ANI special feature
INDIA’s President Ram Nath Kovind departed from Dhaka on Friday after wrapping up his Bangladesh visit, sealing an action-packed 2021 for India-Bangladesh ties.
“Wrapping up an action-packed 2021 for India-Bangladesh ties! President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn emplanes for Delhi after completing a historic visit that coincided with celebrations of 50 years of Bangladesh Liberation, Mujib Borsho and 50 years of diplomatic relations,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson tweeted. At the invitation of the President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, President Kovind, paid a State Visit to Bangladesh from December 15 to 17, 2021, to attend the 50th Vijay Diwas celebrations in Bangladesh, as the Guest of Honour.
This was the President’s maiden visit to Bangladesh and also his first visit overseas since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Subhas Sarkar, Minister of State for Education and Shri Rajdeep Roy, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) were part of the delegation accompanying the President.
The visit is of historical significance given the 50th anniversary of the shared sacrifices of the people of the two countries during Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation in 1971. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had paid a landmark State Visit to Bangladesh on March 26 and 27.
The President commenced his visit by paying homage to the martyrs of the Liberation War at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar. He also paid his respects to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum.
On December 15, the President held delegation level talks with the President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, wherein both sides took stock of the progress in bilateral relations and discussed ways to further deepen cooperation for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina called on the President and recalled the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in March 2021. The leaders highlighted the importance of the spirit of 1971 and the legacy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, also called on the President and updated him on the ongoing bilateral cooperation.
On December 16, the President attended the Victory Day parade in Dhaka as the Guest of Honour. A 122-member tri-service contingent of the Indian Armed Forces also participated on this historic occasion. In remembrance of the bravery and the supreme sacrifices made by the Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, Wing Commander T. Asha Jyotiramai performed a para jump unfurling the flag of the Indian tri-services along with the paratroopers from the Bangladesh Armed Forces at the Victory Parade.
In the evening, the President delivered an address at a special event held to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh and culmination of Mujib Borsho at the South Plaza of the Bangladesh Parliament in the presence of the President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh and other distinguished dignitaries.
On December 17, the President inaugurated the newly reconstructed Sree Sree Ramna Kali Mandir in Dhaka, that had been destroyed in March 1971 by Pakistani forces. In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, he also interacted with Indian war veterans and Muktijoddhas of Bangladesh. He later addressed a gathering of friends of India representing different walks of life from the Bangladeshi society and members of the Indian community.
Several key announcements were made during the visit. These included gifting of the Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition to the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka; announcement of the first occupant of the Bangabandhu Chair at Delhi University; and extension of the Nutan India – Bangladesh Maitree Muktijoddha Sontan Scholarship Scheme for a period of five years. A 1971-era MiG-21 aircraft was gifted to the National Museum of Bangladesh. A replica of the aircraft was handed over by the President to the President of Bangladesh.
India’s relationship with Bangladesh is one of the main pillars of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East Policies’. India and Bangladesh enjoy robust and multifaceted bilateral cooperation in diverse areas, including trade and connectivity, energy and power, water resources, border management, defence and security, culture and people-to-people links.
The visit of the President of India to Bangladesh on the historic occasion of the 50th Vijay Diwas is testimony to the high priority that both countries attach to each other and their desire to further strengthen this relationship based on shared values, mutual trust and understanding.
Bilateral relations – highest priority
As Bangladesh marked 50 years of the Liberation War, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday underscored the importance of friendship with the neighbouring country and said India has always attached the highest priority to its friendship with Bangladesh.
“Like millions of Indians of my generation, we were elated by the victory of Bangladesh over an oppressive regime and were deeply inspired by the faith and courage of the people of Bangladesh,” Kovind said during an event in Dhaka. “India has always attached the highest priority to its friendship with Bangladesh. We remain committed to doing all we can, to help realize the full potential of our friendship,” he said.
Commemorating 50 years of Liberation War in Bangladesh, President Kovind praised the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for realising the dream of Bangabandhu, using her strong conviction. “The ideals of Bangabandhu are being realised by the hardworking and enterprising people of Bangladesh, guided by the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” he said.
Underlining the importance of India-Bangladesh ties, Kovind said, “If the first 50 years of our partnership began by surmounting extraordinary challenges that forged a deep friendship between our people, perhaps the time has come to raise the bar even higher.”
Earlier, President Kovind attended Victory Day Parade at National Parade Ground in Dhaka. A 122-member tri-services contingent from Indian Armed Forces also participated in the Victory Day celebrations. The celebrations mark the 50th anniversary of victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War. President Kovind is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh from December 15-17.
On Wednesday, the President met Bangladesh PM Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and congratulated the government and people of the country on the historic occasion of Mujib Borsho, the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh and 50 years of India-Bangladesh bilateral relations.
Inaugurating Kali Mandir in Dhaka
President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the newly reconstructed Sree Sree Ramna Kali Mandir in Dhaka, which was destroyed in March 1971 by Pakistani forces. He also interacted with Indian war veterans and Muktijoddhas of Bangladesh. “President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn inaugurated the renovated Ramna Kali Mandir in Dhaka, a centuries-old temple dedicated to Goddess Kali,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet on Friday.
He also said that President Kovind interacted with Indian community members, friends of India, Muktijoddhas and Indian war veterans in Bangladesh. The visit is of historical significance given the 50th anniversary of the shared sacrifices of the people of the two countries during Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation in 1971, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press release on Friday.
The President attended the Victory Day parade in Dhaka as the Guest of Honour. A 122-member tri-service contingent of the Indian Armed Forces also participated on this historic occasion. In remembrance of the bravery and the supreme sacrifices made by the Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, Wing Commander T. Asha Jyotiramai performed a para jump unfurling the flag of the Indian tri-services along with the paratroopers from the Bangladesh Armed Forces at the Victory Parade, the release added.