Stephan Uttom, Natore
Updated: September 23, 2021 11:02 AM GMT
Bangladeshi fishermen sort hilsa at a port in Barisal. The fish is considered a delicacy in India. (Photo: AFP)
The Church in Bangladesh has welcomed the government encouraging fish exports to India during a popular Hindu festival as an excellent example of people-oriented diplomacy and religious amity.
The government has approved the export of 2,080 tons of hilsa fish to India on the occasion of Durga Puja, the biggest Hindu festival. The fish will be exported to India at 900 taka (US$10.50) per kilogram through 52 exporters, according to the Commerce Ministry.
“This hilsa exports will create friendship between the two countries and forge a stronger brotherhood. At the same time, it will generate income for the country,” Archbishop Bejoy Nicephorus D'Cruze of Dhaka, chairman of the Interreligious Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, told UCA News.
“In some cases, India does not have a good attitude towards us. They did not send us Covid-19 vaccines even though we signed an agreement, and killings at the border did not stop. Even after that, I think Bangladesh's liberal policy will soften India's attitude and solve various problems.”
Local businessmen are also encouraging hilsa exports to India during the popular Hindu festival.
"Bangladesh produces about 600,000 tons of hilsa a year, though the supply is a bit low so far. However, the whole season is ahead. As a result, if few hilsa fish are exported, the market will not be affected,” Amin Ullah, president of the Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association, told UCA News.
I think in terms of international relations, this hilsa export to India will enhance the strong friendship between the two countries
Amin said that if the deadline for exporting hilsa is extended beyond Oct. 10, the market will be less affected because all exporters will be able to buy hilsa from the market in the near future as there is an obligation to export within a short time frame.
“I think in terms of international relations, this hilsa export to India will enhance the strong friendship between the two countries, although some people are criticizing it,” Sayed Mohammed Abdullah, a professor in the department of international relations at the University of Rajshahi, told UCA News.
“However, we need to keep in mind that if this fish is exported in the interest of Bangladesh, then the interests of both countries will be served and I think the relationship between the two countries will be strong.”
Although hilsa exports to India have been suspended since 2012, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2019 approved the export of 500 tons to West Bengal state. Following this, the government approved the export of 1,450 tons of in 2020 and 2,080 tons this year.
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