In a reflection of their rapidly growing ties, India and Bangladesh on Thursday sealed seven agreements to expand cooperation in diverse areas, and restored a cross-border rail link which was in operation till 1965.
The restoration of the Chilahati-Haldibari railway link and signing of the pacts, providing for cooperation in areas of hydrocarbons, agriculture and textiles among others, came at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
Modi and Hasina also jointly inaugurated a digital exhibition on Bangladesh’s founder Mujibur Rahman and Mahatma Gandhi in an effort to celebrate the life and legacies of the two iconic leaders.
The inauguration of the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link is expected to enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh. It was part of the broad gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri till 1965.
In his initial remarks, Modi said Bangladesh is a key pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and it has been a key priority for him to strengthen ties between the two countries.
“We feel proud to celebrate ‘Bijoy Dibosh’ with you to mark Bangladesh’s historic victory over anti-liberation forces,” he said, adding cooperation between India and Bangladesh has been good notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic.
In her statement, Hasina described India as a “true friend”.
The ties between India and Bangladesh have witnessed an upswing in the last few years. Both sides have scaled up trade and economic engagement besides implementing a number of connectivity and infrastructure projects.