London, March 24 (OurVoice): Speakers at an international virtual conference on Wednesday underscored the need for strengthening the historical friendship between Bangladesh and India since the liberation war in 1971, which has still been playing a significant role in the geo-political aspects in the region.
They said, Bangladesh and India share many things in common. They added, India’s relations with Bangladesh are traditionally cultural, social and economic. There are more that brings them together – a shared history and common heritage, linguistic and cultural ties, passion for music, literature and the arts. Bangladesh and India also share a common history of struggle, for freedom and liberation, they continued.
They were speaking at the international virtual conference organized by European Bangladesh Forum (EBF), a Europe-based Diaspora organization of Bangladeshi Europeans, on ‘50 Years of Independence: Geo-Political Support for Bangladesh in 1971’. It was organized in the backdrop of the Golden Jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh and the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and India.
The virtual conference was addressed by Dr. Siegfried O. Wolf, Director Research, South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), Belgium, Azizul Islam Bhuyian, Editor, Bangladesh News & Bangladeher Khobor, former Managing Editor of the national News Agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sagstha (BSS), Haroon Habib, Freedom Fighter and General Secretary, Sector Commanders’ Forum and former Managing Editor of the national News Agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sagstha (BSS), Major General (Retd) Abdur Rashid, Executive Director, Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies (ICLDS), Dhaka and Bikash Chowdhury Barua, co-President of EBF. The program was moderated by Dr. Mojibur Rahman, a Finland-based human right activist, senior researcher and writer. It was live broadcast by the London-based British Bangla News Channel.
Drawing the historical ties between India and Bangladesh, Freedom Fighter Haroon Habib, a veteran journalist said, in the interest of a modern collective living, India and Bangladesh strongly believe, it should be brave enough to open newer connectivity as it is the key to change the region for collective good. And this should not be in terms of land, road and waterways alone. It must be cultural and people to people as well. And as Bangladesh and India celebrate their 50th year of diplomatic ties, the political leadership must look beyond their borders to search for a meaningful partnership for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive region, he added.
Focusing on the brutal killing and torture by the Pakistani army from March 25, 1971, Director Research of South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) Dr. Siegfried O. Wolf said, in 1971 the world witnessed the emergence of Bangladesh. During its struggle for liberation, the Bengali people had to face not only extreme atrocities but also a genocide of 3 million people conducted by Pakistani forces and their Islamist collaborators. The question that arises is why the international community was not willing to stop the military operations in then Pakistan’s Eastern wing right from the beginning? Due to the presence of international media and diplomatic missions, there was credible and impartial reporting about the start of large-scale massacres and target-killings in Dhaka, he added.
Executive Director of the Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies (ICLDS) Major General (Retd) Abdur Rashid said, at the time of our liberation war the world was divided in the line of the cold war. So consequently, we received the support of the half of the world and the rest of the world worked against us. After the liberation war of Bangladesh, the situation changed and we entered into the total world community. In our constitution, we had four pillars and one of them is socialism. The Father of the Bengali Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to play the role to give the economic freedom to the oppressed people of the world and not only to the Bengalis. For that reason, we saw that many people going against him. He spoke for the freedom of all oppressed also in the NAM Conference in 1974, when a great fan and friend of Bangabandhu, Fidel Castro warned him that a bullet would follow you. It came true on 15 August 1975.
Major General (Retd) Mr Rashid added, those who lost in the war in 1971, could not like the friendly relation between Bangladesh and India. So, they try create a condition by spreading rumors, which they are doing presently on the issue of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Bangladesh, although he visited Bangladesh earlier. However, the Bangladesh government has independent foreign policy and maintained the long-lasting friendly relation with India solving several issues including land boundary agreement and maritime boundary issues. So, for the geo-political development and cooperation in the South Asia the friendly relation between Bangladesh and India is very important. Moreover, the geo-political relation during the liberation war in 1971 has impact still today on the geo-political situation in the region.
In his speech former Managing Editor of the national News Agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sagstha (BSS), Mr. Azizul Islam Bhuiyan expressed his deep gratitude, as freedom fighter and member of Bangladesh Liberation Forces (BLF) known as Mujib Bahini to India for their strong stand for the Bangladeshi people. He added, the strong leadership of India ignored all American pleas and supported the Bangladeshi liberation force and Bangladeshi people with arms, money, land, housing, training and military intervention. He also gratefully recognized the support of Bhutan, Japan, the then Soviet Union and Afghanistani people, who extended their all-out support and cooperation for the liberation of Bangladesh.
Earlier, EBF Co-President Mr Bikash Chowdhury Barua in his opening remarks said, the friendship between Bangladesh and India that started during the 1971 liberation war continued to grow and which is today stronger than ever before. He further said, from the very start of the Liberation War Bangladesh received total support from its great neighboring country India in 1971. India opened her borders to over 10 million Bengali refugees and gave them shelter, food, medicine and more importantly safety. India provided trainings to our freedom fighters and all other support he said, adding a nation once termed as ‘Bottomless Basket’ by the American Foreign Secretary, Henry Kissinger is now marching ahead and has become an example, a model of development in the world.
The virtual meeting was organized in collaboration with the London-based British Bangla News. It was live telecast from the British Bangla News and remained available on the YouTube and the British Bangla News Facebook Page.