Indian Prime Minister pays tributes to 1971 War martyrs.
By Kallol Bhattacherjee
Contemporary Bangladesh was created with the blood of freedom-loving people, and of the Indian soldiers who were martyred in the War of Liberation of 1971, said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Dhaka on Friday. Addressing a special gathering on the National Day celebrations that marked the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh, Mr. Modi said the creation of Bangladesh received support from all sections of the Indian political class. The visiting leader also said the two countries would have to fight jointly against terrorism.
“Bangladesh is sustained by the blood of the freedom fighters of the country as well as of the Indian soldiers. This blood will create such a relation that will not break under any kind of pressure, nor will it be a victim of any manner of diplomatic manoeuvres. I pay my homage to those brave Indian soldiers who stood with the brothers and sisters of Bangladesh during the War of Liberation and gave their blood for the creation of a free Bangladesh,” Mr. Modi said at the National Day Programme in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid.
Recollecting the atrocities unleashed by the Pakistani military, Mr. Modi blamed the “Operation Searchlight” of March 25, 1971 for unleashing a reign of terror in the country. “Their language, their voice and identity were being suppressed. The brutality of Operation Searchlight is not as widely discussed in the world as it should be,” said Mr. Modi.
Laying out the future course of action, the PM said India and Bangladesh shared common goals and challenges, and that the two countries should remain focused on dealing with the challenges like terrorism. He added, “We have to be aware of the challenges that these forces pose to us and we have to remain united to combat them collectively.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi paid rich tributes to the martyrs of the War of Liberation of 1971 at Savar’s National Martyrs Memorial and said the sacrifice of the participants in the historic war would remain a lasting legacy in South Asia. Mr. Modi reached the memorial soon after landing at Dhaka’s Shahjalal International Airport, where he was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her council of Ministers.
“I pray that the eternal flame at Savar, remains a lasting reminder of the noble victory of truth and courage over deceit and oppression,” Mr. Modi wrote in the visitors’ book at the memorial, which is located 35 km away from Dhaka. The Indian leader also planted an ‘Arjun’ tree sapling at the memorial grounds which contain unmarked graves of the martyrs.
Beginning his interactions for the March 26-27 visit, Mr. Modi met with the leaders of the ruling alliance in Dhaka and interacted with a delegation of muktijoddhas or former guerrillas who fought in the war of 1971. He also met with leaders of Bangladesh’s religious minorities. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, called on Mr. Modi and both sides reflected on “deepening fraternal ties”.
In the evening, Prime Minister Modi and Bangladesh PM Hasina jointly inaugurated the Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition, which will travel to various countries across the world in the coming months. The PM will travel to Tungipara, where he will pay his tribute at the mazar of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Saturday. Mr. Modi will also travel to Orakandi to interact with Matua Hindus.
4 killed in protest
Four persons were killed in police firing in Chittagong, where a large rally led by Hefazat E Islam activists was taken out against the visit of Prime Minister Modi, after Friday prayers. The police had warned earlier that it would not allow any public protest in view of the strict security imposed across the country for Mr. Modi’s visit.
Pitched battles were witnessed outside Baytul Mokarram or national mosque in Dhaka, where a fight broke out after Hefazat activists took out a “shoe rally”, which attracted opposition from Awami League activists. Dozens of tear gas shells were fired by the police to bring the situation under control. A large number of the protesters were reportedly still hiding inside the mosque on Friday evening.
In protest against the death of its activists, the Hefazat has called for a dawn to dusk strike on Sunday. The amir of Hefazat, Maulana Junaed Babunagri, issued a video taped message and called for observing a day of protest on Saturday across Bangladesh. He claimed in the video that at least five Hefazat activists were killed in police firing in Chittagong and Brahmanbaria.
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