Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday urged India to take the lead role for South Asia's political stability and economic upliftment as her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi joined the celebrations of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's 50th Independence Day and the birth centenary of its founder 'Bangabandu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. "We laud Prime Minister Modi's Neighborhood First' policy (but) India needs to play a pioneering role in building a stable and politically-economically vibrant South Asia," Hasina told the ceremony, which was also attended by President Abdul Hamid and diplomats from several countries.
She appreciated India for sending COVID-19 vaccines for preventing coronavirus to the neighboring countries, including Bangladesh, saying the gesture was a "reflection of that policy". "If we move forward hand-in-hand, the development of our people is inevitable, she said, noting that Dhaka-New Delhi relations by now reached to a "new height." She pointed out India's support to Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War and said, "India is inextricably linked to Bangladesh's birth".
Hasina simultaneously paid rich tributes to the Indian Army veterans who fought for Bangladesh's independence alongside Bangladeshi freedom fighters while a number of octogenarian Indian military officials who fought in the 1971 liberation war were present among the audience. The function drew the conclusion of a 10-day national celebration of Bangabandhu's birth centenary and golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence. Hasina is the daughter of Rahman, the Father of the Nation.
The war broke out after the sudden crackdown at midnight past on March 25, 1971 in the erstwhile East Pakistan by the Pakistani troops and ended on December 16. The same year Pakistan conceded defeat and unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising the freedom fighters and the Indian soldiers. Officially three million people were killed during the nine-month long war.