Smart Economy


Why the rumors about Saint Martin?

Dr. Sultan Mahmud

 Published: 10:05, 23 June 2024

Why the rumors about Saint Martin?

Confusion has arisen over what is happening around the coral island of St Martin in Cox's Bazar.

The Teknaf-Saint-Martin route was shut down due to the firing of Bangladesh ships three days a week from the side of the disputed Myanmar. The island is practically cut off from the mainland. 10,000 local people including tourists were stranded on the island. There is a severe food shortage. Air patrols in Myanmar's skies, warships in its waters, and two days of loud shelling have raised renewed concerns over the resulting situation. In these incidents, rumors spread about whether Bangladesh is about to lose control of the only coral island. There is a strong discussion on this issue in political circles as well. However, the administration said that due to firing in Myanmar's Naikxyongdia waters and firing on Bangladeshi boats, all boats have been closed for security reasons. All three ships have moved out of the country's territorial waters. Bangladeshi boats use the Myanmar part of the Naf River to go from Teknaf to Saint Martin due to the navigation crisis. However, due to the internal conflict in that country, the route was diverted for the sake of security. And based on this, a self-interested circle is spreading various rumors on Facebook. But these rumors are baseless.

In this regard, General Secretary of Sea-Cruise Operators Owners Association Hossain Islam Bahadur said, "Every year from October to March, more than 10 ships ply the Teknaf-Saint Martin route. But ships have to pass 30 to 40 minutes through Myanmar's Naikxyongdia Channel due to choppy currents in Shahpari Island. Before the conflict, all the boats on the Teknaf to Saint Martin route passed through the Myanmar part of the Naf river, but there was no problem.

Since June 5, there has been renewed tension in Myanmar's Naikxyongdia waters of the Naf River. Intermittent shelling and gunfire from Myanmar Navy ships stationed in Naf River waters with the Arakan Army, a rebel group on Myanmar's land. Some parts of it have come into the waters of Bangladesh. At that time, while traveling with a trawler and speedboat on the Teknaf-Saint Martin sea route, the trawler was shot. But no one was injured. For the sake of safety, boat traffic is closed in this waterway. But the islanders say this is Myanmar's internal war. Due to their war, the islanders have to suffer or suffer. Meanwhile, the alternative route has started with the trawler through the Bay of Bengal and the foodstuff has gone to Saint Martin by ship from Cox's Bazar. Various rumors have been created about St. Martin based on this internal conflict in Myanmar. A group is trying to create confusion by spreading rumors.

The border of Myanmar is visible from Saint Martin Island. Due to this, the ships of the country on patrol are very naturally visible. Myanmar's warship has entered the border of Bangladesh. It is an intentional rumor.

There is no opportunity for any Myanmar vessel to cross the territorial waters of Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Navy is active there. The sighting of ships from a distance does not mean that they have entered the territorial waters of Bangladesh. The ships are busy patrolling Myanmar's sea channels. None of their ships crossed the border of Bangladesh. A self-interested circle is spreading rumors involving Bangladesh by capitalizing on the issue of Myanmar. It is fake news that the main enemy has lost contact with St. Martin.

For the past few days, some individuals and some supported media have been circulating some pictures of boats with the Myanmar flag on social media. Along with catchy headlines and witty facts. In a very suggestive way, they are saying Myanmar's attack on the border of Bangladesh! How true is it? Sarab Kuchkri Mahal is spreading this lie for any purpose to create public confusion by taking pictures of ships on the border of Myanmar. To create panic in the public mind or do they have a different goal here? The conspiracy over St. Martin has been going on for a long time. This is nothing new. Moreover, there is a group that wants to take advantage of the confusion of the country in any way.

But we have to remember that it is not so easy to transgress a country's territorial waters. The government and the defense forces of Bangladesh are always ready to suppress any attack on the sovereignty of Bangladesh. Saint Martin has always been, is and always will be in Bangladesh. Saint Martin, the country's only coral island, has once again become a topic of discussion in the political arena. Leasing this island in the northeastern part of the Bay of Bengal ensured future power; After such a statement came from the ruling party, many debates started in the political arena.

Such controversy about the island is not new in the country. There are precedents of creating tension in the political arena with such statements before and after independence. In the past, Bhola's Manpura Island was dragged into such controversy. Later Saint Martin came to that place.

This island with an area of 8 square kilometers is separated from the mainland of Bangladesh. According to the information provided on the website of the Tourism Corporation, the island is located at the mouth of the Naf River, about 9 km south of Teknaf in Cox's Bazar district and 8 km west of the Myanmar sub-district. The fact that the political debate about the island has been going on for a long time is evidenced in a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published in Dainik Bangla on December 18, 1980; Which was titled, 'No one will be allowed to dock on the island of St. Martin.'

At this moment the countrymen should be alert and aware. Because the deep conspiracy to ensnare the country has been active for many days. Moreover, the government also has to deal with the issue consciously. Special steps should be taken to create awareness in the minds of the people.
Writer: Dr. Sultan Mahmud, Professor, Department of Political Science, Rajshahi University, Bangladesh.

Source: Fresh Angle International.