Dhaka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sat off for his first foreign trip, since India declared the Covid-19 lockdown a year ago, to Bangladesh to participate in the celebration of neighbouring country’s 50th year of liberation from Pakistan and the centenary year of its founder Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, Premier Sheikh Hasina’s father. India and Bangladesh are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
Upon reaching Dhaka, PM was received today by his counterpart PM Hasina at the airport. Paying tributes at the National Martyr’s Memorial in Savar later, he tweeted: “The courage of those who took part in the Liberation War of Bangladesh motivates many.”
Earlier, while giving his departure statement on Thursday, PM Modi had expressed his happiness over his first foreign visit since the Covid-19 lockdown in India being to a “friendly neighbouring country” with which India shares deep cultural, linguistic and people-to-people ties.
“My visit will not only be an occasion to convey appreciation for Bangladesh’s remarkable economic and developmental strides under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visionary leadership, but also to commit India’s abiding support for these achievements,” he said in the statement.
He had also tweeted yesterday saying that Bangladesh is an important pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Known as East Pakistan till 1971, Bangladesh was formed after India and Pakistan fought a war.
Recalling the nation’s founder, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, in a write-up for Bangladeshi newspaper, the Indian PM wrote that had the late leader not been assassinated in 1975, Bangladesh would have evolved along a very different trajectory.
“For instance, India and Bangladesh were able to finally overcome the complications of history through the 2015 Land Boundary Agreement…But had Bangabandhu been at the helm longer, this achievement may have come much earlier,” PM Modi wrote in the article.
“We could have built a closely integrated economic region, with deeply interlinked value-chains spanning food processing to light industry, electronics and technology products to advanced materials,” he further wrote, recommitting himself to the “vision set out by Bangabandhu”.
PM Modi is also offered prayers at the Jashoreshwari Kali Temple. Notably, the tour comes amid the run-up to the West Bengal and Assam Assembly polls.