Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that Bangladesh is key pillar of India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy. Participating at virtual summit with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, PM Modi said that cooperation between the two neighbouring countries has been good notwithstanding coronavirus pandemic.
"We feel proud to celebrate "Bijoy Dibosh" with you to mark Bangladesh's victory over anti-liberation forces," he said, adding that "it has been key priority for me to strengthen ties with Bangladesh".
Hasina in her remark called a true friend and commend PM Modi for the manner in which his government has countered Covid-19. She paid homage to the 3 million martyrs who laid their lives.
"I pay tribute to the members of the Indian armed forces martyred in the 1971 war. I pay my gratitude to the govt and people of India who extended wholehearted support for the cause of our liberation," Hasina said.
"Bangladesh is on the verge of celebrating 50 years as an independent nation. Your (PM Modi) visit to Dhaka on 26th March 2021 will be the crowning glory of our joint commemoration of Bangladesh's Liberation War 1971," she added.
Both the leaders also released a commemorative stamp on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and a digital exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi to celebrate the life and legacies of the iconic leaders. "It is a matter of pride for me that I am getting to release a digital exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. They will continue to inspire our youths," PM Modi siad.
The two leaders then jointly inaugurated the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link between India and Bangladesh. The trans-border railway line has been restored after 55 years.
The new route is expected to enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh. The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was part of the broad gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri. However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links. Initially, the rail link will facilitate the movement of goods cargo. Passenger movement will also commence on the development of infrastructure on both sides, they said.
The ties between India and Bangladesh have witnessed a significant upswing in the last few years. Both sides have scaled up trade and economic engagement besides implementing a number of connectivity and infrastructure projects.