In Dhaka to celebrate the 50 years of diplomacy between India and Bangladesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (March 26) emphasized on the need to stay together and alert to counter the threat posed by terrorism.
PM Modi presented the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 to ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s younger daughter. The year 2021 is the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is called the Father of the Nation. “I salute the brave soldiers of the Indian Army who stood with the brothers and sisters of Bangladesh in the ‘Muktijuddho’ (Liberation War),” Modi said.
“It is a matter of pride for Indians that we got the opportunity to honour Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Gandhi Peace Prize,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took off from Delhi for Dhaka on Friday on a new custom-made Boeing VVIP aircraft, using it for the first time on a foreign journey. The B777 aircraft was delivered by Boeing to the Government of India last year. The aircraft, called Air India One, is to fly only president, vice president and prime minister of the country.
On possibilities of future cooperation between the two countries, he said, “India and Bangladesh have similar opportunities in trade and commerce, but we must remain vigilant and united to counter threats like terrorism.”
This is Modi’s first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020. He will use the two-day trip to discuss trade and commerce with Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina. Modi will also take part in the 50th anniversary celebrations of Bangladesh and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s 100th birth anniversary.
Speaking at a function to mark Bangladesh’s National Day programme, Modi, wearing a “Mujib Jacket” as tribute to Mujibur Rahman, expressed satisfaction that India’s COVID-19 vaccines are being used by “our brothers and sisters of Bangladesh”.
Reminiscing his earliest association with the country, Modi said he had done satyagraha for Bangladesh’s freedom. “It was one of my life’s first protests. I must have been 20 or 22 years old when I and my colleagues did Satyagraha for Bangladesh’s freedom and even went to jail,” he said.
“The blood of those who fought for Bangladesh’s liberation and the blood of Indian soldiers are flowing together. This blood will form such a relationship that will not break down under any type of pressure and will not fall prey to any kind of diplomacy,” the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi took the opportunity to invite 50 Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to visit India and join its start-up initiative.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for visiting the country amid the pandemic. “India is not just a neighbour…we have a historical, social, cultural heritage and geographical rapport. The people and government of India were immensely involved in the evolution process of Bangladesh during our liberation war in 1971,” Hasina said.
The Bangladeshi PM credited India for helping her people win freedom. “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,” she said.
“A good number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives along with our freedom fighters and attained martyrdom. I remember their sacrifice with great honour,” Hasina said.
On the assassination of ‘Bangabandhu’ Mujibur Rehman, Hasina said, “The people who grabbed power had tried to wipe out his name from the minds of the people. We can only say that without a principle, without history, a nation can’t progress. 15th August 1975 was a dark night for Bangladesh when the Father of Nation was assassinated. My mother, 3 brothers, 2 sisters-in-law and uncle were brutally killed.”
She thanked Modi for bestowing the Gandhi Peace Prize on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Bangladesh PM honoured India by terming it as “one of our best development partners”. “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 and people of India. Before that India had cooperated with us and gifted us COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.