On his first trip abroad since the Covid outbreak, President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a three-day visit to Bangladesh starting on Wednesday to celebrate the 50th Victory and Liberation Day in Dhaka and to represent India as the guest of honour. In a reflection of the close relations, India is also hosting a number of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 that led to the liberation of Bangladesh.
Briefing reporters on the visit, Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the occasion is of great historical significance. He said that he commemorates the golden jubilee of Bangladesh independence, 50 years of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, the great victory over the Pakistan Army and its unconditional surrender on December 16, 1971.
Shringla said the visit is the president’s first trip abroad since the outbreak of COVID, and it indicates the importance the two countries attach to it. The foreign secretary said President Kovind would be the only foreign dignitary who would be there as a guest of honor at the D-Day celebrations.
Shringla said President Kovind will visit the Martyrs’ Memorial on Wednesday morning and memorialize those who died in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971. The president will also visit the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum. Kovind is scheduled to hold a delegation level meeting with Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He will be contacted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi president will host a dinner in honor of Kovind on Wednesday.
Shringla said President Kovind will also attend the D-Day Parade, which will include a tri-service contingent of 122 members of the Indian armed forces, as the guest of honour. He said 1,660 brave Indian men in uniform paid the ultimate price for the freedom of Bangladesh and this visit would also be an occasion to honor them.
During his visit, President Kovind will also interact with “Mukti Jodhas” of Bangladesh and Indian veterans. Asked about the US imposing sanctions on certain security officials from Bangladesh, including the former army chief, Shringla said, “As with all other relations, our focus is on bilateral relations, and we usually do not comment on relations between countries of the world.” Third. On this occasion also I would like to refrain from making any comment that would be extraneous to both the visit as well as our immediate priorities.” Emphasizing the close ties between the two countries, Shringla said Bangladesh was India’s largest recipient of the vaccine doses.
So far, India has exported 2 crore and 18,000 vaccines to Bangladesh. Of these, 33 lakhs, 1.5 crore from commercial exports and 35,000 were granted through the COVAX facility, Shringla said. On whether there is any anxiety in relationships after the controversy related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the violence of Durga Puja in Bangladesh, he said, “I will completely dispel any feeling or perception that there is any anxiety in the relationship. There is no anxiety associated with a relationship.” “The relationship is an extraordinary one, it is a close one with our multi-faceted relationship. Relationships are at their height,” Shringla said.
“Our President’s visit offers an opportunity to renew our ties based on… a shared heritage, a shared history and a shared experience of our support to Bangladesh during the liberation war. It is also an occasion to capture the depth, breadth, vitality and dynamism of contemporary relations.” About 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the combined forces of the Indian Army and “Mukti Bahini” on December 16, 1971, paving the way for the birth of Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh in March to join the celebrations of the golden jubilee of its independence, the centenary of the birth of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of establishing diplomatic relations.
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