A series of events have been organised to mark the 45th anniversary of the India-Pakistan war that led to Bangladesh’s creation in 1971.
A five-day visit starting Wednesday to Bangladesh of 28 Indian war veterans and four serving officers is the most high-profile event that the Indian government has organised for the anniversary.
The veterans will participate in the victory day functions besides meeting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the service chiefs and the armed forces division’s principal staff officer. “They will also get an opportunity to interact with Muktijodhas (freedom fighters) during separate receptions being hosted by the ministry of liberation war affairs, war course foundation of Bangladesh and the Dhaka club,” an Indian diplomat in Dhaka told The Indian Express.
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Simultaneously, a delegation of 30 Muktijodhas and six serving officers arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday to participate in the Vijay Diwas celebrations at Fort William. Bangladesh Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan is leading the delegation of three parliament members, a supreme court judge, retired Bangladesh armed forces officers, diplomats, bureaucrats and civil society members. The delegation would interact with Indian war veterans besides visiting Shanti Niketan, Indian officials said.
“The reciprocal visits by Muktijodhas and war veterans on victory day started in 2005 and more than 280 Muktijodhas from Bangladesh and 125 Indian veterans have joined the celebrations in Dhaka and Kolkata,’’ said the Indian diplomat in Dhaka.
The diplomat said such engagements bring together veterans, who had fought shoulder to shoulder in the war. “As they relive their experiences and share their stories, they bring to life the spirit with which the peoples of both countries had supported each other during the difficult times. They share the eternal bond of camaraderie having shed blood together while fighting a common enemy.’’
In New Delhi, the Bangladesh High Commission will organise the annual victory day reception on December 16. “On this occasion, we remember our friends, who stood and fought shoulder to shoulder with us and sacrifice(ed) for the cause,” said Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner Salahuddin Noman Chowdhury. “While we cannot repay the debt of blood, we remember them with gratitude and pride.’’
Another Bangladeshi diplomat said his government has not planned any large scale event in Delhi. “However, (the) Bangladesh government is planning large scale celebrations for the 50th anniversary in 2021.’’
An Indian Army band would separately perform at India Gate. This has been an annual feature to mark the anniversary.
Apart from the official events, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav-led India Foundation would organise a seminar on Bangladesh’s liberation. The seminar would be organised in collaboration with Babu Jagjivan Ram National Foundation, which former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar heads. A concert on the eve of the anniversary would be organised as well.