Celebrating the spirit of war of liberation of 1971 and eternal bond of camaraderie an arrangement of reciprocal visits by Muktijodhas and War Veterans was institutionalized in the year 2005. A delegation of Muktijodhas along with their spouses or companions is invited by the Government of India to participate in the Vijay Diwas celebrations that are held at Fort Williams, Kolkata. On the other hand the Government of Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh also invites Indian war veterans along with their spouses or companions to participate in the Victory day celebrations. More than 300 Muktijodhas from Bangladesh and 150 Indian war veterans have so far participated in these celebrations. This initiative was further extended to include serving officers so as to pass on the spirit to the current generation.
This year too, the veterans of War of Liberation of Bangladesh 1971 will once again get together in Dhaka and Kolkata to celebrate the Victory and their eternal bonds of camaraderie. These engagements bring together the veterans who had fought shoulder to shoulder during the War, which ended on 16th December 1971 after 13 days of full-fledged war with Pakistan, thereby liberating Bangladesh as new nation. As they relive their experiences and share their stories they bring to life a saga of glory, sacrifice and the spirit with which the people of both countries had stood by each other during the difficult times. Their legacy of brotherhood, bravery and sacrifice has stood the test of time and will continue to bind the Militaries and people of both the nations together in times to come.
This year a delegation of 30 Muktijodhas and six serving Bangladesh Armed Forces officers, along with their companions are participating in the Vijay Diwas celebrations in Kolkata from 14-18 December 2017. The delegation is led by the H.E. Mosharraf Hossain, MP Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Housing and Public Works and has three Members of Parliament, one Prosecutor Additional attorney general of ICT, retired officers from Bangladesh Armed Forces, diplomats, senior bureaucrats and prominent personalities from the civil society. The delegation will participate in large number of ceremonial functions and receptions being held in their honour as also get an opportunity to interact with Indian veterans of the War. They will also visit ‘Jorashanko’ (Thakurbari), the family house of Shri Rabindranath Tagore and other historical places.
In the same way 27 Indian War veterans and four serving officers, accompanied by their companions started there celebration on 14 December 2017 to participate in the Victory day celebrations. The Indian delegation is led by Lt Gen Jai Bhagwan Singh Yadava, PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM (retired). He was awarded with the gallantry award ‘Vir Chakra’ in the 1971 war for his acts of gallantry in the battle of BOGRA. The delegation will participate in the Victory day functions and also call on HE Sheikh Hassina, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force and Principal Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division. They will also get opportunities to interact with Muktijodhas during separate receptions being hosted by the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, War Course Foundation of Bangladesh, Dhaka club and the High Commission of India. The delegation will also pay homage to Father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Banga Bandhu Memorial museum as also visit some of the battle sites of Liberation war.
Initiative taken by Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh for Indian Veterans of War of Liberation.
The Government of Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh has honored 217 Indians who had played a significant role during the liberation of Bangladesh. The highest honour in this category of awards ‘Bangladesh Freedom Honour’ was bestowed upon Smt Indira Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister during the Liberation War, on 25 Jul 2011. ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour’, second highest award, was conferred on two Indian Presidents, Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Shri Pranab Mukherjee and three Indian Prime Ministers, Shri I.K. Gujral, Shri Gulzarilal Nanda and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The award of ‘Friends of Liberation War Honour’ has also been conferred on 211 Indian leaders, veterans and soldiers.
The Government further announced a noble initiative in June 2015 to honour all Indian martyrs of War of Liberation of 1971 during the visit of Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India to Dhaka. A total of 1661 martyrs; Army 1624, Navy 06, Air Force 11 and BSF 20, will be honored. The next of kin of each martyr will receive a letter of appreciation and gratitude signed by Hon’ble President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh and a silver memento. To start this initiative seven Indian martyrs were honored during the Sommamona ceremony held on 08 April 2017 during the visit of HE Sheikh Hassina, Prime Minister of People’s Republic of Bangladesh to India. The next of kin of balance martyrs will receive the honour next year.
Initiatives by Government of India for Muktijodhas
Muktijodhas Scholarship Scheme. The Government of India started the welfare scheme in the year 2006-07. Undergraduate students are awarded scholarship of Taka 24,000/- per year for four years and higher secondary students get Taka 10,000/- per year for two years. More than 10,000 scholarships have been awarded and an amount of over Taka 15 Crore utilized for this purpose.
During the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India in April 2017, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India announced three schemes for the welfare of Muktijodhas.
Visa Concessions. All Muktijodhas will be eligible for five year multiple entry Indian visas. The scheme has already been implemented and more than 1500 Muktijodhas have benefited. Special provisions have also been made for the Muktijodhas in the Visa collection centres so that they do not have to wait or stand in a line.
Extension of Muktijodhas Scholarship Scheme. 10,000 students will be given scholarships over the next five years. For 2017, 1000 students at higher secondary level and 1000 students at Undergraduate level will be awarded the scholarships worth seven crore taka. The scholarship amount is Taka 20,000/- for Higher secondary students and Taka 50,000/- for those at Undergraduate level.
Muktijodhas Medical Scheme. Under this scheme 100 Muktijodhas will be provided free medical treatment in India military hospitals every year free of cost.
The selection of beneficiaries of the scholarship and medical schemes will be done in partnership with Ministry of Liberation War affairs. Muktijodhas from all 64 districts will be covered and efforts will be made to reach out to the needy Muktijodhas and their families.
The war that fought for maintaining the essence of freedom and spirit of goodness finally led to formation of a new nation – Bangladesh, with the dream that the followers of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul will sing together the song of love. Lets hope the beautiful dreams to fulfill in the years to come.