Indian President's visit to Bangladesh on 'Victory Day' is a huge gesture

Written By: Shantanu Mukharji
New Delhi Published: Dec 15, 2021, 06:18 PM(IST)

File photo: Indian President Ram Nath Kovind. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Bangladesh also seems enthusiastic to welcome the Indian President and his entourage and is thus reciprocating the gesture in equal measure in Dhaka

President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind is all set to pay an official visit to Dhaka from December 15-17 to participate in the ongoing Victory Day celebrations currently underway to observe the golden jubilee of the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 – a happening which was largely possible due to India’s direct and indirect intervention both diplomatically, and militarily.  

Similarly, India too, December 16, which is marked as the Victory Day (Vijay Divas in Hindi), is celebrating in a big way holding meetings, workshops, photo exhibitions commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh as a free and liberated nation. While Dhaka is all spruced up to receive the Indian President, on its part, India sending its President to Bangladesh is an extraordinarily huge gesture signifying the importance India accords to Bangladesh. Such a gesture and the subsequent visit is bound to further reinforce the bilateral ties between the two friendly countries. 

Bangladesh also seems enthusiastic to welcome the Indian President and his entourage and is thus reciprocating the gesture in equal measure in Dhaka. Other than being present in the Victory Day celebrations, President Kovind will hold talks with his Bangladesh counterpart, Abdul Hamid and will also be called upon by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Home Minister, other Cabinet Ministers and top dignitaries of the Bangladesh government.

Regarding this high-profile upcoming visit of the Indian President, it will not be impertinent to remind the readers about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bangladesh visit (March 26 – 27, 2021) to take part in the centenary celebrations of the founding father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the visit was impactful. Yet, there were mischievous elements backed by Islamic fanatics, who went into a violent mob frenzy after the commencement of the visit which sadly saw trails of destruction of Hindu property including vandalization of the Ustad Alauddin Khan musical academy in Brahmanbaria that shows that the communal elements are still active in Bangladesh primarily to target Indian cultural places due to the former’s religious intolerance and a radical mindset.  

This is being mentioned to prime the host authorities to be extra vigilant on the Indian President’s visit as anti-India forces, ostensibly with the tacit support of the forces in Bangladesh, i.e. Pakistan ISI and pro Pakistan elements, may try to sabotage the atmospherics by engaging into unpleasant activities. 

Some quarters may feel that such an apprehension is perhaps far-fetched or unrealistic, yet, an alert law and order apparatus needs to be on its toes to ensure that no untoward incident is allowed to happen in an attempt to impair Indo-BD relations or foment a communal divide.  This seems more imperative in view of the recent reports when pro-Pakistan supporters donning jerseys and carrying Pakistani flags were seen in the stadium cheering the Pakistani team in the cricket tourneys. 

In sum, this means pro-Pakistan, and by implication, anti-India forces are still active and their nefarious plans to dampen the bilateral ties this should not be permitted to succeed.     

To tie up the loose ends on the emerging visit of the Indian President, the Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who has also been the Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh, not very long ago, paid a visit to Dhaka which was considered significant as he carried an important communication from the Indian government.

Amid these rejoicings, however, there was a sudden dampener for Bangladesh when the US recently imposed sanctions on Bangladesh’s prestigious security outfit the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and its top officials including the top cop, Benazir Ahmad.  

In total, six current and former officials have been indicted by the US on the International Human Rights’ Day.  

However, Bangladesh was quick to react and protested against the US for slapping sanctions/bans. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, Masud Bin Momen summoned the US Ambassador in Dhaka, Earl R Miller to register a formal protest against the US decision. In the same vein, Dr Hasan Mahmud, the Bangladesh Information and Broadcasting Minister charged (December 11) the US for first peeping into its own track record of human rights’ abuses before casting aspersions on Bangladesh.  

From these angry reactions, it would appear that Bangladesh will not accept such diktat from the US and continue to make a noise. Bangladesh is more upset on the US decision for revoking the visa of former Army Chief Gen Aziz Ahmed for his alleged charges of corruption and irregularities. These developments are unlikely to affect the President’s visit but are worth taking note of to get a holistic picture of the prevailing scenario.

In the meantime, to keep up the atmospherics and also in line with keeping up the spirit of the two countries alive, the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Vikram Doraiswamy stated (December 10) that the secular identity of Bangladesh is intact and the country had, changed the `ideological map’ of South Asia through it’s liberation in 1971.

He further said that Indo-BD friendship is guaranteed because a nation that is comfortable on its own identity that Bangladesh is, will always be a friend to its neighbor. Such articulations on a clear note of optimism, is a perfect backdrop under which President Kovind’s visit to Bangladesh is afoot and this is expected to open a new vista in the bilateral relations further cementing ties, also proving to be an example to other nations in South Asia.    

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)

Shantanu Mukharji

Shantanu Mukharji is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst, and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius.
 

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