BNP on Thursday alleged that Bangladesh has lost around 6,000 square kilometres of sea areas with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas judgement and complained that it reflected India’s will.
The party also alleged that the verdict will help India establish its absolute dominance over the Bay of Bengal. The BNP leader alleged that the people have got such a verdict as India has influence on Bangladesh and its foreign policy.Addressing a press conference at the BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office, BNP vice chairman and former water resources minister M Hafizuddin Ahmed also demanded of the government to come up with a transparent and elaborate explanation of the verdict.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali officially disclosed the verdict at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. Hafizuddin Ahmed gave the party’s formal reaction to the verdict delivered by the International Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Netherlands on Monday.
Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali said, with the verdict, Bangladesh has gained some 19,467 square kilometers of maritime areas at the Bay of Bengal out of the disputed approximately 25,602 square kilometers with neighbouring India.
“The government is giving the verdict a political colour. It’s not a matter of victory or defeat. We’ve been deprived of our due maritime areas. We’ve also lost the South Talpatty. We think this verdict has established India’s absolute dominance over the Bay of Bengal,” Hafiz told the press conference.
He said that Bangladesh was the sole owner of all 25,602 square kilometres disputed maritime areas. “Bangladesh has become a loser as India was given around 6,000 square kilometres sea areas from 25,602 square kilometres through the verdict.”
He said that Bangladesh’s land boundary will move away around 4.5 kilometres eastward, decreasing the country’s total land areas.
He also alleged that Bangladesh could not properly handle the issue in the PCA as the government did not appoint seasoned and skilled legal experts to defend Bangladesh in the international court of arbitration.
He said India engaged its expert judge PS Rao to defend it in the PCA while Bangladesh engaged a civil judge of Ghana instead of any local judge or legal expert. “PS Rao has played an important role in favour of India and given a number of notes of descent while there had been no note of descent in favour of Bangladesh.”
“Besides, India’s marine expert and Attorney General presented before the PCA to defend India but our Attorney General did not do that. Bangladesh has become a loser as international legal expert like Dr Kamal Hossain and former secretary KS Morshed were not engaged to deal with the issue in the PCA,” the former minister added.
He also opined that it was not the proper time to lodge the case in 2009. “It should have been lodged later after proper preparations.”
Stating that the South Talpatty is an integral part of Bangladesh, Hafiz said it was a great loss for Bangladesh to lose the Talpatty Island.
Replying to a question, the BNP leader said that the Talpatty Island was visible for many years. “Though the Island has inundated in the course of time, it may resurface in the days to come.”
Hafiz said India is happy over getting the island through the verdict which reflected on their newspaper reports.
Referring to the government’s statement that the verdict was the victory of both Bangladesh and India, he said the both counties cannot win the same verdict.
He said the government’s claim about victory over sea is not correct. “The same campaign was also conducted after the verdict on disputed maritime boundary Myanmar. But the fact is that Bangladesh had lost some gas-oil blocks through the verdict.”
BNP vice chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, chairperson’s advisers Reaz Rahman and Enam Ahmed were present. – UNB