Bangla hawks snap at photo Storm over sitting Pranab and standing VIPs

The photograph featuring Mukherjee and the others

A picture may be worth a thousand words but need not always tell the full story.

A set of photographs featuring a group of distinguished-looking ladies and gentlemen has become the latest source of a ferocious debate on the relations between India and Bangladesh.

One picture shows former Indian President Mukherjee with several renowned Bangladeshis and the Indian high commissioner in Dhaka. The catch: Mukherjee, who was in Dhaka on a personal visit, is seated in a chair while the others are standing behind him.

The arrangement has hurt the “Bengali pride” of some hawk-eyed social media users, igniting howls of protest, conspiracy theories tied to “Big Brother India” and attempts to resurrect a charge of “colonial mindset”. Some have gone to the extent of digging up a colonial-era photograph of a “Danish coloniser” seated on a chair while the natives are standing and squatting slavishly on the ground.

The debate has turned so acrimonious that the Indian high commission in Dhaka chose to remove the photographs from its official Facebook and Twitter pages.

“It was unfortunate. We did not want anymore controversy and removed the pictures,” said a source in the Indian high commission.

Pinaki Bhattacharya, a doctor who has been leading the campaign against the photographs on social media, stressed that there was nothing anti-India in his comments. “This picture alludes to the dominance India has been openly exerting over the last 10 years and, on the face of it, how our political leaders and cultural elites are increasingly becoming submissive, which infuriated people across the board,” Bhattacharya said.

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