New Delhi, April 8 (newsin.asia): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina on Saturday condemned the genocide that occurred in Bangladesh in 1971 and called upon the international community to “recognize and preserve” the memory of those who lost their lives and those who suffered during the genocide.
The Hasina government has started observing March 25 as “Genocide Day” to commemorate the day when Pakistani forces and their local henchmen began a series of killings and massacres to quell the Bengali movement for independence from Pakistan. Hasina now wants the UN to observe March 25 as “Genocide Day”.
Showing India’s concern for the welfare of Bangladeshi freedom fighters, Prime Minister Modi on Saturday announced a special medical scheme under which 100 “Muktijoddhas” or freedom fighters of Bangladesh will be provided medical treatment in Indian hospitals every year.
He extended the Muktijoddha Scholarship Scheme for 10,000 heirs of Muktijhoddhas for another five years and announced five-year multiple entry visas for the freedom fighters.
34 Agreements Inked
According to the Joint Statement issued by the two leaders on Saturday, 34 bilateral documents including business documents were signed, exchanged, adopted and handed over during the visit.
The statement highlighted the way forward of sustaining the “fraternal” relationship between the countries. They also promised to remain “friends at home; partners in the region and the world”.
Defence, civil nuclear cooperation, space technology and cyber security are some of the new areas of agreements signed during the visit.
Modi termed the existing relations a “golden era” while Hasina said Bangladesh considers India “most important neighbor and one of our key development partners”.
The Indian Prime Minister announced US$ 4.5 billion line of credit for Bangladesh, bringing its funding for Bangladesh to more than US$ 8 billion over the past six years.
Additionally, a US$ 500 million line of credit would be extended for defense purchase “based on Bangladesh’s needs and priorities.”
According to the Joint Statement, Hasina requested Modi for the conclusion of the “Interim Agreement on Sharing of the Water of Teesta as agreed upon by both governments in January 2011”.
Modi explained that his government is working with “all stakeholders in India for an early conclusion of the Agreement”.
They directed concerned officials to meanwhile conclude discussions on various aspects relating to sharing of waters of the Feni, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar rivers.
The two Prime Ministers appreciated the “positive” steps taken in respect of Bangladesh’s proposal for jointly developing the Ganges Barrage on the river Padma in Bangladesh. Those include the visit of “an Indian technical team to Bangladesh and establishment of a ‘Joint Technical Sub-Group on Ganges Barrage Project’ and study of the riverine border in the upstream area of project”.
Both leaders directed the concerned officials of the ‘Joint Technical Sub-Group’ to meet soon and hoped that the matter would be further taken forward through continued engagement of both sides.
Modi and Hasina reiterated their commitment to ensuring that their respective territories would not be allowed to be used for any activities inimical to the other.
The two leaders agreed to foster “mutually beneficial and deeper” defense cooperation, taking into account the history of cooperation which began with both forces’ joint operation during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971.
They stressed on the need to further strengthen and consolidate defense cooperation through greater military-to-military training and exchanges.
The two leaders welcomed the conclusion of MOUs on Defense Cooperation, Defense Line of Credit, as well as cooperation between various defense training institutes.
The two Prime Ministers emphasized the advantages of sub-regional cooperation in the areas of power, water resources, trade, transit and connectivity for mutual benefit.
They also agreed to pursue cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space jointly, for which a MoU was signed by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
Prime Minister Modi thanked Prime Minister Hasina for the supply of broadband internet connectivity from Cox’s Bazar to Tripura and Northeastern region of India.
The two Prime Ministers reiterated their commitment to work closely in furthering relevant regional/sub-regional cooperation processes.
Not to keep China out, Modi and Hasina emphasized the further strengthening of cooperation and coordination among the BCIM-EC (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) Study Group and directed their respective teams to finalize at an early date the BCIM-EC Study Group reports which could facilitate projects envisaged under this framework.
Both Prime Ministers underscored the need for strengthening and reform of multilateral financial institutions and enhanced participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making.
Hasina extended an invitation to Modi that he accepted. It was agreed that the visit would take place at a “mutually convenient date”.
(The featured picture at the top shows a Bangladeshi Mukti Bahani guerilla learning to fire a sophisticated weapon supplied by the Indian army)