Assam protests: After Bangla ministers cancel India visit, Japan PM Abe’s summit deferred

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) with PM Narendra Modi during his last visit. (File)

India and Japan on Friday mutually decided to defer the annual summit talks which were slated to take place in Guwahati from December 15-17, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The announcement comes in the wake of widespread protests in the Assam capital and elsewhere in the northeastern state in the last two days against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

On Thursday, at least two persons died of bullet injuries after the police allegedly opened fire on protesters in Guwahati. On Wednesday, protesters pulled down hoardings erected in central Guwahati to welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Follow Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests LIVE updates here

Taking to Twitter, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "With reference to the proposed visit of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to India, both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future."

The clarification from the ministry came amid Japanese media reports stating that Abe was considering cancelling his three-day trip for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi from December 15-17 in the Assam capital.

Two senior Bangladesh ministers — Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan — have already cancelled their visits to India.

Momen, who had said on Wednesday that CAB could weaken India’s character as a secular nation and rejected allegations that minorities were facing religious persecution in Bangladesh, was scheduled to visit India for the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue from December 12 to 14.

He cancelled his visit hours before he was scheduled to arrive, citing “pressing national events” — the Martyred Intellectuals Day on December 14 and Victory Day on December 16. While these are scheduled events on Bangladesh’s national calendar, Momen would have been back in his country for Victory Day.

Khan was scheduled to travel to Meghalaya on Friday, at the invitation of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma. “The visit has been postponed. The minister will visit Meghalaya at a convenient time later, which may be in January-February,” said Sharif Mahmdud, Bangladesh Home Ministry spokesperson, according to Dhaka Tribune.