Hasina warns of street battles over gas to India

Vol 5, PW 19 (07 Nov 01) People & Policy

Amazing but true! When in power former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed favoured gas exports to India, both in interviews with this report and in communications with the Indian government.

Now in opposition, she violently opposes it, and is warning ofstreet battles should newly elected BNP prime minister Khaleda Zia agree to export gas to India. Traditionally seen as pro-India, Hasina lost the 1st October general election in what she claims was a conspiracy between the BNP, India and US companies over gas exports.

She now swears revenge. The Awami League has set up a six-member committee called Gas Raftani Nirmulikaron Committee (Anti-Gas Export Committee) "to organise the agitation" against proposed gas exports.

"We will organise systematic street agitation throughout the country the moment the BNP government signs an agreement to export gas," Hasina tells a PETROWATCH correspondent. Hasina alleges the BNP government is trying to hatch a secret deal with India for export of gas.

"This is unacceptable," she said. "How can they take such a decision so quickly without examining whether we have enough reserves.

We will resist this at all cost." Zia's press adviser Reazuddin Ahmed brushes aside the allegations. "We have taken no decision on gas exports to India.

Such decisions cannot be taken so quickly. The Awami League is unable to accept its defeat and is looking for issues to resume agitation."