with Indian politicians from the ruling party and senior officials.

The reports indicate that BNP leaders have repeatedly tried to assure Indian leaders that they would protect Indian interests more than the Awami League.

PM Sheikh Hasina called this bluff when she asked BNP leaders to burn all Indian sarees used by their wives. Then she reminded the people of the importance of integration and connectivity between the two countries following the European model.

“Culture of arson attacks on trains persists in our country. So Delhi should be wary of us.. you can use the rail track but we will not let you succeed”, roared a BNP leader warning India.

His call for violence also evokes grim memories of BNP-Jamaat men resorting to the firebombing of public transport including trains in the last decade.

During the last regime between 2001 and 2006 led by the BNP Jamaat government, the combine has exported terror by allowing separatists to stay in the country with impunity and the country has been used as a transit to smuggle arms and ammunitions using the territory.

ALSO READNawab Jehan Begum: I want to represent India in every country

In sharp contrast, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, both countries have managed to seal some historic deals. These fanatics are “as bereft of ideas “as their Pakistani mentors.  Conflict promotion between neighbours does not help. The brightest example is Pakistan’s tottering economy.  

Aleya Sekh is a media analyst in South Asia and has been teaching at many Indian universities. Views are personal and the portal doesn't necessarily agree with those.