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India-Bangladesh Must Always Stand With Each Other

Thanking the Indian government for cooperating in rescuing Bangladeshi nationals from Ukraine during the war, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the two countries would always stand by each other. It is absolutely true. As friendly neighbouring country, India was, is and will be stand with Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh are eternal friends. India should stand in support of Bangladesh that embodies values that emerge from the Liberation Movement of the country. On the other hands, Bangladesh should with Bangladesh as India always stands with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh and India are common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA, and the Commonwealth. The two countries share many cultural ties. In particular, Bangladesh and the East Indian state of West Bengal are Bengali-speaking. In 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out between East Pakistan and West Pakistan; India intervened in December 1971 in support of East Pakistan and helped secure its independence from Pakistan as the country of Bangladesh. Since the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in 2015 and round back visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in 2017, the notable developments that have taken place include resolution of long-pending land and maritime boundaries asserting the issue of enclaves, the conclusion of over ninety instruments comprising in the hi-tech areas, i.e., electronics, cyber-security, space, information technology, and civil nuclear energy and observed increase in bilateral trade from US$9 billion to US$10.46 billion in the fiscal year (FY) 2018–19, preceded by US$7 billion to US$9 billion in FY 2017–18, an increase of 28.5 percent.

On 6 December, Bangladesh and India celebrate Friendship commemorating India’s recognition of Bangladesh and the continued friendship between the two countries.

However, The Prime Minister expressed this hope in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. Sheikh Hasina wrote, “Over the last few years, our bilateral relations have been further strengthened through effective dialogue at all levels.” “I firmly believe that Bangladesh and India will always stand by each other and reflect the shared aspirations of the people of both countries.” India is conducting a rescue operation called ‘Operation Ganga’ to evacuate civilians from Ukraine during the war.

Under the initiative, India has promised to rescue 23,000 people from the Eastern European country by March 15. Besides, 147 foreign nationals from 18 countries including Bangladesh have also been rescued. According to a March 10 report in the Times of India, 13 Bangladeshis were rescued from the northeastern Sami city of Ukraine and taken to another city during the fierce fighting.

Expressing gratitude for rescuing Bangladeshis from the battlefield, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrote in the letter, “I am writing this letter to express my sincere gratitude to you and your government for their assistance and cooperation in rescuing and evacuating Bangladeshis along with Indian nationals from Sami Oblast, Ukraine.”

“The sincere cooperation of your government in this regard bears witness to the rare and lasting relationship that has existed between our two countries year after year.” In the letter, Bangabandhu Kanya also recalled the arrival of the Indian Prime Minister on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman last year. Wishing Prime Minister Modi good health, Sheikh Hasina wished him a happy Holi.

India remains committed to assisting Bangladesh in its journey towards a strong economy, partnering with Bangladesh as Bangladesh proceeds to greater prosperity. The business communities of the two countries should seize the opportunity to enhance trade and economic linkages to new heights especially between Bangladesh and India’s northeastern region.

India and Bangladesh have same developmental visions as the ties between the two nations remain strong. The relations between the two countries have been characterised as a special relationship. Bangladesh started mass COVID-19 vaccinations with India’s Serum Institute Covishield vaccines on 7 February 2021. Bangladesh procured 7 million doses and India had meant to gift a further 3.3 million doses. Due to the second wave of COVID-19 in India, the vaccine export was halted. 

In April 2021, Bangladesh sent medicines and medical equipment to India following the deteriorating COVID-19 situation in India. The relief package consisted of approximately 10,000 vials of Remdesivir, (produced in Bangladesh by Beximco) anti-viral infections, oral anti-viral, 30,000 PPE kits, and several thousand zinc, calcium, vitamin C and other necessary tablets. In May 2021, the government of Bangladesh sent a second consignment of COVID-19 relief consisting of antibiotics, paracetamol, protective equipment and hand sanitiser.

Operation Ganga was conducted to rescue Indian nationals stranded in war-torn Ukraine. So far, thousands of Indian nationals were repatriated under the scheme. Significantly, the Indian government has rescued citizens of several other countries besides Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal through this operation.

It is India that stood by Bangladesh always. Even during the Ukraine crisis, India helped Bangladesh to evacuate Bangladeshi people. India’s helping hand to Bangladesh is time-tested. A friend in need is a friend indeed. According to the media reports, 9 Bangladeshi nationals have been rescued from Ukraine recently under Operation Ganga. Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has already thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for rescuing the citizens of Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh should stand with each other.

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