Updated: March 26, 2021 8:32:24 pm
On his two-day visit to Bangladesh, his first foreign trip after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday emphasised that both nations must progress together for the prosperity of the region and asserted that they must remain united to counter threats like terrorism.
“We must remember that we’ve similar opportunities in fields of trade and commerce, but at the same time, we’ve similar threats like terrorism. The ideas and powers behind such types of inhumane acts are still active. We must remain vigilant and united to counter them,” PM Modi while addressing Bangladesh’s 50th Independence anniversary at the National Parade Square in Dhaka.
PM Modi, who was wearing a ‘Mujib Jacket’ as a tribute to Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, attended the event to mark Bangladesh’s 50th National Day Programme where he handed over the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 to the daughters of Rahman. The Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 was conferred on Bangabandhu early this week.
“This is one of the most memorable days of my life. I am grateful that Bangladesh has included me in this event. I am grateful that Bangladesh has invited India to take part in this function. It is a matter of our pride that we got the opportunity to honour Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Gandhi Peace Prize,” PM Modi said.
He also heaped praise on Mujibur Rahman and the Indian Army for their role during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War. Under Mujibur Rahman’s leadership, Modi said, common people of Bangladesh across the social spectrum came together and became ‘Muktibahini’. He said Bangladesh’s Liberation War had support from all corners of India, from all parties, every section of the society.
“I salute the brave soldiers of the Indian Army who stood with the brothers and sisters of Bangladesh in Muktijuddo. Those who gave their blood in Muktijuddo, sacrificed themselves, and played a very big role in realising the dream of independent Bangladesh,” he said.
The war broke out after the sudden crackdown at midnight past on March 25, 1971 in the erstwhile East Pakistan by the Pakistani troops and ended on December 16. Subsequently, Pakistan conceded defeat and unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising the freedom fighters and the Indian soldiers. A total of three million people, as per official records, were killed during the nine-month-long war.
Recalling the 1971 war of independence, Modi said the pictures of atrocities that the Pakistan Army inflicted on the people in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) used to distract people in India. “I must have been 20-22 years old when I and my colleagues did Satyagraha for Bangladesh’s freedom,” he told the gathering.
“Operation Searchlight and its violations haven’t been discussed enough on global platforms. During this struggle, Bangabandhu was the ray of hope. His resilience and leadership had decided that no force would be able to stop the freedom of Bangladesh,” he said.
The Prime Minister also stated that the next 25 years are crucial for both India and Bangladesh. “Our heritage is shared, our growth is shared, our targets and opportunities are also shared, he said, adding that both nations have the power of democracy and vision for the future.
“That is why Indian and Bangladeshi governments are making meaningful efforts in this direction,” he added.
PM Modi said that during the pandemic, both the countries helped in developing the SAARC Covid-19 fund and in training human resource. “India is delighted that ‘Made In India’ vaccines are treating people of Bangladesh,” the PM said.
PM Modi also extended an invite to 50 entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to India to associate with the country’s innovation ecosystem and meet venture capitalists.
At the event, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked her Indian counterpart for attending the National Day Programme and emphasised that India has become one of their best development partners.
“In our independence war, we always remember the contribution of India. PM Narendra Modi has graced this occasion, being physically present here as a Guest of Honour. We are honoured to have him here,” Hasina said.
“India was beside us during our good and bad times. This time India hands over 109 ambulances for people of Bangladesh. I extend my heartiest thanks to PM Modi, his government and people of India. Before that India had cooperated with us and gifted us vaccines for Covid-19,” she added.
Remembering India’s contribution during the 1971 war, the Bangladeshi PM said, “India sheltered about 10 million people who fled from Bangladesh in the face of persecution by Pakistani soldiers, in the face of killing, genocide and rape. India gave them shelter, food and medication. They helped our freedom fighters with all types of cooperation.”
“By the joint operation of India-Bangladesh allied forces, the final victory was achieved on 16th Dec 1971. A notable number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives along with our freedom fighters & attained martyrdom. I remember their sacrifice with great honour,” she added.
During his visit, PM Modi will hold substantive discussions with Hasina. “Our partnership with Bangladesh is an important pillar of our Neighbourhood First policy, and we are committed to further deepen and diversify it. We will continue to support Bangladesh’s remarkable development journey, under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dynamic leadership,” Modi tweeted ahead of his visit.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.