Modi’s Visit to Bangladesh Sets Off Violent Protests


Outside the Baitul Mokarram mosque, hundreds of protesters had gathered by Friday afternoon. Witnesses said the clashes started after one faction of protesters began waving their shoes in a sign of contempt for Mr. Modi, and another group tried to stop them.

Local news outlets said the protesters who tried to stop the shoe-waving were aligned with Ms. Hasina’s governing Awami League party. TV broadcasts showed some protesters throwing stones at the police, who had been maintaining a heavy presence near the mosque. One channel reported that at least 40 people were injured in the clashes, including some journalists.

Abdul Mazid, a businessman, said he was trapped in the mosque after trying to flee when violence erupted during prayers. “I had a feeling that something was going to happen. I am still inside the mosque,” he said by telephone. “There is huge violence, I can see from here.”

After Mr. Modi’s arrival, Ms. Hasina told an audience in a parade square in Dhaka that Bangladesh’s relations with India had reached a new high. “If we move forward hand in hand, the development of our people is inevitable,” she said.

While Mr. Modi’s trip is mainly focused on Bangladesh’s anniversary celebrations, the visit also has political implications in India, where voting begins on Saturday in several state-level elections, including West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh.

With an eye toward galvanizing Hindu support in that battleground state, Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit a Hindu temple outside Dhaka that is sacred to the Matua community in West Bengal. The Matua sect’s vote could decide at least seven seats in a close race for control of the state assembly.

In a tweet late Thursday before his trip, Mr. Modi said the two countries shared a vital relationship.



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