Receives the “Bangladesh Freedom Honour” on behalf of Indira Gandhi
DHAKA July 25: Bangladeshis cast aside their usual docile
Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), on an official visit here, lauded Bangladesh’s efforts to combat terrorism as she received on behalf of late prime minister Indira Gandhi the “Bangladesh Freedom Honour”.
“Sonia Gandhi in a one-to-one meeting with (Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina lauded the steps taken by the government to stop terrorism,” said the prime minister’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad.
India and Bangladesh are committed to fighting terrorism, said Azad. Both leaders also discussed and condemned terror attack in Norway that left over 90 people dead.
Later, Sonia Gandhi received on behalf of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, the “Bangladesh Freedom Honour”, which is the country’s highest honour for any foreign national. President Zillur Rahman conferred it posthumously on Indira Gandhi at the Bangabhaban here.
Indira Gandhi was the Indian prime minister when Bangladesh gained freedom from Pakistan in 1971. A three-page citation reads: “Indira Gandhi stood by the side of the people of Bangladesh from the beginning of the Liberation War despite various adversities. She provided shelter to about one crore Bangladeshi refugees. She provided courage in the Liberation War by facing different diplomatic hurdles. She played a great role in freeing Bangabandhu from Pakistani jail. Her contribution to Bangladesh’s Liberation War will be remembered forever.”
Indira Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi in 1984. Earlier in the day, while addressing the conference on autism here, Sonia Gandhi said society should pay greater attention to autistic persons to “get back much in return”.
“If society nurtures them (autistic people), it will get back much in return,” Gandhi said at the two-day conference on “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia” that began here on Monday.
“There is much of it (autism) that we still do not understand. Science itself in the seven decades of research has not found clear answers or explanations for its causes,” she said.
Gandhi also paid floral tributes to the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War at the National Memorial in Savar. She arrived in Dhaka on Sunday night on an invitation from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The visit comes three weeks after a remark by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Bangladesh triggered protests by Bangladesh opposition parties and groups.
In an interaction with a group of editors here June 29, Manmohan Singh had said: “...Bangladesh, our relations are quite good. But we must reckon that at least 25 per cent of the population of Bangladesh swear by the Jamaat-e-Islami and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI.”
The Inter Services Intelligence is Pakistan’s spy agency. The remarks were intended to be off the record, but figured in the official transcript of the interaction. They were later deleted.