Hasina pays tribute to Indira’s leadership
New Delhi, January 12
Sheikh Hasina recollected that when the people of Bangladesh were in the throes of pain, subjugation and bloodshed by the ‘ruling occupation forces’ in 1971, Indira Gandhi rallied support for them both within India and around the world.
As President Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a galaxy of top Indian leaders heard her with rapt attention, the visiting leader said ‘the unflinching support of Indira Gandhi for freedom of the people of Bangladesh, for the release of their leader and Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the unprecedented welcome extended to him on his arrival in New Delhi, on way to Dhaka, will ever remain deeply enshrined in the minds of our people.’’
Sheikh Hasina said the Bangabandhu shared the vision with Indira Gandhi. On returning home, his first message to the people was “our war is now against hunger, poverty and illiteracy, our struggle is now for peace and for ‘sonar Bangla (golden Bangladesh) with happy people.”
Observing that Bangladesh’s progress was frustrated by frequent intervention of ‘undemocratic’ forces, the most brutal one being the murder of her father Mujibur Rahman and 18 members of her family in 1975, she said: “We had nowhere to go at that time. Our government then did not allow us to return to our homeland. It was Indira Gandhi who gave us shelter. We took political asylum and stayed in Delhi for six years.”
The award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh and a citation, was conferred on her for her contribution in promoting peace in the region.
The Bangladesh PM said as India and Bangladesh were committed to peace. India’s success with peace and progress was largely due to the strength of its democracy, nurtured under the stewardship of great and visionary leaders.
Hasina desired that India and Bangladesh work together for peace in South Asia. “We want to have good and friendly relations with all our neighbours. We must work for a South Asia where peace, harmony and progress will prevail.’’
In her brief speech, the Indian President said the return of Sheikh Hasina at the helm of affairs in Bangladesh had come at a critical juncture in the country’s history. ‘’The spectacular victory of the Awami League under her leadership and the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh have been welcomed the world over. ’’
The PM said Bangladesh’s voice was today heard with respect in the international fora and India was honouring ‘not only a great daughter of Bangladesh but a distinguished world leader.’’