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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (December 12, 2019)

December 14, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar Good afternoon and welcome to this weekly briefing. I have two announcements to make before I open the floor to questions. The first announcement is regarding 2+2 dialogue with US, the second India- US 2+ 2 ministerial dialogue which will be held in Washington DC on 18thDecember 2019.From the Indian side Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar will lead the Indian delegation. They will meet their reverse counterparts for comprehensive review of cross-cutting foreign policy and defence and security issues in our relationship. In addition both sides will exchange views on salient regional and global issues. The India–US 2+2 ministerial dialogue was initiated in September 2018 in order to provide a positive forward looking vision for India- US strategic partnership and to promote synergy in diplomatic and security efforts. Since the inaugural edition of the dialogue, the relations between the India and US have further expanded the 2+ 2 dialogue which will take stock of these growing relations and provide strategic guidance for the further development of the relationship.

The second read out is on the visit of the foreign minister of Maldives.You are all aware that the Foreign Minister of Maldives is already in in town and he is here for a 5 days visit. Tomorrow the foreign minister Shahid will co-chair the 6thIndia- Maldives Joint Commission meeting along with our External Affair Minister. The JCM is taking place after a gap of over four years and we expect that during this meeting the entire relationship, the past and expanded relationship between India and Maldives is will be discussed and also to chart out the future engagement between the two countries.

Foreign Secretary called on the Foreign Minister Shahid yesterday. The Foreign minister Shahid will also call on the Prime Minister after the JCM. He is also leading a large 31 member delegation with senior officials of all major Ministries and departments of the Government of Maldives. This is reflective of the depth and scope of our partnership with Maldives which has gained a significant momentum in the last one year under the leadership of President Ibrahim Mohammed Sohail.

So these were the two announcements, now I open the floor to questions.

Q- Sir Japan ke Pradhan mantr ishri Shinzo Abe ke visit ko le kar kya aap sthiti ko spasht karne ke sthiti mein hain? Kab kahan ho rahi hai?
(English Translation: Sir, can you clear the position with regards to the visit of Japans’s Prime Minister Shinjo Abe? When and where it is going to take place?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Sach to yah hai ki abhi mein sthiti spasht karne ki sthiti mein nahin hun. Mere pass abhi Koi update nahinhai. I have no update on this matter at this stage and this is what I have to share. If I have any update which of course you know will be announced in due course.
(English translation: The truth is that presently I am not in a position to clarify. I don’t have any update at this stage.)

Q-Sir Bangladesh ke videsh mantri ne bharat ke daure ko cancel kardiya hai. Iske alava Bangladesh meinjo Sarkar ka stand hai khas taur par CAB ko lekar us par Bharat ka kya kehna na hai?
(English translation: The foreign minister of Bangladesh has cancelled his visit to India. Other than this, what India has to say on the stand taken by the Bangladesh government over the CAB issue?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhie jahan tak aap ka pehla sawal hai, hamen pata hai ki ye visit cancel hui hai aur mene yeh bhi dekha hai ki Bangladesh k foreign minister ne explanation bhi diya hai ki yeh visit kyon cancel hui hai. Jahan tak Bharat Bangladesh ke sambandh hai yeh sambandh bahut hi majbut hai praghad hai. Jaisa ki dono deshon ke netao ne baar baar kaha hai, ki abhi hamare rishte ka jo sunaliadhyay hai uske ham bich mein hain..

Rishte bade acche hain,madhur hain. Mujhe nahin lagta ki is cancellation mein is se jyada kuch padhne ki jarurat hai.
(English translation: See, as far as your first question is concerned, we know that this visit has been cancelled and I have seen that the Foreign minister has stated reasons for the cancellation of the visit. As far as the India-Bangladesh relations are concerned they are very strong. The leaders of both the countries have repeatedly said that we are in the mid of Sunali Adhyay of our relationship.The relations are very good and friendly. I don’t feel that there is anything more to read out on the cancellation.

Q- Sir how it can be Sunali Adhyay because the minorities is tortured over there that's why…………………(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see, I can restrict my comments only to matters which are pertaining to the MEA.What I am trying to say is that this is not something which our Prime minister has shared but this is a terminology used by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister as well and I think this is a fact that in the last few years the relationship, the wait has developed, the way it has expanded in several spheres.

Q- The core issue was never addressed?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I think even on the core issues we have made statements and that is where we stand. So as far as we are concerned, the relationship is very strong and we do again repeat, reiterate that this is a Sonali Adhyay.

Q-so why has the Bangladesh Foreign Minister cancelled this visit? What have you been informed about it? Have you been informed through any official channels and also have raised in the light of the fact that CAB has just been passed in Parliament yesterday. Have they raised this issue officially with India and have been linked it to the Foreign Minister's visit cancellation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see I think that the first question I answered. I forgot to answer the second part of the question. You know, I think we need to delink the two. I think the cancellation of the visit of Bangladeshi Foreign Minister who was scheduled to come to India to attend the Delhi dialogue is separate. And I think he has explained, I think he is talking about some scheduling issues. He said that the Foreign secretary is out and is also busy with other reasons. So I think we will have to accept what the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister is saying. On his comment which has made about the CAB. You see, I think, frankly speaking here seems to be some confusion. We had explained that the religious persecution are not happening under the present government. The migrants who had sought refuge in India from Bangladesh have faced persecution and abuse on religious ground during the military rule and also during the previous governments in Bangladesh. And this is something which was explained by the Home Minister in Parliament yesterday. We have also acknowledged that we are aware that the present government in Bangladesh, they are taken several steps to substantially address the concerns of minorities in their country as per their constitution provision and the laws of that country.

Q- in Hindi Sir

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: dekhie jahan tak mujhe lag raha hai jo Bangladesh Foreign Minister ka jo comment hai CAB ke bare mein us per kafi confusion hai humne ye spasht kiya hai ki jo persecution ke ham baat kar rahe hai vo abhi ki present government ke under nahi hua hai. Ye humne nahi kaha hai kabhi.aur kal jo byan hamare minister ka tha usme bhi unhone nahin kaha ki us samay hua hai. Humne yah kaha ki jo migrant Bangladesh se India mein aaye hain jab unke upar religious persecution ho raha tha, ye ho raha tha military rule ke samay, ye ho raha tha dusre sarkar k samay. Hame yah bhi pata hai ki jo abhi ke sarkar hai unhone migrant minorities ke liye bahut kadam uthaye hai jo unke constitutional provisions hain, jo unke laws hain, unke sath unhone bahut se kadam uthae hain minorities ke rights ko secure karne ke liye.
(English translation: I feel that still there is lot of confusion over the comment of Bangladesh foreign minister on the CAB. We have clarified that the persecution which we are talking about has not taken place under the present Government. We have never said that and yesterday the statement given by our minister, in that also he has never said that it didn’t took place at that time. We told that those migrants, who came to India from Bangladesh, were persecuted on religious grounds. This was happening under the military regime, this was taking place under the other government. We also know that the present government has taken a lot of steps for the migrant minorities, which are their constitutional provisions, which are their laws, they have taken a lot of steps to secure the rights of the minorities.)

Q- Pakistan ke Prime Minister Imran Khan ka ek byan samne aaya hai, unhone kaha ki Bharat systematically hindu rashtra ki taraf badh raha hai. Ek hindutvvadi agenda lagu kiya ja raha hai aur dusrayeh jankariai hai ki Pakistan ne F-16 ka prayog kiya tha bharat ke khilaf to us per kya sthiti hai officialy?
(English translation: A statement has been released by the Pakistan’s Prime minister Imran Khan, wherein he has said that India is slowly moving towards becoming a Hindu country. A hindu agenda is being imposed and another information is that Pakistan has used F-16 against India , pl. tell us what is the official stand?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Dekhiye mujhe lagta hai Pakistan ke Prime Minister ka har jo byan unwarranted dhang ka hai. Mujhe lagta hai ki har bar mujhe jawab dena chahie, har bar dakhalandaji hoti hain. Hamare india ke internal matters mein mujhe lagta hai ki Pakistan ke andar kya chal raha hai.Unko Jo treatment hai.Unke apne religious matters ke liye aur jo unke constitution mein discrimination hai. Jo unka blasphemy law hai aur jo unka state karavaiya hai minorities ko protect karne ke liye. Mujhe lagta hai ki un ka jyada dhyan dena chahie aur unka protection ensure karna chahye,Unkajo rights, Jo unka coreligiousness,jo minorities ke rights hainko protect karna chahiye.Iske bajay ki har vakt jo bhi hamare Desh mein hota hai us per ek compulsory ek byan dena hai.Ye unko isase bachana chahie.
(English translation: See, I feel that all the statements issued by the Pakistan’s Prime Minister are unwarranted. I feel that every time I should reply, every time interference takes place in India’s internal matters. I think what is happening inside Pakistan. Their treatment, for their own religious matters and the discrimination in their constitution. Their blasphemy law and their attitude to protect the minorities. I feel that they should pay more attention and must ensure their protection and their rights, co-religiousness, they must protect the rights of the minorities rather than compulsorily issuing statements whenever something happens in our country. He should avoid it.)

Q- …………….(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see, that F-16 ek source based report hai. Auragar yeh report sahi haito yahi chiz to ham kafi dinon se bolte aayen hein.
(English translation: You see, F-16 is a source based report. And if this report is true, then we have been repeatedly saying the same since last many days.)

Question: ……Good evening Raveesh!

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:

I think on the first question as I mentioned what is happening in the CAB is something which happened through Parliament process .It is a matter of India, I will put in this way that no bill will affect the strong relationship between India and Bangladesh. Yes, which is the second question?

Q-…………….(inaudible.)


Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: So you see, I think when you plan a visit, when you plan an incoming visit you know that there are certain options and you also look at options in consideration with the visiting side and then you announce and finalize the visit. So you know at any point of time I think there are certain venues which are under consideration but that is part of the normal process for any incoming visit. I think you have a question again.

Q- …………..(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No I think beyond that the point which I have mentioned already, I think there is nothing which I can add at this stage. Please try to understand, if there is an update definitely I will come up but at this point I have no update.

Yes. On the comments by the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister and also the cancellation and that the Bangladeshi side has conveyed to us, they have informed us about the postponement of the visit. They have also conveyed us that the minister has changed his program on account, they have conveyed to us. I mean what beyond what you have read in the news, that they have changed their program on account of domestic issues pertaining to the commemoration of the victory day on December 16th. Any speculation that the development is connected with legislation at the Parliament yesterday regarding the CAB is unwarranted. The specific comment made by the home minister to highlight the role of Bangbandhu and actions taken by the present government in Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and I will quote.

He says Sir, as long as Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was leading Bangladesh, everything worked very well but once his Government went minorities began to be oppressed. I can tell you that large number of Bangladeshis had to come here to seek refuge. He goes on to say that the current government in Bangladesh is also taking care of the religious minorities. It is making arrangements also for religious minorities but there has been a long period in the past in between during which people came to India on account of religious persecution.So this is something which I had to say. This is the home minister’s statement in the Parliament yesterday which I have mirrored in my remarks.

Q-……(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I will share the entire statement with you.

Q- ……(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I really can’t answer this specific question, but you are aware that as part of diplomatic duty of any envoy, who is based in India is their job to get an assessment about the present situation, we have in fact and through the Parliament we have tried to explain our prospective on the CAB and I am sure that our prospective is now understood by the countries across the world.

Q………..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Second question I can’t answer at this stage, as I am not in a position to come up with an update. On the first question, you see, if you have followed the debate in the Parliament both in the Rajya Sabha- Lok Sabha and then in the Rajya Sabha. I think the stand of Government of India on the CAB has been very clearly articulated and if you feel it is necessary to share our prospective on the matter, I think we will do it in an appropriate manner. But all the queries which have come to us from couple of countries ,they have been adequately address by the home minister in his response as part of the debate in the Parliament not only yesterday but also you know the debate in Rajya Sabha.

Q-what is the status of foreign………………..(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly do you expect that we will be responding to when these meetings are going to take place from this forum. I don't think I can react from this forum. I can only say and referring what you want to ask that our position on the matter is very clear and consistent.It has been articulated in my previous briefings.There is no change in position and whatever discussion has to take place will take place through diplomatic channels

Q-………….(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Now answer to both the question is still remains the same that at this point of time I do not have any update which I can share with you but rest assured if there is one,we will come up with it and all of you will get.

Q- but when?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I don't have a timeline.

Q-………Sir any confirmation on India China border talk.They were expected, we have seen the reports, but any confirmation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, what I understood from my discussions is that we are still in touch with the Chinese side to finalize the dates for the talks and yeah, I mean there is a direction from the two leaders that this has to take place at the earliest and as we have more details we will share the same with you.

Q- you say that the Bangladeshiside has noted the specific comment by the home minister isn’t that would you say.Saying that as long as Bangabandhuandthe current government, the persecution did not happen under Sheikh Mujib and his daughter?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No I didn't say that I basically explain to you first that we were informed about the postponement of his visit. Second was, I told you the reason why it has been cancelled, this has been communicated to officially. And we have been told that this is on account of the domestic issues pertaining to the celebration of victory day in Bangladesh on December 16th and then I went on to add that it that if there is any speculation that this is connected to the CAB or the development related to CAB, it is unwarranted and then I quoted the remarks made by the home minister as part of the clarification.

Q…Sir, one clarification, that is unwarranted, that is you or from Bangladesh?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: That I am saying, that the statement by the Foreign minister makes very clear. He has said something in the media, he has said to us something officially. This is the reason which he has given to us. As I said there is any reason for us to read much into this postponement, we do enjoy a very strong and healthy relationship with Bangladesh and the two leaders they share a very good chemistry and we also believe that this is a Sonali Adhyay in our relationship.

Q: Sir, Bangladesh is a friendly country and since the Foreign minister has made the statement to the official agency there. He was also quoted as saying that he was in a meeting with the US envoy and the US envoy expressed concern about the CAB. Under these circumstances will India take a step forward and alley fears that Bangladesh will have a concern that they could have?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, look, If people have been following the debate and what the home minister has said in the Parliament yesterday and I think that could definitely alley many of the fears or apprehensions which people may have. I don't think there is anything for me to add to that one. That is the reason I quoted the exact statement on a matter where apparently he has expressed some concern.

Q- Sir, kalek congress ke MP ne is tarah ka byan diya tha lok sabha mein ki Kozhikode main kuchh passport aaye hain jin per lotus ka sign ha, joki BJP ka symbol hai. Is per aap kuchh clarification denge?
(English translation: Sir, Yesterday one Congress MP made a statement in the Lok Sabha that in Kozhikode some passports have been received which bears the symbol of lotus, which is BJP’s symbol. Will you provide some clarification over the issue?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Shayad ye clarification a gaya hai! Nahin!
(English translation: I think the clarification has already come! No!

Dekhiye maine bhi report aisi dekhi,to jo yah symbol hai yah hamare national flower ka hai aur this is part of the enhanced security feature to identify fake passport and frankly ye hum dohrana nahi chahte the,lekin chuki sawal aaya hai to hamen batana pad raha hai aur ye jo naye security features hai, have to introduce as part of the ICAO guidelines. Mein yah bhi bata dun ki lotus ko ke alava aur bhi sare national symbols hain jo rotation pe use honge ,yeh basket of symbols hai aur kabhi lotus hai to agle mahine kuch h aur aaega, to iska randomness hai,to isme in wo sare symbols hai jo India se connected hai.Jaise national flower ho sakta hai national animal ho sakta hai yah iskaye explanation hai
(English translation: See, I have also seen this report, this symbol is of our national flower and this is part of enhanced security feature to identify fake passport and frankly we did not want to repeat it, but since question has been raised then I have to provide the clarification. The new security feature has to be introduced as part of the ICAO guidelines. I must also tell that in addition to lotus there are many national symbols which are connected to India which will be used in rotation. There is a basket of symbols, sometimes it may be lotus, next month there may be something else. So there is randomness and it comprises of symbols which are connected to India. It may be national flower, it may be national animal. This is the explanation.)

Q-…sir ek media report aisi aai ki jo OCR card holders hain aur jo card holders yahan airport per aaye hain vah unko deport kar diya gaya hai. Usmein yah bataya ja raha tha vah jo OCR card hai us per passport ka number jo mention tha voh jab expire ho jata hai to usko renew kar dete hain to usko lekar kuch issue tha. Uske bare mein aap kuch bata sakte hain?
(English translation: Sir, a report has come in the media that there are some OCR card holders and the card holders who landed at the airport have been deported. There was some issue and it was told that the passport no. mentioned in the OCR card, when it expires, it gets renewed. There was some issue related to this. Can you tell us something about this?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Mujhe lagta hai ki aap kabhi specific instance ke bare mein baat kar rahe hain.
(English translation: I think you are talking about a specific instance.)

Q- Kuch aise case hue hain jo Indian airport se deport kiye gaye hain.
(English translation: Some case has happened when somebody has been deported from Indian airport)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Ek tu joi-card hai uske provision home minister ke andar mein aate hain. Dusra agar aap mujhe instance denge kyunki isse mujhe samajhna mushkil hai kie acatly kya hua tha. Agar aap instance hamen denge to pata kar ke main bata sakta hun, lekin yah general mein, mein is ka jawab de paunga.
(English translation: Firstly, the provisions of the card come under the purview of the Home Ministry. Secondly, provide me the details of the instance because from this it is difficult for me to understand exactly what has happened. If you can provide me the details of the instance, then I can check and tell you. Then I can provide you a reply in general.)

Q……………….(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: you see our statement on which was made by the UCIRF. I think we have already reacted to the statement on the comment by the Foreign Affairs committee…… the Government of India views on the CAB has been already articulated in the Parliament. We have reached out to the members of the US Congress and other stakeholders to share our prospective on the Bill. We feel that given our strong engagement and the engagement which we share with the Congress and other stakeholders in the US on matter of mutual interest, we do express the members of the US Congress will take into account the government position or views before drawing a conclusion on Bill.

Q.-------------

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Really I can't say that but once I say that reaching out to the members of the Congress, you know that we mean we reach out to members of Congress of both parties and this is an exercise and this is our exercise which normally we carry out.You know as part of our diplomatic job which our missions are supposed to do on any development of our national interest and there are certain things which are to be done and we doit.

Q: a question was asked……… about misuse of F-16

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think I replied to this question. I said that look the report has come in a newspaper.Right,the report is based on source. So frankly for me to react on a source based report is difficult Number 1.Number 2, if indeed whatever is there in the report is true then I said that this is what we have been saying all along.Look at our statement which we have made at the time we made when we detected that Pakistan has used F-16.

So this is something which we have been saying all along.

Q:……….

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Of course, we are aware of the meeting and what I can share is that the US and the Congress Administration and many other stakeholders.They are aware about our position now.About the development related to article 370 and also about the situation on account in Jammu and Kashmir.In the past we have shared our views on this matter and we would expect that the committee would take a balanced view of the situation and keeping in mind the present situation in the valley and I think this is something which we have been trying to explain to that compared to the situation of august 5th and now there has been a huge improvement on almost all parameters of normalcyand we do expect that when this hearing is held I think source of their improvements are some of this which we see in the valley is normal situation taken into consideration when they do this discussion.

Q….(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No I think I would not be able to answer this issue. I think you would have seen our statement and it is a statement which basically encapsulates our views on the matter and they are all contained in the in 4-5 paragraphs of the statement which we have issued.So I can't answer your specific question on each element of the statement which was issued.

Q.--------(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Of course, And that is what we had said, you can look at the statement and that is something which one of the lines which says that it is an interference in our internal affairs.A matter which is very internal to India and we also have said that specially with respect to the body has decided to choose only by only its prejudices and biases on the matter on which it clearly has written……….

Q-…………….(inaudible.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think this is something which needs to be addressed by the relevant ministry but our position on the resumption of SAARC process is very clear I think there is been no change in the position.The way you expect Pakistan to create conducive conditions before we take the step and move towards the next SAARC summit.

Thank you so much!
Thank you all!
Goodbye!
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