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PM’s advisers are India’s men: Ershad

Bdnews24.com . Munshiganj

The Jatiya Party chairman, HM Ershad, has castigated the prime minister’s advisers for ‘their advocacy for India’, saying they were ‘India’s men’.
‘These advisers are not for Bangladesh, they are people of India. They do not talk for Bangladesh, they talk for India,’ said Ershad, the ruling Awami League’s key ally, in a street rally in Munshiganj on Monday as part of a long march to protect the River Feni.
‘There is no need to have such advisers,’ the former president said and mentioned that their statements often gave rise to questions.
Ershad’s comments came a day after another ally, another ruling coalition leader, Workers’ Party of Bangladesh chief Rashed Khan Menon, slated the advisers.
‘The way the advisers talk it means they are not advisers to the prime minister, rather they are advisers to the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh,’ Menon said in his thanksgiving motion on the president’s speech in parliament on Sunday.
Referring to the Indian prime minister’s visit in September last year, Ershad said, ‘There has been no headway in striking a treaty with India over the share of waters for Teesta and Feni rivers though it has been told that the issue would be settled soon.’
‘The government does not dare make any statement to this end,’ he added.
‘Give me one more chance in the next parliamentary election. Whoever be the candidate, cast your vote on the symbol ‘plough’,’ the deposed military strongman said and claimed that ‘the people of Bangladesh love him’.
Ershad set off for Feni around 9:30am with a motorcade of about 250 cars. Before leaving from the party’s central office at Banani in the capital, he addressed party supporters. He also addressed two other street rallies in Narayanganj and Sonargaon.
The JP chairman also urged all to protest against such Indian move by rising above narrow partisan views.
‘The River Feni is ours. No other (country) has right to this river,’ he told the street rally in the city’s Banani Model Town.
‘There has been a plot to turn Feni, Mirsarai of Chittagong, Fatikchari, Khagrachari, Ramgarh, Noakhali and Comilla into deserts,’ Ershad said.
The River Feni was recognised as a common river in 2005 at a meeting of the Joint River Commission in Dhaka.
The river originates in Tripura and makes a common border of 87 kilometres with Bangladesh. After travelling about 90 kilometres in Tripura, it flows into Bangladesh.
The controversy over the river’s share of water remains unsolved for long allegedly because of India’s reluctance to strike a deal with Bangladesh.
Being a border river with one side of the banks in India and the other in Bangladesh, no activity is allowed in 150 yards from the centre of the river.
But allegations have it that India is lifting water from the river violating rules and taking advantage of no agreement to equally use the water of the river.
In reply to a query on a meeting with the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Saturday night, he said, ‘We have talked about election issues.’
He said the discussion with the premier was fruitful but would not elaborate.
Later, addressing a rally in Feni, Ershad said India would be denied transit facilities if it did not give Bangladesh its equitable share of water of the common rivers.
‘They do not want to give us our legitimate share of water, but we are giving transit facilities to them. It is not a sign of friendship. Water has to be shared in accordance with our demand, unless we will not give transit facilities,’ announced Ershad.
‘India wants to turn Bangladesh into a country of desert, famine and beggars,’ he said.
The main opposition BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, made similar observation from a rally in Lalmonirhat last week.
Ershad also castigated the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, for her comment that Bangladesh was getting water from Farakka Barrage leak and about the share of Teesta river water. He also criticised India over the incidents of killing Bangladeshis along the border.
Earlier, he had marched towards Sylhet December 10-11 protesting against India’s move to build a dam at Tipaimukh on the River Barak and to Nilphamari January 17-18 demanding just share of water of the River Teesta.

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