Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of the Indian northeastern state Assam that shares 262 km border with Bangladesh is ‘grateful’ to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her step to wipe out terrorism and extremism from the country that, he said, helped his state to achieve the present-day peace and growth.
“I have a word of gratitude to the government of Bangladesh, more particularly to the most respected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina because of her strong intervention, today Assam has become the most peaceful state in India,” he told a group of visiting freedom fighters from Bangladesh on Tuesday night.
“Her determined step to wipe out militancy and extremism from Bangladesh has helped Assam a lot. Her action against the ULFA leadership has actually made us obliged, grateful to her. I have personally offered our gratitude when the Bangladesh foreign minister was here,” the chief minister said.
The ULFA or the United Liberation Front of Asom was an armed separatist organisation operating in the Northeast Indian state of Assam. They also used Bangladesh soil for their activities in Assam.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after coming to power in 2009 had taken “zero tolerance” policy against any kind of terrorism and extremism. She also vowed that she would not allow any force to use Bangladesh soil against any country.
ULFA leader Anup Chetia who was in Bangladesh jail was also handed over to India in 2015 in what was seen as a major boost to security cooperation between the two neighbours.
“I have conveyed my deep gratitude to the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. Had she not acted against ULFA at that point of time, today probably we would not have been in a position to invite you to such a peaceful state,” the chief minister continued
“Today we are living peacefully. We are growing. We are growing at 48 percent, 58 percent of our GDP every year. Assam has become a new engine of growth for the entire country. And we owe a lot of gratitude for this to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and the people of Bangladesh,” he said, requesting the visiting freedom fighters to convey the gratitude of the people of Assam to the prime minister.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, who belongs to India's ruling BJP party, is known as Prime Minister Modi’s most trusted representative in northeast India.
He is the convenor of the North-East Democratic Alliance or NEDA, which is a political coalition formed in 2016 by the BJP.
The freedom fighters' delegation also handed over a letter of invitation of Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen to the chief minister to visit Bangladesh. The delegation visited Assam at the invitation of the Indian government.
A 20-member journalist delegation also arrived in Guwahati on Tuesday in a separate visit as part of the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s familiarisation visit.
The media delegation called on the top bureaucrat of the Assam state, Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua, on Wednesday afternoon, apart from visiting IIT Guwahati and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd.
Bangladesh and India relations have been expanded on all fronts and embarked on new fields of cooperation in recent years.
The Assistant High Commission of Bangladesh in Guwahati was also opened on Mar 24, 2017 with consular jurisdiction over Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Guwahati is the fifth mission after New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Agartala.
The Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service is stopped due to pandemic.
The two-sides are also in talks to start direct flights between Dhaka and Guwahati.