NEW DELHI: BNP-hired British House of Lords member Alex Charles Carlile could not enter India and hold a press briefing in New Delhi on Friday as Indian authorities cancelled his visa.
Carlile was scheduled to brief journalists in the Indian capital to campaign the release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail in Bangladesh.He claimed that his visit to India is his ‘democratic right’.
The British lawmaker reached Delhi airport with a return air boarding card, but was sent back from there, sources said.
After returning to London, Carlile held a press briefing through a video conference, which India terms unnecessary and illogical.
Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs in India, said, “Carlile was informed of cancellation of e-visa. He yet arrived in New Delhi with a return boarding card. He appears to have made the trip deliberately. So, expressing ignorance of the visa cancellation by him is not tenable.
He further said Carlile’s trip aimed at damaging relations between Bangladesh and India and creating confusion over BNP. If any Indian head of state visits Bangladesh, he/she holds a dialogue with opposition party leaders also. It is a policy of the Indian government.
In the video conference, the British parliamentarian alleged that Indian authorities cancelled his visa following pressure from Bangladesh government.Rejecting such a claim, Raveesh said Carlile himself is responsible for cancellation of his Indian visa. He accused Carlile of not following visa rules.
“An e-visa seeker has to clarify reasons for an India visit. Carlile applied for a visa, showing business purposes. But, he wanted to hold a press conference on a political issue which is unlawful,” he added.
He compared offence of the British lawmaker with a foreign student seeking employment using a student visa in the host country.
Carlile’s Indian trip was shrouded in mystery as he was adamant to come to New Delhi even after the cancellation of his visa.
It was not necessary for Carlile to come to New Delhi as he could hold the video conference from London, said Raveesh.
The British lawmaker first wanted to visit Bangladesh. Failing to get a visa, he decided to use Indian soil to protect interest of a political party of Bangladesh.
Carlile claimed that he made contacts with officials of British high commission in New Delhi on Wednesday night, but all his efforts went in vain.
The Indian foreign ministry spokesperson said Carlile’s objective for Indian tour was a determining factor. He wanted to hold a press conference coming to New Delhi on a business visa.
A video projector was installed at Hotel Le Meriden in Delhi for relaying his statement. In his video message, he said cases against BNP chairperson are false and concocted. He also criticised war crimes trial in Bangladesh.
Replying to a query as to whether he is a Jamaat supporter, Carlile replied in the negative. He said holding a press conference in India is his democratic right.
The foiled Delhi visit by BNP’s hired British MP Carlile has sparked much curiosity within the political and social arenas in Bangladesh.
Earlier, the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi expressed concern to the Indian external affairs ministry over the use of the country’s soil by Carlile for his campaign against the Bangladesh government.
Last year, BNP appointed Carlile as a defence counsel for Khaleda Zia who has been imprisoned for five years in a graft case.
Carlile claimed publicly that cases against the BNP chief are concocted and fabricated. He also questioned fairness of trial of war criminals in Bangladesh.
He called upon the Bangladesh government to stop functions of the International Crimes Tribunal which is entrusted with trying war criminals.
Journalists in New Delhi earlier received an invitation for a meeting with Carlile.
The invitation letter says: Carlile, adviser to defence counsel for Khaleda Zia, will meet journalists at Hotel Le Meridien in New Delhi on Thursday noon.
Carlile was scheduled to hold a meeting with leaders of All India Minority Front.
Lubna Assif, president of the All India Minority Front (Youth), was appointed media adviser of Carlile.
The organisation, which has close relations with a faction of the ruling coalition RSS, took all preparations for Carlile’s meeting with journalists and others.
It is also allegedly working for popularity of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi among Indian Muslims.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganabhaban on Thursday.
BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, who is living in London, took the move to send Carlile to India. The counsel for Khaleda Zia was likely to meet Carlile in Delhi during his visit.
Earlier, the Indian foreign ministry ruled out any possibility of New Delhi’s interference in national elections in Bangladesh.
Raveesh Kumar made the country’s stand clear at a press briefing at the ministry in New Delhi.
When his attention was drawn to three BNP leaders’ recent India visit for the country’s support to the party in the next national election, he said, “India never interferes in polls in any country. So, New Delhi will not poke nose into the polls in Bangladesh.”
BNP leaders Abdul Awal Mintoo, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury and Humayun Kabir have visited India recently.
Mintoo reportedly met Indian Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar at the ministry headquarters in New Delhi on June 7.
They also held a meeting with Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), Observer Research Foundation and influential organisation Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), Congress president Rahul Gandhi and BJP-affiliated nationalist think tank Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation director Dr Anirban Ganguly.
They sought help of Indian government, opposition leaders and intellectuals to pressurise the AL-led government in Bangladesh to create an environment favourable for BNP ahead of the next parliamentary polls.
Despite the Indian foreign ministry’s statement, BNP leaders and lobbyists are desperate to come to India to create pressure on Bangladesh government.