PM Modi in Dhaka (Photo: Twitter/MEAIndia)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Dhaka on an official visit, said on March 26 that he was jailed during the early years of his life after he staged a demonstration to support Bangladesh's freedom.
"I was about 20-22 years old when along with some friends I had protested in favour of Bangladesh during its struggle," Modi said, during his keynote address at the state event marking the country's 50th year of independence.
The Indian prime minister also recalled the "atrocities" committed by Pakistan, which held control of Bangladesh - then known as East Pakistan - till the war of 1971 with India.
"Pakistan’s atrocities in Bangladesh are well known…the pictures didn’t allow me to sleep," he recalled.
Modi also paid homage to Sheikh Mujibur Rehman - the founding father of Bangladesh - who led the movement for the country's liberation from Pakistan.
“We will not forget those who gave their lives for Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Mujibur Rehman was a ray of hope. He made sure that no country could enslave Bangladesh," he said.
The efforts of late former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who led India into the 1971 war against Pakistan and supported the Bangladesh independence movement, are also well recognised, Modi added.
The 50th anniversary of Bangladesh coincides with the 75th independence year of India, Modi told the gathering, adding that the next 25 years are crucial for both the countries.
"Our heritage is shared, our growth is shared, our targets and opportunities are also shared. While there are similar opportunities in trade and industry, there are similar challenges in terrorism," he said.
This was the first foreign visit of the Indian PM after the outbreak of coronavirus last year. Demonstrations were held by Left and Islamist groups in parts of Dhaka against the Sheikh Hasina-led government's decision to invite Modi as a chief guest for the 50th independence anniversary celebrations.