DHAKA, Bangladesh

A massive rally was taken out Friday in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka against the scheduled visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has introduced several anti-Muslim policies in his country.

Following Friday prayer, tens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets criticizing the government for inviting the Indian premier despite opposition from different quarters.

Modi is scheduled to arrive on March 26 to celebrate Bangladesh’s 50 years of independence.

The protesters criticized Modi for killing Muslims in Kashmir and other parts of India, for not signing the long-disputed Teesta river water-sharing deal, and killing Bangladeshi civilians at the border.

Additional police were deployed at the site of the protest.

“A leader like Modi should not attend the [Independence Day] event who continues to persecute Muslims in India,” said Nurul Islam, leader of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, one of the organizers of the protest. Two days ago, members of this group attacked dozens of houses owned by Hindus in Sunamganj district in northeastern Bangladesh.

In a statement released before the protest, the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh said that incidents of cow vigilante violence against Muslims had increased in Modi’s India. Also, the Indian government is building a temple on the site of the historic Babri Mosque, it added.

The group urged the government to cancel Modi’s upcoming visit.

Meanwhile, left-wing parties in Bangladesh have also planned protests ahead of Modi’s visit deepening the political rift.

The government, however, has said it will ensure full protection and security of all foreign dignitaries who will attend the country’s biggest ceremony.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh and India have deep-rooted ties which have seen cracks after Modi’s rise to power in 2014 and his widely observed Hindu nationalist stance.

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