New Delhi: India and Bangladesh have set the stage for a much eventful 2021 for a stronger and enhanced bilateral ties when both the South Asian neighbours will be celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
Contentious Teesta and other issues were discussed at the virtual Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Friday, December 17, and as many as seven agreements in the areas of hydrocarbon, culture, agriculture, high impact community development projects and the conservation of wildlife were inked.
“Next year, India and Bangladesh will jointly commemorate Mujib Borsho and 50 years of establishment of our diplomatic ties. I look forward to visiting Dhaka for paying my homage to the life and ideals of Bangabandhu,” PM Modi tweeted.
Teesta water sharing and other issues related to fisheries were also discussed.
“It was a very fruitful summit that included inauguration of significant projects and detailed discussions in all areas of cooperation. PM Modi has accepted PM Sheikh Hasina’s invitation to visit Bangladesh on March 26th, 2021,” said Smita Pant, joint secretary, Bangladesh-Myanmar in the Ministry of External Affairs.
"India is our true friend ....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 the government and the people of India who extended their whole hearted support for the cause of our nation," Sheikh Hasina said.
Modi said Bangladesh is a "key pillar" of India's "Neighbourhood First" policy.
"We feel proud to celebrate "Bijoy Dibosh" with you to mark Bangladesh's victory over anti-liberation forces," the Prime Minister said.
There is definitely an added significance to the Summit as it took place just a day after Bangladesh's 'Bijoy Dobosh' (victory) day as Pakistan was crushed in the famous 1971 war.
After facing defeat in the 1971 war, the then Army Chief of Pakistan General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with his 93,000 troops, surrendered to Indian forces and that had paved the way for creation of Bangladesh.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid rich tributes to the 1971 war heroes. PM Modi lit a "Swarnim Vijay Mashaal" - a victory torch - at the eternal flame of the National War Memorial in Delhi.
Both the leaders also jointly inaugurated a digital exhibition on Mahatama Gandhi and Bangladesh's founder, Mujib.
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. "To revive this erstwhile rail link, both sides have restored the link enhancing connectivity and people to people links on both sides," a source in the know of things said.
Haldibari-Chilahati route will enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh.
The latest round of bonhomie between India and Bangladesh is a testimony to the fact that strong neighbourly relations with the cherished spirit of share and care exist between the two sides.
The happy relations however get occasionally marred by certain skirmishes and misunderstandings. A recent instance has been India's enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the move taken with a pinch of salt by some sections in Bangladesh. But the feeling of cooperation and the spirit of co-existence has not been hampered at all.
Both the countries share the commonality of history, geography, language and cultre. The resolution of the land boundary has been a major achievement in the recent past.
High level meetings and visits by Prime Ministers from both sides including Hasina and Dr Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi have taken place during the last decade.
In a major development, both sides have also stepped up efforts to improve road connectivity between the two countries. Both sides are also in the process of finalising passenger and cargo products.