By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Bangladesh's foreign minister on Thursday cancelled a planned visit to New Delhi amid protests in northeastern India over controversial changes to the country's citizenship law.
Abul Kalam Abdul Momen was scheduled to reach India on Thursday to attend two high-level conferences and hold talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishanker.
Bangladesh tried to downplay this urgent cancelation.
"He has a jam-packed schedule due to victory month programs including Dec. 16 Victory Day and that's why he has cancelled his scheduled India visit," Tohidul Islam, a senior information officer of Foreign Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.
A lower-level diplomat will represent Dhaka in New Delhi instead of the foreign minister, Islam said, denying that the citizenship law had anything to do with it.
Across the border, Indian media covered the cancellation of the visit by its close regional ally in light of the rising political tension in the region.
India’s parliament Wednesday evening passed a bill, which would grant citizenship to six minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh -- all Muslim-majority nations in South Asia. It only needs a sign by the president to become law.
This coupled with statements by Indian officials saying minorities in the three countries were not safe drew strong reactions from Bangladesh.
Momen on Tuesday said India was losing its secular character by making religion a basis for citizenship, and excluding Muslims from the list.