India’s relationship with Bangladesh is one of the main pillars of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East Policies’

Terming it as a visit of “historical significance”, the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said President Ram Nath Kovind’s three-day (December 15 to 17) maiden trip to Bangladesh on the occasion of the 50th Vijay Diwas “is a testimony to the high priority that both counties attach to each other and their desire to further strengthen this relationship based on shared values, mutual trust and understanding.”

The MEA said India’s relationship with Bangladesh is one of the main pillars of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East Policies’.

India and Bangladesh enjoy robust and multifaceted bilateral cooperation in diverse areas, including trade and connectivity, energy and power, water resources, border management, defence and security, culture and people-to-people links, the MEA added.

With reference to President Kovind’s visit, the MEA added that it commenced by paying homage to the martyrs of the Liberation War at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar. “He also paid his respects to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum,” it maintained.

Calling it a visit of historical significance given the 50th anniversary of the shared sacrifices of the people of the two countries during Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation in 1971, the MEA said several key announcements were made during the visit.

As per the MEA, these announcements included gifting of the Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition to the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka; announcement of the first occupant of the Bangabandhu Chair at Delhi University; and extension of the Nutan India - Bangladesh Maitree Muktijoddha Sontan Scholarship Scheme for a period of five years. A 1971-era MiG-21 aircraft was gifted to the National Museum of Bangladesh. A replica of the aircraft was handed over by the President to the President of Bangladesh.

The MEA said that during the President’s first overseas visit, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina called on Ram Nath Kovind and recalled the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in March 2021.

“The leaders highlighted the importance of the spirit of 1971 and the legacy of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” the MEA said, adding that Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, also called on the President and updated him on the ongoing bilateral cooperation.

On December 16, as per the MEA, the President attended the Victory Day parade in Dhaka as the Guest of Honour.

“A 122-member tri-service contingent of the Indian Armed Forces also participated on this historic occasion. In remembrance of the bravery and the supreme sacrifices made by the Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, Wing Commander T. Asha Jyotiramai performed a para jump unfurling the flag of the Indian tri-services along with the paratroopers from the Bangladesh Armed Forces at the Victory Parade.” The Ministry said.

“In the evening, the President delivered an address at a special event held to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh and culmination of Mujib Borsho at the South Plaza of the Bangladesh Parliament in the presence of the President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh and other distinguished dignitaries,” the Ministry informed.

On December 17, the President inaugurated the newly reconstructed Sree Sree Ramna Kali Mandir in Dhaka that had been destroyed in March 1971 by Pakistani forces.

“In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, he also interacted with Indian war veterans and Muktijoddhas of Bangladesh. He later addressed a gathering of friends of India representing different walks of life from the Bangladeshi society and members of the Indian community,” the MEA said.