MoUs Signed, Address to Matuas on Day 2 of PM Modi’s B’desh Trip

On Day 1, PM Modi attended an event at the National Martyrs’ Memorial and the National Day programme in Dhaka.

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India
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On the second and final day of his Bangladesh visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, 27 March, addressed the Matua community in Orakandi.
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On the second and final day of his Bangladesh visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, 27 March, addressed the Matua community in Orakandi, which is a sizeable population in both West Bengal and the neighbouring country.

“I was waiting for this opportunity for many years. During my 2015 visit to Bangladesh, I expressed my wish to visit Orakandi. Today, that wish has come true,” Modi said.

In his address, Modi stated that both India and Bangladesh want to see “stability, love, and peace in the world instead of instability, terror, and unrest”. He also spoke about the fight against the pandemic by India and Bangladesh and stated that Indian COVID-19 vaccines will reach Bangladesh soon.

PM Modi also stressed the development of education, especially that involving girl child, in Bangladesh. He announced that the girls’ middle-school in Orakandi will be upgraded with the latest facilities and a new primary school will also be built by the Indian government.

MoUs Exchanged, ‘Mitali Express’ Inaugurated

MoUs were exchanged between India and Bangladesh in Dhaka, in the presence of PM Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ANI reported.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla reportedly said that a decision was taken to “celebrate our ties jointly in 19 countries identified by the two sides (India and Bangladesh). This is a reflection of our desire to sustain the legacy of 1971.”

“This evening we held restricted-format discussions and delegation-level talks. This allowed the two Prime Ministers to take stock of the progress in various areas. This included discussions preserving the legacy of 1971,” the foreign secretary added.

He said, PM Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart have agreed to celebrate 6 December, the day on which India formally recognised Bangladesh, as ‘Maitri Diwas’.

The two Prime Minsters also virtually inaugurated ‘Mitali Express’ that will run between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri.

Other Visits on Day 2 of Bangladesh Visit

PM Modi also offered prayers at Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple in Ishwaripur on Saturday, 27 March, the day of the first phase of elections in Bengal and Assam.

“Today, I got the opportunity to visit this Shaktipeeth to pay obeisance to Maa Kali. I prayed to her to free the human race from COVID-19,” the PM said at Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple.

PM Modi also payed tribute to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Mausoleum Complex, Tungipara, in the presence of Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

On Friday, PM Modi attended an event at the National Martyrs’ Memorial and the National Day programme in Dhaka, commemorating 50 years of the country’s liberation.

Significance of PM’s Bangladesh Trip

Modi’s visit is of particular interest to West Bengal as his itinerary also included a trip to Thakurbari in Orakandi, a sacred place for the Matua sect, a sizeable population in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.

The Matua community is said to have influence over 70 Assembly constituencies in the state, spread across the districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Nadia and other smaller pockets of North and South Bengal.

While no official count is available, community leaders put their population at 3 crore. A state minister from India said there were 1.75 crore Namasudra voters.

Matuas trace their ancestry to Bangladesh and large chunk of the community moved to West Bengal following the Partition and specially after the 2001-02 anti-Hindu pogroms when the Khaleda Zia government was in power.

While Matuas voted for the BJP in 2019, the community soon started expressing their dissent against the party after the CAA was passed. But no talks on citizenship for Matuas surfaced thereafter.

(With inputs from ANI, IANS)

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