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Bangladesh confers scholarships to descendants of Indian soldiers killed in 1971 war

New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the relationship between Bangladesh and India is a role model for neighbourhood diplomacy worldwide.

“Having forged a strong partnership over the last 50 years, both countries are working on an increasingly wide range of sectoral collaboration,” Hasina said at a function to award the “Mujib Scholarship” to the direct descendants of the Indian soldiers and officers killed or critically wounded during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.

Among the recipients was Anuj Ekka, grandson of legendary war hero Albert Ekka, who posthumously was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military honour for valour, for his role in the Battle of Gangasagar.

Hasina said Bangladesh should not forget that India, its government, people and armed forces stood beside the country during its Liberation War.

“I want our friendship to last forever,” she said.

Hasina said the conferment of 200 Mujib Scholarships — 100 each at the Class-10 and Class-12 levels — was a token of Bangladesh’s homage to the heroes who made the supreme sacrifice in 1971.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Bangladesh Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haq also attended the function.

“The relationship between our two countries is in many ways a continuation of the bonds that were forged in blood 50 years ago,” Jaishankar said.

He said under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the India-Bangladesh ties have taken great strides forward in ways that not only have the contemporary partnership but also the future collaboration in mind.

The Bangladesh prime minister expressed gratitude to “our Indian brothers” who sacrificed their invaluable lives and shed blood for the cause of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation.

“It is always an honour for us to remember those noble persons who sacrificed their lives. My salutations to you, to the bravehearts — our heroes,” she said.

Hasina said she believes that the awardees of the scholarship would have an opportunity to revisit the memories of their forefathers’ valour, relate it to the present circumstances and would continue to be a bridge between the two countries.

She appreciated New Delhi’s gesture of extending support to Bangladesh’s freedom fighters for their treatment in India as well as offering scholarships to their family members.

“It certainly demonstrates their continued support and goodwill for the war heroes of Bangladesh who fought for the emergence of an independent and sovereign Bangladesh,” Hasina said.