Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, praised the initiative taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rescue Bangladeshi students who were trapped in eastern Europe after the commencement of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Prime Minister Hasina, who will visit India on Monday, praised the Narendra Modi administration for its generosity in delivering Covid-19 vaccinations to surrounding nations through its Vaccine Maitri initiative at a time when the pandemic was rapidly spreading. The prime minister of Bangladesh emphasized the need for improved cooperation between the two neighbors.

She added that while there might be disagreements, these should be resolved via discussion and pointed out that Bangladesh and India have done just that in a number of instances.

However, she singled out two instances where Bangladeshi citizens benefited from assistance provided by the Indian government. One of these involved the exodus of Bangladeshi students who, like many Indians, had been trapped in Ukraine and its neighboring nations at the time of the conflict’s onset.

“I really would like to express my thanks to the Prime Minister that during this war between Russia and Ukraine, many of our students were stuck, and they came to Poland for shelter. But when you evacuated Indian students, they also brought our students home. You have shown clearly friendly gestures. I thank Prime Minister (Modi) for this nice initiative,” Prime Minister Hasina said.

India-Bangladesh Relations

She was responding to a query about assertions that there was a lack of cooperation among SAARC nations, which were frequently made, particularly by western observers. In response to a different query regarding the Vaccine Maitri program of the Indian government, the prime minister of Bangladesh stated that it was a very “prudent” effort taken by Prime Minister Modi.

“I really thank Modi for this initiative, and that way he… you know, contributed vaccines to not only Bangladesh, but also to some south Asian countries, and it’s really very, very helpful. And it’s a really prudent initiative that he has taken. Besides that, we bought vaccines with our own money, and also many other countries also contributed,” she added.

She also provided information regarding the immunization program in her nation. 90% of Bangladesh’s population has received the Covid-19 vaccine. “Usually, you know, the people from our country, especially village level, even in some towns also, I found many people very reluctant to take the vaccine.

They don’t want to take … you know… the pinch of the needle or ‘sui nai lena hai’ so… but we have to pursue them. We told them that this was nothing, but it will save a life. So that way we engaged everybody so that they make people… so it was a really very good initiative, this Vaccine Maitri itself… very good initiative. I really support it,” Sheikh Hasina added further.

India “Proven” Friend

India, according to Prime Minister Hasina, is a “proven” friend that has supported Bangladesh in its time of need, first in 1971 and then in succeeding years as well. “We always remember their contribution during the 1971 war. And besides that, even in 1975, when we lost all of my family members.

So, the then Prime Minister gave us shelter in India. Besides that, you see, these two countries, we are neighbors, very close neighbors, and I always give importance and priority to the friendship with our neighboring countries,” Sheikh Hasina said.

According to her, the two nations’ relationship should serve the interests of their populations. She claimed that the Indian government had already demonstrated its good intentions during the Covid-19 era, as both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-President Ram Nath Kovind visited Bangladesh on the country’s Independence Day.

“I really thank Prime Minister Modi and also India’s honorable president. Both of them visited our country when we were celebrating our father of the nation’s birth centenary and our independence, 50 years of our Independence Day, and our friendship with India. India recognized Bangladesh early on, so bonding, I think, is our main priority. That their visit at such a time, even that time there was a Covid-19 pandemic, but besides that, both of them honored us, honored our people,” she said.

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