December 15, 2021 2:08:38 pm
Bangladesh on Wednesday accorded a red carpet welcome to President Ram Nath Kovind upon his arrival here on a maiden three-day State Visit during which he will hold talks with his counterpart and attend the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.
A 21-gun salute heralded the arrival of Kovind as he disembarked from the special Air India One flight along with his wife Savita Kovind and daughter Swati Kovind alongside an official delegation.
President M Abdul Hamid along with his wife Rashida Khanam received Kovind at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Several senior ministers along with civil and military officials were present at the airport to receive Kovind — the only foreign head of state invited to join the celebrations.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi termed President Kovind’s visit to Bangladesh a “grand beginning”.
“A grand beginning! In a special gesture, President HE Md. Abdul Hamid & First Lady Ms. Rashida Hamid welcomed President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn & First Lady Smt. Savita Kovind, as they arrived in Dhaka. Accorded a red carpet welcome, a 21-gun salute, and a Guard of Honour,” Bagchi said on Twitter.
President Ram Nath Kovind arrives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The President will participate in the special celebrations of Mujib Shato Borsho and the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Liberation. pic.twitter.com/8vx2ppj7s7
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) December 15, 2021
The Bangladesh Army, the Navy and the Air Force personnel offered him a guard of honour as part of the welcome ceremony at the airport from where he was escorted to the National Memorial at Savar on the outskirts of the capital in a motorcade.
Army bugles played the Last Post as Bangladesh’s national flag was lowered and revealed again as part of a ceremony when President Kovind placed wreaths at the memorial in memory of Bangladesh’s nine-month-long 1971 Liberation War martyrs.
“May the spirit of those who sacrificed their lives to realise the ideals of the Liberation War continue to guide our thoughts and actions President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn pays tributes at the National Martyrs’ Memorial to the brave hearts of the Liberation War of Bangladesh,” MEA spokesperson Bagchi said in another tweet.
An official familiar with the ceremony said that the “Indian President also planted an ‘Ashoka’ sapling at the memorial garden and signed the visitors’ book, saying he was very happy to join the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence.”
He said that President Kovind also paid rich tributes to the 1971 martyrs. The war also claimed the lives of many Indian soldiers alongside Bangladeshi freedom fighters and unarmed civilians, including children and elderly men.
It is President Kovind’s first trip abroad since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He will represent India as the guest of honour in Bangladesh’s 50th Victory Day celebrations here.
In a reflection of close ties, India is also hosting a number of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1971 India-Pakistan war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday, called President Kovind’s visit a �ceremonial� one but emphasised that all issues of bilateral ties were expected to be reviewed as part of his tour.
“President Kovind is set to visit Bangladesh on 15-17 December at the invitation of the President of Bangladesh M Abdul Hamid as a unique sign of good relations between the two neighbouring countries,” he said.
Kovind is also scheduled to visit Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum at the capital’s Dhanmondi area to pay homage to Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In the afternoon, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the foreign minister would pay a courtesy call on the Indian president.
President Hamid will host a banquet in his honour which will be joined by Hasina at Bangabhaban Presidential palace in the evening after talks with his counterpart.
“President Kovind will present his counterpart two replicas of Russian made T-55 tanks and Mig-21 vintage aircraft used during the 1971 war as gifts,” an official familiar with the visit said.
On the second day of the visit, President Kovind will join as the “Guest of Honour” at the National Parade Ground on December 16 to mark the golden jubilee of the Victory Day of Bangladesh.
After the nine-month long war, the Pakistani troops unconditionally surrendered to India-Bangladesh allied forces in Dhaka marking its emergence as the free capital of a free country though Bangladesh proclaimed its independence on March 26, 1971.
In the afternoon, Kovind will attend a function titled “Great Victory Heroes” in the South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban to pay respect to Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation and to celebrate the joy of victory.
President Hamid, the Bangladesh premier, parliamentary speaker and other dignitaries will be present at the event.
Officials said that on the third day of the visit, Kovind was expected to inaugurate and inspect the newly renovated section of Kali Temple at Ramna at the central part of the capital.
“He will leave Dhaka on the same day at midday on December 17,” a foreign ministry spokesman added.
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