The Indian Prime Minister on Friday took a dig against Pakistan Army by recalling that the pictures of atrocities that the Pakistan Army inflicted on the people in Bangladesh were disturbing and underlined that such forces are still active suggesting that vigilance is required to counter them.
These remarks were made by PM Narendra Modi as he addressed the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence ceremony in Dhaka as the Chief Guest in presence of the host country’s President and Prime Minister.
“For many days those pictures didn’t let us sleep,” he Modi said in reference to the atrocities of Pakistan Army in what was then East Pakistan. It may recalled that Pakistan Army had launched genocide on March 25 1971 that killed over three million locals until the Pak Army was defeated in December 1971.
The Indian PM on his maiden trip abroad since the outbreak of Covid further suggested that India and Bangladesh should remain united and vigilant to counter the terrorism in the region. “We must remember that we have similar opportunities in the 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.”
In indirect references to efforts made by some countries to break Bangladesh-India partnership Modi, emphasised, “Today in Bangladesh, the blood of those who fought for their 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 PM also referred to his participation in Sataygraha backing the independence movement of Bangladesh. He recalled the role played by then PM Indira Gandhi in backing Bangladesh’s freedom struggle as well as the role of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1971 in supporting the freedom fighters.
The Prime Minister also handed over the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana on the occasion. “It is a matter of pride for Indians that we got the opportunity to honour Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with Gandhi Peace Prize. I also salute the brave soldiers of the Indian Army who stood with the brothers and sisters of Bangladesh in the ‘Muktijuddho’ (Liberation War). I am happy to see them present at this event today,” he added.
On completion of 50 years of relationship between India and Bangladesh, Modi also invited 50 entrepreneurs of Bangladesh to visit India and join the start-up and innovation ecosystem and meet India’s venture capitalists. He also announced Swarna Jayanti scholarship for youths of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her part thanked Modi for being a part of the event amid the pandemic and said India is one of Bangladesh’s best development partners.
Hasina thanked India for its constant support during the evolution process of Bangladesh after the 1971 Liberation War and said that she “remembers their sacrifice with great honour”. “India is not only our next door neighbour. We have a historical, social, cultural heritage and geographical rapport. The people and government of India were immensely involved the evolution process of Bangladesh during our liberation war in 1971. 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 16 December 1971. A notable number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives along with our freedom fighters and attained martyrdom. I remember their sacrifice with great honour,” the Bangladesh PM said.
Hasina also recollected the horrifying night of 15 August 1975 when her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, was assassinated along with 8 other family members. “India was beside us during our good and bad times. This time India has handed over 109 ambulances for the people of Bangladesh. I extend my heartiest thanks to PM Modi, his government and the people of India. Before that, India had cooperated with us and gifted us vaccines for Covid,” the Bangladesh PM said.