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Bangladesh to construct a memorial for Indian soldiers

In a rare gesture, Bangladesh will construct a monument in the memory of Indian soldiers martyred in the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence.  

Liberation War Affairs Minister of Bangladesh Mozammel Haque told Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das when she met him recently in Dhaka . In the liberation war of Bangladesh, 3900 Indian soldiers died and about 93,000 were wounded.  

Bangladesh Minister  made the comments when outgoing Indian High Commisisoner Riva Ganguly Das paid him a farewell visit. “We are constructing the monument coinciding with the 50th anniversary of our independence” crucially backed by India, a Ministry spokesman quoted Mr Haque as saying. Earlier Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina honoured the Indian soldiers who were killed during the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1971.

The Minister recalled with gratitude the cooperation of Indian government and its people during the Liberation War. The Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka  said that Bangladesh and India were tested friends.”Some people are out to spread misleading information purposely to worsen the relations between the two next-door neighbours but the Bangladesh-India ties are not so fragile,” she said.

She requested the Minister for taking up initiatives for translating the books on the Liberation War in Hindi. She also expressed India’s willingness to become a part of the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence in 2021. An official familiar with the monument project said the government has selected 3.5 acres of land at frontier Ashuganj of Brahmanbaia district bordering Agartala.

The site which has been selected has historic significance. “Indian Army fought Pakistanis some decisive wars in 1971 along with our freedom fighters in Ashuganj,” the official said.

He said the construction of the monument was expected to begin by this year and is expected to be completed in the next two years while its abstract architectural design was aimed to reflect the bonding between the two neighbours.

Mr Haque congratulated the outgoing Indian High Commissioner on her next posting as Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry, saying the relations between the two nations will reach a different dimension during her tenure. Bangladesh earlier felicitated Indian soldiers and veterans and honoured the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and several other distinguished Indians for their role in 1971 Liberation War.

Bangladesh has National Martyr’s Memorial on the outskirts of Dhaka where ceremonial homage is paid to all 1971 martyrs. The war in 1971 began after the sudden crackdown at midnight on March 25 that year in erstwhile East Pakistan by Pakistani troops and ended on December 16 as Pakistan conceded defeat and unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising Bengali freedom fighters and the Indian Army.

(The writer is a senior journalist and commentator on India-Bangladesh relations.)

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