‘India Out’ in Bangladesh and stone-cold silence of friends of India

Since January 8, 2024, the ‘India Out’ movement is getting momentum in Bangladesh, basically at initiatives of popular online activist Pinaki Bhattacharya. Everyday dozens of Bangladeshis are joining this movement on social media platforms such as Facebook and X (former Twitter), while video-sharing platform YouTube is becoming a major source for Pinaki Bhattacharya and anti-India forces in expressing their anger at India’s hegemony and big brotherly behavior towards neighboring countries including Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, according to Indian media outlets such as The Print, OpIndia and others, the ‘India Out’ movement is countered in Bangladesh by journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who the Indian media calls an “avowed friend of India” and his newspaper Blitz. It may be mentioned here that, Blitz is known in the world as a mouthpiece of Zionism in recent years it also has been playing the role of pro-India and mouthpiece of Hindutva. In addition to running propaganda in favor of India, Israel, Zionism and Hindutva, Shoaib Choudhury also has been regularly writing for Hinduist publications such as The Organizer (party mouthpiece of Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh), Hindu Post and also occasionally in OpIndia. He is also running a ruthless campaign against the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) by branding it as “Al Qaeda connected” as well as against every organization and individual who are continuing ‘India Out’ movement, in several international media outlets.

In this case, the most interesting point here is – in his pro-India and pro-Hindu efforts and his notorious attempts of attacking BNP and individuals like Pinaki Bhattacharya or Zulkarnain Saer Sami, for their involvement in the India Out movement, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is not finding any ally in Bangladesh. Not a single journalist or individual such as Shyamal Dutta, Noim Nizam, Nayeemul Islam Khan and others who are perceived as friends of India are not uttering a word against the ‘India Out’ movement. Even Awami League and its leaders, including State Minister for Information Dr. MA Arafat, Foreign Minister Dr. Hassan Mahmud or Awami League’s think tank CRI are absolutely silent. Shoaib Choudhury’s tweets are being viewed and shared by thousands of people from India.

Recently, rejecting Shoaib Choudhury’s claim of BNP’s involvement in the India Out movement, BNP leader Neetai Roy Chowdhury told Voice of America that such movements might be sponsored by multinational companies which want to establish a monopoly in Bangladesh by driving Indian products away. But, in reality, the India Out movement is getting traction in Bangladesh day by day. Perhaps, there is a different view in BNP’s higher echelons. No matter what BNP thinks, Pinaki has stoked the nationalist spirit among the Bangladeshi populace.

The possible silence of individuals like Shyamal Dutta, Noim Nizam, Nayeemul Islam Khan and plenty of friends of India make us surprised. They might think it won’t be wise to defend India or speak against India Out movement as this movement is gradually getting support of the masses in Bangladesh. They or other friends of India are not showing willingness of taking risk by defending India at this sensitive time when Awami League government is questioned about the last electoral process by the Western nations.

It is evident that the India Out movement has a significant impact on bilateral trade with Bangladesh. Indian officials are portraying this movement as a geopolitical game orchestrated by China. On January 29, Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Jaishankar encountered questions from students at the Indian Institute of Management, Mumbai, regarding the anti-Indian campaign in neighboring countries. Now, it is clear that this campaign has raised concerns among Indian citizens as well.

However, Mr. Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Minister, strategically implicated China in his statement, a move that cannot be dismissed outright. This assertion aligns with the upcoming national elections in India, where an anti-government narrative could be advantageous for China if propagated among business circles, the media, and government opponents within India. The India Out Movement has gained significant traction in neighboring countries, achieving success in Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, and now gaining momentum in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In Bangladesh, resentment is primarily fueled by perceived favoritism towards the Bangladesh Awami League by the Indian government. Undoubtedly, this surge can be interpreted as an ominous sign for India.

According to several YouTube channels based in Pakistan, India has deployed its “powerful asset,” Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, to counter the India Out movement. If such a claim is true, then there is curiosity about why Indian authorities, including the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, have been hiding Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury from public attention. Do they also know that he is their only trusted and effective “asset” to promote pro-India sentiment in Bangladesh? Don’t they actually consider individuals like Shyamal Dutta, Noim Nizam, or Nayeemul Islam Khan as their genuine friends and allies? Is this the reason why Awami League and its leaders are avoiding Shoaib Choudhury, his newspaper Blitz, and his ongoing activities against the India Out movement?

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