NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday began his two-day trip to Bangladesh by hailing the contributions of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Indian armed forces in Bangladesh’s war of liberation. “Bangabandhu gave up his life for the people of Bangladesh. Today, on the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and Bangabandhu’s birth centenary celebrations, I remember and salute his contribution and the contributions of the Indian armed forces, mukti jodhas in Bangladesh’s war of independence,” Modi said at the National Day celebrations of Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Saying that India and Bangladesh’s future together has a lot in store, he said it is important that New Delhi and Dhaka progress together. “The youth of both the countries need to be connected for better ties. I hence announce the setting up of suvarna jayanti scholarships for Bangladeshi students and also invite 50 entrepreneurs of Bangladesh to visit India,” he said.Earlier, Modi presented the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 awarded posthumously to Mujib, to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Modi also recalled how he had participated in Bangladesh’s struggle for independence by holding a satyagraha. Meanwhile, a protest by a mob against Modi’s trip got violent, leaving four persons dead with bullet injuries.
“The freedom struggle of Bangladesh was a significant moment in my journey. My colleagues and I had done a satyagraha. I was in my early twenties. I even had the opportunity to go to jail during this satyagraha for Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom,” he said.Hasina acknowledged India’s contribution to Bangladesh’s independence and recalled how members of her family, including Bangabandhu, had been assassinated on August 15, 1975.
Modi arrived in Dhaka to a red carpet welcome with the Bangladesh PM breaking protocol and greeting him at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. He then proceeded to the National Martyrs’ Memorial and paid tributes to the heroes of the 1971 war. “I pay heartfelt tribute to the martyrs of Bangladesh whose sacrifices enabled the birth of this great nation. I pray that the eternal flame at Savar remains a lasting reminder of the noble victory of truth and courage over deceit and oppression,” Modi wrote in the visitors’ book at the memorial.
Modi and Hasina also inaugurated the Bapu Bangabandhu digital exihibition. A similar exhibition was inaugurated in New Delhi during the virtual bilateral summit last year. The exhibition depicts the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Bangabandhu. In Dhaka, the exhibition also features a genocide tunnel which depicts the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army on the people of Bangladesh during the 1971 war.
The PM met members of the Indian community, the ruling coalition of Bangladesh and members of the opposition.