Dhaka and New Delhi will jointly celebrate Moitree Dibosh or Friendship Day today, Monday, for the first time in the history, commemorating the day when India recognised Bangladesh as an independent country on December 6 in 1971 amid the War of Liberation.
The final victory against Pakistani atrocities came 10 days later on December 16.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-India friendship and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s Independence. For this reason, the two Prime Ministers – Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi – designated the day as Bangladesh-India Friendship Day.
There will be joint celebrations in 18 cities apart from Bangladesh and India.
“The joint celebration is the reflection of the will of the people and the leadership of both the countries to work together for the next fifty years and beyond towards attaining a vision of shared prosperity and development,” the foreign ministry said.
“Bangladesh and India are committed to further strengthen and consolidate the existing excellent relations that are founded on commonalities of values, culture and legacies based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.”
The 18 selected countries include Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, USA, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Qatar, Singapore and UK where the Bangladesh and India missions will jointly celebrate the event.
In most of the cities, the Friendship Day programme will be held Monday, as planned, the foreign ministry said.
In few of the cities, the celebration would be held at a later date due to the Covid-19 related restrictions declared by the host governments.
The programme includes remarks by the Heads of the Missions of Bangladesh and India, as well as an address by the Chief Guest from the Host country, cultural program, screening of documentary on Bangladesh-India bilateral relations followed by reception showcasing foods of both the countries.
A photographic exhibition, depicting the historic relationship between the two countries and seminar/webinar is also being organised by some Missions as part of the joint celebrations.
The liberation war began when the Pakistan army carried out genocide on March 25 with the 'Operation Searchlight' and continued that throughout the next nine months.
By that time, the brutal Pakistan army killed three million Bengalis and raped hundreds of thousands of women during the nine-month long war.
The final victory of Independent Bangladesh came on December 16, 1971 when 93,000 Pakistani army personnel surrendered before the joint forces of India and the Mukti-Bahini in Dhaka.
During the war, Bangladesh came to know its true friends. India stood firmly beside the homeless, unclad, hungry people of Bangladesh, the then East Pkistan. India provided food, clothing, shelter and protection to more than 10 million refugees during that period. India also provided necessary military training and weapons to the unarmed Bengali fighters.
The Indian army also actively took part in the war on behalf of the Bengalis, ignoring all the obstacles created by the hostile international community, resulting in quick victory for Bangladesh.
The bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and India is much different than any other relations. It is more than the traditional strategic relations. It is a unique relationship made stronger by blood and sweat.
During her first visit to India in 2010 after becoming the Prime Minister in 2009, Sheikh Hasina focused on expanding the economic cooperation between the countries.
Even in pandemic, both the countries continued to maintain the relationship which is now said to be a ‘golden chapter’.
Last year on July 26, India handed over 10 broad gauge locomotives to Bangladesh. This is an implementation of an important promise made by the Modi government during the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to India in October 2019.
Bangladesh was the first neighboring country with which India had signed a vaccination agreement in the backdrop of Covid -19 pandemic.
The two neighbours have taken up yearlong programmes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations on various other fronts.
Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition is being displayed in various cities of Bangladesh and India.
The exhibition was jointly inaugurated by the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India in March 2021 during the visit of Narendra Modi in Dhaka.
The two leaders also unveiled postage stamps commemorating 50 years of Bangladesh-India friendship at that time.
Exchange of visits by war veterans, exchange of visits of naval vessels, sporting events, cultural events and other programmes are also being organised to mark the 50th anniversary of friendship between the countries.