NEW DELHI: India on Thursday said that there will be no foreign head of State as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Due to the global Covid-19 situation, it has been decided that this year, there will not be a foreign head of state or head of government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava during a virtual press briefing. Last year, India had invited UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade later this month. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who visited India in December, had announced that Johnson has accepted the invitation to visit India.
However, on January 5, Johnson cancelled his planned trip to India, stating that it was important for him to remain in the UK to focus on the domestic response to Covid-19, in the wake of a more contagious variant of the virus.
“The PM spoke to Prime Minister Modi this morning to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” the spokesperson said.
The cancellation of the visit was announced a day after Johnson imposed the third lockdown in the country amid rising coronavirus infections.
On relations with Bangladesh, he said that the year 2021 will be a historic year for India-Bangladesh bilateral relations as both countries will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Liberation War of 1971, which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Anurag Srivastava said: “India and Bangladesh are commemorating 50 years of diplomatic ties this year, and the tri-services contingent from Bangladesh is visiting India at the invitation of the government to participate in the Republic Day parade. This is a testimony to our ties, which are forged, shared and sacrificed. Now this year 2021 will also be historic in our bilateral relations as we are also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Liberation War.” The MEA spokesperson recalled the virtual summit held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, where it was agreed that both nations would jointly organise several activities to celebrate the Republic Day and the 50th anniversary of the Liberation War in India, Bangladesh and other countries.
He further said that a number of such activities are being planned which will celebrate the legacy of shared history between the two countries.
Earlier, it was announced that in a show of respect to India and to commemorate its 50 years of the Liberation War, the Bangladesh Tri-service marching contingent and the ceremonial band will participate in this year’s Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi.
The Indian High Commission in Bangladesh stated in a release that a contingent of 122 proud soldiers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, departed for India in a specially sent IAF C-17 aircraft.
The contingent will participate in India’s Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on 26 January 2021.
In one of the fastest and shortest campaigns of military history, a new nation (Bangladesh) was born as a result of the swift campaign undertaken by the Indian Army.
After facing defeat in the 1971 war, the then Army Chief of Pakistan General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with his 93,000 troops, surrendered to allied forces, which also comprised Indian Army personnel. (ANI)