Sheikh Hasina
File photo of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina | Ramin Talaie | Bloomberg
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Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday observed state mourning in honour of its “real friend” Pranab Mukherjee, recalling the former Indian president’s outstanding and unforgettable contributions to the country’s 1971 Liberation War and strengthening of bilateral relations.

All government, semi-government, autonomous and private institutions and Bangladesh missions abroad kept the national flag at half-mast in observance of the mourning day.

Mukherjee, 84, died on Monday in New Delhi following a 21-day battle with multiple ailments. The former president was cremated with full state honours on Tuesday.

The Bangladesh government on Tuesday announced that it will observe a one-day state mourning at the death of the country’s “real friend”.

The government in a statement urged places of worship of different faiths to arrange special prayers for Mukherjee.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sent a letter to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying as a renowned scholar and statesman of India, and a highly esteemed leader of South Asia, Mukherjee commanded the respect and admiration of all.

She said ‘Bharat Ratna’ Mukherjee’s tireless work for the welfare of the people of India will inspire the future generation of leaders not only in India but across countries in the region.

Hasina called Mukherjee a true friend and said that he was always been highly revered and loved by the people of Bangladesh recalling his support and contribution in strengthening bilateral relations.

In 2013, Bangladesh conferred the honour of Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sommanona’ (Liberation War Honour) on Mukherjee for his valuable contribution to its 1971 Liberation War. Hasina also called Mukherjee a true friend of Bangladesh and a guardian-like figure to her family.

The news of Mukherjee’s demise deeply saddened her . . . she became emotional and nostalgic as she reminisced her many memories with him, state-run BSS news agency reported, quoting the premier’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim.

Hasina said Mukherjee always extended her cooperation to her family while they were in exile in India after the assassination of her father and Bangladesh’s founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 along with most of his family members.

In such a bad time Mukherjee always enquired about my family and stood beside us in any of our necessity, Hasina said, adding she also drew his cooperation and encouragement even after her return to Bangladesh.

He was our guardian and family friend and he always provided courage to us in any crisis, she said.

The prime minister said with Mukherjee’s demise, India lost a learned and patriotic leader, while Bangladesh lost a very dear person.

He will remain alive as a glittering star in the politics of the sub continent, she said.

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and premier Hasina earlier expressed sorrow over Mukherjee’s demise, describing him as a “true friend” and recalling his outstanding and unforgettable contributions to the country”s 1971 Liberation War.

“His demise has caused an irreparable loss to the political arena of the sub-continent,” Hamid said.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Md Imran on Tuesday placed two separate wreaths on behalf of Prime Minister Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen before Mukherjee’s portrait at his residence in New Delhi.

The envoy also handed over a message of condolence and tributes from Hasina to Mukherjeee’s daughter Sharmistha.

Bangladesh’s Delhi mission will hold a special condolence meeting on Thursday afternoon for Mukherjee, who played a stellar role for the cause of an independent Bangladesh and its international recognition.

Parliamentary speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, main parliamentary opposition Jatiya Party chief GM Quader and senior ministers also mourned Mukherjee’s death.

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