Monument to fallen Soldiers tightens Bangladesh-India bond

Monument to fallen Soldiers tightens Bangladesh-India bond

Mandeep Singh

Construction of a war memorial honoring Indian Soldiers who died fighting for the independence of Bangladesh along with high-level defense meetings continue to strengthen a partnership that Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen once described as a “blood relationship.”
The Bangladeshi Ministry of Liberation War Affairs will oversee construction of the monument on 1.4 hectares in the Brahmanbaria district near the border with the Indian state of Tripura. The project in 2021 will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan. The project announcement in August 2020 coincided with meetings between Momen and India’s then-High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das.

“There is mutual trust and confidence in India-Bangladesh relations,” the high commissioner’s office said in a statement, “consistent with our strong partnership and our shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous region.”

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has visited Dhaka twice in 2020, including in March, when he spoke of “a robust partnership between our militaries.” He returned in August to discuss a two-year road map for bilateral ties with Momen and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Commanders of India’s Border Security Force and Border Guard Bangladesh, pictured, discussed ways to improve communications and reduce fatal shootings of transnational criminals along the India-Bangladesh border during biannual talks in Dhaka in mid-September 2020, reported the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency. The forces will share real-time information to combat smuggling, human trafficking, counterfeiting, violent extremism and other shared threats, the commanders announced.

Defense cooperation in 2019 included the Indian Navy-Bangladesh Navy Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT), conducted in the northern Bay of Bengal in October, along with the second annual Defense Dialogue and inaugural tri-services staff talks, which are service-specific discussions between navy, air force and coast guard leaders from each nation.

The 2019 CORPAT involved India’s INS Ranvijay, a guided-missile destroyer, and INS Kuthar, an indigenously built missile corvette, along with Bangladesh’s BNS Ali Haider, a frigate, and BNS Shadhinota, a stealth guided-missile corvette. A second bilateral exercise followed near the eastern Indian port city of Visakhapatnam involving navy commandos and air crews.

In December 2019, the state-owned Export-Import Bank of India issued a U.S. $500 million line of credit to Bangladesh for defense-related purchases, PTI reported. The credit line enables the Armed Forces of Bangladesh to finance the import of “eligible goods and services,” 75% of which must be of Indian origin.

Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.