Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. COURTESY
Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has said his country is keen to continue working closely with Bangladesh to support each other's defence and security concerns as the nation is deeply sensitive to the security and development issues of its neighbours. "It is critical for our Armed Forces to remain engaged with each other for mutual capability enhancement, to respond to contingencies and to realise the shared goals of providing security and prosperity to our people," he added.
The Indian union minister was addressing a reception function hosted by Bangladesh High Commission to India marking the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh Armed Forces Day at the Chancery premises as the chief guest on Monday.
This is for the first time in Bangladesh's history since independence that the Union Defence Minister of India and chiefs of Indian three services joined the programme along with other dignitaries including officers from Armed Forces of Bangladesh and other friendly nations and Bangladesh's 1971 war veterans.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran and Defence Advisor to the mission Brigadier General Md. Abul Kalam Azad also spoke on the occasion.
Mentioning strong partnership between Bangladesh and India, Rajnath Singh said both the countries are fighting shoulder to shoulder against common challenges such poverty and hunger, surge of terrorism and extremist ideologies and climate change.
He paid glowing tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman saying, "The inspiring leadership of the first President of Bangladesh was the guiding light for the people of the country in their struggle for freedom".
He said Bangabandhu's ideals form the foundation of the shinning Bangladesh steadily advancing in its path of development. The Indian minister described the Bangladesh War of Liberation as an unprecedented event in the 20th century history as it was a moral fight against injustice, atrocities and oppression.
In this connection, he referred to the Indian support to the Bangladesh's War of Liberation and called for keeping the spirit of Liberation War alive in the mind of the younger generations, especially those who join the Bangladesh armed forces. He asserted that the proud and professional Bangladesh Armed Forces of today owe their foundational values to the Liberation War of 1971 and appreciated the fact that the Armed Forces of Bangladesh are one of the highest contributors to the UN Peace Keeping Forces and are respected globally for their professionalism and commitment to just causes.
The minister expressed satisfaction that the close defence cooperation between Bangladesh and India which started during the 1971 Liberation War has grown steadily in the last few years through several activities. Mentioning that USD 500 million Line of Credit was provided by India to Bangladesh for defence equipment, he hoped that this gesture will spur joint activities not only in acquisition of assets but also in co-development and co-production of defence material.
He lauded Bangladesh's recent progress in economic sector saying variousdevelopmental works are taking place across the country which considered Bangladesh as the fastest growing nation in the world.The minister said India-Bangladesh bilateral ties have been passing through a 'shonali adhyay' (golden phase) when cooperation in traditional areas like security, trade, connectivity and people to people exchanges have steadily deepened, the partnership is expanding to new and emerging areas like nuclear technology, IT, innovation and blue economy.
The Indian defense minister congratulated Bangladesh as 6th December, the date on which India recognised independent sovereign Bangladesh, will be commemorated as 'Maitree Diwas' in India and Bangladesh as well as in 18 other countries around the world.