The last few years have been a golden phase in India-Bangladesh relations, when complicated issues of land and coastal boundaries were resolved, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Friday.
He was addressing the gathering at Bangladesh Bhavan, which was inaugurated by Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The Bangladesh Bhavan is a centre dedicated to cultural cooperation between the two countries and has been built on the Visva Bharati campus.
“Relations between India and Bangladesh have entered a golden phase. In the last few years, rail and road connectivity between the countries has improved a lot. We congratulate our neighbour for doing great work on poverty alleviation. We also congratulate the country for launching its first satellite,” Modi said. “Complicated issues related to land boundary and coastal boundary, which seemed impossible to solve at one point of time, were finally resolved.”
Hasina, without mentioning the Teesta water-sharing treaty, hoped that India and Bangladesh would be able to resolve all issues in a “friendly-atmosphere”. At the same time, she said there should be pressure on the Myanmar government to take back Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
Hasina, who was greeted by Modi in Bengali, said that India and Bangladesh have already resolved many issues. “Our neighbour is our big friend and has always stood by us. Both these neighbouring countries want to move forward. Yes, there could be issues when you are a neighbouring country. But we have resolved those issues one by one. Maybe there are some which are yet to be resolved. However, I do not want to discuss those issues to spoil the mood… But I hope we can resolve any kind of issues in a friendly atmosphere,” she said.
“We have provided shelter to 11 lakh Rohingya on humanitarian grounds. We want them to return to their country soon. But we could not stop providing shelter to them. My sister told me that if we can provide food to 16 crore people of our country, then we should be able to provide food to those 5- 6 lakh people. I told her yes, we can provide them food as well… We want the cooperation of everyone in this matter… We want this area to be peaceful,” Hasina said.
Recognising India’s contribution in helping her country, Hasina said, “I pay my deepest respects to India for helping us win the Liberation War of 1971 and providing shelter to Bangladeshi refugees… A Bill on the land boundary agreement between the countries was passed in the Indian Parliament and I thank the political leaders of the country for rising above politics to make this breakthrough. Later, both countries exchanged conclaves in an amicable environment…”
Banerjee said her government would set up Bangabandhu Bhavan, named after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh. “We have already set up Kazi Nazrul University. We renamed Andal Airport after Nazrul Islam. We will also set up a Bangabandhu Bhavan,” she said.
After the inauguration, Hasina and Modi had a one-on-one discussion. Banerjee left the venue. The CM is scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting with Hasina in Kolkata Saturday. Hasina will also receive a D.Litt from Kazi Nazrul University on Saturday.