Religious harmony is very much prevalent in Bangladesh, the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told ANI in an interview on Monday.

Hasina arrived in New Delhi on Monday on a four-day visit to India. She met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning.

On being asked about communal violence against Hindus in Bangladesh, Hasina said that minorities have suffered in India as well, and called for cooperation between the two countries.

The prime minister claimed that only stray incidents of violence against Hindus have taken place in Bangladesh and that her government has contained them, ANI reported.

In October, Bangladesh witnessed a spell of violence against Hindus following social media posts about the alleged desecration of the Quran in a Durga Puja pandal in the Comilla district. At least seven persons were killed and 41 arrested after communal violence sparked off across the country.

The United Nations had criticised the attacks on Hindus and Amnesty International had said that the violence was symptomatic of a “growing anti-minority sentiment in the country”.

On water sharing

On the long-standing dispute over sharing of water from the Teesta river, the Bangladesh prime minister put the onus on India, ANI reported.

“It is very sad that, we [Bangladesh] are in downstream,” she told the news agency. “So water is coming from India should show more generosity.”

The Teesta water sharing agreement, which was supposed to be signed during a 2011 Bangladesh visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was held at the last moment due to objections from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The chief minister continues to oppose the agreement on sharing of water of the Teesta which flows through Sikkim and West Bengal, before merging into the Brahmaputra in Assam and the Jamuna in Bangladesh.

At her meeting with Modi on Tuesday, Hasina is expected to discuss water sharing among other matters, according to The Hindu. During Monday’s interview with ANI, Hasina pointed out that there were 54 rivers in Bangladesh that flow through India, but the two countries have a water-sharing agreement only for the Ganges.

On India-China relations

Responding to a question on how Bangladesh looks to balance its relations with India and China, Hasina called for peace between the two Asian superpowers.

“India and China...I feel shouldn’t fight,” she told ANI. “If there is any problem with [a] neighbouring country, it can be solved bilaterally.”

She, however, added that Bangladesh would not interfere in the India-China border tensions and operate by the foreign policy of “friendship to all, malice to none”.

Tensions have prevailed between India and China since troops of both countries clashed in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control in June 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat. While China had acknowledged casualties early, it did not disclose details till February 2021, when it said four of its soldiers had died.