New Delhi/Dhaka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day trip to Dhaka last week to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the country’s Independence underlined the fact that despite some wrinkles, the neighbors are ready for a transformative leap. PM Modi’s camaraderie with Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina — who greeted him personally at the airport — was there for all to see.
Both prime ministers had discussions in restrictive as well as delegation-level formats, and a joint statement was released that reflected a gamut of ties and challenges that lie ahead.
During his stay, Modi inaugurated the Bangladesh leg of the Bapu-Bangabandhu digital exhibition, attended the National Day program, prayed at two temples and also paid tribute at Mujibur Rahman’s mausoleum in Tungipara — the first foreign head of state to do so — where he was joined by prime minister Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana.
These are deeply symbolic events for two nations joined at the hip who share an indelible bond steeped in blood, history, identity, culture and language. The forced division of a civilizational landmass into adversarial nation-states leading to the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 and India’s pivotal role in that event is etched in the collective memory of both nations and guide their behavior. Modi stressed on this unique bond and evoked the shared history during his speech at the Bangladesh National Day program on 29 March.
In a goodwill gesture, India gifted 109 ambulances and 12 lakh Covid-19 vaccine doses to Bangladesh, with Modi personally handing over the keys of the ambulances to Sheikh Hasina.
Bangladesh and India signed five MoUs at a meeting held at the PMO in Dhaka. In addition, several projects were also inaugurated during the concluding day of Modi’s two-day visit to Bangladesh. Modi and Hasina also virtually inaugurated the ‘Mitali Express’, a passenger train between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri in India.
The two leaders also inaugurated four projects virtually after witnessing the signing of the MoUs by representatives of the two governments at Hasina’s office.
The violent protests in Bangladesh over PM Modi’s visit was the handiwork of Islamist hardline group Hefazat-e-Islam, Indian officials told the media, in their continuing effort to radicalize Bangladeshi society and embarrass the Hasina government.