Bangladesh on Sunday conferred its prestigious liberation war honour on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his “active role” in its independence struggle and consolidating friendship with India.
President Abdul Hamid handed over the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a glittering ceremony at Bangabhaban, the President’s house, which was attended by Premier Sheikh Hasina and top officials.
“This day is a matter of great pride for all Indians that a great leader like Atal Bihari Vajpayee is being honoured. He dedicated his entire life to the service of the country and he fought for the rights of the common man and from a political point of view he was our inspiration for political workers like myself,” Modi said after receiving the award on behalf of 90-year-old Vajpayee who is unwell.
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He recalled the words of Vajpayee, who during a speech in Parliament on December 6, 1971, had said that the friendship between India and Bangladesh was like a bond which would not break under any pressure, and would never be the victim of any diplomacy.
Modi said that though he had entered politics quite late, he had been one of the many youth activists who had come to Delhi in response to Vajpayee’s call for Satyagraha for the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. He described himself as one of the crores of people who wanted this vision to be realised.
The Prime Minister, who is here on a two-day visit, said it would have been wonderful if Vajpayee had been present to receive this honour himself. He expressed hope that Vajpayee would soon become well, and guide everyone once again.
In her speech at the award ceremony, Prime Minister Hasina said Vajpayee’s activities had a “significant contribution” in the struggle for liberation of Bangladesh. She took the opportunity to describe Modi as “Vajpayee’s able successor and a great friend of Bangladesh as Vajpayee.”
Hasina also acknowledged India’s assistance in Bangladesh’s freedom struggle and recalled that “Indians had given shelter to people of Bangladesh” at that time. The citation of the Award hailed Vajpayee as a “highly respected political leader” and recognised his “active role” in support of the liberation war of Bangladesh.
It said that as President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and a member of the Lok Sabha Vajpayee took various steps towards that end. It mentioned Vajpayee’s “firm stand at National and international levels for the cause of Bangladesh and its striving people”.
“The people of Bangladesh would always remember the significant contributions made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee towards supporting the cause of Bangladesh’s liberation war and consolidating friendship between Bangladesh and India,” it added.