India would further “expand and deepen” ties with Bangladesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, marking Maitri Divas that commemorates the day when India recognised Bangladesh as an independent country in 1971.
Addressing an event organised jointly at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), former Information Minister of Bangladesh Hasanul Haq Inu recollected the struggle to liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan and urged both countries to remain vigilant against the “communal bomb”.
Mr. Modi said in his public message, “Today India and Bangladesh commemorate Maitri Diwas. We jointly recall and celebrate the foundations of our 50 years of friendship. I look forward to continue working with H.E. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties.”
The war to liberate Bangladesh began on December 3, 1971 and ended with the signing of the Instrument of Surrender by Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi on December 16. Three days after the beginning of the war, the government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi recognised Bangladesh as an independent nation.
Several bilateral engagements
The message of Maitri Divas set the stage for several bilateral engagements, including the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind on December 16 to celebrate the Victory Day. Before that, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will visit Dhaka on Tuesday, when he is expected to meet Ms. Hasina.
In a video message, Ms. Hasina said, “I remember with great gratitude the sacrifices of the members of the Indian armed forces and its people in our liberation war. Today our great partnership has matured, taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape.”
Mr. Inu said both sides should ensure that the Indo-Bangladesh border was policed without the use of firearms. The Government of India’s Look East policy could be realised with the help of Bangladesh.
“We need to fix our priorities. We need to remove irritants. I do humbly say that the border is an irritation for both of us,” he stated, indirectly hinting at the frequent killing of Bangladesh civilians at the border. “We do not believe in sheltering dissenters of other countries. The soil of Bangladesh will not be used overtly or covertly against our good friend India. We both are familiar with violence, hatred and exclusion. We are sitting on two dangerous bombs - poverty bomb and communal bomb,” he observed. He asked both countries to harness natural resources to defeat poverty and communal forces.