Thursday, May 30, 2024

India-B’desh secure ‘chicken’s neck’ with Chilahati-Haldibari rail link after 55 years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a virtual meeting with her Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

During the virtual summit, the two leaders jointly inaugurated the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link between the two countries. They also released a commemorative stamp on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to mark the birth centenary of the father of the nation of Bangladesh.

The trans-border Chilahati-Haldibari rail line is being restored after 55 years and was lying unused since 1965. This link was the main route between Kolkata and Siliguri at one time, connecting West Bengal and Assam.

The move will not only boost India-Bangladesh ties but will also open up connectivity for New Delhi with the north-eastern part and other bordering countries—India’s “chicken’s neck— while reducing emerging vulnerabilities, especially at a time when an aggressive China is making steady inroads in the region through its much hyped Belt and Road Initiative. Until 1965, when the India-Pakistan war took place, trains used to ply on this route.

According to an official announcement, the two countries signed seven agreements during the summit.

While reviewing bilateral relations, Modi said that Dhaka was a key pillar of India’s policy of “Neighborhood First”. He said that his government has constantly tried to improve ties with its eastern neighbour.

“I must commend you for the manner in which your government has countered Covid-19,” Modi said to Hasina, appreciating her government for the manner in which it has handled the pandemic. The Bangladesh PM said that India has been a true friend of her country all these years.

Paying tributes to martyrs of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, she said: “I pay tributes to the Indian armed forces martyred in the 1971 war. I pay my gratitude to the government and people of India who extended wholehearted support for the cause of our liberation.”

Referring to Modi’s visit scheduled for March 2021 to Dhaka, she said: “Bangladesh is on the verge of celebrating 50 years as an independent nation. Your visit to Dhaka on 26th March 2021 will be crowning glory of our joint commemoration of Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971.”

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