From the archives: Pranab honoured for ’71 role
Bangladesh yesterday honoured Indian President Pranab Mukherjee for his contribution to the Liberation War in 1971.
President Zillur Rahman conferred the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour on Pranab at a special ceremony at Bangabhaban in the evening.
Pranab and other foreign friends' support came when Bangalees stood up against the atrocities by the Pakistan occupation forces during the emergence of sovereign Bangladesh through a nine-month war.
Thanking Dhaka for the honour, the Indian president recalled the tumultuous days of 1971, saying, "I feel humble as I receive this prestigious award and I feel that my contribution was modest."
"As I stand here tonight I am filled with memories of the events of 1971. I was 36 years old and an MP when the people of Bangladesh engaged themselves in their liberation struggle," he added.
Pranab, 77, recalled that on June 15, 1971 he had the privilege to initiate a discussion at Rajya Sabha when he suggested that India should accord recognition to the Bangladesh government in exile, reports BSS.
"Your support towards our Liberation War in 1971 was for the cause of humanity and justice...your support gave us courage and motivation," President Zillur Rahman said after handing over a crest of the award to his Indian counterpart.
Terming the occasion as historic, Zillur said Pranab's support for the Liberation War is written in golden letters in history and the nation always recalls the contribution with due gratitude.
"It's a symbol of modest gratitude to you [Pranab] on behalf of the entire nation," he added.
Addressing the occasion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described Pranab Mukherjee as a real friend of Bangladesh who played a big role in mobilising support of the international community for the independence.
"As a nation, it's an immense pride for us to have (this) opportunity to confer the Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sammanona on you," she added.
Cabinet Division Secretary Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan read out a citation describing Pranab's role during the Liberation War. The event began with the playing of national anthems of Bangladesh and India.
Ministers, lawmakers and a large number of dignitaries, including some foreign guests, were present at the ceremony, which was followed by a state banquet hosted by Zillur Rahman in honour of Pranab.
Earlier in the day, the University of Dhaka at its 47th convocation honoured Pranab by giving him an honorary Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa.
Former Indian PM Indira Gandhi was first among the foreign friends conferred with the highest state honour -- Bangladesh Freedom Honour -- in recognition to her contribution to the struggle that led to the birth of Bangladesh.
Her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi, also president of India's ruling Congress party, received the posthumous award from Zillur Rahman on behalf of Indira Gandhi in a special ceremony at Bangabhaban on July 25, 2011.
The state accolades, titled "Bangladesh Liberation War Honour" and "Friends of Liberation War Honour" went to over 200 individuals and organisations from different countries across the world.