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Bangladesh invites President Kovind for 50th anniversary of liberation from Pakistan

The invitation comes amid tensions between Delhi and Dhaka over the communal violence in Bangladesh during Durga Puja this month. India hasn’t confirmed the visit.

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New Delhi: Amid bilateral tensions over communal violence in Bangladesh, the Sheikh Hasina government has invited President Ram Nath Kovind for the 50th Victory Day celebrations to be held in Dhaka later this year, ThePrint has learnt. 

Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day on 16 December every year to celebrate the country’s liberation from Pakistan in 1971.

Dhaka believes Kovind’s visit, as a follow-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip in March, will further deepen ties between Bangladesh and India as both sides are keen to take the relationship to the next level, sources told ThePrint.

Kovind’s visit was discussed during a meeting between Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and Bangladesh High Commissioner Muhammad Imran earlier this week, the sources said. 

India hasn’t yet confirmed the visit, but is expected to respond to the invitation soon, the sources added.

In March, PM Modi visited Bangladesh to celebrate ‘Mujib Borsho’, the birth centenary of the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the golden jubilee of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh, and 50 years of the Bangladesh Liberation War. 

The two-day visit, which was the PM’s first foreign trip after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, also led to the deepening of defence and security ties between the two countries, and served to enhance connectivity and two-way trade.

Currently, the Chief of Naval Staff of Bangladesh Navy, Admiral M. Shaheen Iqbal, is on a week-long visit to India. The visit is considered significant as it coincides with the golden jubilee celebration of the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Iqbal met Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh this week. On Thursday, he visited the Western Naval Command headquarters in Mumbai. The two sides discussed the strengthening of coordinated patrol along the International Maritime Boundary Line and bilateral exercise ‘Bongosagar’, diplomatic sources said.

Also read: India’s distance with Pakistan and Bangladesh growing. Cricket can help

Bangladesh orders judicial probe into Durga Puja violence

Meanwhile, the situation continues to remain tense between Dhaka and New Delhi in the wake of the communal violence in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja earlier this month, in which the minority Hindu community was targeted.

Over the last week, India indefinitely postponed a solo art exhibition by Bangladeshi artist Rokeya Sultana over “safety and security” reasons in light of the communal violence. The exhibition was scheduled to be held in New Delhi and Kolkata between 23 October and 11 December.

On Thursday, a Bangladeshi High Court ordered a judicial probe into the violence that took place in the six districts of Cumilla, Feni, Noakhali, Chattogram, Chandpur and Rangpur, reported The Daily Star.

The court also sought an explanation from the local authorities in the next four weeks over why their “inaction and failure to protect Hindu citizens and their properties” should not be “declared illegal”, said another report in Dhaka Tribune.

The incidents of violence, which were allegedly masterminded by religious fundamentalist group Jamaat-e-Islami, have also given rise to a growing clamour in Dhaka to return to the 1972 constitution that envisaged a secular nation. However, the Sheikh Hasina government is unlikely to take such a step.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: Govt, media, opposition — Bangladesh can teach India how to handle hate crimes


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