‘The struggle for the Liberation of Bangladesh was also one of the first movements that I took part in … I must have been 22 or 23 years old, when along with many of my friends, I did satyagraha for the liberation of the people of Bangladesh’
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for unity to fight against the ideologies and forces behind "inhuman acts" such as terrorism, saying they are active even today.
“The ideologies and forces behind these inhuman acts are active even today. We not only need to be alert, but also need to stay united to fight them,” he said.
Modi said Bangladesh and India have a common heritage, common development, common goals and common challenges too.
“We must remember that though we have similar possibilities in the area of trade and development, we also face similar threats, such as terrorism,” he said.
Modi was pleased that many Indian soldiers who were part of the Liberation War were also there with them today at the special event. “The struggle for the Liberation of Bangladesh was also one of the first movements that I took part in,” he recalled.
“I must have been 22 or 23 years old, when along with many of my friends, I did satyagraha (a form of passive resistance) for the liberation of the people of Bangladesh.”
As part of his efforts to support the liberation of Bangladesh, he was also arrested and sent to prison. “That is to say, there was as much of a longing for Bangladesh’s freedom in India, as there was in Bangladesh.”
“The images of the heinous crimes and atrocities committed by the Pakistani army here made our blood boil too, and gave us countless sleepless nights,” Modi said.
Modi said both countries have the power of democracy and a clear vision for moving forward.
“India and Bangladesh moving forward together is equally important for the development of the entire region,” he said at the special program marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her sister Sheikh Rehana, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, Agriculture Minister Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, among others, were present.
The Indian prime minister said Bangladesh has proven all of those people wrong who had objected to its creation, looked down upon its people and had apprehensions about its existence.
“I’m pleased that under Sheikh Hasina’s able leadership, Bangladesh is showing its dynamism to the world,” he said.
He said the world did not talk as much about the cruelty, oppression and atrocities of ‘Operation Searchlight’ as it should have.
Inspired by the common legacy of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Rabindranath Tagore, the Modi said they have no time to lose, they must move forward for change, and they cannot delay any further.
He said the two countries' goals are common and therefore, their efforts should also be united. “We need to further boost our efforts, add new dimensions to them, and take them to new heights,” Modi said.
He said he is confident that India and Bangladesh together will progress at a fast pace. “The love that you have showered on me, the brotherhood for India, this feeling of oneness – I’ll most certainly convey this to every Indian.”
“I’m pleased that you’ve included me in the celebrations of this important milestone in the development journey of Bangladesh,” Modi said.
He paid tribute to Bangabandhu, who dedicated his whole life for Bangladesh and its people.
“For us Indians, it is a matter of pride that we had the opportunity to honour Sheikh Mujibur with the Gandhi Peace Prize.”
Modi said that in order to strengthen India-Bangladesh relations, it is equally important to have a better connection between the youth of both countries.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India-Bangladesh relations, he invited 50 young entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to India.
“They should come to India, connect with our start up and innovation ecosystems, meet our venture capitalists. We too will learn from them, and they too will get an opportunity to learn,” he said.
Modi remembered the hundreds of thousands of sons and daughters of Bangladesh who suffered countless atrocities, who shed their blood, and put their lives at stake for their nation, their language, their culture.
He said those who shed their blood in the War of Liberation and sacrificed their lives, played a very big role in making the dream of an independent Bangladesh come true.
“The government of Bangladesh has dedicated a war memorial to honour the memory of these brave martyrs in Ashuganj. I express my gratitude to you for that,” he said.
In India, Modi said they still remember how Bangabandhu after being released from jail in Pakistan came to India on his way back to Bangladesh. “The speech he made in Delhi is still talked about by many.”
Modi said Bangabandhu had become emotional when speaking about Bangladesh’s independence, and the sacrifices made by the people of Bangladesh and India. He had tears in his eyes.
“Those tears were a symbol of the emotional bond between India and Bangladesh, they were a testimony to our relations.”
He said it is their responsibility to cherish the emotions behind those tears of Bangabandhu, and to keep them alive. “The future of India and Bangladesh, is just waiting for countless such moments full of goodwill, and of mutual trust.”
Modi said it is a happy coincidence that the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation and the milestone of 75th year of India’s independence have arrived together. “For both of our countries, in the 21st Century, our journey over the next 25 years, will be very important.”
The two countries have worked together to create the SAARC Covid Fund, and coordinated training for human resources.
“India is very pleased that Made in India vaccines have been helpful for our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh,” Modi said.