A group of citizens have demonstrated in Tangail against the Geographical Indication tag of handloom sarees native to this central region of Bangladesh, but claimed by India.
The demonstrators wielding placards demanded urgent government intervention to secure the GI status for Tangail sarees, a matter of national cultural heritage.
The controversy ignited when the Indian Ministry of Culture, in a Facebook post on Thursday, asserted that the Tangail saree originated from West Bengal, a claim that contradicts the saree's deep-rooted association with Bangladesh.
This assertion came after Nadia, a district in West Bengal, was awarded the GI tag a month earlier for this textile, traditionally known for its distinctive weave and design, attributed to Bangladesh.
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines Geographical Indications as markers on goods indicating a specific geographical origin, signifying qualities, reputation, or characteristics inherent to that locale.
At the demonstration in Tangail, the protesters demanded the Bangladesh government challenge India's claim legally and reassert the saree's Bangladeshi origins.
“We are agitated and saddened,” said Mueed Hasan Tarit, one of the demonstrators who gathered under the banner of Sachetan Nagorik Samaj, Tangail.
“It’s unthinkable how a country can claim the origin of a traditional product of another country. Tangail saree’s GI tag cannot go to India. It must be registered as a Bangladeshi product immediately. Otherwise we will strengthen our protests.”
Media worker Tariqul Islam Mithun also demanded that the government lodge a formal protest against India's GI tagging of the Tangail saree, emphasising the importance of preserving the nation's cultural identity and heritage.