New Delhi, While showering praise on Bangladesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today slammed another neighbour Pakistan in a veiled manner, saying it prefers “backstabbing over trust” and that its “mindset” is a roadblock to peace in the region.
He made the comments as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina felicitated Indian heroes of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War against Pakistan and recalled their sacrifices at a special event here.
He said India’s doors are always open for cooperation, but for that terrorism has to be shunned, a clear reference to Pakistan.
Referring to his famous slogan “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (eveybody’s cooperation, everybody’s development), Modi said it is not just restricted to India but also to the neighbouring countries as development of India is incomplete without the progress of the region.
“We have extended a hand of friendship towards every country (of the region) and have invited them to be a part of our growth. Without being selfish, we have wished good for the entire region,” said the Prime Minister who had invited leaders of all the SAARC countries to his swearing-in ceremony in 2014.
“We truly think that citizens of all nations of the region progress and prosper. Our doors are open for cooperation, but for this terrorism has to be shunned,” he said.
Without naming Pakistan but obviously referring to it, Modi said, “There is one mindset in South Asia which breeds, inspires and encourages terrorism. The mindset whose priority is not humanity, but extremism and terrorism.”
India and Bangladesh are a victim of that “mindset” which encourages terrorism, he said.
“The thinking, whose policymakers prefer terrorism over humanity, destruction over development, destruction over creation, backstabbing over trust, is the biggest challenge to the society and its economic development,” he said.
Noting that 1,661 Indian soldiers had laid down their lives in the Bangladesh Liberation War, Modi said the Indian army’s struggle in this cannot be forgotten.
Before the function, Modi and Hasina met and posed for photographs with Major Ashok Tara of 14 Guards who had rescued the family of Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from a house in Dhanmandi where they had been imprisoned by the Pakistani soldiers in 1971.
Rahman was the father of Sheikh Hasina.
“The Indian army never shied away from its duty and set an example by following conventions of the war. Over 90,000 Prisoners of War were released safely after the 1971 war. The humane gesture shown by India is one of the biggest events in the century. This also shows the character of the Indian army,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said the genocide by Pakistan in 1971 was undertaken to wipe out an entire generation of Bangladesh and every person who was proud of the idea of Bangladesh was eliminated.
“The purpose of this genocide was not just killing the innocents, but to uproot the idea of Bangladesh,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Hasina said, the history of Bangladesh has been written with the blood of Indian martyrs along with valiant freedom fighters of Bangladesh.
“They fought together for the independence of Bangladesh.
The story of their sacrifice will be remembered from generation to generation in our two countries,” she said.
On the occasion, Hasina also honoured Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Major Anup Singh Gahlaut, Subedhar Malkiat Singh, Havildar Sungandh Singh, Lt Samir Das and Lance Naik Mohan Chandra, who laid down their lives in the 1971 war.
Modi, in turn, announced doubling of ‘Mukti Yoddha’ scholarship from 10,000 in the next five years, multiple visa entry for ‘mukti yoddha’ (freedom fighters of Bangladesh Liberation Movement) and medical assistance to 100 mukti yoddhas through a special scheme.