PM arrives in Bangladesh on 2-day visit; to attend National Day celebrations
Bangladesh rolled out the red carpet for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he began a two-day visit on Friday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other ministers personally receiving the Indian leader on his arrival.
Modi will be the only foreign leader at the main National Day celebrations marking 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence on Friday. He will also participate in events commemorating the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, and 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two sides.
This is the prime minister’s first foreign visit since the Covid-19 outbreak last year, and he said in a statement issued ahead of his departure that the trip will underline India’s support for the Bangladesh’s economic and developmental achievements.
In a special gesture, Hasina and members of her cabinet welcomed Modi at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The prime minister was accorded a 19-gun salute and a guard of honour.
In a tweet posted in Bangla, Modi said: “I have reached Dhaka. Thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for giving me a special welcome at the airport. This visit will contribute to further strengthening our bilateral relations.”
Soon after his arrival, Modi visited the Jatiyo Sriti Shoudho or the National Martyrs’ Memorial that pays tributes to the valour and the sacrifice of those who died in Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971. The monument, located in Savar, 35 km northwest of the capital Dhaka, was designed by Syed Mainul Hossain.
Bugles played The Last Post as the Bangladesh flag was hoisted at half mast, and Modi placed a wreath and stood in silence in front of the memorial as a mark of respect to the martyrs.
Modi planted a sapling of the Arjun tree at the memorial complex and signed the visitor’s book. He wrote: “I pay my heartfelt tribute to the patriotic martyrs of Bangladesh whose glorious sacrifices enabled the birth of this great nation. May every visitor to this revered ground honour the sacred memory of the millions who were slain but not silenced.
“Their valour will continue to inspire future generations to fight injustice and defend the cause of righteousness. On behalf of the people of India, I pray that the eternal flame at Savar remains a lasting reminder of the noble victory of truth and courage over deceit and oppression.”
Later, Modi met community leaders, including representatives of Bangladesh’s minorities, freedom fighters and youth icons. He also met leaders from the 14-party ruling alliance led by its convener. Discussions centred on different aspects of bilateral relations were held during the meeting, officials said.
Modi subsequently held another meeting with leaders of Bangladesh’s Opposition parties.
Besides holding talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Modi will also offer prayers to Goddess Kali at Jashoreshwari Kali temple, one of 51 Shaktipeeths in the Puranic tradition, and interacted with representatives of the Matua community at Orakandi, from where Sri Sri Harichandra Thakur disseminated his message.
Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla has said Bangladesh is located at the intersection of India’s “Neighbourhood First” and “Act East” polices, and New Delhi has launched several connectivity initiatives over the past year, especially projects that will improve access to the seven northeastern states by rail and riverways.