President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday inaugurated a famous Hindu temple in Dhaka that was destroyed by Pakistani forces in 1971. He declared that the revived shrine represents the “spiritual and cultural” bonds between India and Bangladesh.
Addressing the Indian community in Dhaka after inaugurating the new Ramna Kalibari, Mr. Kovind said the relationship between India and Bangladesh is marked by shared language, culture and kinship. “I pay tribute to the enormous sacrifices made by the people of Bangladesh to achieve freedom from tyranny. We salute your indomitable courage in fighting against the formidable odds and standing up against injustice,” Mr. Kovind said in his speech.
At the Ramna temple, President Kovind was welcomed by the Bangladesh Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Faridul Haq Khan. He inaugurated the main temple, a guest house, a deep tube-well and the main entry gate. The plaque unveiled by President Kovind stated that the construction of these sections had been done by the Government of India.
The original Ramna Kalibari was built during the medieval era and was famous for its tall structure. In 1929, the temple complex acquired an additional building for the devotees of the famous saint Anandamayee, who later became Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s spiritual advisor. Though the original structure was lost during the war, the image of the temple can be seen in the photographs of the speech delivered on March 7, 1971 by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Dhaka’s Ramna Race Course maidan (ground), in which he called for the freedom of Bangladesh. In the photographs of the large rally, the tall temple can be seen on the edge of the meeting ground. The rousing speech by Mujibur Rahman became the catalyst for the final phase of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle.
“This morning, I went to the historic Ramna Kali temple where I had the privilege of inaugurating the renovated temple. I look at it as a blessing from Maa Kali. I have been told that the governments and the people of India and Bangladesh helped in restoring the temple, which was demolished by Pakistani forces during the War of Liberation. The historic Ramna Kalibari is a symbol of the spiritual and cultural bonding among the people of India and Bangladesh,” Mr. Kovind said in his speech.
The inauguration of the reconstructed Ramna Kalibari coincided with the 50th anniversary of the victory of Bangladesh and India in the Liberation War, which also marks the golden jubilee of the bilateral relations between the two sides. President Kovind participated in the festivities at the National Parade Ground of Dhaka and delivered a speech on Thursday.
Former Information Minister of Bangladesh Hasanul Haq Inu said the Government of Bangladesh had been providing “all possible assistance for the day-to-day running” of the new Ramna Kalibari. “That apart, the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has provided more than Taka 10 crore for the renovation and maintenance of the Dhakeshwari Kali temple,” Mr. Inu said.