Dhaka [Bangladesh], March 26 (ANI): Bangladesh has historical, social and cultural ties with India and New Delhi has become one of the best development partners, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Friday.
Addressing the National Day programme to mark the 50 years of the country's independence, the Bangladesh Prime Minister said people of her country always remember India's contribution to the country's liberation in the 1971 war.
She thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for attending the National Day programme.
"India is not only our next-door neighbour, we have historical, social, cultural ties. The people and Government of India were immensely involved in the evolution process of Bangladesh during our liberation war in 1971," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said India sheltered about 10 million people who fled from Bangladesh in the face of persecution by Pakistani soldiers, in the face of killing, genocide and rape.
"India gave them shelter, food and medication. They helped our freedom fighters with all types of cooperation," she said.
She recalled sacrifice by Indian soldiers for the liberation of Bangladesh.
"By the joint operation of India-Bangladesh allied forces, the final victory was achieved on 16th Dec 1971. A notable number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives along with our freedom fighters and attained martyrdom. I remember their sacrifice with great honour," she said.
The Bangladesh PM also recalled Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's call for independence.
"Fifty years ago, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, declared independence," she said.
Referring to his "historic speech" on March 7, 1971, she said he called on the masses to fight for independence and the people of the country followed his words.
"When Pakistani military started committing genocide on the people of Bangladesh from March 25, Bangabandhu declared independence just before he was arrested by the Pakistani military and he was taken to a prison in West Pakistan and imprisoned there," she said.
"I pay my deep homage to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I remember the four national leaders of our Liberation War, three million martyrs, 200,000 dishonoured, tortured mothers and sisters. I express my deep gratitude to the valiant freedom fighters, she added
She also referred to the assassination of her father in 1975.
"I remember with great anguish, August 15, 1975 - a dark night for Bangladesh when Father of Nation was assassinated. My mother, three brothers, two sisters-in-law, uncle were brutally assassinated and all martyrs who attained martyrdom that night," she said.
"In our independence war, we always remember the contribution of India. PM Narendra Modi has graced this occasion, being physically present here as a Guest of Honour. We are honoured to have him here. I extend my heartiest thanks to PM Narendra Modi who has consented to grace this occasion even amidst this pandemic. India has now become one of our best development partners," she said.
She said the celebrations had started on March 17, 2020, but were impacted by the pandemic.
"That's why in 2021, we've extended celebrations of the birth centenary (of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman) up to Dec 16, 2021," she said.
She said India has always stood beside Bangladesh in times of need.
Sheikh Hasina referred to India handing over 109 ambulances and also mentioned the country's assistance of COVID-19 vaccines to help Bangladesh fight the pandemic.
She also thanked India for awarding the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 to Bangabandhu. (ANI)