Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the youth of Bangladesh and India to interact more and work in close collaboration like their leaders did in the past.
“We feel, youths of both the countries need to interact more closely in order to share history. Because they are the future leaders and leaders across the borders must work in close collaboration,” she said, reports UNB.
The prime minister was addressing this at a function marking the distribution of Mujib Scholarship awards among the direct descendants of soldiers or officers of defence forces of India who had been martyred or critically wounded during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Bangladesh Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Mozammel Huque, also spoke at the function held at ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi.
Later, Bangladesh has introduced the scholarship in honour of the country’s founding leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, now on a four-day official visit to India, said she would really love to see the descendants of the war heroes’ act as ambassadors of Bangladesh-India friendship and draw parallels with their great forefathers.
“I would like to conclude by praying to the Almighty to bless the new generation so that they may carry the torch of friendship forward for the next 50 years and beyond,” she said.
The prime minister said the event is especially very close to her heart as this is an opportunity for paying sincere homage to all the martyrs – both from Bangladesh and India, who sacrificed their lives during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971 and to the war veterans of both the countries.
“I am truly delighted to reconnect with you – the descendant family members of our war heroes,” she said.
She mentioned the Bangali nation under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman waged struggle for economic, cultural and democratic emancipation for 24 years.
“Responding to the clarion call of our great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, they fought for the liberation of the country in 1971. We witnessed an unparalleled gesture of friendship from the government and people of India, as we were provided with empathy, shelter and resources,” she said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on behalf of the people of Bangladesh, expressed gratitude to the Indians who sacrificed their invaluable lives and shed blood for the cause of the war of liberation.
“It is always an honour for us to remember those noble persons who sacrificed their lives. My salutations to you, to the brave hearts —our heroes!” she went on.
She said Bangladesh government commenced a program to honour the foreign friends who contributed to the Liberation War in 1971.
“We were fortunate to be able to hold the first ceremony of award in 2011, when the highest Civilian Award to foreign friends ‘Bangladesh Freedom Award’ was conferred on the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,” said the Bangladesh premier.
Subsequently, more awards were conferred on the deserving Indian leaders, including former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former President Pranab Mukherjee, she said.
“War heroes and members of civil society of India were also honoured in a phased manner. A total of 340 foreign nationals and organizations were honoured. Among them, 226 were from India alone,” she said.
In April 2017, she had the great honour to confer awards upon the war veterans of India through their descendants and immediate family members in the presence of Indian PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“I would like to appreciate the kind gesture of government of India for extending their support to our Freedom Fighters for their treatment in India as well as offering scholarship to the family members of the Freedom fighters.”
She said it certainly demonstrates India’s continued support and goodwill for the war heroes of Bangladesh who fought for the emergence of an independent and sovereign Bangladesh.
The prime minister said the conferment of 200 Mujib Scholarships, 100 each at Class X and Class-X II level, to the descendants of Indian war veterans is a token of our homage to the heroes who made supreme sacrifice in 1971 for our cause.
“As we aspire to carry forward the legacies of our great forefathers from generation to generation, this is our humble effort to reconnect the younger generations to the historic past of which they are a proud part.”
She mentioned the awardees of the scholarship would have an opportunity to revisit the memories of valour of their forefathers, relate it to the present circumstances and would continue to bridge between the two countries.
The relationship between Bangladesh and India goes far beyond strategic partnership and has further strengthened during the last decade, she continued.
“Having forged a strong partnership over the last 50 years, both countries are working on an increasingly wide range of sectoral collaboration,” the prime minister noted.
In this regard, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said resolution of longstanding issues of demarcation of maritime and land boundaries bear testimony to that effect.
“The relationship is known to be the ‘Role Model for the Neighborhood Diplomacy’ worldwide.”
She said Bangladesh and India are passing through a path of friendship and 2021 was a landmark year in our relations.
The prime minister said in March last year she had the opportunity to welcome Modi in Dhaka in the historic celebrations of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence and 50th anniversary of the establishment of Bangladesh and India diplomatic relations.
The president of India also joined the glorious celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s victory in the Liberation War in December 2021.
To celebrate these occasions, she said, a number of joint programs were held.
Among them, the release of commemorative stamps on Bangabandhu and Mahatma Gandhi and Bangladesh-India friendship; Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition; participation of Bangladesh Contingent in the Republic Day parade of India were noteworthy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the Joint production of the biopic on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman titled “Mujib: the Making of the Nation” is underway, and is expected to be released soon.
She said Bangladesh and India have jointly celebrated December 6 as “Maitree Diwas”, the day being a historic one when India recognized Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state in 1971, in 20 selected cities, including Dhaka and New Delhi.
“Through this joint celebrations, Bangladesh and India have projected the good neighborhood which is based on mutual trust and respect, to other countries around the world,” she said.