Bangladesh ready to welcome India’s Modi as it celebrates Bangabandhu, independence

By | March 25, 2021

Modi will arrive in Dhaka on Friday morning and join the celebrations at the National Parade Ground in the afternoon.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will greet Modi at the Shahjalal International Airport.

He was scheduled to arrive last year for the Mujib Year celebrations until the coronavirus pandemic forced all plans to be delayed.

Although the trip has been arranged chiefly to mark Bangladesh’s dual celebrations, governments of both countries plan to discuss the bilateral ties.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said celebrating Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and the golden jubilee of independence were at the core of inviting Modi this time.

“When [Hasina] will speak with her Indian counterpart, she will raise those matters that have already been discussed to make sure no issues arise in their implementation.”

Border killings, Teesta water share, other river water distribution issues and aspects of regional communications are at the centre of bilateral discussions.

India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has also commented that the celebrations were the main reasons behind Modi’s arrival.

“This visit will be of very special significance and will serve to highlight the celebration of our unique and special ties, which reinforce our comprehensive strategic partnership with Bangladesh,” Shringla told reporters on Wednesday.

Bangladesh’s gratitude towards India for its assistance in the War of Independence in 1971 is one of the main reasons for inviting Modi during these national celebrations.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence on Mar 26, 1971 right before being arrested by the Pakistanis, triggering the war of independence which was led by the government then based in Kolkata.

The Indian armed forces directly got involved in the war in the first week of December, 1971. Pakistan Army surrendered to the freedom fighters and allied forces, formed in collaboration with the Indian army, on Dec 16. As many as 1,161 Indian soldiers died in the war.

More than 10 million Bangladeshis took shelter in the Indian states along the borders as refugees during the war. These areas also had provisions of guerilla combat training for the freedom fighters.

The government plans to launch the construction of a memorial in Brahmanbaria’s Ashuganj for Indian soldiers who died in the Liberation War. Modi may lay the foundation stone.

Modi will travel to the National Memorial after finishing formalities at the airport to pay his respects to the Liberation War martyrs.

From there he will travel to Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi Road No. 32 to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen will see him at Hotel Sonargaon in the afternoon.

Modi will join the twin celebrations at the National Parade Square at 4:30pm as a special guest.

The programme will be chaired by Hasina while President Md Abdul Hamid will be present as chief guest.

Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan in a report said Modi along with his entourage will wear the traditional Mujib Coat during their visit.  As many as 100 custom-designed coats have been supplied to India’s Khadi and Village Industries Commission or KVIC.

From the National Parade Ground, he will travel to Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Museum at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre in the evening. He is scheduled to join a state banquet organised by the daughter of Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Hasina.

On Saturday morning, the second day of the tour, Modi will travel to Satkhira’s Shyamnagar to visit Jeshoreshwari Temple.

From there he will travel to Gopalganj’s Tungipara to visit the Mausoleum of the Father of the Nation and pay his respect with flowers. Hasina is scheduled to greet her there.

Then he will visit the Orakandi Temple, the shrine of the “Matua” community in Kashiani Upazila.

In the afternoon, he will sit with Hasina in a private meeting, followed by a bilateral meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office. Several memoranda of understanding will be signed there in the presence of the heads of two government while different projects are scheduled to be launched as well.

In the evening, Modi will meet President Hamid at the Bangabhaban before flying back to New Delhi.

The Indian prime minister will present Bangladesh with 109 ambulances and another 1.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine on top of the two million doses previously sent as a goodwill gesture in January.

Bangladesh is organising special events for 10 days from Mar 17 to 26 at the National Parade Ground and other places to celebrate the Bangabandhu centenary and the golden jubilee of independence.

The capital has been adorned with banners and festoons surrounding the arrival of Modi on the last day of the programmes. Many streets have been embellished with flags green, red and the tricoloured Indian flags.

Authorities have taken strict security measures on the occasion.

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