Dhaka considers the recent violence in Delhi as India's domestic issue and expects the country's authorities to control it

"As a domestic issue, we would want India to control it. It is our expectation," Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen told reporters after a seminar on Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at its auditorium in the capital yesterday.

The comment comes a day before Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla's two-day visit that begins today. 

His visit comes following days of violence that erupted over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since February 23 in Delhi. The violence left 42 people dead and over 200 injured.

The enactment of the CAA by the Indian government late last year triggered widespread protests across India, but the latest one in Delhi turned most violent. The CAA created a pathway for Indian citizenship to the illegal migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but not for the Muslims. 

Critics say the CAA violates India's secular constitution.

Asked about the government's response to some political parties demanding the cancellation of Modi's visit, the foreign secretary said Indian PM Modi will be coming to Bangladesh to attend Bangabandhus's birth centenary programme on March 17 at the invitation of the Bangladesh government.

"We are going to hold a mega programme. India played the biggest role during our Liberation War. So, we would expect the Indian Prime Minister to attend the event," he said.

Talking about Shringla's visit, he said the objective of the Indian Foreign Secretary's visit is mainly to do the groundwork for the visit of Indian's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 17.

This is Shringla's first visit to Bangladesh after taking charge as India's foreign secretary. He will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen during his two-day visit. He will also attend a seminar on Indo-Bangla relations organised by the BIISS today.

"As he was a high commissioner of India to Bangladesh earlier, his understanding on Bangladesh is good. During his time, the two countries consolidated the relations. So, he will take stock of the developments of the relationship and review the progress," Masud Bin Momen said. 

Indian PM Modi will also hold a bilateral meeting with Hasina on March 17.

Asked what would be the issues that Bangladesh would raise during the meeting, Momen said Dhaka will focus on the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu.

However, he said, there are already a number of projects underway that may be inaugurated during Modi's visit.

"We may also sign some MoUs that have been readied. These issues will be on the table, but our main focus would be the centenary celebration."

Our correspondent in Delhi reports that Modi may take his visit to Dhaka to discuss some deliverables or major markers in a forward movement in bilateral relations like a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), giving a push to defence cooperation for which India announced a 500-million dollar line of credit during Hasina's visit to India in April 2017, and connectivity.

The issues are also likely to be high on Shringla's agenda of talks in Dhaka ahead of Modi's visit.

The CEPA, which is a free trade deal in goods and services between two economically asymmetrical countries, was discussed at the meeting of Commerce Secretaries of the two countries in New Delhi in January.

India and Bangladesh signed a MoU of defence cooperation during Hasina's April 2017 visit for purchasing defence hardware from India. For the last two years, both the sides were in talks on modalities for using the soft loan.

Bangladesh has already agreed to put coastal radar system supplied by India along the Bay of Bengal shore to protect its own exclusive economic zone and marine resources.

On the connectivity front, the two countries are likely to finalise two more passenger train services besides the existing two between Dhaka and Kolkata (Maitri Express) and Khulna and Kolkata (Bandhan Express).

One passenger train route between Rajshahi-Kolkata via Rohonpur (Bangladesh) – Singabad (Malda in West Bengal) and another between Dhaka and Siliguri via Chilkabari and Haldibari of Coochbihar of West Bengal are under discussion between the two sides.

The two countries have already agreed to increase the frequency of Maitri Express and Bandhan Express from four to five days a week.

Shringla's visit will be the first high-level contact between the two countries since the controversy over CAA/NRC created rough edges on an otherwise burgeoning bilateral tie, reports our correspondent from New Delhi. 

Bangladesh had cancelled visits by its Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen, his deputy Shahriar Alam and Home Minister Azaduzzaman Khan Kamal to India in the last few months in the wake of violence.

In an interview with Gulf News, Hasina had termed CAA "not necessary". On another occasion, Momen had said that CAA would "weaken" India's secular image.