Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 7 December: Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence is expected to witness a large number of bilateral activities between Bangladesh and India taking historic relations to a new height.
“We’re happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the celebrations of the 50th Independence Day of Bangladesh on March 26 next year,” he said.
Dr Momen said both the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India will meet for a virtual summit coinciding with the celebrations of victory in December — most likely on December 17.
The Foreign Minister was addressing a webinar on “India’s Contribution to the Liberation War of Bangladesh” on Sunday.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami, Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik, educationist Shamoly Nasreen Chowdhury, freedom fighter and Swadhinata Padak awardee Col (retd) Sajjad Zahir, prominent human rights activist Julian Francis, and social activist Aroma Dutta also spoke on the occasion.
Dr Momen said the saga of Great Liberation War was, by its enormity, a triumph for the ‘free world’ and democracy.
The creation of Bangladesh was also a triumph of the innate democratic ideals and resolve of the people who delivered tears, toils and blood in pursuit of a homeland in which they could speak their own language, nurture their culture and lead the life in dignity — free from the spectre of extremism and exploitation, he said.
“We carried through the battlefield an eternal dream of universal liberty, pluralism, religious harmony, human rights and a democratic and egalitarian society, not only for our own selves but also for the rest of the world,” said the Foreign Minister.
Dr Momen said Bengalee is a martial nation of heroes and victors. “We’ve earned independence of the country in exchange of millions of martyrs. Such a nation can never stay behind in the world.”
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said, Bangladesh has been advancing with tremendous pace on the highway to development.
“Let’s take a renewed vow to establish secular Sonar Bangladesh free from hunger, poverty and illiteracy, dream of our Father of the Nation,” said the Foreign Minister.
He thanked India for its unqualified support to Bangladesh in 1971 and looks forward to walking together for a better tomorrow.
On 16th December 1971, Pakistan military surrendered to the Joint Forces of India and Bangladesh and Indira Gandhi also helped get Bangabandhu alive and well from the Pakistani jail.
“India is our historic time-trusted friends. We’re tied with civilisational, cultural, social and economic bonds,” said the Foreign Minister.
He said the two nations share a common history, linguistic and cultural heritage. “This unity is reflected in multidimensional and expanding relations.”
Dr Momen said Indira Gandhi conducted herself with remarkable patience, maturity and restraint.
In the lead-up to the war, Dr Momen said, Indira Gandhi waged a multipronged strategy.
“For over six months, between March and October 1971, Indira Gandhi wrote letters to world leaders, informing them of the situation on the Indian border,” said the Foreign Minister.
She visited Moscow—and undertook a tour to Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and the USA to garner international public opinion in favour of independent Bangladesh, Dr Momen said.
She was successful in getting both the United Kingdom and France stand by the cause of Bangladesh and block pro-Pakistan moves at the UN Security Council.
“She tried to arouse the world’s conscience over the merciless butchering of the Bengalee Unarmed civilian population,” Dr Momen said.
The Foreign Minister said New Delhi also helped us establishing the provisional government of Bangladesh.
He said the Indian government provided all assistance in raising, organising, training and equipping Mukti Bahini.
“During our War of Liberation, many Indian soldiers and Jawans died. The blood of these Indian soldiers is mixed with the soil of independent Bangladesh. Never shall we forget them,” Dr Momen said.
In November 1971, the Indian government formed Joint Command of Indian and Bangladeshi forces and on 6th December, it extended its recognition to independent Bangladesh and they uphold a new era started.
“I can never explain the joy and emotion that touched our heart and soul on that day,” Dr Momen said.
Dr Momen quoted the statement Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made in Parliament announcing the decision of Indian government to grant recognition to Bangladesh, which in essence highlighted the struggle and travails of the Bengali nation.
“The valiant struggle of the people of Bangladesh in the face of tremendous odds has opened a new chapter of heroism in the history of freedom movements…The Government of Bangladesh is supported by the ‘will of the nation, substantially expressed.
The people of Bangladesh battling for their very existence and the people of India fighting to defeat aggression now find themselves partisans in the same cause.
Our thoughts at this moment are with the Father of this new State, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman…,” Momen quoted Indira Gandhi as saying.