| by Ali Sukhanver
( September 8, 2014, Islamabad, Sri Lanka Guardian) The day is not very far away when you would not find any thing ‘Made in Japan’ in the Bangladeshi market. Sheikh Hasina's government, under pressure from India has crafted a tax policy that increased the tax and surcharges levied against Japanese products particularly the Japanese cars while decreasing the tax for substandard Indian cars. As a result of this tax-policy, Japanese car companies are losing millions of dollars worth of sales in Bangladesh. The situation is alarming not only to the quality-conscious people of Bangladesh but also to the international investors. If the practice of favouring Indian investors and crushing others remains unchecked, the future of foreign investment in Bangladesh would be badly affected.
No doubt, it is a daylight fact that the government of Sheikh Hasina is directly under the influence of India and it is trying hard to transform Bangladesh into an Indian colony and all this is being done against the will and desire of the Bangladeshi people. The US State department also attested Indian influence on the present government of Bangladesh in a recently issued report. The report said, “Bangladesh’s foreign and domestic policies are “heavily” influenced by the region’s major powers, particularly India.” Talking of Indian influence in Bangladesh, Hasan Mir said in an article published in the Asia Times last January, “Despite calls from the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and other allies, India has been acting as a spoiler in Bangladesh by supporting Hasina's government. India's interest in supporting a corrupt and inept regime is multifold. India has been granted access to Bangladeshi ports and road networks for easier access to northeastern states.” He further said, “The Bay of Bengal's lucrative gas blocks have been awarded to Indian companies without any due process and without the participation of other world-renowned companies. India's security establishment has been granted unparalleled access to Bangladesh”.
On the other hand, despite of Sheikh Hasina’s showering kindness on India; the behaviour of the Indian politicians has ever been hostile and unfriendly to Bangladesh. The issue of Bangladeshi immigrants in India is becoming more and more serious every day. Indian politicians particularly those who belong to the BJP are not ready to welcome these immigrants. In the last April, BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy said in Guhawati that Bangladesh should compensate India with land if it did not agree to take back the so-called immigrants. He said, “According to my estimate, one-third of Bangladesh's population lives in India. Thus one-third of Bangladesh territory should go to India.” Even the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi is found repeating his assertion of taking tough measures against the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India. In such a hostile situation, Sheikh Hasina’s unceasing efforts to give India the status of a ‘Favourite Nation’ are unintelligible.
A few weeks back, the decision of the Court of Arbitration regarding the ownership of the Talpatti Island proved a serious mental shock to the whole of Bangladeshi nation. This island emerged in the Bay of Bengal in the aftermath of the Bhola cyclone in 1970, and disappeared at some later point. Since then this ‘Lost Island’ has been a bone of contention between Bangladesh and India. In 1981 India had reportedly hoisted the Indian flag on the island and established a temporary base of Border Security Force. According to the Indian media the naval gun-ships of BSF had been regularly visiting the Island Talpatti. But at the same time Bangladesh always claimed sovereignty over the Island because of possibilities of the existence of oil and natural gas in the region. A few years back the confrontation on the issue became so severe that it had to be referred to the Permanent Court at Hague.
The Law experts and technocrats from both India and Bangladesh contested the case. On 7th July 2014, the Court of Arbitration gave its verdict, awarding 19, 467 square kilometers, out of disputed 25, 602 square kilometers area to Bangladesh and handing over around 6000 square kilometers of strategically and politically important South Talpatti Island to India. Though the Government of Bangladesh is trying to spread the impression that the Talpatti Island is no more in existence and Sheikh Hasina is terming the decision as Triumph and Sacrifice of Friendship but most of the people in Bangladesh are not happy over the decision. BNP vice-chairman Hafizuddin Ahmed had been the water resources minister in a previous government and is considered an authority on conflicting water issues between India and Bangladesh. Commenting on the verdict he said, “Bangladesh has lost its rights over South Talpatti as after the judgment the maritime boundary was drawn 4.5km inside Bangladesh territorial waters from the last south-west boundary. South Talpatti Island is very much in existence now and if the island is submerged, in the course of time it might surface again.” Hafizuddin Ahmed said criticizing the happiness and joy of Sheikh Hasina over the verdict , “Bangladesh government’s happiness over the verdict is a proof that the present domestic and foreign diplomacy of Bangladesh is largely controlled and influenced by India; the 25,000sq km sea area was not a disputed area; rather it was the property of Bangladesh.”