Bangladesh keeping terrorists away: Naravane

Conscious of Bangladesh's efforts to deny space to terror groups acting against India: Army chief

In turn, India 'continues to prevent any terror outfit' from using Indian soil to undermine the interests of Bangladesh, he said

Army Chief Gen M M Naravane has said that India was conscious of Bangladesh's efforts to deny space to terror groups that are carrying out subversive activities against India.

In a message played out during an event here on Wednesday to mark 50 years of India-Bangladesh ties, he also asserted that "the historic Land Boundary Agreement" (LBA) between the two countries has shown how an issue related to the border can be "resolved with mutual negotiations and a constructive outlook".

This, at a time when "certain countries" have been trying to "alter the status quo by force, and bypassing traditional rules and protocols, with complete disregard to the territorial integrity of others," Naravane said, without naming any country.

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The LBA epitomises the 3Ms -- "mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual commitment -- to a rules-based order", the Indian Army chief said, and asserted that the two countries share an important strategic space in the Indian subcontinent with a land boundary spanning over 4,000 km.

Marking a new high in bilateral ties, India and Bangladesh in 2015 had sealed a historic deal to settle the old land boundary dispute through the exchange of territories, removing a major irritant in bilateral ties.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden visit to Dhaka in 2015, the two sides had swapped documents regarding the LBA that paved the way for the operationalisation of the pact signed in 1974 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Bangladesh's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to settle the border issue.

Naravane, in his recorded address at the event, hosted at the IIC by Delhi-based defence think-tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), also said that Bangladesh's approach to counter-terrorism "resonates with India's resolve and resilience to counter-terrorism in all its forms".

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"We are conscious of Bangladesh's efforts to deny space to terror groups that are carrying out subversive activities against India," the Indian Army chief said.

In turn, India "continues to prevent any terror outfit" from using Indian soil to undermine the interests of Bangladesh, he said.

The event was attended by Bangladesh High Commissioner Muhammad Imran, former Army chief of Bangladesh and 1971 war veteran Lt Gen (retd) Harun-ar-Rashid, a few 1971 India-Pakistan war veterans from Indian armed forces, and a number of senior defence officials, among others.

Bangladesh and India have "come a long way in the last five decades and our friendship has stood the tests of time," Naravane said.

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As neighbours, India and Bangladesh continue to grow together with shared cultures, history, opportunities and destinies, he said.

The Indian Army chief also paid homage to soldiers on both sides of the border who have made supreme sacrifices, for a "brighter and more secure tomorrow".

It is the collective will of the people, standing shoulder-to-shoulder poised in the battlefield that had "turned the tide against the enemy" in the 1971 war, leading to birth of a free nation of Bangladesh, he said.

And, it is the same spirit of solidarity, camaraderie and shared destiny that "remains the cornerstone of our strong bilateral ties" even after five decades, Naravane said.

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India-Bangladesh Friendship is a tribute to the collective will of the Bangladesh people who stood for their right to liberty, and an acknowledgement to the role of the Indian Army in the "epic struggle" that changed the lives and destinies of millions of brothers and sisters, he added. 

The Indian Army chief later arrived at the event to launch a new book 'Bangladesh Liberation @ 50 Years: 'Bijoy' With Synergy, India-Pakistan War 1971'.

The book is a mixture of historical and anecdotal accounts of the 1971 war and comprises articles from authors from both India and Bangladesh, many of whom actually fought the war. 

India is celebrating the current year as the Swarnim Vijay Varsh to mark 50 years of victory in the Indo-Pak war of 1971.

Bangladesh High Commissioner Muhammad Imran recalled the role of the 'Mukti Bahini' and the contribution of the Indian armed forces in the "1971 war to liberate our motherland".

The independence of Bangladesh set a "realtone" in its bilateral ties with India, he said.

"In January 1972, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from prison in Pakistan. On his way to Dhaka he made a stop-over in Delhi, and was received by the then President V V Giri and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi," Imran said, adding, the founding father of Bangladesh wanted to convey his thanks to India.

Lt Gen (retd) Harun-ar-Rashid in his address said, Bangladesh and India are tied by shared history, culture, heritage, and after the 1971 war, also have "blood ties".

He recalled the contribution of Indian armed forces in the war, and made an appeal that he would like to see "Bangladesh Liberation War being written or engraved instead of Indo-Pak War" when a reference is made to describe the 1971 war, adding, "it's a very emotional matter for us, Bangladeshi people".

During the 'Reflections about the War segment, Shamsher Chowdhury, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, shared his experience on fighting the war and being a "Prisoner of War (PoW) with Pakistan Army", the defence ministry said in a statement.

He also shared the "atrocities and the torture that Bangladeshi PoWs had to undergo in the hands of the Pakistani Forces".        

The book release was followed by an award ceremony hosted by CLAWS.

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