India is our true friend, says Bangladesh PM Hasina

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By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, Dec 18 (IANS)
Recalling India’s role in the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said “India is our true friend” during a virtual meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
“India helped us in the war of 1971 against Pakistan. Their soldiers sacrificed their lives. Our relation is time-tested,” Hasina said.
Speaking at the virtual summit on Thursday, Modi said that his government concentrated on keeping strong relations with Bangladesh since it came into power.
Modi said Bangladesh is a significant pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, adding: “I desire to further strengthen our relation. We honour Bangabandhu’s legacy.”
The summit was held a day after India celebrated its 50th anniversary of the nation’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 India-Pakistan War, also known as Bangladesh Liberation War.
Hasina said: “I pay deep homage to the three million martyrs who laid down their lives. I pay tribute to the members of the Indian armed forces martyred in the war and to their families. I pay my gratitude to Col. Ashok Tara, and the government and the people of India who extended their support for the cause of our nation.”
On December 17, 1971, Col. Tara had rescued a young Hasina and her family members who were held hostage by the Pakistan Army for four months.
The two leaders also inaugurated the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link between India and Bangladesh which has been inoperative for almost 55 years.
Modi and Hasina also jointly inaugurated a digital exhibition on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Mahatma Gandhi in an effort to celebrate the life and legacies of the iconic leaders.
“It is an honor for us to launch the exhibition of Bangabandhu and Bapu,” Modi said.
Hasina said that she is happy to meet him again, “particularly on this month of victory”.
“December evokes in all Bangladeshis the spirit of joy, freedom and celebration as we recall with deep gratitude our ‘Father of the Nation’ Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under whose dynamic leadership we earned our great independence,” she said.

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