India’s PM Modi unlikely to visit Bangladesh after National Parade Ground postponed

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks as he hosts a special event commemorating the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi during the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday. (Photo: AP). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

DHAKA, Mar 9, 2020, Hindustan Times. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to visit Bangladesh for the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, sources have said. The year-long celebrations were scheduled to open amid massive festivities at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka on March 17, Hindustan Times reported.

Bangladesh had announced on Sunday that it was scaling down and postponing several events related to the celebration following the detection of three coronavirus infections in the country.

“The planned celebrations for the Mujib Year have been rearranged in view of worldwide outbreak of coronavirus,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters. “We will convey about the rearrangement of the planned opening of the celebrations to the foreign dignitaries, leaving it to them if they would come,” he added.

His remarks came after attending a meeting on the ‘Mujib Year’ celebrations chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina directed the organisers to scale down the planned festivities, but the new venue for the inauguration of the celebrations is yet to be decided, chief coordinator of the celebration committee Kamal Abdul Naser told reporters.

PM Modi’s decision to attend the celebration was largely seen as an outreach move amid protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA in Bangladesh. Protests have taken place across several cities in Bangladesh against CAA. PM Modi’s visit was also meant to have had a bilateral component, including a meeting with Hasina.

Bangladesh had also invited former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to address an extraordinary parliamentary session to mark the celebrations.

Bangladesh on Sunday reported three cases of coronavirus. Two people brought the disease from Italy, infecting the third one on their return home, officials said.

After the cases were detected, the authorities decided that people coming from China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Iran and Thailand must stay in quarantine for 14 days for medical clearance.

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