DELHI, MARCH 27: At the invitation of Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, paid a State Visit to Bangladesh from 26 to 27 March 2021 to join the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh, the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh. The visit symbolised the partnership of half-a-century between India and Bangladesh that has strengthened, matured and evolved as a model for bilateral relations for the entire region.
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2. During the visit, Prime Minister of India called on H.E. Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid, Hon’ble President of Bangladesh on 27 March 2021. The Indian Prime Minister joined the National Day programme, Golden Jubilee celebrations and Mujib Borsho celebration at the National Parade Ground as the Guest of Honour on 26 March 2021. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen called on the Prime Minister of India on 26 March 2021.
3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a wreath at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar as a mark of respect to the memory and contribution of the great freedom fighters of Bangladesh. He also paid rich tribute and respect to the memory of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Mausoleum in Tungipara, Gopalganj.
4. Both Prime Ministers held a tête-à-tête on 27 March 2021 which was followed by delegation level talks. Both the talks were marked by great warmth and cordiality. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations, based on deep historical and fraternal ties, which reflect an all-encompassing bilateral partnership based on equality, trust and understanding that transcends even a strategic partnership.
5. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his first ever foreign visit to Bangladesh in-person during the ongoing COVID pandemic to join the celebrations. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her deep appreciation and gratitude for the wholehearted support extended by the Government and people of India, during the critical days of Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Both Prime Ministers underscored the need for preserving the memory and legacy of the Great Liberation War. Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the Government of Bangladesh for the decision to establish a memorial at Ashuganj in remembrance of the supreme sacrifices made by the valiant members of the Indian Armed Forces during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.
6. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his heartfelt congratulations to the people of Bangladesh on the occasion of Mujib Borsho, 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence and establishment of diplomatic relations and appreciated Bangladesh’s outstanding achievements in human development, poverty alleviation, counter terrorism, and remarkable economic progress made under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her appreciation for India’s continuing bilateral cooperation in various sectors.
7. The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the progress of various decisions taken during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Delhi in October 2019 and the Virtual Summit on 17 December 2020. Both sides also recalled the successful holding of the Sixth Meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission held in September 2020 and the visit of the External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar to Dhaka on 4 March 2021.
8. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the continued exchange of high-level visits which have helped frame a better understanding on both sides on the various areas of cooperation. They also appreciated the regular holding of meetings of sectoral institutional mechanisms for sustaining the momentum of bilateral relations, particularly during the COVID period.
Joint Celebrations of Historical Links
9. Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, one of the greatest leaders of modern times, will be remembered for his courage and indelible contribution to Bangladesh’s emergence as a sovereign country. He also recalled the contribution of Bangabandhu in nurturing peace, security and development in the region. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked India for conferring Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2020 on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in recognition of his outstanding contributions towards social, economic and political transformation of Bangladesh through non-violent and other Gandhian methods.
10. Both Prime Ministers jointly inaugurated the Bangabandhu – Bapu Digital Exhibition in Dhaka, which celebrates the life and legacy of these iconic leaders. The two Prime Ministers affirmed that the legacy and ideals of the two great leaders would continue to inspire the people worldwide, particularly the youth, against oppression.
11. To mark the 50th anniversary of India-Bangladesh friendship, both sides released respective commemorative postage stamps. It was decided to commemorate 06 December as Maitri Diwas, the day when India recognized Bangladesh in the year 1971. The Indian side announced the establishment of Bangabandhu Chair at the University of Delhi. In view of the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh as well as the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties, both sides have agreed to jointly commemorate these epochal events in 19 select countries.
12. Both sides noted with satisfaction that the filming of the biopic on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under the direction of Indian film director Shyam Benegal, has commenced and is expected to be completed according to schedule. Both sides stressed on the need to commence work on the Liberation War documentary at the earliest.
13. Both sides noted with appreciation the participation of a 122-member tri-services contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces in the 2020 Republic Day celebrations of India.
14. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended an invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit India in 2022 in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
15. Both sides welcomed the port call by Indian Naval Ships Sumedha and Kulish on 08-10 March 2021 at Mongla upon the invitation of Bangladesh as part of the commemoration of the epochal occasions. This was the first ever visit to Mongla Port by any Indian Naval Ship. Bangladesh Navy Ship is also scheduled to make port call at Vishakhapatnam as part of the joint celebrations.
16. The Bangladesh side welcomed the decision of the Government of India to announce 1000 Shuborno Jayanti Scholarships for Bangladeshi students for pursuing education/courses in India.
17. Bangladesh Prime Minister thanked the Indian side for considering Bangladesh’s proposal to name the historic road from Mujib Nagar to Nadia on the Bangladesh-India border as “Shadhinota Shorok” commemorating the historic significance of the road during Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Both sides looked forward to inaugurating the road soon as part of the joint celebrations.
Water Resources Cooperation
18. Recalling earlier discussions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh’s long-pending request for concluding the interim agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta river. She underscored that to alleviate the sufferings and save the livelihoods of millions of people dependent on the Teesta river basin, it is necessary that Bangladesh receives its fair share of the Teesta waters, the draft agreement of which has already been agreed upon by both Governments in January 2011. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s sincere commitment and continued efforts to conclude this agreement, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. The Indian side also requested for early finalization of the draft of the interim agreement for sharing of water of Feni River, pending with the Bangladesh side which had been agreed upon by both sides in 2011.
19. The two leaders directed their respective Ministries of Water Resources to work towards an early conclusion of the Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six common rivers, namely, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
20. Bangladesh side reiterated the urgency for India to allow excavation of the remaining portion of Rahimpur Khal for utilization of Kushiyara River waters for irrigation of the Upper Surma Kushiyara project, as the matter is directly linked with the food security of Bangladesh. In this regard, early concurrence was requested from India on the proposed MoU to be signed between the two countries for the withdrawal of water from the Kushiyara River by both sides, pending signing of the Agreement in this regard. Indian side conveyed that the MoU was under consideration, in consultation with the relevant State Government.
21. Recalling that the MoU on withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from Feni River was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in October 2019, the Indian side urged the Bangladesh side for early implementation of the MoU.
22. The two Prime Ministers directed the Joint Technical Committee, formed for the purpose, to expeditiously commence the feasibility study of the Ganges-Padma barrage and other alternative options in Bangladesh for optimum utilization of the Ganges waters received by Bangladesh as per the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, 1996.
23. The two leaders recalled the positive contribution of the Joint Rivers Commission and expressed satisfaction at the recently concluded Secretary level meeting of the Water Resources Ministries of the two countries.
Trade for Growth
24. To enhance trade between the two countries, both Prime Ministers underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers. Bangladesh side requested for lifting the new policy of Indian Customs stipulating verification of certificates of origin issued from Bangladesh. The Indian side conveyed that under the provisions of the new Customs rules, in the event of a conflict between a provision of these rules and rules of origin of a trade agreement, the provisions of the rules of origin of the trade agreement shall prevail. Further, for bilateral trade to flourish, both leaders stressed the need for predictability of trade policies, regulations and procedures.
25. Both Prime Ministers stressed the urgent need for up-gradation of infrastructure and facilities of the Land Customs Stations (LCSs) / Land Ports in a coordinated manner to facilitate trade between the two countries.
26. The Indian side reiterated its request for at least one major land port without port restrictions or with negative list of restrictions, on the border with North Eastern Region of India, [where feasible] for easier market access, starting with ICP Agartala-Akhaura.
27. The two Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of harmonization of standards and mutual recognition of agreements and certificates for enhancing bilateral trade. It was agreed that in the spirit of liberalizing trade between the two countries, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) would collaborate for the capacity building and development of testing and Lab facilities.
28. The Indian side congratulated the Bangladesh side on its upcoming graduation from the LDC status. Recognizing the immense potential of bilateral economic and commercial ties, both sides emphasized on expeditious conclusion of the ongoing joint study on the prospects of entering into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
29. Underscoring the important role that the jute sector has played in Bangladesh’s economy, the Bangladesh side invited Indian investment in the jute mills of Bangladesh under public-private partnership as part of the government’s decision to revitalize and modernize the jute sector through manufacturing of value added and diversified jute products. In this regard, Bangladesh side urged more meaningful cooperation in this sector between both countries and requested India to withdraw the duties imposed on export of jute products from Bangladesh since 2017. The Indian side welcomed cooperation in the Jute sector. On anti-dumping duty on jute, Indian side agreed to look into the matter.
30. The Indian side urged the Bangladesh side to remove the existing practices against the Indian companies from participating in tenders floated by various Ministries and the agencies of the Government of Bangladesh. Bangladesh side informed that there is no country-specific restriction in the process.
31. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the opening of new border haats at the agreed locations and hoped that they would be mutually beneficial for the economic development of the people living along the remote and inaccessible points of the border of both countries.
Development Partnership and Cooperation in Power and Energy
32. Both sides took note of the first meeting of the High-Level Monitoring Committee and directed the Committee to provide recommendations for the expeditious execution of projects under the Lines of Credit.
33. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the robust cooperation in the power and energy sector, including between the private sectors. It was agreed to strengthen sub-regional cooperation, including with Nepal and Bhutan and in this regard cooperation in energy was underscored. The Indian side emphasized that finalization of regulations and guidelines for cross border trade in electricity would increase sub-regional cooperation. India requested early finalization of modalities for implementation of the Katihar – Parbotipur – Bornagar cross border electricity interconnection. Both sides welcomed the establishment of a study team in this regard. Both sides took stock of progress in the implementation of the India Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline and unit-1 of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Project and expressed hope that these projects would get commissioned soon.
34. Recalling that the Framework of Understanding on Cooperation in the Hydrocarbon Sector had been signed in December 2021, both leaders urged the relevant authorities to implement the institutional arrangement at the earliest, which will further enhance bilateral cooperation in this important sector.
Connectivity for Prosperity
35. Both Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of enhancing connectivity for facilitating regional economic integration for the benefit of the all the parties involved. India expressed gratitude for Prime Minister Hasina’s initiative of revitalizing the pre-1965 rail connectivity as well as for Bangladesh’s support for the numerous connectivity initiatives through rail, road and waterways. In the same spirit, Bangladesh reiterated its eagerness to partner in the ongoing initiative of the India – Myanmar – Thailand trilateral highway project. To facilitate better connectivity and simplify movement of passengers and goods between both the countries, both leaders agreed to an early operationalization of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement through expeditious signing of the Enabling MoU for Bangladesh, India, and Nepal to commence the movement of goods and passengers, with provision for Bhutan to join at a later date.
36. Bangladesh side also requested India for favourable consideration of the new connectivity routes proposed by Bangladesh, namely allowing additional land ports of Bhadrapur-Bairagi Galgalia, Biratnagar-Jogmani and Birganj-Raxaul to be connected with Banglabandha-Fulbari and Birol-Radhikapur by road as alternative routes. India was also requested to consider connecting Birol-Radhikapur and Rohanpur-Singhabad rail-interchanges with Biratnagar-Jogmani as this would help reduce the distance and cost of transportation of goods by rail from Bangladesh to Nepal. Bangladesh side also sought rail connectivity with Bhutan through the newly inaugurated Chilahati-Haldibari route to facilitate rail connectivity with Bhutan. The Indian side requested the Bangladesh side for cooperation in establishing connectivity between Guwahati and Chattogram and also from Mahendraganj in Meghalaya to Hili in West Bengal. Bangladesh side requested the Indian side for a detailed proposal in this regard.
37. Highlighting the benefits of connectivity and the trial run of trans-shipment of Indian goods from Kolkata to Agartala via Chattogram, the India side urged for early operationalization of the Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for the Movement of Goods to and from India, including finalization of cost effective pricing and regulatory orders.
38. The Indian side requested for transshipment arrangement in Munshiganj and Pangaon as part of the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade until the completion of the bilateral project to develop Ashuganj Container Terminal. Bangladesh side informed the infrastructure limitations in this regard and that work is being planned for upgradation of the facilities.
39. Prime Minister Modi recalled the recent inauguration of the Maitree Shetu over River Feni and appreciated Bangladesh’s support in materializing this crucial connectivity project. Bangladesh Prime Minister stated that inauguration of the Feni bridge is a testament to the Bangladesh Government’s continued commitment to support initiatives to strengthen connectivity and economic integration in the region, particularly for the North-East of India. Both sides agreed to develop remaining trade and travel infrastructure to facilitate the optimal usage of this new bridge.
40. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh offered the use of Chattogram and Sylhet International Airport, by the people of North East India, especially of Tripura. Bangladesh also informed that Saidpur Airport is being developed as a regional airport for the use of the people of this region.
41. With the vaccination drive being on full swing in both countries, both sides agreed to explore resuming regular air travel and lifting restrictions for movement through land ports at the earliest as well as to operationalize the train and bus services between the two countries at the earliest. Noting that the full resumption of travel will depend on the COVID situation, the Indian side expressed hope that the full scale travel will resume soon.
42. Recognizing the ongoing cooperation between the two countries in the sector of education, the two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to widening this cooperation for mutual benefit. In this connection, they appreciated the various collaborative arrangements between the universities and educational institutes of the two countries. Both leaders directed their concerned authorities for early conclusion of the MoU on Mutual Recognition of Academic Qualifications. Bangladesh side offered to conduct short term exchange programmes for interested Indian youth in areas such as fisheries, agriculture, disaster management, SMEs and women empowerment. Both sides reiterated the desire to continue regular exchanges to promote culture, education, science and technology, youth and sports and mass media.
Cooperation in Public Health
43. Both sides exchanged views on the situation of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in their respective countries and expressed satisfaction at the manner in which sustained engagement between the two countries has been maintained during this ongoing crisis. Bangladesh side thanked the Government of India for gifting 3.2 million doses of Oxford Astra Zeneca Covishield vaccine made in India and appreciated the prompt delivery of the first batch of 5 million doses. Bangladesh side requested the Indian side to facilitate regular delivery of the remaining tranches of vaccine procured by Bangladesh from the Serum Institute of India. India assured its best cooperation in accordance with its domestic exigencies and international commitments.
44. Both Prime Ministers acknowledged the importance of deeper collaboration between the two countries in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic on public health sector particularly in health care services and research. Bangladesh side requested for greater mutual cooperation focusing on training, capacity building, and technology transfer. Bangladesh side highlighted that Biosecurity Cooperation is an area that may be explored by both sides as the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed that without meaningful biosecurity measures, economic prosperity is at stake, given the interconnected nature of trans-boundary trade and people to people contacts between the two countries. The two Prime Ministers appreciated the collaboration and active participation under different mechanisms between Indian Council of Medical Research, India and, Bangladesh Medical Research Council, Bangladesh.
Border Management and Security Cooperation
45. Both leaders emphasized the importance of effective border management for ensuring a tranquil, stable and crime free border. Both sides agreed that any death at the border is a matter of concern and directed the concerned border guarding forces to enhance people-oriented measures for ensuring border security and bring down such death of civilians to zero. Bangladesh side reiterated the request for 1.3 km Innocent Passage through river route along with River Padma near Rajshahi District, on humanitarian grounds. The Indian side assured to consider the request. Indian side requested for completion of border fencing at all pending sectors at the international border at the earliest, beginning from the Tripura (India) – Bangladesh sector. Bangladesh side assured to look into the matter.
46. Both sides expressed deep satisfaction over the existing defence cooperation between the two countries. In this regard, both Prime Ministers emphasized on the frequent exchange of programs and enhancing cooperation in training and capacity building. The Indian side requested for early operationalization of the Defense Line of Credit.
47. Both sides welcomed the signing of an MoU on Disaster Management, Resilience and Mitigation, noting that this would augment institutional cooperation in mitigating natural disasters.
48. Recognizing that terrorism remains a threat to global peace and security, both sides reiterated their strong commitment to eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Prime Minister Modi expressed India’s appreciation for the cooperation extended by Bangladesh in security related matters.
New Areas of Cooperation
49. Recalling that Bangladesh launched its first satellite, Bangabandhu Satellite (BS-1) in 2017, Prime Minister Hasina Sheikh informed that Bangladesh would launch the second satellite soon. In this regard, both the Prime Ministers agreed for further collaboration and technology transfer in space and satellite research.
50. Both sides acknowledged the potential of new and emerging areas of cooperation in bilateral cooperation and directed authorities on both sides to focus on and augment cooperation in cutting edge areas of science, artificial intelligence, peaceful uses of nuclear technology, big data and technology enabled services in health and education. To facilitate further youth exchanges between the two countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited 50 young entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to visit India and present their ideas to venture capitalists.
51. As part of the visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Jeshoreshwari Devi Temple in Jashore and Orakandi Temple in Gopalganj on 27 March 2021. Prime Minister lauded the prevailing tradition of religious harmony.
Forcibly Displaced Persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar
52. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed appreciation at the generosity of Bangladesh in sheltering and providing humanitarian assistance to the 1.1 million forcibly displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Both Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of their safe, speedy and sustainable return to their homeland for the greater security of the region. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested India, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, to play a strong role in the early repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas back to Myanmar. India assured its continued support in this regard.
Partners in the Region and the World
53. Both countries agreed to continue working together for common objectives in the United Nations and other multilateral fora.
54. Both leaders emphasized that the regional organizations, such as SAARC and BIMSTEC have an important role to play, particularly in the post-Covid-19 situation. Bangladesh Prime Minister thanked the Indian Prime Minister for convening the SAARC leaders Video Conference in March 2020 and for proposing creation of the SAARC Emergency Response Fund to counter effects of the global pandemic in the South Asian region.
55. Both leaders agreed to further cooperate in regional and sub-regional platform on a priority basis. Towards this goal, they agreed to make BIMSTEC an even more effective vehicle for inter-regional cooperation to achieve the aim of collective prosperity of all member countries.
56. Bangladesh side highlighted that the country would assume chairmanship of the IORA for the first time in October 2021 and requested the support of India for working towards greater maritime safety and security in the Indian Ocean region. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Bangladesh and assured India’s cooperation in this regard.
57. Bangladesh side thanked the Government of India for confirming support in favour of Bangladesh’s candidate to the post of Director, South East Asian Regional Office of the WHO in 2023.
58. The Indian side expressed optimism that Bangladesh will join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), which will enable Bangladesh to exchange its own experiences in infrastructure risk management, standards, financing and recovery mechanism with other member countries.
59. The Indian side also welcomed the decision of Bangladesh to join the New Development Bank.
Signing of Bilateral Documents and Inauguration of Projects
60. The following bilateral documents were signed and exchanged during the visit:
i. MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Disaster Management, Resilience and Mitigation;
ii. MoU between Bangladesh National Cadet Corps (BNCC) and National Cadet Corps of India (INCC);
iii. MoU on Establishment of a Framework of Cooperation in the Area of Trade Remedial Measures between Bangladesh and India;
iv. Tripartite MoU on Supply of ICT Equipment, Courseware & Reference Books and Training for Bangladesh-Bharot Digital Service and Employment Training (BDSET) Centre;
v. Tripartite MoU for Establishment of Sports Facilities at Rajshahi College Field and Surrounding Areas.
61. In a ceremonial event at the Prime Minister’s Office, the two Prime Ministers announced/ unveiled / inaugurated / the following:
i. Release of India–Bangladesh Friendship Stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties
ii. Foundation stone laying ceremony for a memorial in the honour of the Martyrs of the Indian Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives during Liberation War of 1971 at Ashuganj, Brahmanbaria.
iii. Foundation laying ceremony for Rooppur Power Evacuation Project of five packages (Amin Bazar – Kaliakoir, Rooppur – Dhaka, Rooppur – Gopalganj, Rooppur – Dhamrai, Rooppur – Bogra).
iv. Inauguration of 3 border haats – Nalikata (India) – Saydabad (Bangladesh); Ryngku (India) – Bagan Bari (Bangladesh) and Bholagunj (India) – Bholagunj (Bangladesh)
v. Inauguration of Rabindra Bhawan faciliites in Kuthibari
vi. Inauguration of ‘Mitali Express’ – passenger train service on Dhaka-New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka route through Chilahati-Haldibari rail link;
vii. Announcement of linking the historic road between Mujibnagar and Nadia and naming it as Shadhinota Shorok
62. Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the warmth and cordiality shown and the gracious hospitality extended to him and members of his delegation during their stay in Bangladesh.