An emotional Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, today received an honorary doctorate from the Tripura Central University whose site was once a training camp for the soldiers of her country's liberation.
The Vice President, Dr Hamid Ansari, handed over the degree of Doctor of Literature ( Honoris Causa ) to Shekh Hasina who fondly recalled the helping hand Tripura had extended during 1971 Liberation War spearheaded by her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In a voice choked with emotion, 64-year-old Hasina said her long cherished dream was fulfilled as she arrived in Tripura, “the pilgrimage of Bangladesh Liberation War.”
She was given the degree by the university in recognition of her ‘great contribution to the protection of multicultural democracy and peace' in her country and in the sub-continent.
Tripura was the ‘war capital' during the liberation war sheltering more than 15 lakh people from across the border.
“As we touched down at Agartala airport last evening, a flush of emotions overwhelmed me as I recalled the tremendous sacrifices during our glorious struggle for independence.”
Switching to Bengali, Sheikh Hasina said, “I express my deep gratitude to the people of Tripura who gave us food, shelter and clothing and care when the people of our country were subject of inhuman and barbaric torture in the hands of Pakistani army and migrated to this land.”
“I was further amazed when I came to know that before this university was set up, this place was a training camp of the Bangladesh liberation soldiers,” she said.
“Our freedom fighters also received training and support on this side of the border and eventually fought with our Indian friends to the final surrender of the occupation forces and liberation of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971. How can we not remember with gratitude our friends in need in Tripura and India?” she said in a choked voice.
Addressing the gathering, the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, said the challenges for India and Bangladesh were similar.
“The geographical proximity and connectivity between India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal provides immense opportunities for us to forge transit arrangements for cross-border trade. India and Bangladesh's joint decision to facilitate transit facilities to our people in the North-East through Bangladesh can allow easier access to these far-flung States,” he added.