Bangladesh has postponed the main inaugural programme marking Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary to be held on March 17.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to attend the event.
Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, the chief coordinator of the committee to implement year-long birth centenary programmes, said that the decision was taken after three cases of COVID-19 surfaced in Bangladesh.
“A large gathering was expected at the National Parade Ground on March 17. But considering the situation, we have decided to postpone it,” Mr. Chowdhury, a senior bureaucrat, told The Hindu . He, however, indicated that the event was “postponed and not cancelled”.
“We have a meeting in which we will decide how — and to what scale — we will mark March 17 [the 100th birth anniversary of Mujibur Rahman] and about the future event,” Mr. Chowdhury said.
While both sides have not officially announced the cancellation of his scheduled trip on March 17, the postponement entails that Mr. Modi’s Bangladesh visit “stands cancelled for now”, said a source.
“The Foreign Ministry [of Bangladesh] will be able to clarify about the visit,” Mr. Chowdhury said.
Protests against visit
Last week, large-scale protests were witnessed in Dhaka against Mr. Modi’s visit.
Dhaka University students’ union vice-president Nurul Haq told international press that they would demonstrate against Mr. Modi’s visit, “whenever he is in town.”
“We will try to stop the visit, at any cost. We may march from university to airport or demonstrate around Indian High Commission,” he said last week.
Considering the situation, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited the country to discuss about the Prime Minister’s visit last week.
Mr. Chowdhury said other programmes, scheduled throughout the year, would continue as per plan.
The Bangladesh government will update the Indian government about “the new programme plans and schedules connected to Mr. Modi’s future visit,” said a source.